Language, Reality, and God? OR Existentialism?

Classes resume next week and I still cannot decide which of two Philosophy classes to take. One is a 2000 level and the other a 3000 level but both are taught by profs I enjoy, and both are equally appealing. But, I can only take one of them. Therefore, dear readers, I need your help. Which of these two classes should I take? And why?

Aquinas & Wittgenstein: Language, Reality, and God (2000)
Anthony Kenny, The Wittgenstein Reader
Mary T. Clark, An Aquinas Reader
Roger Pouivet, After Wittgenstein, St. Thomas
(Taking this class would cost me $90.94 for texts)


Existentialism: Dostoevsky, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche (3000)
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Soren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death
Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
(Taking this class would cost me $28.75 for texts because I already own the Kierkegaard).


11 comments on “Language, Reality, and God? OR Existentialism?

  1. Michael says:

    Aquinas and Wittgenstein. Definitely.

    • Michael says:

      I should admit my answer is biased by my current reading of Stephen Long’s impressive Speaking of God: Theology, Language, and Truth. Very catholic, in all senses.

  2. jonathan says:

    Sorry, I have to disagree. The Brothers Karamazov was the single most important text I read during my undergrad.

    Then again, these courses are taught by two different profs. I’ve never taken a course with Justin, but I’ve heard good things. And I know a few people who took Aquinas and Wittgenstein. Reviews were mixed. And besides, Fergus Kerr’s Theology After Wittgenstein is noticeably absent from the above list.

  3. myles says:

    yeah–both of those classes are misnomers. Aquinas wasn’t a post-liberal, and Dostoevsky wasn’t an existentialist. Skip them both, or if you have to choose, go with Aquinas, though that approach is so problematic.

  4. Clearly the second. Take the time to thoroughly read and engage with those three texts I cannot imagine you would be disappointed . . . but I am verybiased on this question.

  5. Kampen says:

    Myles: Can you say more about your critique of the Aquinas & Wittgenstein class?

  6. myles says:

    At the bottom, my problem is that Aquinas isn’t doing language games which are incumbent upon rightly formed hermeneutical vision. The best example I can think of is the sacraments, where he warns against having the unbaptized partake of the elements because…they are truly the thing in substance. Wittgenstein can highlight the internal nature of sacramental language, but I find his approach at odds with a natural law approach which would posit that truth claims are ultimately dependent upon the giver of truth claims (God) instead of communal appropriations of language.

  7. And the winner is . . . ?

  8. dbarber says:

    I’d second Myles note about the coherence of the titles, but to be honest what matters is to read people. And on that count, definitely go with “Existentialism” – reading Nietzsche and Kierkegaard opens the mind more than does reading Aquinas and a Thomized Wittgenstein.

  9. myles says:

    I have to disagree with Dan on this–I think the modern mind is already geared toward Nietzsche, though maybe not as much Kierkegaard. But Aquinas confronts us with a nuanced world that’s totally foreign, so long as we don’t reduce him to Wittgenstein.

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