Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 14, No 1 (2018)

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Jung, Yoga and Affective Neuroscience: Towards a Contemporary Science of the Sacred

Leanne Whitney

Abstract


Materialist and fundamentalist reductive ideologies obscure our capacity to directly experience the numinous. Thus, importantly, given the weight of the observable and measurable in orthodox science, and oftentimes a dismissal of both the soul and the subjective, a viable means of reconciling science and religious experience has continued to elude us. As a counter-measure to this obscuration, Jungian-oriented depth psychology has developed as an empirical science of the unconscious, researching both subject and object and offering theories and practices that foster the psychospiritual development of the personality. Despite cultural and epochal differences, comparable evidence to Jung's process of psychospiritual development can be found in the Eastern liberatory tradition of Patañjali's Classical Yoga. However, given the elevated presence of neuroscience, no psychology, and especially no psychology that supports the soul, seems likely to survive much longer without finding an alliance with the objective measures of brain science. When considering the radically empirical measures of Jung and Patañjali, affective neuroscience may offer us a contemporary and objective means of languaging the bridge between the transcendent and immanent and fostering a contemporary science of the sacred.

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