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Title: James K.A. Smith and the possibility of a postmodern Christian epistemology : a constructive proposal
Author: Shin, Yoon H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 666X
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2019
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Postmodernism is often seen as an enemy of the Christian faith. The term conjures up images of alethic relativism and moral decay. Yet, James K. A. Smith argues that postmodernism helps recover a certain ethos of the Christian faith which was lost or distorted in modernity: namely, acknowledgement that the situated embodiment of good creation supports an embodied hermeneutics of knowledge, best conceived in terms of narrative, affective "know-how." However, I criticize Smith for his sub-cognitivism, misunderstandings of realism, correspondence view of truth, and foundationalism, and general lack of epistemic prescription. Through exposition, critique, and repair of Smith's postmodern epistemology, this project proposes a more robust postmodern Christian epistemology that answers criticism of postmodernism as hopelessly relativistic and arbitrary. Situatedness is basic to Smith's postmodern ethos, so chapter one exposits aspects of the three traditions which Smith inhabits-postmodernism, pentecostalism, and the Reformed tradition-in order to situate and understand his epistemology. With assistance from moral psychology and the philosophy of emotion, chapter two investigates and repairs Smith's most explicit presentation of his epistemology-what he calls a "pentecostal epistemology"-while concluding that it is not in fact uniquely pentecostal. Chapter three investigates the epistemological themes in Smith's wider corpus, presenting him as a postliberal philosopher. By showing his misunderstanding of George Lindbeck and reading Smith against Smith, I argue that Smith's account of knowledge is in fact epistemologically and ontologically realist and referentialist in significant ways. Chapter four enlists the assistance of Reformed epistemology. The chapter establishes the congeniality between aspects of Reformed epistemology and Smith's program when approached as viable dialogue partners, and utilizes the strengths of Reformed epistemology to provide constructive analysis and amendment of Smith's epistemology. The project concludes by proposing the possibility of and recommending the merits of a postmodern Christian epistemology that is both hermeneutic and holistic, while also epistemologically and ontologically realist and foundationalist.
Supervisor: Ziegler, Philip Gordon Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Postmodernism ; Knowledge, Theory of (Religion)