Current Postgraduate Research Students
Publication details for Professor Christopher InsoleInsole, Christopher J. (2007). The Truth Behind Practices Wittgenstein, Robinson Crusoe and Ecclesiology. Studies in Christian Ethics 20(3): 364-382.
- Publication type: Journal Article
- ISSN/ISBN: 0953-9468 (print), 1745-5235 (online)
- DOI: 10.1177/0953946807082933
- Keywords: church • community • ecclesiology • Hauerwas • practices • truth • theology • Wittgenstein
- Further publication details on publisher web site
- Durham Research Online (DRO) - may include full text
Author(s) from Durham
The Wittgensteinian claim that meaning is immanent to 'practices', influential in contemporary theology, is capable of two readings: the first takes `practice' to refer to the social activities of actual communities; the second implies no more than a way of going on that is in principle communicable. The first reading is palpably unattractive, both philosophically and exegetically; the second reading is much less ambitious, providing a plausible critique of empiricist theories of meaning. I suggest that it is the first implausible reading that is often at work in theological appropriations of Wittgenstein, such as we find in Stanley Hauerwas. I fill-out this claim by exploring — with an ear to Scripture — the implications for ecclesiology of adopting either of the two readings. I conclude by raising the alarm about two dangers: of being too Wittgensteinian in some respects, and not Wittgensteinian enough in others.