File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2000/bhaskar.0009, message 30


Date: Wed, 13 Sep 2000 01:32:54 +0100
Subject: Re: BHA: Kierkegaard & mystical experiences


dear Gary,

thanks for the Kierkegaard and other poetry, you wrote:

>The passage from K.'s journal raises the question of the ontological status
>of religious experience, especially of the mystical variety- a question
>that is of particular relevance at present for the Critical realist
>movement.  For the rationalist, when we read this particular entry in K.'s
>journal we are in the presence of yet another 'traume eines geistersehers'
>as Kant remarked dismissively of the mystic, Swedenborg.  Religious
>experiences, such as those of Swedenborg, are accorded little respect today
>and are generally explained away in terms of personality traits or dopamine
>flows.

some time ago i read "Phantoms in the Brain" by the neuro-
psychologist Vilayanur Ramachandran, and in a chapter
called "God and the Limbic System" he makes the case that
the (human) brain has a "God-module", i.e. there is a specific
area in the limbic part of the brain (viz. the left temporal-lobe)
that is responsible for arousal of mystical and religious feelings,
e.g. if that part is (internally or externally) stimulated, the
person will experience deep mystical and religious feelings/
images/hallucinations? [i.e. light glow, burning feelings, extacy,
nearness of god, unity with god/cosmos, experience of ultimate
insight in/of the truth, .... you name it, etc.].

Ramachandran describes several cases of patients whose
temporal-lobe was injured and the effects it had on these
persons [they became mystici, so to speak], also he mentions
the socalled 'temporal-personalities' with familiar sympthomes
as: hypergraphy, obsession with trivialities, low libido, feeling
to be 'the chosen one', pugnaciousy etc.

-- of course, empirical evidence that we have some kind of a
"God-module" is one thing; but to answer the question: "Why
do we have such a God-module ?" is something quite different.

yours,
Jan




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