The Renewal of Perception in Religious Faith and Biblical Narrative

European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 13 (4):111-128 (2021)
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Religious faith may manifest itself, among other things, as a mode of seeing the ordinary world, which invests that world imaginatively (or inspiredly) with an unseen depth of divine intention and spiritual significance. While such seeing may well be truthful, it is also unavoidably constructive, involving the imagination in its philosophical sense of the capacity to organize underdetermined or ambiguous sense date into a whole or gestalt. One of the characteristic ways in which biblical narratives inspire and teach is by renewing their characters’ and readers’ imagination. The texts do so not inexorably but in a similar way as (other) works of art. This paper therefore investigates the ways in which works of art engage and develop the imagination, and thereby enable renewed perceptual and cognitive engagement with the world. The paper introduces predictive processing as a helpful psychological theory for analyzing this dynamic, and outlines questions for further research.

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Judith Wolfe
University of St. Andrews


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