International Journal for Philosophy of Religion
In an otherwise superbly edited compilation of student notes from Wittgenstein’s 1939 Lectures on the Foundations of Mathematics, Cora Diamond makes a false step that reveals to us our own tendencies to misread Wittgenstein. The student notes she collated attributed the following remark to a student named Watson: “The point is that these [data] tables do not by themselves determine that one builds the bridge in this way: only the tables together with certain scientific theory determine that.” But Diamond thinks this a mistake, presuming instead to change the manuscript and put these words into the mouth of Wittgenstein. But to make such a change shows a lamentable, even if commonplace, ignorance of engineering. Diamond apparently shares this ignorance with Watson, and presumably with most of us as well, especially those of us who are educated in math and science, because this education makes us think we understand engineering by extension. But we do not. I intend to show why Wittgenstein the former engineer could never have made the remark Diamond wants to attribute to him. The reasons drastically undermine the myth of Wittgensteinian fideism and have bearing on the manner of our conversations about religious pluralism.
Copyright © 2012, International Journal for Philosophy of Religion.
Kallenberg, Brad, "Rethinking Fideism through the Lens of Wittgenstein’s Engineering Outlook" (2012). Religious Studies Faculty Publications. 82.