Invisible Episteme - The Mirrors and String of Modernity
Thesis DisciplineReligious Studies
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis is an interrogation into the epistemological structures which underpin modernity, the project and claim which has come to significantly shape the contemporary world. Following a line of inquiry which analyses the intersections between knowledge, power, and history, this paper examines how signifiers such as religion and culture have come to designate ‘otherness’ in the context of modernity. The assignment of such terms to beliefs, values, worldviews, and ideologies that are not readily assimilated by the epistemological framework of modernity is problematised as a central obstacle to mediating social and political difficulties in modern contexts.
The argument is that the issue of ‘what counts for knowledge’ has been progressively ‘closed’ through particular historical processes in which the shift from a societal model based upon Judeo-Christian tenets, to secular modernity, has been rendered invisible. The ‘other’ has, through these processes, become twice-removed from epistemological validity: in the first instance, as the ‘pagan’ other in early Christian contexts; in the second instance, as the ‘religious’ or ‘cultural’ other within a secular that is falsely claimed to have been liberated from its theological roots. These epistemological marginalisations impact significantly on social life, especially in the areas of education and medicine.
The invisibility of the shift from Christianity to secular modernity is also perpetuated by the separation of social life and knowledge production into distinct ‘spheres’, as mirrored by the arrangement of disciplinary spheres established within the modern universities. The conclusion is that a transdisciplinary space is therefore required to engage philosophically and critically with the now internalised Christian bias of modernity.