Tuesday, June 23, 2015

No academic discipline is free of contexts, values, and faith

In 10 days I am giving a talk/workshop to a group of Christian academics on "How might I move towards a Christian perspective on my academic discipline?"

Some might consider this a non-starter to begin with. Shouldn't academic disciplines, whether physics or economics or literature, be "objective", "rational", "neutral", "secular", "value free", and not involve "faith"?
Isn't E=mc^2 an absolute truth?
Yes. But, there is a lot more to physics; particularly, when you look at current research.
Furthermore, what is the manner in which the discipline is conducted?

Claims of complete neutrality and objectivity in any human endeavour, whether journalism or science, are naive.
All research is done by humans; fallible people who are prone to biases and mishaps.

Every discipline has a context: historical, social, political, economic, and religious. This context does shape assumptions, motivations, questions asked, funding, practises, ....

In Whose Justice? Whose Rationality?, the distinguished philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre [according to Wikipedia]
``defends three ... theses: first, that all rational human inquiry is conducted whether knowingly or not from within a tradition; second, that the incommensurable conceptual schemes of rival traditions do not entail either relativism or perspectivism; third, that although the arguments of the book are themselves attempts at universally valid insights they are nevertheless given from within a particular tradition (that of Thomist Aristotelianism) and that this need not imply any philosophical inconsistency.''
Previously I posted how science involves faith and so the notion of "science versus faith" is a false dichotomy.

So, an important question is, "What are the presuppositions of a specific academic discipline?"

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