John Henry Newman and Ludwig Wittgenstein: on certainty and faith
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The roles of certainty and faith have been very much divided in modern times by the positions allocated them under an all-consuming positivistic account of human processes. It is ironic that this view, which stems from the Enlightenment period, a time of appreciation of the wonderful capacities and potential of the human being, has come to neglect so much of the reality of life as it is daily lived out by the person. John Henry Newman and Ludwig Wittgenstein, working from a humanist core, give a view of certainty and faith which goes a long way toward restoring the harmony of these processes by drawing our attention back to the unified starting point of all our enquiries, to what is always already there and functioning in our lived lives. What emerges from this side by side reading of Newman’s An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent and Wittgenstein’s On Certainty is firstly an organic and holistic account of how what we come to reflect on as our beliefs are formed. Secondly, similarities in their ways of seeing support Newman as a philosopher with a significant contribution to make to contemporary philosophy. Lastly, the parallel reading foregrounds the wide and often humanist scope of the religious mind-set which has the capacity to bring philosophical analysis back to a grounding in the ontological, ethical and existential concerns which give it dimension and purpose.
KeywordsCertainty and faith
John Henry Newman