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Friday
Nov272009

Wittgenstein's Thoughts in 1937 About God & The Resurrection of Jesus

After describing a period in Wittgenstein’s life where he experienced inner feelings of anxiety, guilt and fear – he was always a complicated person – Ray Monk offers the following. Wittgenstein was staying in Norway in 1937 and had trouble working. Monk goes on to note:

 “When, during the following few days, he was able to work again, he thanked God for a gift he did not deserve. He always felt, he wrote, what a truly devout person never feels – that God was responsible for what he was: ‘It was the opposite of piety. Again and again I want to say: “God, if you do not help me, what can I do?”' And although this attitude accords with what the Bible teaches, it is not that of a truly devout man, for such a one would assume responsibility for himself. ‘You must STRIVE,’ he urged himself; ‘never mind God.’”

Two paragraphs later, Monk continues: 

“On the ship to Bergen Wittgenstein wrote of Christ’s Resurrection and of what inclined even him to believe in it. If Christ did not rise from the dead, he reasoned, then he decomposed in the grave like any other man. ‘HE IS DEAD AND DECOMPOSED.’ He had to repeat an underline the thought to appreciate its awfulness. For if that were the case, then Christ was a teacher like any other, ‘and can no longer HELP; and once more we are orphaned and alone. So we have to content ourselves with wisdom and speculation.’  And if that is all we have, then: ‘We are in a sort of hell where we can do nothing but dream, roofed in, as it were, and cut off from heaven.’ If he wanted to be saved, to be redeemed, then wisdom was not enough; he needed faith:

     “And faith is faith in what is needed by my HEART, my SOUL, not my speculative intelligence. For it is my soul with its passions, as it were with its flesh and blood, that has to be saved, not my abstract mind. Perhaps we can only say: Only LOVE can believe in the Resurrection. Or: it is LOVE that believes the Resurrection. We might say: Redeeming love believes even in the Resurrection; holds fast even to Resurrection … 

    What combats doubt is, as it were, REDEMPTION. Holding fast to THIS must be holding fast to that belief. …”

[Note: allcaps substitued for italics -- sw]

 Source: Ray Monk, The Duty of Genius, at page 382-383. Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.

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