Reading Wittgenstein (On Belief) with Tillich (On Doubt)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In this paper, I explore the possibility of reading Wittgenstein’s understanding of religious belief with Tillich’s concept of existential/religious doubt, especially as developed in his Dynamics of Faith. I will argue, first, that Wittgenstein’s understanding of religious belief as a deep certainty of a grammatical remark is not the same as his understanding of hinge-certainty of “hinge propositions”, and that the relevant difference is that Wittgenstein leaves room for the possibility of doubt in the former but not in the latter. I then argue that Tillich’s concept of dynamic faith by which Tillich explicates the role of doubt internal to religious believing can significantly enrich the Wittgensteinian conception of religious belief. Despite the notable differences between Wittgenstein’s thoughts and Tillich’s overall system of theology, Tillich’s treatment of the concept of “faith” signals a possibility of a more positive way of relating Wittgenstein’s grammatical investigation and Tillich’s mature understanding of philosophical theology. At the end of the essay, responding to D.Z. Phillips’ negative assessment of Tillich’s theology in the name of Wittgenstein, I will suggest what that more positive way of relating the two might look like.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-86
Number of pages27
JournalNeue Zeitschrift für Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Wittgenstein
  • Tillich
  • Epistemology of religion
  • Religion
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Faith

Cite this