Esgrid Sikahall (BSc MSc)

Thesis title: A Rhetorical-Hermeneutical Approach to 'Science' and 'Religion'

Background

With a background in Engineering and having taught undergraduate Mathematics in Guatemala for almost five years, I'm interested in understanding the kind of knowledge that the different sciences are able to apprehend and the cultural and individual meshes in which this knowledge is obtained and shared.

Given that the notion of 'science' and associated terms like objectivity, scientific method, reason, knowledge, etc., are a part of specific historically shaped narratives (e.g. narratives of Enlightenment, of Secularisation, of Progress, etc.), I want to make sense of scientific knowledge within its historical contexts and in the narratives that use it as sources of cognitive legitimation and authority. 

These interests in science, knowledge and history have led me to pay close attention to the history of science. Current work in the history of science points in particular to the religious roots of the modern sciences and of modernity as a whole. Religion, another historically-shaped category, is inevitably a term shaped by western Christianity. Consequently, understanding western modernity (and its influence in non-western modernities) in its distinctively 'secular' self-perception calls for understanding Christian theology/philosophy as a complete background of imagination and action in its medieval and modern varieties.

My PhD work is on the German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer and the history of science and religion. In particular I focus on how Gadamer's thought may aid the self-understanding of western modernity, especially in relation to the categories of 'science' and 'religion'. Given the all-pervasive nature of the reality of knowing and the contemporary primacy given to science as a privileged source of knowledge, I'm interested in a close reading of the history and philosophy of science, attending at the way scientific knowledge is communicated and the narratives it is a part of.

Qualifications

BSc (Civil Engineering; Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, 2012)

MSc (Science and Religion; University of Edinburgh, 2017)

PhD (Candidate) (Science and Religion; University of Edinburgh, 2021)

Postgraduate teaching

  • Training Fellow (CDCS = Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture & Society): I facilitate an introduction to programming course in Python for postgraduate students (usually doctoral students) and staff (academic and non-academic).

Research summary

  • Hans-Georg Gadamer
  • Philosophical hermeneutics and philosophy of science
  • History of science and religion and history of knowledge (especially the work of Peter Harrison and John Hedley Brooke)
  • Consciousness as experience and its evolution through history
  • A metaxological reading of philosophical hermeneutics and a hermeneutical reading of metaxological thinking
  • William Desmond
  • Owen Barfield as a philosopher of consciousness
  • The boundary between science and scientific discourse
  • The role of language as the medium of both science and scientific discourse
  • Michael Polanyi and his philosophy of knowledge

Current research interests

I'm currently working on my PhD, focusing on Hans-Georg Gadamer's thought in relation to recent historiographies of science and religion. I'm also interested in the multiple critiques and transformations of modernity and late modernity and how these critiques are being narrated historically, philosophically and theologically.