An Epistemic Theory of Religious Fundamentalism

By Raoul Adam.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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This paper introduces an epistemic theory of religious fundamentalism. Binary Epistemic Theory (BET) locates fundamentalism as a relationally dualistic, literalistic, and absolutistic “way of knowing” within a cycle charaterised by the creation, emergence, opposition, convergence, and collapse of binaries (e.g. good and evil, subject and object, faith and reason). The theory foregrounds the complexity of epistemic encounters with relativity. Such encounters remain understated in traditional teleological or linear theories of development that privilege growth beyond relativism (e.g. Perry, 1999/1970; Fowler, 1981). Accordingly, BET engages linear and cyclic interpretations of epistemic trajectories in order to argue for a “relational and contextual understanding” (Reich, 2002) of fundamentalist ways of knowing.

Keywords: Fundamentalism, Epistemics, Epistemology, Religious Development, Binary Epistemic Theory (BET)

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp.81-96. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 816.830KB).

Dr. Raoul Adam

Academic Lecturer, School of Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Raoul Adam lectures in educational psychology and researches in epistemics and human development at James Cook University. His doctoral and postdoctoral research examines theories of cognitive and epistemological development applied in fundamentalist contexts. His theoretical interest concerns the interface between phenomenological and empirical epistemologies in developmental theories.