Wittgenstein remarked to a friend that although he was not religious, he approached things from "a religious point of view." To cast light on what he meant I turn to two works Wittgenstein is known to have read and admired, one by William James and the other by Leo Tolstoy. I looked for similar themes in their work and the philosophical works of Wittgenstein, with results that, while not conclusive, are quite suggestive.
An atomistic model of society leads us to address injustices in terms of individual rights, but rights are curious possessions and don't always give the protection that's needed. Examples are patient's rights, children's rights and a fetus's right to life, all of which go wrong because they assume that the subjects are independent and autonomous. This assumption often fails. Rights work where people are in a position to press them; for others they give only a caricature of justice.
An essay to develop some of Wittgenstein's remarks about the notion of 'criteria' and to give the concept clarity even at the expense of some features Wittgenstein claimed for it. This effort was made because of the important role 'criteria' plays in Wittgenstein's discussions of feelings and mental states, and it is hoped that a defense of 'criteria' will make those discussions more coherent. An attempt is made to relate this notion of 'criteria' to the definition and expression of mental (...) states, following some of Wittgenstein's suggestions, and to rebut skepticism about other minds. (shrink)