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Belief, Change and Forms of Life by D. Z. Phillips

By D. Z. Phillips

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Sample text

Rhees points out that some months before he began the first comments on Frazer, Wittgenstein wrote, 'The scapegoat on which sins are laid and which goes out into the wilderness with them, is a false picture, like all the false pictures of philosophy. ). I shall quote at length Rhees' comment on this ritual: 'In the rite of the scapegoat (Leviticus 16:20-2) several analogies come together. It would be natural in a tribal society to speak of "bearing the sins of others": of a family sharing the sin committed by any member of it, or of children bearing the sins of their forefathers.

We do not believe that shaking hands has any mysterious efficacy, or that to keep one's hat on in church is dangerous! Now this I regard as a good illustration of how I understand clarity as something to be desired as a goal, as distinct from clarity as something to serve a further elaboration. For seeing these rites as a form of language immediately puts an end to all the elaborate theorising concerning 'primitive mentality'. The clarity prevents a condescending misunderstanding, and puts a full-stop to a lot of idle speculation.

9 It is important to remember, however, that Kierkegaard does see himself as confronted by a religious and philosophical task. Difficult though it is, Kierkegaard does think it possible to retell the old truths and present philosophical accounts of them in such a way that his age can hear them again. Given that he is confronted by a task positively conceived of, Cavell's view of Kierkegaard needs to be modified. To say that Kierkegaard started from the beginning does not mean that he started in a vacuum.

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