Mysticism and Mind: Using Cognitive Science to Explore Religious Experience

European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 7 (2):59--80 (2015)
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This article derives from a paper presented at the Philosophy of Religion and Mysticism Conference hosted by the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, May 22-24, 2014. That paper introduced theories and methods drawn from the ”cognitive science of religion’ and suggested future avenues of research connecting CSR and scholarship on mysticism. Towards these same ends, the present article proceeds in three parts. Part I outlines the origins, aims, and basic tenets of CSR research. Part II discusses one specific causal perspective that informs a wide range of CSR research, Sperber’s ”epidemiological’ approach to cultural expression, and connects this perspective to the example of creator deities. Part III discusses some possible future directions for CSR research concerning mysticism and mystical experience. Finally, a coda addresses two common misunderstandings concerning the ”reductionist’ nature of CSR research.


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