David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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OUP USA (2008)
It is now generally accepted that the nature of human thought has much to do with the structure and function of the human body. In Spirituality in the Flesh, Robert C. Fuller investigates how our sensory organs, emotional programs, sexual sensibilities, and neural structures shape religious phenomena. Why is it that some religious traditions assign spiritual currency to pain? How do neurochemically-driven emotions such as fear shape our religious actions? What is the relationship between chemically altered states of consciousness and religious innovation? The body has recently become a subject of investigation among scholars of religion. Many such studies focus on the concept of the body as a cultural construct. Whereas these treatments helpfully demonstrate how cultures construct ideas about the body, Fuller asks how the body itself influences religious concepts. Seeking to establish a middle ground between purely materialistic or humanistic arguments, he skillfully pairs scientific findings with religious truths. Both perspectives could learn from the other: Fuller takes scientific interpreters to task for failing to understand the inherently cultural aspects of embodied experience even as he chides most religion scholars for ignoring new knowledge about the biological substrates of human behavior. Comfortable with the language of scientific analysis and sympathetic to the inherently subjective aspects of religious events, Fuller introduces the biological study of religion by joining our unprecedented understanding of bodily states with an experts knowledge of religious phenomena. Culling insights from scientific observations, historical allusions, and literary references, Spirituality in the Flesh provides fresh understandings that promise to enrich our appreciation of the embodied religious experience.
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