Religion, Brain and Behavior 4:147-149 (2014)

Luis H. Favela
University of Central Florida
Ecological psychology (see Gibson, 1979) is generally thought of as comprising two main claims. The first is that perception is direct insofar as it is not the result of information added to sensory representations. The second is that perception is comprised of affordances (at least most of the time) or opportunities for action that exist in the environment. Barrett explores the possibility of giving an objective account of perceiving religious meaning and value by means of ecological psychology. The attempt to utilize ecological psychology to account for values is not without precedent, however. Jayawickreme and Chemero (2008), for instance, used the ecological concept of ‘‘affordance’’ to sketch an account of both virtues and morally relevant situations. Surprisingly, Barrett never mentions this central ecological concept, choosing instead to focus solely on the directness of perception. We believe that this constricts his ecological account of religious value. While we agree with Barrett that the cognitive science of religion treats presence as an insider’s experience, such that religious experience is a ‘‘black box’’ phenomenon, intractable, and mysterious, and that ecological theory might provide an account of values, we are not convinced by his particular attempt at an ecological account of religious meaning.
Keywords Ecological Psychology  Affordances  Religious Values
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