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Volume 46 • Number 1

January 2009



Contextual Adaptation

by James Ross

The question is about contextual adaptation of meaning, a matter of philosophy of language, occasioned here by a disagreement among philosophers of religion about whether words, like “knows,” “wills,” “loves,” “commands,” “does,” used for common attributes of humans and the divine, and even “exists” as applied to both, mean the same or acquire divergences of meaning from the discourse contexts. I call the first group “reformers” and the other “analogists.” Analogists think the reformers are anthropomorphic, contributing to popular naive imaginings about God as “a person like us,” while the reformers think the analogists are grafting Hellenic ideas onto biblical faith. That is not a new dispute, of course. But there is a separable linguistic facet of it, examined here, that has wider applications to philosophy in general.

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ISSN: 2152-1123