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Cultural Epistemology

Class at Hussite Theological Faculty |


Each class meeting will consist of a combination of lecture and discussion; students will be assigned a series of readings, both academic and popular, to be discussed each week in class. The focus of which will include: 1: Introduction and overview: What is culture, how is it formed, and how do we learn from it? 2: What does it mean to learn (i.e., what is epistemology)? – Asimov 3: What tension exists (if any) between the ‘me’ and the ‘I’ – and how does this shape both cultural and individual knowing? – Mead 4: ‘Universal’ theory of culture as local; – Benedict 5: The paradigm theory, and cultural change – Kuhn 6: The role of imagination in the reconstruction of social paradigms – Mills 7: Renewing culture and rediscovering the self through greater knowing – Miller 8: Battling cultural and epistemic ‘relativity’ – Korzybski 9: Culture, individuality, and co-evolution – Ostdiek 10: Conclusion: How can we most effectively reshape the culture that has shaped us, so as to improve our knowing, our knowing of each other, and our collective living?


This course explores questions of cultural import. To what extent are, and are not individuals shaped by society – and society shaped by individuals? What does it mean to ‘think like a Czech (or Chinese, etc.)?’ What role does the ‘social’ vs. ‘cultural’ divide play in the making of individuals? How have we (as individuals, cohorts, and species) used the obvious interplay of self and society for the benefit of ourselves – as individuals, cohorts, and species? More importantly, how have done so to our detriment, and how can we do better? These questions open and inform the study of cultural epistemology, and perhaps can best be answered therein.