Neuropsychology, Metacognition, and Spirituality

The attachment is a lightly edited 5-page response I delivered in June 2018 to this paper by Jeppe Jensen, a leading historian and philosopher of religion. Jeppe’s paper is erudite and cogent, and I think offers a good analysis (and implicitly a damning critique) of how traditionally institutionalized and doctrinally didactic religions affect practitioners’ ability to reflect on their own cognitive and emotional experience. In other words, they often end up with inaccurate memories of ritual and beliefs in line with the rest of the worshipping community, with little relation to evidence.

However, I suggest in this response that Jeppe’s focus on higher-level consciousness obscures other types of consciousness that are crucial for appreciating religious experience — indeed, crucial for analyzing how higher-level consciousness functions. For this reason, Jeppe’s analysis will have little bearing on post-dogmatic esoteric or neo-pagan practices.

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