Nova Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA)

Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities – Nova University of Lisbon (NOVA FCSH)

Two-day Masterclass on Wittgenstein’s Epistemology of Religion with Professor José María Ariso (UNIR, Madrid)


26 February 2020

18-21, FCSH, Av. de Berna, Room TA 03

Religious certainty: What it is and to what extent it can be taught

In the first session, Professor Ariso will present the concept of “religious certainty” he has developed by drawing inspiration from Wittgenstein’s notion of “certainty”. After describing the particular traits of religious certainty, he will address two difficulties derived from this concept. On the one hand, he will explain why religious certainty functions as such even though all its consequences are far from being absolutely clear; on the other hand, he will clarify why, unlike the rest of certainties, the loss of religious certainty does not result in the collapse of the world-picture made up of all certainties. Subsequently, he will analyse the extent to which the teacher can teach religious certainty by acting as a facilitator for its acquisition – if desired – particularly bearing in mind that religious certainty cannot be attained at will.

28 February 2020

10-12, FCSH, Campolide, Room CAN 219

Advantages and paradoxes of regarding omniscience as subjective certainty in Wittgenstein’s sense

In the second session, Professor Ariso will try to facilitate understanding of the concept of “omniscience” by taking into account the terminology developed in Wittgenstein’s On Certainty. Thus, he will start by explaining why omniscience can be regarded neither as grounded knowledge nor as ungrounded or objective certainty. Instead, omniscience might be considered as subjective certainty, which has the advantage of leaving scope for a doubt that enables and strengthens religious faith. Lastly, he will clarify how God’s omniscience would be enriched if He were informed of – without needing to share – our objective certainties, in addition to which he will highlight two paradoxes that would arise if we disagreed with God regarding some of our objective certainties. These paradoxes reveal that even though the believer could not understand God’s statement literally, it might strengthen her faith if she realized and accepted that a true and consistent commitment to such statement entails the suspension of her own capacity for judgment.

José Maria Ariso has studied philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid. After obtaining his PhD in 2003, he spent some research stays in Norwegian (Bergen) and German (Leipzig, Kassel, TU-Berlin and Frankfurt) universities. Since 2011 he has been an assistant professor in the Department of Education at the International University of La Rioja. He has published books, several chapters in edited volumes and a number of articles in international journals. His main line of investigation is the analysis of Wittgenstein’s later work, but his research interests also cover the fields of philosophy of education, philosophy of psychiatry, philosophy of technology, theory of knowledge and Spanish contemporary philosophy. He is the author of Wahnsinn und Wissen: Zu Wittgensteins Lage und Denkbewegung (Königshausen & Neumann, 2012), the editor of Augmented Reality: Reflections on Its Contribution to Knowledge Formation (De Gruyter, 2017) and the co-editor (with Astrid Wagner) of Rationality Reconsidered: Ortega y Gasset and Wittgenstein on Knowledge, Belief, and Practice (De Gruyter, 2016).  

This masterclass is organized within the framework of the FCT-funded project “Epistemology of Religious Belief: Wittgenstein, Grammar and the Contemporary World” (PTDC/FER-FIL/32203/2017, PI: Nuno Venturinha), hosted by the Reasoning and Argumentation Laboratory (ArgLab) of IFILNOVA.

Attendance is free of charge.For more information about the project, please visit: