Review Of "Religious And Spiritual Experiences" By W. J. Wildman

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Religious and spiritual experiences (RSEs) are a puzzle. Some receive them gratefully as reliable ways to discover the deepest truths about reality. Others approach them as misleading side effects of the human brain's processing system. Wildman (Boston Univ.) provides readers with a sophisticated program to assess the value of RSEs. His discussion of the importance of recent research into the correlation of RSEs and the brain is noteworthy. He describes a wide range of these experiences, both common and uncommon, and offers a fresh classification of them grounded in their neurological and phenomenological characteristics. Focusing primarily on intense experiences, he argues that their cognitive reliability is vastly increased when combined with a naturalistic cosmology, an ecological-semiotic account of perception as dynamic engagement, and a symbolic account of religious cognition. Rather than embracing a supernatural perspective, he incorporates RSEs into a positive valuation of earthly existence. Wildman directs Boston University's doctoral program in religion and science. His recent publications include Religious Philosophy as Multidisciplinary Comparative Inquiry (CH, Jul'11, 48-6234). Summing Up: Recommended. Primarily graduate students and researchers/faculty.


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