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Wittgenstein and aspects: The problems of free will, causation and religious belief

Scott, Michael Andrew; (1996) Wittgenstein and aspects: The problems of free will, causation and religious belief. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

In this dissertation I pursue the three following objectives: First, to articulate and examine Wittgenstein's remarks on voluntary action and, in particular, his remarks on the nature of free action and free will. Wittgenstein argues that voluntary actions are distinguished not by volitions preceding the actions but by the surroundings (mental and behavioural) in which they occur, and he contends that to express a belief in the freedom of the will is to express a personal attitude towards human beings and their actions. Second, to explain Wittgenstein's work on causation and natural law: he argues for the consistency of the regularity theory of natural laws (that natural laws express merely universal regularities) and freedom of action, and also that we use two different concepts of causation, namely, regular succession and causal connection. Third, to investigate Wittgenstein's use of the concept 'aspect' and the related concept of'attitude', which plays a fundamental part in some of the preceding arguments. I consider Wittgenstein's work on 'seeing aspects' and his - hitherto unexplored -- application of this concept in the philosophy of mathematics, where he argues that mathematical intuition is a form of aspect perception. I also consider the role aspect perception plays in Wittgenstein's work on the nature of religious belief and miracles. I tackle the three main objectives in reverse order, beginning with an introduction to Wittgenstein's philosophical method and his aim to uncover misleading aspects of language. Throughout I engage in exegesis only as a means to elucidate a distinctive and defensible philosophical positions.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Wittgenstein and aspects: The problems of free will, causation and religious belief
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Philosophy, religion and theology; Wittgenstein
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10106105
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