Spirituality in the Flesh

Spirituality in the Flesh : Bodily Sources of Religious Experiences

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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.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 160 x 234 x 24mm | 421.84g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195369173
  • 9780195369175
  • 1,445,407

Review quote

In this work of broad scholarly foundations, Robert Fuller demonstrates that an emphasis on religion's ultimate grounding in human embodiment - in our genetic dispositions, the electro-chemical activity of our brains, our sexual impulses, and our experience of the body in sickness and health - need not reduce human piety to a meaningless or merely functional by-product of human evolution. To the contrary, this fundamental principle provides Fuller with a context in which to explore in depth the richness of religious traditions and spiritual practices as they have been formed by bodily dispositions and as they shape our experiences of the world and ourselves in turn. * David Wulff, Professor of Psychology, Wheaton College, author of Psychology of Religion: Classic and Contemporary *show more

About Robert C. Fuller

Caterpillar Professor of Religious Studies, Bradley University. He received his B.A. at Denison University and his PhD at the University of Chicago.show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Chapter One: Introduction ; Chapter Two: Religion and Natural Selection ; Chapter Three: Wonder and the Moral Emotions ; Chapter Four: The Chemistry of Consciousness ; Chapter Five: Sexuality and Religious Passion ; Chapter Six: Pain, Healing, and Spiritual Renewal ; Chapter Seven: Spirituality In/Of the Flesh ; Notes ; Indexshow more

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