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Beyond Belief: Taking Spirituality Seriously

RSA Event

 - 

RSA House, London

  • Mindfulness
  • Social brain
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Philosophy

Many have argued that the world’s problems may be ultimately ‘spiritual’ in nature, and much of the population, atheists and believers alike, claim to have a spiritual dimension to their lives. But what do we really mean by the spiritual?

 

The RSA launches a major new series rethinking the cultural and social value of spirituality, with speakers to include Madeleine Bunting, Robert Rowland Smith, Elizabeth Oldfield and Jonathan Rowson.

How might new understandings of embodied cognition, habitual behaviour and social norms for instance, help us understand spiritual perspectives, practices and experiences?

The French philosopher Andre Malraux famously said that “the 21st century will be spiritual or it will not be”, and many have argued that the world’s problems may be ultimately ‘spiritual’ in nature. Moreover, much of the population, atheists and believers alike, claim to have a spiritual dimension to their lives.

However, the word ‘spiritual’ is not particularly clear, and carries a certain amount of baggage. It can sound escapist, narcissistic or even hostile to reason. It is attacked ‘from both sides’ - by religious believers for lacking depth, commitment and community, and by new atheists as lacking scientific and rational foundations.

The time seems right to refine what we really mean by the spiritual, and to re-appraise its cultural and social value - but how should we go about that?

This public event launches a major new series that begins to rethink the nature and value of spirituality from a broadly ‘social brain’ perspective, in the context of what we have learnt about human nature over the last few decades of research. How might new understandings of embodied cognition, habitual behaviour and social norms for instance, help us understand spiritual perspectives, practices and experiences?

Speakers: Jonathan Rowson, director RSA Social Brain, Elizabeth Oldfield, director, Theos; Robert Rowland Smith, writer and philosopher; and Madeleine Bunting, author and Guardian columnist.

Find out more about the project.

Find out more about the RSA’s Social Brain Centre.

 

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