Tuesday, 19 April 2011


 In this video I define symbol, distinguish between sign and symbol and equivocal and univocal language, look at arguments put forward by Tillich, Ricoeur, Gilkey, Wittenstein and end with a quote from Rowan Williams. 

1. Another means for describing God.
1. There can never be one interpretation of symbols E.G. Swastika adopted by Natzis changed the way Hindus interpret it. 
2. It avoids anthropomorphic descriptions of God.

3. Don’t claim to be cognitive. Symbols aren’t designed to deal with God’s existence and if they were cognitive we would interpret them in a cognitive fashion.
3. Being non-cognitive makes them meaningless under the verification and falsification theory which implies God too is meaningless and does not exist. 
4. Symbols properly understood are a means to an end, not an end in themselves. The excess veneration of the holy communion in Medieval England has as much to do with social, political and historic factors. They were worshipping the ‘host’ (bread) because of a variety of factors.
4. Symbols can become an end in themselves as people start worshipping them.
5. Tillich argues they don’t have a time period, they enable believers living in their own time to reapply perennial religious insights in a way that makes sense to a contemporary theist. 
5. Symbols are outdated e.g. in Christianity we refer to God as the father, son and holy spirit but many scholars suggest that mother and friend may be more appropriate. 
6. Symbols are organic - they change, grow and develop in keeping with the condition.
6. ‘Light’ and other things are a physical phenomenon not symbols.

7. Critics argues that Tilich’s belief in ‘being’ as opposed to ‘a being’ is grammatically incorrect. A grammatical concept cannot be used to refer to ‘some mysterious existential notion of being’.

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