Religious Studies Faculty Publications

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Wittgenstein, one of the most influential, and yet widely misunderstood, philosophers of our age, confronted his readers with aporias—linguistic puzzles—as a means of countering modern philosophical confusions over the nature of language without replicating the same confusions in his own writings. In Ethics as Grammar, Brad Kallenberg uses the writings of theological ethicist Stanley Hauerwas as a foil for demonstrating how Wittgenstein’s method can become concrete within the Christian tradition. Kallenberg shows that the aesthetic, political, and grammatical strands epitomizing Hauerwas’s thought are the result of his learning to do Christian ethics by thinking through Wittgenstein.

Kallenberg argues that Wittgenstein’s pedagogical strategy cultivates certain skills of judgment in his readers by making them struggle to move past the aporias and acquire the fluency of language’s deeper grammar. Theologians, says Kallenberg, are well suited to this task of “going on” because the gift of Christianity supplies them with the requisite resources for reading Wittgenstein. Kallenberg uses Hauerwas to make this case—showing that Wittgenstein’s aporetic philosophy has engaged Hauerwas in a lifelong conversation that has cured him of many philosophical confusions. Yet, because Hauerwas comes to the conversation as a Christian believer, he is able to surmount Wittgenstein’s aporias with the assistance of theological convictions that he possesses through grace.

Ethics as Grammar reveals that Wittgenstein’s intention to cultivate concrete skill in real people was akin to Aristotle’s emphasis on the close relationship of practical reason and ethics. In this thought-provoking book, Kallenberg demonstrates that Wittgenstein does more than simply offer a vantage point for reassessing Aristotle, he paves the way for ethics to become a distinctively Christian discipline, as exemplified by Stanley Hauerwas.



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Chapter 1, "Working on Oneself," is included in the repository for download with the permission of the publisher.

Permission documentation is on file.

Note: Chapter contains a reader's markups; worse yet, they are sloppy and illegible. Let this serve as a courtesy reminder to never mark up a library book.


University of Notre Dame Press

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Notre Dame, IN