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Title: The textures of 'belief' : an interdisciplinary study towards a social scientific epistemology
Author: Bae, Bosco Byungeun
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 7600
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2015
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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.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available