Sources of Transformative RSE: Literature, Art and Nature
Some situations and contexts have the ability to induce or, at least, favor religious and spiritual experiences that have a transformative impact on individuals (what we shall call "Transformative RSE"). By transformative RSE we mean, not only religious conversion, but also a broader collection of phenomena (like perception of spiritual dimension or feelings of unity with the universe) that might produce a change in moral dispositions and consequent behavior.
The present cluster group gathers researchers from the areas of Theology, Philosophy, Literary Theory and Ecological and Environmental Biology to discuss different aspects about how literature, art and relation to nature (what can be considered different sources of transformative RSE) might bring about these transformative RSE. More particularly, we would like to discuss the following kind of questions:
Does this type of experiences provide a justification for religious or spiritual beliefs, or have a significant cognitive value?
Assuming that there are specific religious/spiritual experiences, do they play a substantial role in standard approaches to spiritual transformation described in Religious Studies?
What are the mechanisms by which a given narrative perspective (autobiographical or otherwise) can induce or favor RSE? Are there specific narrative perspectives that achieve this effect in a more efficient way?
Does aesthetic experience bear a connection to spiritual dimensions of human beings? (or else, can be explained in purely naturalistic terms) Does aesthetic experience induce or favor RSE? Similarly, do experiences related to contemplation of nature bear a connection a spiritual dimension of human beings or do they serve only to a biological function?
What are the common aspects (if any) and the differences between the experiences induced by narratives, artistic representation and contemplation of nature?