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SOC250Y1 Lecture Notes - Concubinage, Political Economy, Homo Sapiens

Course Code
Joseph Bryant

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SOC250 Lecture 1
September 15, 2010
The social is cognitive, carried in our heads
What is the relation between the known and knower
Objective knowledge, based on methods not opinions
Social sciences- studying humans, relevant to oneself, the known (e.g.
studying other people/opinions
has no direct/objective “access” to that purported
Transcendent reality
(studying ourselves)
Natural sciences- studies “the other”, the unknown external knowledge
Religion is based on and creates and epistemological dualism or split:
- religious believers claim the reality of the Divine or Transcendent, but social
scientist/historians have ??no empirically verifiable or falsifiable resource.
Epistemologically “methodological atheism”/agnosticism.
- Faith statements i.e. claims of religious believers- aren‟t‟ fundamentally
factual or empirical
- They are declarative (“God is love”) making claims; performative (“I have
been saved by the lord”); “There is no God, but Allah, and Muhammad is his
messenger” saying religious, tradition, you are performing the role- being a
certain religion.
- Emotive i.e. expressing feelings of awe, reverence, dependence, joy, etc.

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Religious language is akin to poetry.
- Evidence/proofs of faith statements are “internal” to each particular religion-
they aren‟t convincing to those believing in other traditions, nor to skeptics or

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SOC250 Lecture 2
September 22, 2010
ONTOLOGYY- concerned with the nature of “being”, reality, or existence
causally and constitutively (= “what the world is and how it works”)
EPISTEMOLOGY- concerned with the nature of knowledge, how we know
other scientists are studying other things; in sociology we are studying
ourselves, so that raises the intrusion of different types of beliefs in our
scientific procedures.
Weber said social sciences have verstehen (understanding); natural science
knowledge = external.
Our own psychological, social, historical experience gives us the
opportunity to establish deeper understanding of the subject; also, our
subject matter talks back to us
Religion is based on a distinct ontology- the claim that there are supernatural
beings or powers, or a super-sensible reality, an Absolute, Divine, or
Transcendent realm that is ultimately primary & causally responsible for both
the Natural world & the Social world
Social science has no direct or objective “access” to that purported
Transcendent reality; it cannot be visited for purposes of measurement of
exanimation (unlike the realities of politics, art, war, etc.)
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