Week 5: Epistemology – Knowledge and Science

  1. For the next two weeks we will spend time thinking about the epistemological and philosophical bases for exploring religion in the context of the university, where complex issues regularly spark our thinking.  Before diving into a range of examples of religious environmental thinking later this semester, we will examine foundational philosophical and epistemological views that help us set a framework for responsible discussion of controversial concepts like “religion” and “politics.”
  2. “Religion and the Environment” may not be a topic that yields tidy answers to every question – it may in fact be a topic that leads to more questions than answers! – but by setting down ground rules for meaningful and respectful dialogue, we can set the table for deeper examination of all of the course material.
  3. Questions like the following will guide our discussions this week: What does it mean to “know” something in science? What does it mean to “know” something in religion?  What approaches to knowledge have been formative in the West? How do rational/cognitive ways of knowing relate to reflective/intuitional forms of understanding? What implications does the notion of “knowledge as power” have for human relations with nature?