HDS 3979

Orthodoxy: Truth, Authority and Law

M. Shahab Ahmed


This course explores the concept and the social and intellectual phenomenon of orthodoxy (literally: true opinion or straitened belief). Orthodoxy is commonly defined as truth or sound belief according to an authoritative norm (Encyclopaedia of Religion). The aim of the course is to stimulate students to think deeply about how truth-claims come to be established in community as authoritative, normative and natural; that is, as the truth exemplified in the phrase, We hold these truths to be self-evident. The historical relationship between truth and authority will be treated through a close reading of relevant theory and case studies drawn from different fields (including history, philosophy, literary criticism, cultural studies, sociology, psychology, religion, history of science, media studies, and jurisprudence) with particular attention to the influence of social, institutional, political and discursive formations. Students should emerge from the course with an informed understanding of the processes by which truth is effected and invested, and with a developed ability to interrogate and deconstruct that which is presented as being true, normative and just. Note: Offered jointly with the Harvard Law School as HLS 2297. First meeting will be Monday, September 10th.

Enrollment Limited: No
Open to BTI Students: No
Jointly offered as Religion 2047


0.50 credits
Fall 2012
Mon Tues 3:20pm-4:50pm
HLS Wasserstein Caspersen Clinical WCC 2009

Relationship to Program Requirements

Program Requirement Area / Category / Art / Designation
MTS Area(s) of Focus None
MDiv Distribution Category/ies
  • Non-Tradition Specific
MDiv Art(s) of Ministry None
Language Course Designation(s) None