Types of scientism, types of religious doubt?

I am preparing a set of upcoming guest lectures for a course on Contemporary Western Religiosity / New Religious Movements at NTNU, Trondheim. The last two of these concern, once again, science and esotericism. Briefly reading up on the literature for the course, however, gave me occasion to revisit the concept(s) of  “scientism”, which have also been discussed earlier on this blog.

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Some notes on scientism

The word “scientism” gets tossed around a lot in critical public debates about science’s place in society. Usually it is used derogatorily to dismiss a trend in using science which the user of the word doesn’t like. Used in this way, it is a rhetorical label without much analytic content. But it may also be turned into a useful category for analyzing historical data.

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Positivism and the Religion of Humanity

Auguste Comte (1798-1857) formulated some very influential ideas, and some ideas that were plain weird. The “father of sociology” argued for a full science of society, and invented the progressivist “Law of Three Stages”.  By the 1840s Comte had founded the highly influential philosophy and ideology of Positivism. What next? He founded a Church and proclaimed himself High Priest.

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