In this response to D. Z. Phillips's critique of my interpretation of Wittgenstein's view of magic and ritual, I counter Phillips's claim that I have misrepresented the Wittgensteinian view of ritual, consider the instrumentalist dimension of the Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, offer some objections to Phillips's expressivist view that a ritual ‘says itself’, and detect obscurantism in his approach to the study of religion.
In the first full-length analysis of Wittgenstein's Remarks on Frazer's Golden Bough, Brian R. Clack presents a fresh and innovative interpretation of Wittgenstein's conception of religion. While previous commentators have tended to sideline the Remarks on Frazer, Clack shows how the key to Wittgenstein's thought on religion lies in these remarks on primitive magico-religious observances. This book shows that Wittgenstein neither embraces expressivism, as it is generally assumed, nor straightforwardly denies instrumentalism. Focusing instead on Wittgenstein's suggestion that magic (...) is somehow akin to metaphysics, a view of ritual as the spontaneous expression of human beings (conceived as "ceremonial animals") is presented. (shrink)