Matching Items (13)

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A Political Critique of the Objectification of Science and Religion

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This essay explores the role of religion, science, and the secular in contemporary society by showing their connection to social and political legitimacy as a result of historical processes. In

This essay explores the role of religion, science, and the secular in contemporary society by showing their connection to social and political legitimacy as a result of historical processes. In Chapter One, the essay presents historical arguments, particularly linguistic, which confirm science and religion as historically created categories without timeless or essential differences. Additionally, the current institutional separation of science and religion was politically motivated by the changing power structures following the Protestant Reformation. In Chapter Two, the essay employs the concept of the modern social imaginary to show how our modern concept of the political and the secular subtly reproduce the objectified territories of science and religion and thus the boundary maintenance dialectic which dominates science-religion discourse. Chapter Three argues that ‘religious’ worldviews contain genuine metaphysical claims which do not recognizably fit into these modern social categories. Given the destabilizing forces of globalization and information technology upon the political authority of the nation-state, the way many conceptualize of these objects religion, science, and the secular will change as well.

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  • 2018-05

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Is Religion Still a Private Matter? Jose Casanova's Theory of De-privatiztion and the Evangelical Community 35 Years Later

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In the 1980s Jose Casanova wrote a book called Public Religions in the Modern World. He noticed that, although religion was seen a private matter for some time, it was

In the 1980s Jose Casanova wrote a book called Public Religions in the Modern World. He noticed that, although religion was seen a private matter for some time, it was now becoming more de-privatized, which he believes was strongly compelled by the rise of the Moral Majority. Moreover, Talal Asad, also, agrees that religion is definitely not disappearing but becoming more identifiable in the public realm. Casanova's theory contends that the privatization and the de-privatization of religion appeared to be happening simultaneously. Assuming Casanova is correct, it is now approximately 35 years later and the question is "where are we now in the process of the de-privatization of religion?" I chose to use the Evangelical Community as an example due to the fact that the majority of people that live in the United States are very familiar with this particular religion. It has become evident that the Evangelical Community has had a strong voice in the political arena. Focusing mainly on politics and using Billy and Franklin Graham as a lens, who have been both visible and influential in the process of the de-privatization of religion, I try to determine where the United States is in this process. I look at how the Grahams see God fitting into politics and how each of them views their participation in politics. In addition, I utilize present-day examples of what, both, the privatizing and de-privatizing of religion looks like while examining some areas that religion has been asserted into the public sphere. Moreover, I discuss the role of the secular in relationship to religion. Finally, I conclude with answering the question, "is religion still a private matter?"

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  • 2016-12

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Human Nature, Improvement, and Destiny: A Comparison of Protestant Pietism and Transhumanism

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Transhumanist concepts and themes increasingly occupy a prominent place in contemporary visions of the future, particularly with regard to technology. A growing number of scholars, including some self-described transhumanists, see

Transhumanist concepts and themes increasingly occupy a prominent place in contemporary visions of the future, particularly with regard to technology. A growing number of scholars, including some self-described transhumanists, see transhumanism as functioning like a religion for secular people, in that it fulfills many of the same desires and impulses without reference to any supernatural forces. For this reason there is a growing discussion of transhumanism in comparison with major religious traditions, but one which has heretofore been underappreciated is Protestant pietism. Pietism grew out of a need among Protestants after the Reformation to realize a better Christian community and better prepare individual believers for the afterlife. It had a significant influence over the European Enlightenment, of which transhumanists claim to be the successors. In its understanding of human improvement, human nature, and ultimate human destiny in death and the end-point of history, pietism has multiple interesting points of comparison with transhumanism. Both ideologies begin by improving individual human beings as the primary means to the end of eliminating suffering, especially death and disease, and building the ideal human community. Transhumanism accomplishes its goals for humanity through the use of advanced technologies which enable human beings to transcend their natural limitations. Pietism focuses, as its name suggests, on moral and spiritual improvement according to practical guidelines that lead a Christian believer to take an active role in his or her own sanctification. This essay concludes that pietism reveals certain key limitations in transhumanism as a comprehensive life philosophy, especially in its ability to organize society according to its system of values.

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  • 2016-12

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THE GLORY OF LAZARUS: HOW THE GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT OF SYRIAN CHRISTIANITY WAS A PRODUCT OF CULTURAL CHANGES IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF WEALTH, POVERTY, AND THE ROLE OF THE CLERGY AS REFLECTED BY THE LIFE AND WORKS OF EPHREM THE SYRIAN.

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The transformation of Christianity from a small sect of Judaism into a stabilized and powerful multinational political structure has been the topic of a tremendous amount of research and study

The transformation of Christianity from a small sect of Judaism into a stabilized and powerful multinational political structure has been the topic of a tremendous amount of research and study over the last several hundred years. The question on how, or in what cultural situation was the Christian movement able to grow and stabilize, has been answered in a variety of different ways, by a variety of eminent scholars. In this thesis I apply traditional academic explanations for Christian growth, specifically those of Princeton Historian Peter Brown, to the Syriac-speaking regions of the East during the fourth and fifth centuries. Within this cultural situation, I explore the life and works of the influential Syrian theologian Ephrem the Syrian as a reflection of the concerns of Christians in the East. I provide rich historical information, as well as analysis of Ephrem's many theological concerns. I make use of a myriad of other resources and historical figures relevant to the thesis, and use the vivid picture of Syriac Christianity to answer the fundamental question of how Syriac Christianity grew, and how wealth, poverty, and the changing role of the Christian clergy contributed to this growth. In this investigation, I argue that Syriac Christianity promoted the same radical attitude concerning charity, renunciation of wealth, and the role of the clergy as Mediterranean Christianity according to Brown, but that many cultural and societal impediments faced in Persia prevented the same growth from occurring. The cultural situation faced by Christians in the East was radically different from that of the Mediterranean. This distinction, and all of its implications, is shown to be the reason for the historically underwhelming growth of Christianity during these centuries and beyond.

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  • 2016-05

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Enchanting the Secular: Religion, Science, and Industry

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In my Honors Thesis, I endeavor to complicate and to respond to conventional debates over historical periodization and the problem of what it means to be "modern." I understand the

In my Honors Thesis, I endeavor to complicate and to respond to conventional debates over historical periodization and the problem of what it means to be "modern." I understand the modern as a conceptual product of discourses surrounding religion, science, and industry. Specifically, the modern era has been defined as one in which the forms of rationalization associated with quantitative and experimental scientific methods and large-scale, technologically sophisticated industrial production have surpassed the "irrational" superstitions associated with religion. Critical responses to this definition have largely had the goal of supplanting it with another way of conceiving of the historical discontinuity between the "modern" and the "non-modern." In three essays, I aim to complicate the terms (religion, science, and industry) in which these debates have been conducted and to relate them to one another both historically and conceptually. As opposed to the goal of re-defining the modern, my goal in these essays is to complicate the existing definitions and to reveal and challenge the ideological motives of historical periodization. I illuminate the connections of the modern conception of "religion" to a colonial system of power, between scientific development and changes in economic and religious thinking, and between contemporary technological and industrial projects to an "enchanted" view of the world. In tracing these connections, I am indebted to conventional discourses of modernization, Max Weber's theory of "disenchantment," and recent scholarship on the use of materialist methods in the study of history. In these essays, I move beyond the critical project of "re-imagining" the modern, and illuminate some of the ideological commitments of that project that I consider untenable. In addition to a more sophisticated historical understanding of the meaning of religion, science, and industry, what I aim to achieve in my thesis is a better framing of some of the largest problems faced by contemporary humanity, including the looming risks of ecological, economic, and geopolitical collapse. In this framing, I situate these risks in the context of their connection to strategies of historical periodization, and argue that managing them will require a radically new view of religion, science, industry, and the roles that they play in producing historical discontinuity.

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  • 2018-05

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Disability in India: Religious and Social Perspectives

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Experiential evidence leads specific individuals and groups within India to believe that individuals with disabilities are marginalized due to a Hindu value system that stigmatizes disability and relegates individuals with

Experiential evidence leads specific individuals and groups within India to believe that individuals with disabilities are marginalized due to a Hindu value system that stigmatizes disability and relegates individuals with disabilities to below average social positions. I experienced this perspective firsthand by spending two months volunteering at an orphanage in India that cares for individuals (primarily children) with disabilities and significant health issues. The orphanage identifies with a Christian tradition, framing their perspective in a worldview that declares that all human beings have equal value regardless of their physical health situations. The orphanage perspective declares that there is a Hindu religious paradigm that stigmatizes individuals with disability in a manner so extreme that it leads parents to abandon their children with disabilities. From the orphanage perspective, this Hindu religious belief is what inevitably leads to the need for orphanages for children with special needs because the stigma that the orphanage perceives leads to abandonment. This premise led me to an investigation of perceived cultural and societal norms and Hindu beliefs within India that may lead to the marginalization of individuals with disabilities. In order to do this, I first had to contextualize the perspective of the orphanage. From there I looked to Indian disability policy and sought to connect stigma and disability in the secular and social realm, evaluating whether or not secular policies can be said to contribute to or detract from a stigma of disability. I then looked to Hindu beliefs, to determine whether or not Hinduism can truly be said to, in a generalized manner, marginalize individuals with disability, and furthermore the caste system, to evaluate what India's social hierarchy might have to say about disability. The goals of this thesis are to evaluate the popular Hindu beliefs that are often blamed for the stigmatization of disability, and to analyze policies regarding disability and examine how these policies are affected by the religious context in which they are situated. To what extent does Hinduism encourage or contribute to a society or culture in which individuals with disabilities are treated badly, and how do Indian policies regarding disability respond to that? I come to the conclusion that the stigma related to disability in India is far more complex than simply a Hindu belief that mandates it as so. There are social and economic factors that play into it, as well as deep-rooted cultural ideologies in both the tradition of the orphanage that perceives Hinduism as stigmatizing of disability, and Indian religion and social hierarchy. I furthermore find that, though there are numerous disability policies in place to provide human rights to individuals with disabilities, these policies ultimately do not work to tear down the stigma and the roots it does have in ancient religious tradition and social hierarchy.

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Date Created
  • 2015-05

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Climbing the Mountain: What Celeste and Other Videogames Teach Us to Carry

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With games an increasing various industry and cultural form, there are still many myths that surround the medium and restrict its potentials. When this often happens at the expense of

With games an increasing various industry and cultural form, there are still many myths that surround the medium and restrict its potentials. When this often happens at the expense of marginalized audiences and creators who are already present within the space of games and the future realities of games, steps must be take to understand the nature of games and why these myths prove so insidious. By applying the approaches of Structuralism and Game Studies to the videogame Celeste, the ways that myths surrounding games can be picked away to give space to new ideologies of play, design, and consumption.

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  • 2020-12

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Knowing the Future: Visions of the Bioeconomy and the Politics of Global Transformation

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This dissertation explores the contemporary politics of global transformation: the ways biological expertise and economic rationalities are positioned as agents of governance in the face of emerging global crisis. It

This dissertation explores the contemporary politics of global transformation: the ways biological expertise and economic rationalities are positioned as agents of governance in the face of emerging global crisis. It examines visions for a new bioeconomy that are offered in response to impending global crisis. Leaders point to calculations of global population growth and resource depletion to predict future crises and call for a new bioeconomy as a pillar of sustainable and “good” governance.

Focusing on visions and practices of bioeconomy-making in the U.S. and Brazil, the dissertation examines bioeconomy discourse as a response to global crisis and a framework of global governance that promises resource abundance and human wellbeing. Bioeconomy discourse makes visible shared notions of how the world is and how it should be that animate the world-making practices of bioeconomy. The dissertation analyzes the bioeconomy as simultaneously a product of existing institutional and nationally situated values and rationalities, and a significant site of performative novelty. It is an effort to reformulate existing projects in the biosciences—from technology regulation to market formation—and establish new rationalities of governance in the name of producing thoroughgoing transformations to both the global economy and to life itself.

Framing existing scientific and economic rationalities as suppressed and misdirected in their power to govern, bioeconomy proponents envision a novel order derivable from the proper conjugation of biological and economic rationalities. Through the lens of bioconstitutionalism, the dissertation elucidates how national, scientific and public rights and responsibilities are coproduced in relation to a sociotechnical imaginary of vital conjuring. Underwritten by the imaginary of vital conjuring, visions of a future transformed promise that abundance and order can be called up from a tangle of crisis and decay. The imaginary of vital conjuring marries a vision of the technological potential of biological life and the forms of economy capable of unlocking that potential. This vision of bioeconomy, the dissertation argues, is a vision of governance: of the right relationships between state, citizen and science.

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  • 2020

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The Life and Afterlives of Patrick Francis Healy, S.J.

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This dissertation centers on the life of Patrick Francis Healy, the son of an enslaved woman and an Irish slaveholder. Born in 1834, Healy became a Jesuit priest in 1864

This dissertation centers on the life of Patrick Francis Healy, the son of an enslaved woman and an Irish slaveholder. Born in 1834, Healy became a Jesuit priest in 1864 and the president of Georgetown University in 1874, seven decades before Georgetown admitted its first African American student. In the twentieth century, historical investigations of race and American Catholicism cast Healy and his family in a new light. Today, the Healys are upheld in some circles as African American Catholic icons. Patrick Healy is now remembered as the first African American Jesuit and Catholic university president, as well as the first African American to receive a doctorate. This dissertation pursues both the life of Patrick Healy as well as what I call his “afterlives,” or the ways in which he has been remembered since the 1950s, when Albert S. Foley, S.J. discovered that the Healys’ mother was enslaved and refashioned them from white Irish Americans to white-passing African Americans. How and why did Patrick Francis Healy understand and comport himself as a white, upper-class Catholic? How and why have others sought to construct him as African American in the years since his ancestry was made widely known? How has Georgetown incorporated Healy’s legacy, in the context of its and other universities’ coming-to-terms with their dealings with slavery more broadly? I pursue these questions through archival sources (primarily Healy’s diaries and letters) at Georgetown University and College of the Holy Cross, as well as secondary literature on passing, subjectivity, and hagiography.

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  • 2020

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Last Rights in Six Key Narratives: Autonomy, Religion, and the Right to Die Movement in America

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ABSTRACT

The purpose of this thesis is to identify the key determinants of changes in the public’s perception and the historical and legal context for the current laws that govern the

ABSTRACT

The purpose of this thesis is to identify the key determinants of changes in the public’s perception and the historical and legal context for the current laws that govern the Right to Die in America. At its essence, the Right to Die Movement can be summarized in six selected narratives that were performed, told, debated, or reported for the public throughout history. Each of these six stories was presented with the most effective communication technologies available to the narrators in their respective eras.

The thesis includes an original research study assessing the impact of a social media phenomenon on the Right to Die Movement. While the Brittany Maynard Farewell video may not have been solely responsible for the surge of public support for MAID, it certainly captured the sense of autonomy and individual rights Americans believe they have in 2014 and continuing at least through 2019. This belief in autonomy and individual rights influenced the American sense of who owns their bodies and who can control their deaths after they are given terminal diagnoses. The first key narrative introduced Natural Law and the Natural Rights that proceed from this universal law. The second opened up communication about death. The next three demonstrated to Americans what legal rights they had and which were withheld by tradition and law. The last narrative captured and embodied the American sense of autonomy and individual rights that a majority of Americans now feel they possess. The laws and policies that have resulted from the Right to Die Movement both define the boundaries of autonomy and construct an evolving understanding of human freedom.

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Date Created
  • 2020