Ludwig Wittgenstein in Rowan Williams’s theological account of language

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The nature and use of language is important to Rowan Williams’s theology and central in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophy. Williams declares that Wittgenstein has had considerable influence on his thinking. Yet, a mere glance at the philosophy of language shows considerable uncertainty and debate as to what it is and how it functions. We begin this article with an overview of Wittgenstein’s ideas on language. We will then see how Williams’s encounter with Wittgenstein is reflected in his 2014 Gifford Lectures and book, The Edge of Words.2 The lectures and book are limited to natural theology; this article goes on to look at how Williams finds language also to be at work in the Christian story.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-341
Number of pages15
JournalNew Blackfriars: A review
Issue number1075
Early online date28 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - May 2017


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