An epistemic community consists of those who accept one version of a story, or one version of validating a story. The concept occurs in sociology, notably in work of Barry Wellman who also refers to the believers in the story as a 'community' full stop. Michel Foucault referred more elaborately to mathesis as a rigorous episteme suitable for enabling cohesion of a discourse and thus uniting a community of its followers. In philosophy of science and systems science the process of forming a self-maintaining epistemic community is sometimes called a mindset. In politics, a tendency or faction is usually described in very similar terms.
Other than perhaps Wellman, most researchers carefully distinguish between epistemic forms of community and "real" or "bodily" community which consists of people sharing risk, especially bodily risk. Some feminist scholars and ethicists are of the opinion that epistemic community follows logos and is thus effectively male.
As this view suggests, it is also difficult to draw the line between these modern ideas and more ancient ones: Joseph Campbell's concept of myth from cultural anthropology, Carl Jung's concept of archetype in psychology. Some consider forming an epistemic community a deep human need, and ultimately a mythical or even religious obligation. Among these very notably are E. O. Wilson and Ellen Dissanayake , an American historian of aesthetics, who famously argued that almost all of our broadly shared conceptual metaphors centre on one basic idea of safety, that of "home".
From this view, an epistemic community may be viewed as a group of people who do not have any specific history together, but search for a common idea of home, e.g. as if forming an intentional community.
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