Although human spirituality has long been considered impenetrable to empirical investigation, recent cognitive and affective neuroscience studies have started the neuroscientific exploration of the mental processes and the neural underpinnings underlying spiritual and religious experiences. The scientific investigation of such complex phenomena, however, cannot proceed in the absence of a deep philosophical conceptualization of human spirituality and of related phenomena, such as religiousness and mystic experiences. Furthermore, any neuroscientific investigation of spirituality should define clearly the relative field of knowledge, the possible impact of the results on other disciplines such us theology and philosophy of mind, and the limitations of the results’ implications. Such a challenging task cannot be afforded within a single field of expertise, but requires active collaboration in the context of the same research groups between scholars with common interests, but using different research methodology. The general aim of the present project is to establish a multidisciplinary group of scholars interested in human spirituality and contributing to a comprehensive definition of the concept, and to a scientifically grounded operationalization of the observable behaviors that are related to it. A multidisciplinary team of humanists and neuroscientists will be devoted to the development of new methodology for investigating how brain plasticity may shape the inherently human ability to transcend self body boundaries in relation to the natural and social world. This will allow us to boost the neuroscientific exploration of human spirituality and to clarify the philosophical implications of the results.

MENU