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Durham e-Theses
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The Textures of 'Belief': An interdisciplinary study towards a social scientific epistemology

BAE, BOSCO,BYUNGEUN (2015) The Textures of 'Belief': An interdisciplinary study towards a social scientific epistemology. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

Full text not available from this repository.
Author-imposed embargo until 28 October 2018.

Abstract

This thesis develops an interdisciplinary dialogue between philosophy and the social sciences through an investigation of ‘belief.’ Drawing on anthropology, epistemology, and social psychology, the thesis argues that epistemology can assist social science through its analytic utility and capacity for clarification in distinguishing the textures of ‘belief’ while social science challenges epistemology to develop a more descriptive, interactive, and multidimensional account of ‘belief.’ The thesis further argues that ‘beliefs’ bind society and individual together and serve as the units of embodiment and cultural history.

Beginning with the anthropology of religion, the problematization of ‘belief’ is first addressed through critiques from Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rodney Needham, Talal Asad, and Malcolm Ruel. In continuation, contemporary anthropological proposals are outlined and an initial set of characteristics are presented to launch the interdisciplinary dialogue. The thesis then introduces an epistemological distinction between belief and acceptance as a conversational partner, which not only provides nuance and texture but situates ‘belief’ within the paradigm of embodiment. Noting the observation of inconsistent ‘beliefs,’ the thesis engages with the theory of cognitive dissonance to provide additional insight. This exchange between philosophy and the social sciences produces a more sophisticated and dynamic epistemology as well as a sharper focus for discerning ‘belief.’ This discussion is then brought into methodological focus through the themes of ‘crisis’ and ‘conversion.’ After discussing the literature on these themes, the thesis applies the combined treatment of philosophy and social science to three case studies: When Prophecy Fails (1956), Believing Identity: Pentecostalism and the Mediation of Jamaican Ethnicity and Gender in England (1997), and Divinity and Experience: Religion of the Dinka (1961). The thesis concludes with a discussion of the respective contributions epistemology and the social sciences make to each other as well as future possibilities for research.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Study of Religion, Anthropology of Religion, Belief, Acceptance, Habitus, Epistemology, Cognitive Dissonance, Crisis, Conversion, Methodology
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Theology and Religion, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Oct 2015 12:07

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