The clouds of confusion on this point are condensed into a single drop of grammar.

Charles L. Creegan paraphrasing Kierkegaard

Continuing from a previous post, let’s look further into Creegan‘s analysis of the intersection of the thoughts of logician Wittgenstein and theologian Kierkegaard.

In order to understand some of this, you need to be familiar with what Wittgenstein called a language game. This term is not meant to trivialize the subject of the game, no more than the term “war game” is meant to trivialize war. A “language game” in Wittgenstein’s view, is the accepted norms utilized by two speakers of any specific language, including specialized languages such as scientific or religious language.

The roots of the religious game might indeed be inexpressible in scientific terms, just as the roots of science are, without religious life being inconsistent or ineffable.

p. 78

That the roots of science are inexpressible in terms of science has been well established since the works of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn. You can’t describe science in terms of science any more than you can smell your own nose. This doesn’t nullify the value of science, within its own “game.” But, it’s not a big leap to say that just because you can’t describe religious things in terms of science that this doesn’t make religious ideas necessarily wrong. Religion and science are two different language-games; they are orthogonal, not inconsistent.

No factual content can be ascribed to a ‘mystical’ experience. The mystical is not within the world nor its expression within language; instead it shows itself in the existence of the world and existence of language. This showing can only be felt.

p. 79

Kierkegaard calls this the “thing that thought cannot think.” Thus, when we try to combine or contrast things of science with things of religion, we perform what is called a category mistake — the confusion is caused completely by a point of grammar.

 Gustave Doré [Public domain]