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By D. Z. Phillips

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Extra resources for Belief, Change and Forms of Life

Example text

It would simply be a case of a religious writer regretting that people had forgotten something he would have them remember. 7 We might say that people had forgotten what it is to promise, or, at least, one concept of promising. Yet it is a further complexity which introduces the relevant philosophical issues. It has been said, rightly, that Reminders of What We Know? 45 Kierkegaard's situation was even more complex than our descriptions of it so far would suggest. 'Not only was there a forgetfulness present in the careless and loose use of Christian terms, but there were also philosophers and theologians about who were offering new interpretations of Christian terms.

Having perhaps rid ourselves of the view of rituals and rites as theories or erroneous scientific beliefs, we can easily come to look for psychological explanations of the same phenomena. 36 Belief, Change and Forms of Life In Drury's remarks, for example, we find him talking of certain forms of behaviour as expressions of friendliness, reverence and celebration. But he also speaks of rites as the results of a need to express something. This too savours of an explanation. It makes it look as if the rites are the means by which something is expressed, as though there were a distinction between means and ends involved.

It would no longer be sufficient to appeal to the fact that certain ways of talking are moral or religious modes of discourse to avoid the charge of senselessness. '8 But what does it mean to speak of language being used for religious purposes? Is it like saying that an argument is used for political or prudential purposes, where the status of the argument is quite distinct from the purposes for which it is employed? Consider another contrast. Could we say that the only difference between moral and prudential commendation is the different purposes for which the concept of commendation is employed?

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