Among the various English philosophical currents that have
dealt with religion, “Wittgensteinian fideists” have, more than
anyone else, stressed the relativity of beliefs and their relation to
the forms of life in which they originate.
The term “Wittgensteinian fideism” belongs to Kai Nielsen,
who attributed a fideist position to pupils or followers of
Wittgenstein, philosophers such as Winch, Hughes, Malcolm,
Cavell, Phillips, and later to Wittgenstein himself.1 What these
thinkers have in common is the idea that theological discourse is
sui generis and therefore cannot be understood and judged in
terms other than its own; the truth and meaning of a religious
world view should not be understood on the basis of the object
that it wishes to represent but only on the basis of the tradition or
the community within which the view has emerged and in which it
has its function.
In the present article, we shall examine the positions of
Norman Malcolm and D. Z. Phillips, the most representative of
this line of thought, as well as Kay Nielsen’s critique of their
positions and the position of Yong Huang.