Ioli Kavakou: In the Shadow of Science: Oracular Utterances as a Poetics of Knowledge


Thesis Advisor: Ana Teixeira Pinto

Thesis: In the Shadow of Science: Oracular Utterances as a Poetics of Knowledge

July 2023


This essay tackles the question of what constitutes real knowledge by approaching the relationship between Western science and its others. Focusing on the topics of rationality and objectivity, the analysis follows the transformations of the oracular archetype, initially seen as a valid source of political counsel, to its demise as a practice of fraud or an expression of madness. By looking at the limited research looking into the epistemological architectures of parascience and pseudoscience, this essay attempts to draw attention to the processes of hierarchisation and discreditation of knowledge, put in effect by the political deployment of scientific thought, as a means of formulating a critique of science and scientism, bridging postcolonial theories of knowledge, intersectional feminism and questions concerning the social conception of spirituality and religion. Unpacking the function of language in the demarcation of truth, this paper elaborates on the complexities of poetry as a practice that transgresses story telling, while ultimately questioning the value of rationality as a cosmological building block and a definitive characteristic of the modern subject, by considering its weaponisation in the colonial project, as well as its use in the reinforcement and elaboration of patriarchal structures. 

Author: Ioli Kavakou