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Wittgensteinian investigations of contemporary Quaker religious language

Grant, Rhiannon Emma Louise (2014) Wittgensteinian investigations of contemporary Quaker religious language. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This thesis uses ideas from the thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein and a variety of Wittgensteinian thinkers to shed light on the ways in which religious language functions in contemporary British Quakerism. It does this by looking in detail at examples from published British Quaker literature. In the process of considering genuine modern examples of religious language within their community context, I uncover assumptions which enable these ways of speaking to make sense within that community. These include ideas about how language works, such as an assumption that it follows on from (rather than being prior to) religious experience, and beliefs about the relationship between other religions and Quakerism. The complexities of these examples and the multiple relevant contextual factors enable me to refine the philosophical and theological claims which I draw from Wittgenstein and others. These incude the understanding of meaning as use in context and the model of religion as like a language or culture. In the first part of the thesis, a series of tools – philosophical perspectives which can be applied to examples in order to gain insights – are developed, then used to illuminate a set of examples. In the second half of the thesis, factors discovered to be underlying the patterns of use found in British Quaker religious language are explored in more detail and finally considered in relation to some further examples. As a whole, the thesis explains the community processes which create and maintain some central patterns of Quaker speech, and demonstrates the usefulness of Wittgensteinian ideas and methods. In particular, it utilises the turn towards observing the ways in which religious language is used rather than focusing on the truth-value of claims abstracted from their roles in religious life. I conclude that patterns of Quaker speech not only make sense within a community where certain assumptions are held, but also that they fulfil a role in the maintenance of the community as a single theologically diverse and inclusive Religious Society.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.638901
Depositing User: Rhiannon E. L. Grant
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2015 14:02
Last Modified: 25 Nov 2015 13:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/7825

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