Is Mordecai Kaplan’s approach to religion Wittgensteinian?

Mordecai Kaplan is the founder of a Jewish religious movement named Reconstructionism. Rejecting both Orthodox and Reform positions, Kaplan sought to reconfigure Judaism in order to make it suitable for people of the twentieth century. In doing this, he sought to define it not principally as a system of metaphysical beliefs, but rather as a way of life and means of living for the Jewish community. His aim was to provide a method for retaining the integrity of Jewish identity and culture in a time when traditional religious ‘beliefs’ were seen to be increasingly untenable. Kaplan believes that because a religion is an emergent property of a society, it cannot be preserved “as a glass-encased exhibit in a museum”; it must evolve along with its society, and the religion which does not will become irrelevant and inevitably be left behind. Kaplan lived at roughly the same time as Ludwig Wittgenstein, the Austrian philosopher who has been called the most important philosopher of the twentieth century. Wittgenstein’s work published in his lifetime only touched on religious issues, but posthumously there has been a wealth of material published which has shed light into his religious ideas. However, the project is still largely one of reconstruction: we must extrapolate indirectly what his feelings about religion and religious language were. That a view consistent with those thoughts he recorded is found indicates that this is no idle speculation. But it must not be forgotten that Wittgenstein himself never systematised any dogmatic approach to the subject. Meanwhile much research has been carried out into the wider implication of his thought for religion. The early tendency of scholars to emphasise the difference between his early and late thought has now been replaced by an understanding of the continuities. There is no recorded acknowledgement from Kaplan of Wittgenstein1 (or vice versa), but I believe an examination will reveal some distinct similarities.

Kaplan’s The Meaning of God in Jewish Religion
The text of Kaplan's which I will use in this essay is The Meaning of God in Modern Jewish Religion (1994). This work sets forth the principle theoretical basis of Kaplan’s theology in several stages. For Kaplan it is crucial that we understand the word “God” based on the utility of the term. By examining the way the term has functioned historically, we can extract a similar use in the modern period which will allow us to use the language of religion without committing ourselves to a metaphysics which goes against our common-sense. Kaplan explains his God idea by means of eight interrelated functions. These functions are:
1

Interestingly, he refers several times to Wittgenstein’s early mentor at Cambridge, Bertrand Russell – though not in terms entirely approving; e.g. 1994:27

1. The power that makes for salvation. Salvation for Kaplan is self-fulfilment, or self-actualization. He asks, “What more comprehensive purpose can there be to human life than the complete and harmonious fulfilment of all the physical, mental and moral powers with which the human self as a social being is endowed?” (41). It is the achieving of one’s potential which constitutes the attainment of salvation. This for Kaplan is not something conferred: God does not save, the individual saves themselves. Salvation must not be waited for, but worked for: it is a state of living. Further, because the individual is ultimately constituted by their social location and interactions, social and personal salvation are indissociable. 2. The power that makes for social regeneration. By focussing on the sovereignty of God we assume the sanctity of personhood in general, and in attempting to reform society along the best possible lines we are effecting the immanent kingdom of God. God thus is that which makes it viable to work towards a better future. “Since human life is redeemed from its vanity and frailty through the kingship of God, then God can mean only one thing: namely, the totality of all those forces in life that render human life worthwhile.” (133) 3. The power that makes for the regeneration of human nature. Kaplan reinterprets atonement as a process by which the human can restore their harmonious relationship with the cosmos, which is damaged by our misdeeds; by this process, we regain our integrity and moral wholeness. This active avoidance of sin and pursuit of atonement are part and parcel of Kaplan’s focus on individual responsibility. By remaking our natures via repentance for our wrongs we are aligning ourselves with our sense of what is moral and just in the world. 4. As intimately related to historical consciousness and communal identity. By the philosophy of time embodied in Judaism’s “salvation-history”, the self is located within a community whose identity extends over a vast time and space. In finding personal identity as part of a culture, the whole of that culture is integrated into the individual, and his sense of being is given a weight and dignity which, in isolation, it could never possess. 5. The power that makes for cooperation. God being understood as the interrelated unity of all life, our own acting-out of this unity is crucial: we can only seek God by seeking further and closer integration and cohesiveness of self, community, species and cosmos. 6. That felt as a presence. Kaplan locates God within subjective experience, believing that philosophical abstraction only tells part of the story. The experience of God is compatible with, but not reducible to, literal reductionist explanations of the phenomena. Just as the self can be reduced to neurons, but this literal interpretation would leave us cold and uninspired, so the interpretation of phenomena into a figure of God assists us, in bringing out a morality and community that otherwise would not manifest.

7. The power that makes for freedom. In promoting and sanctifying individuality, the person is lifted above being merely the interaction of impulses and desires. We develop a holistic and integrated self which transcends the bestial, and thereby makes us free as individuals. 8. The power that makes for righteousness. By making God the epitomy of mercy, justice, etc we are proclaiming these ideals as the principal social virtues: we hypostasize righteousness via our conception of God, and by seeking to attain holiness we align ourselves with our highest moral concerns.

It is clear from even a brief perusal of these that for Kaplan the human is essentially integrated into the wider spheres of society and cosmos. The individual seems to exist only by virtue of the world that (s)he inhabits. In every facet and every moment, we have a responsibility to our broader environment to ensure a true and proper cultivation of value. The flip-side of this is that society has as its prime motive the liberation of each individual’s spirit: by lifting them above their base urges and desires, society ensures that each person is provided the opportunity to realise their freedom, and in the exercising of their free person-hood, can become the most perfect example of themselves. If by doing what is right for the broader context of society, man finds salvation, then it also is the ultimate goal of society to provide that liberation from ‘atavistic passions’ which will allow humans to exercise rational choice. It is egocentricity (in it’s true meaning: a centring on the self) which Kaplan blames for much of humanity’s sinfulness. This detachment from our context leads us into ways not conducive to wholeness. He laments “the failure to integrate our impulses, habits, social activities and institutions in harmony with those ethical ideals that make God manifest in the world” (182). However, this is not to disregard the human focus of Kaplan’s theology: His Reconstructionism is fundamentally anthropocentric. The root principal and character of any religion is located within human life. He claims, “Religion is primarily a social phenomenon, to grasp its reality, to observe its workings and to further its growth we must study its functioning in some social group.” (xii). Thus, the essence of religion is not a body of belief or dogma but its practice – it is a doing. In the practice of religion, we experience that power which we call God, and are connected with the very real heart of the universe. “God must not merely be held as an idea; He must be felt as a presence if we want not only to know about God but to know God.” (244) God here is much more than a postulate; He is experienced as a real force. Kaplan laments the naivety of those who attempt to find knowledge of God via theoretical means, comparing them to a scientist who intellectually understands the process by which fire happens, but does not have as real a knowledge of fire as the child who burns his hand on a match. For Kaplan it is the human end, that which happens in our experiential

reality which is of ultimate value, and not the abstract physical process which leads to it. Although he respects science for its discoveries, he argues that these can never give us the framework for understanding our place in the cosmos. His is thus a phenomenological theology: the religious is defined from inside of human life, rather than theorised about as an independent reality. This is not a new concept, but Kaplan’s critical development is in his understanding that human life is not the life of an individual. Rather, the individual is constituted socially, and to the extent that an individual can be religious, he can only find religious fulfilment (i.e. salvation) as part of a community of believers. Personal religion is, for Kaplan, always subject to disintegration or corruption. Such separation will inevitably lead the individual away from the sacred, because this is not something within the individual so much as something found within the active life of the community. This is evident in Kaplan’s notion of ‘Whole-souled gratitude to God’. This is the complete fulfilment of human happiness and the only correct way to practice religion; it “presupposes that we conceive of God as the apotheosis of the interrelated unity of all reality” (226). By offering our complete gratitude to God we are accepting the whole of the world as sacred. To separate oneself from others is tantamount to separating oneself from God. This “grateful appreciation...represents the highest aspiration of the human soul for experiencing the goodness or godliness of life” (227). As such, it is fundamentally immanent, for such a view of the sacred cannot be divorced from the immediacy of life, matter and human action. It both serves to further integrate the human into his or her context within society and the world, and symbolises an awareness of this integration. The holistic current is ever-present in Kaplan’s thought, and it is this which prevents him falling into reductionism: if belief in God means to perceive “life’s creative forces, tendencies and potentialities as forming an organic unity” then our words are more than just empty signifiers; they point to a very definite conception, albeit not an ontological one.

Subjectivity in Kaplan and Wittgenstein
It is immediately clear that there are strong similarities between the two philosophers, Kaplan and Wittgenstein. In seeking to redefine our usage of religious concepts such as ‘God’ and ‘salvation’, Kaplan is embarking on a Wittgensteinian task of linguistic philosophy. Wittgenstein wrote that “Sometimes an expression has to be withdrawn from usage and sent for cleaning, - then it can be put back into circulation.” (1980:39) Kaplan’s attempt to rescue religious terminology from the blunt ontological implications of a ‘realist’ interpretation, demands such a cleaning and an examination of the words’ actual usage within their religious context. For Wittgenstein, we are often led astray by a strictly literal conception of language: in reviewing the theory of language he proposed in the Tractatus, he argued that words are not essentially descriptive, pointing to discrete (physical or metaphysical) objects, but are doings. They are not constituted primarily by a signified thing to which they

refer, rather they are constituted by their usage within a specific linguistic context. Outside of this context they cannot be understood at all – they are meaningless. Of course, Kaplan is not primarily a philosopher of language2. His examination of the language of religion is part not of a broader examination of meaning, but of a philosophy of living, and specifically of Jewish living. As such he is not interested in the limits of language, or the difference between what can logically be said and what cannot. However, when Wittgenstein claims that the ‘meaning of the world’, something that lies outside of the factual boundaries of the world, may be given the name God, we are likely to perceive a similar sentiment to Kaplan’s belief that ‘God’ is a term articulating our fundamental goals and values. For each thinker the term is not to be understood as pointing to an object, but as a principle which the human finds above and beyond the material facts. In his streamlining of religion, Kaplan claims, “No metaphysical speculation beyond this fundamental assumption that reality assures both the emergence and the realization of human ideals is necessary for the religious life.” (1994:29). Despite this, Kaplan verges onto a metaphysical systematisation when he describes the structure of the cosmos as being fundamentally in-tune with human ideals and needs. At this point in his philosophy, he approaches a deistic theology which claims that our purpose is aligning ourselves with an underlying cosmic order. At first sight this presents a challenge to the Wittgensteinian understanding, however, we would be doing Kaplan a disservice in not probing the subtleties here. For both thinkers there is a fundamental location of thought within subjective human life. They are attempting not to describe some objective reality, but are thinking from within the world of the individual human experience. Indeed, both thinkers are concerned by a trend they perceive towards ‘dehumanising’ knowledge and attempting to locate truth outside of human subjectivity. For Wittgenstein, language is often not descriptive: it does not depict the world but demonstrates a framework via which we makes sense of the world. Our metaphysical statements, which may be mistakenly taken as describing nonmaterial states of affairs, are actually not “factual” at all. They define rather our own interpretation. In the example of the duck-rabbit drawing3, no facts about the picture change when our perception shifts from one to the other interpretation. Yet in a holistic sense, what we see is completely different. Because the elements have been given a new context (the shape of a rabbit, or of a duck), their relationship to one another, and the subject’s relationship to the whole, has become entirely different. So it is with religious language. For both Wittgenstein and Kaplan, to place a religious interpretation onto life makes no
2

Scult argues he is fundamentally a sociologist; that “Kaplan the sociologist is more talented than Kaplan the metaphysician” (1994:xv)

3

1953:194

change or addition to the elements which constitute reality; it does not posit the existence of some supernatural being or spirit world. Rather, it rearranges the elements of life in such a way that a new meaning emerges, and a new kind of relationship is possible. It localises the believer within a context of universal direction, whereby meaning is conferred, and ‘salvation’ is possible. However, “This should not be interpreted as implying that the belief in God is purely subjective, a figment of the imagination rather than an interpretation of reality. One might as well say that, since the awareness of colour is a subjective experience, it is entirely a creation of the eye, and that no objective reality is responsible for the eye experiencing colour.” (1994:306) This is to say that just because it is an interpretation of reality, does not make it subservient to any other, putatively literal, interpretation. Kaplan claims that the true distinction is not between the atheist and the theist, but between those who see meaning and order in the world, and those who do not. The former see sufficient reason to work towards a better future, towards the attainment of personal and social regeneration as a genuine possibility, in opposition to the chaotic meaninglessness epitomised by Bertrand Russell’s “brief and powerless is man’s life. On him and all his race the slow sure doom falls pitiless and dark”. Wittgenstein believes also that if there is a difference between the world of the believer and that of the atheist, it is mostly in how each connects the same facts. He muses that if anything could convince one to believe in God, it is an upbringing which indoctrinates one to sense a tendency in life toward order (1980:85). The inference from this of an orderer is only secondary; primary is the intuitive feeling of safety within an ordered world. If belief in God does not add anything to world but is at root simply a way of ordering the existing information, what kind of statement does this make it? It seems to be metaphysical but in the truest sense: it describes that which is outside the physical, trans-factual; it describes the context of the actual world taken as a whole. It talks over, rather than of, the physical. For this reason, Wittgenstein can make a statement almost directly parallel to Kaplan’s: “In order to live happily I must be in agreement with the world. And this is what ‘being happy’ means.”(1961:75). To not feel tension between oneself and the world but to be smoothly at one without disagreement is happiness. Further, Wittgenstein claims that being “in agreement with that alien will on which I appear to depend” is the same as “doing the will of God” (ibid). Wittgenstein does not need to systematise this conception to the degree Kaplan does, but the sentiment is the same: the individual must locate themselves within their world; we must not separate ourselves in searching for some transcendent truth for the truth exists in and as the world we experience. In finding oneself aligned with the world, we are at peace with ourselves. It is in

finding a context in which everything falls into place that happiness exists, and that the religious finds its fullest validation. Given this Wittgensteinian twist we are also in a position to review Kaplan’s apparently deistic statement. The order which Kaplan promotes in the cosmos, the unity of the cosmos and the human, need not be a factual statement about the world. Instead we can understand it as a statement of dedication. Kaplan is arguing that in order to retrieve the religious and to make possible the attainment of salvation and all that that means for human life, we must perceive ourselves as integrated into a benign cosmic order which is not indifferent to our struggle. This is not a deceptive statement, and I do not intend to claim Kaplan is making this claim while believing that there can be no such metaphysical purpose. Rather, Kaplan understands that the religious and the irreligious are merely different ways of ordering one’s life; with the crucial caveat that those who order according to a religious pattern are infinitely more likely to achieve salvation than those for whom the concept is meaningless. Order, harmony and righteousness are something one can imbue the world with, and by doing so, evoke in one's own character. Conclusively, Kaplan states “To the question ‘is salvation attainable?’ The Jewish religion answers: ‘Seek it and find out’.” (1994:84) The question must be interpreted as an imperative to action, not as one to be reasoned about and then answered. To do this is to miss the point entirely. The attempt to attain salvation is a (perhaps the) valid way of life regardless of the metaphysical status of 'salvation'. By seeking it, we make it. We begin to see here a current of radical integration – or immanence - which is shared by Kaplan and Wittgenstein. This current reaches deep into both their philosophies.

Immanence in Kaplan and Wittgenstein
In the study of Wittgenstein’s religious thought it is an easy fallacy to place him in an ‘expressivist’ camp, in contradistinction to a literalist-instrumentalist camp. If the latter understands religious language as delineating factual claims about reality, and religio-magical actions (such as prayer) as attempts to influence events or spiritual beings, then Wittgenstein could be understood to claim that such language and actions are indications solely of emotions, desires and statesof-mind. By this view, to pray is not an attempt to precipitate results, but the expression of a wish. However, this is tantamount to placing religious language and action under a ‘metaphorical’ banner, meaning that it could be phrased better in some other, more literally descriptive, way. Wittgenstein was quite clear that this could not be the case: “a simile must be a simile of something. And if I can describe a fact by means of a simile I must also be able to drop the simile and describe the facts without it.” (1965:10). We have seen that for both Kaplan and Wittgenstein, religious language is not reducible or equivalent to

facts, but is a different kind of statement. To pray is an action, not an expression of a mental state: It does not describe but creates a relationship with the world. Brian Clack (1999) believes that Wittgenstein was attempting to place such behaviour as pre-rational. Religious rites are performed instinctively, without ratiocination, in the same way that we move away from the cause of pain instinctively. We do not reason out that the fire is burning us prior to withdrawing our hand: the opposite is the case. Similarly, Wittgenstein attempts to address religion as a pre-rational, and therefore pre-linguistic, activity. Once we begin to rationalise (something we can only do via language) about our behaviour, we seem to introduce misunderstanding into it straight away (one could argue: any attempt to ‘understand’ distorts by a process of intellectualisation). This can best be understood within the early philosophy of the Tractatus, from which it is clear that God-talk, although valid, can never be admitted into the realm of discourse: it describes an arena beyond the factual, and therefore beyond the power of factual, descriptive, language to make sense of. The religious then cannot be adequately formulated or expressed in any way: it cannot be said, only shown by its use. That it does not describe facts about the world means that it also cannot be metaphor for facts about the world. To attempt to explain religious behaviour by reference to states-of-affairs (including states-of-mind) is fundamentally flawed. Wittgenstein (1979) disputes the historical-causal account of religious rites apparent in Frazer’s Golden Bough, not because it is incorrect, but because it is an unsubstantial justification: the reason religious rites are practised is not some event thousands of years ago to which they bear resemblance, but is apparent in the practice of the rites now. We can see here a remeniscence of Kaplan’s attempt to explicate the practice of Jewish festivals by explicating their direct relevance to contemporary religious life: their past does not matter, it is their effect which justifies them. For Wittgenstein the roots of religious behaviour cannot be explained rationally, and should not be explained causally. These attempts provide only hypotheses, but religious action is not a theoretical approach to the world: he compares burning an effigy to kissing a loved one's picture, “This is obviously not based on a belief that it will have a definite effect on the object which the picture represents. It aims at some satisfaction and it achieves it. Or rather, it does not aim at anything; we act in this way and then feel satisfied.” (1979:4) The ritual and the effect it has on us explain its use perfectly. It is the horror, the awe, the sense of purpose we acquire from, initially religious rites, but now also religious thought and doctrine, which explain why we do them. Thus, religion does not express existing interior mind-states, but if anything, is itself the realisation of mind-states. Wittgenstein’s project in his later philosophy, is precisely anti-depth: he seeks to flatten life into a single palate. As the frontispiece of Philosophical Investigations, he quotes St. Augustine's description of an infantile acquisition of language via a process of becoming able to express his thoughts and desires by the name-tools given to him by adults. Wittgenstein

argues vociferously against the dualism apparent in this view: language does not express thoughts, and it is certainly not to be treated as a means of articulating interior states which exist regardless of it. To believe this is to hold the mind as some isolated ghost within the shell of the body, slowly learning how to communicate across the gulf that bodies create. This isolation of individuals, what Fergus Kerr has called the ‘epistemological solitude of the self’, is a primal fallacy of western metaphysics against which Wittgenstein railed: if mind and matter can be separated at all, this is only a very recent development in human thought. Instead, our mind or spirit happens through our bodies (and words); we are diaphanous, transparent to others by our actions except when we deliberately attempt to conceal ourselves. The implication of this is that one’s self is realised via action. It is our public behaviour and interaction which constitutes us; we are what we are by virtue of what we do, not because of some gaseous thing which lurks inside us. When Wittgenstein states that “The human being is the best picture of the human soul” (1980:49), and “The face is the soul of the body” (1980:23), he is understanding the soul not ontologically, yet not quite metaphorically either. One can see how Kaplan’s thoroughly immanent theology reflects – and perhaps expands – upon this. Not only does Kaplan agree with Wittgenstein’s emphasis on action, believing that the human spirit is forged in the fires of striving and hard work, but his emphasis on the divine not as a being which communicates to us through life, but which is realised in the world and in our own actions, serves to integrate God into the cosmos. God is no longer a metaphysical proposition separate from real life, who performs miracles to gain our attention: God’s essence is present to us, happens through and as the world. He laments that some of his contemporaries express a disconnectedness from the spiritual reality and presence of Jewish rites. This disconnectedness does not expose a problem in the rites, or a mistake in the religion, but reveals a disconnection in the individual from the deep cultural context essential to experiencing the ritual as it is intended: “It is significant that in past ages...this particular complaint that the individual could not experience God in the worship of the synagogue was unheard of.” (1994:263-4). The problem therefore is in what we may be expecting from the rites. Just as our ontological conception of divinity is deeply problematic, so our expectation to experience some theophanic presence unlike anything in the real world or everyday life is a naivety typical of the modern age’s dislocation from both the function of religion and its integration into everyday life. Just as for Wittgenstein, we know someone is in pain when we see them cradling a limb and whimpering, for Kaplan we fully know God in the living of a religious life. To require further 'proof' is to speculate beyond what is reasonable, and to postulate a metaphysics which is beyond experience. Wittgenstein is similarly scathing about the problem of 'other minds': “Do I believe in a soul in someone else, when I look into his eyes with astonishment and delight?” (quoted from Kerr, 1986:93). To posit such philosophical questions is to deliberately lose touch with the immediacy with which truth is present to us in life.

Thus, we can see a typically modern reversal of metaphysics at work here: For Kaplan, to the extent that we can talk of religious truth ‘existing’, it exists in and as human religious action. Rather than the spiritual being a primordial truth which creates the world and generates the necessity of religious practice, it is the practice of religion in real life which leads to what we consider to be transcendental in religion - its theoretical component and the attainment of salvation within the kingdom of God. In the same way that Wittgenstein rejects the dualistic picture of language as a tool for communicating thoughts between minds, so for Kaplan religion is not a dualistic means of subsuming the material under the spiritual. Rather, it is a means of realising, or bringing-out, of the spiritual from the material. That which we call the spiritual is not prior or superior to the physical, but is the elements of life which are most transcendent in their value, and which are produced when we are set free from our base desires and animalistic drives. Religion for Kaplan provides a cohesive system of motivation which allows humanity to achieve their potential and better themselves and their world. By justifying the integrity of the individual, we create a freedom and responsibility which is impossible if the individual is understood as the sum of biological drives; and by integrating the community, we create a structure which promotes the benefit of all. This antireductionist picture is apparent in Wittgenstein when he reminds us that we still call a perfume 'beautiful' even though it is derived from foul-smelling acids. (McCutcheon 2001:52) Daniel Breslauer (1994) has defended Kaplan against accusations that by rationalising the faith, he has lost its heart, which is to be identified as the personal relationship with God. Breslauer argues that Kaplan’s functional approach in fact works precisely in the opposite direction: he understands that the heart of religion is its practice and the effect this practice has on the individual and community. By attempting to reclothe this pre-rational religious urge so as to make it once more effective, Kaplan is performing the very Wittgensteinian task of rescuing action from belief and meaning from the tyranny of intellect. Whatever theoretical 'face' religion is given is a functional means of utilising its pre-rational power of imbuing life with meaning, and thereby making the most meaningful and valuable of lives possible. Wittgenstein says that “nothing is more wrong-headed than calling meaning a mental activity” (1953:693), for it happens in the world – we must not reduce it to some flimsy ethereal narrative that the mind casts over meaningless objectivity. In claiming that ‘belief’ as a factual proposition is essentially discardable, Kaplan recreates a unity of the subtle subconscious and material action, no longer divided by the tyrannical ‘mind of the subject’ which has for too long claimed that it and its secret inner workings determine meaning and therefore confer value on the world. The relationship to the divine is not to be found in quiet prayer or the workings of the mind but in involvement with the world, with people, with the community. Wittgenstein came to the conclusion that meaning does not exist in and is not created by the individual consciousness but in and by the practical use of

language and signs in the public world. When we analyse language as Russell, the early Wittgenstein, and the logical positivists did, we are not reaching the essence which underlies implicit in every linguistic act, we are drawing an abstract out from language’s home environment of particular, specific usage. Kaplan addresses theology in the same way: the essence of the divine is not some ethereal postulation abstracted from the world, but is found in the world, in every act and every life. Just as for Wittgenstein ‘I’ does not refer to an object in the world one experiences but to that world itself, (“I am my world” 1992:5.63), God is completely integrated into the world. He is not concealed from the physical but revealed by it; as it. Just as the principal role of the rational animal is not depiction, neither are we here to believe, to merely develop a mind-state which mirrors reality...not here to ‘be right’. We are here to do right.

Conclusion Kaplan’s theological project is precisely a Wittgensteinian one: to withdraw from speculation the term ‘God’, clean it, examine it, see what its usage actually is, in order to scrape off centuries of mouldy metaphysical association which have clung to it and weighed it down – and then, refreshed and sparkling, release it back into circulation with a newly refined and pragmatic meaning – one whose poetry is not mistaken for prose. In denying the metaphysical dualism of classical theology, Kaplan performs the same revisionary task that Wittgenstein attempts in denying the Cartesian dualism of the self. Both have sought to integrate and flatten the apparently divided world we inhabit, promoting action over sterile thought and emphasising the ethical life as the pinnacle of human achievement. For both, the religious defines that which is above and beyond the material facts described by science. However, they do not speculate about the objective nature of this, for to do so is meaningless (for Wittgenstein, technically so). Rather, they understand the role of the human in ordering reality and the fundamental unsatisfactoriness of a reductionist factual account, which can only be resolved by the integration of a higher unity into subjective experience. The most important and enlightening similarity, though it is at first somewhat obfuscated, is in their phenomenological base, a quality which is linked to their immanentism: both thinkers see the fundamental level of truth as experiential, and forego any attempts to probe beyond into some objective netherworld. With this move, the objective status of religious truth is neither affirmed nor denied but made a non-question. A secondary function of this is to make the distinction between religious thought and non-religious thought an ideological rather than ontological one. In denying the common interpretation of religious metaphysics as ontological, they breathe new life and dynamic power into both the religious and ideological spheres.

Bibliography: Primary Texts Kaplan, Mordecai M. 1937. The Meaning of God in Jewish Religion. (reprinted 1994). Wayne State University Press. Detroit. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1922 (reprinted 1974). Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (trans: Pears & McGuinness). Routledge. London. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1953 (new edition 1968). Philosophical Investigations. Blackwell. Oxford. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1961. Notebooks 1914-16. Blackwell. Oxford. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1965. “A Lecture on Ethics (1930)” in Philosophical Review Vol.74 pp.3-12. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1979. Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough. Brynmill. Herefordshire. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1980. Culture and Value. University of Chicago Press.

Secondary Texts. Breslauer, S. Daniel. 1994. Mordecai Kaplan's Thought in a Postmodern Age. Scholar's Press. Atlanta. Clack, Brian R. 1999. Wittgenstein, Frazer and Religion. Macmillan Press Ltd. Basingstoke Clack, Brian R. 1999. An Introduction to Wittgenstein's Philosophy of Religion. Edinburgh University Press. Edinburgh. Kerr, Fergus. 1986. Theology After Wittgenstein. Basil Blackwell. Oxford/New York. McCutcheon, Felicity. 2001. Religion Within the Limits of Language Alone. Ashgate. London