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An Introduction
The concept of secularization has grown to become one of the most important features of contemporary religious thought. This book introduces and examines the thinking of sixteen key theologions, philosophers and historians of religion to explain (a) why by the late nineteenth century the traditional concept of God as an ontologically real being came to be considered no longer necessary and (b) how the new perspective on God, which accepts him only as an idea, turned into the preferred approach of today’s religion and philosophy, namely “religious radicalism”.
Early Psychoanalytic Religious Writings presents, in one edited volume, many of the foundational writings in the psychoanalytic study of religion. These translated works by Abraham, Fromm, Pfister, and others, complement Freud’s seminal contributions and provide a unique window into the origins of psychoanalytic thinking. The volume includes the Freud-Pfister correspondence, with a brief introduction, which reveals the rich back story of friendship, mutual respect, and intellectual debate. These essays are anchored in Freud’s early theory-building and prefigure and are linked to later developments in psychoanalytic thought. The issues raised in these essays are of relevance still today – how is religions thinking shaped by unconscious processes reflecting primary relationships and drives?
Comparative Perspectives
Publicly performed rituals and ceremonies form an essential part of medieval political practice and court culture. This applies not only to western feudal societies, but also to the linguistically and culturally highly diversified environment of Byzantium and the Mediterranean basin. The continuity of Roman traditions and cross-fertilization between various influences originating from Constantinople, Armenia, the Arab-Muslim World, and western kingdoms and naval powers provide the framework for a distinct sphere of ritual expression and ceremonial performance. This collective volume, placing Byzantium into a comparative perspective between East and West, examines transformative processes from Late Antiquity to the Middle Ages, succession procedures in different political contexts, phenomena of cross-cultural appropriation and exchange, and the representation of rituals in art and literature.
Contributors are Maria Kantirea, Martin Hinterberger, Walter Pohl, Andrew Marsham, Björn Weiler, Eric J. Hanne, Antonia Giannouli, Jo Van Steenbergen, Stefan Burkhardt, Ioanna Rapti, Jonathan Shepard, Panagiotis Agapitos, Henry Maguire, Christine Angelidi and Margaret Mullett.
Richard of St.Victor (d.1173) developed original ideas about the faculty of imagination in a twelfth-century Parisian context. Related to the historical study of philosophical psychology, Richard of St. Victor’s Theory of Imagination acknowledges that the faculty of imagination, being a necessary precondition for human reasoning and a link between soul and body, plays an important role in Richard’s understanding of the human soul. Richard also deals with the interpretation of biblical language, metaphors, rhetoric, and the possibility of creative imagination. Considering all these aspects of the imagination in Richard’s texts improves our understanding of his theological epistemology and sheds new light on the theory of the imagination in the history of medieval philosophy in general.
Analyzing the literature on art from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, The Spiritual Language of Art explores the complex relationship between visual art and spiritual experiences during the Italian Renaissance. Though scholarly research on these writings has predominantly focused on the influence of classical literature, this study reveals that Renaissance authors consistently discussed art using terms, concepts and metaphors derived from spiritual literature. By examining these texts in the light of medieval sources, greater insight is gained on the spiritual nature of the artist’s process and the reception of art. Offering a close re-readings of many important writers (Alberti, Leonardo, Vasari, etc.), this study deepens our understanding of attitudes toward art and spirituality in the Italian Renaissance.

Fears and stories about an underground religion devoted to Satan, which demands and carries out child sacrifice, appeared in the United States in the late twentieth century and became the subject of media reports supported by some mental health professionals. Examining these modern fantasies leads us back to ancient stories which in some cases believers consider the height of religious devotion.

Horrifying ideas about human sacrifice, child sacrifice, and the offering to the gods of a beloved only son by his father appear repeatedly in Western traditions, starting with the Greeks and the Hebrews. In Flesh and Blood: Interrogating Freud on Human Sacrifice, Real and Imagined, Beit-Hallahmi focuses on rituals of violence tied to religion, both imagined and real. The main focus of this work is the meaning of blood and ritual killing in the history of religion. The book examines the encounter with the idea of child sacrifice in the context of human hopes for salvation.
This memoir is a story of loss and gain, of alienation and reconciliation, and of how such experiences go into the making of a psychoanalyst. In sharing his own very troubled family history, his decade as a Carmelite monk, his marriage and career as a psychoanalyst, Gargiulo shows how the diverse pieces of one’s life can fit together into something that is meaningful and real. This is one person’s life - but it relates to us all. “We are bound together, each of us,” the author writes, “in our living, our troubles and our joys. As we hear another's story, we are, simultaneously, writing our own autobiography.”
Little discussed by psychoanalysts and almost unknown outside the profession, a small but distinguished group of psychoanalysts were or are mystics: Otto Rank, Erich Fromm, Marion Milner, D. W. Winnicott, Heinz Kohut, Hans W. Loewald, Wilfred R. Bion, James S. Grotstein, Neville Symington, and Michael Eigen. All favoured an extrovertive mysticism that perceives unity throughout physical reality. Several saw creativity as an application of mystical consciousness to the physical material of artwork, artefact, or, more generally, culture.
RSSSR continues to offer a place for the publication of theoretical and empirical papers related to the broad area of how the social sciences understand religion. Two papers in the general section add important contributions to the fields of faith development and spirituality. The use of special sections has enabled particular topics to be dealt with in detail and shows how information that is gathered incrementally can help make great advances in a field. Spirituality, alongside religion, features as the key independent variable in many of the nine papers of the special section in this volume. Social scientific approaches have sought to show links between the experiences of health, well-being or disease, and individual differences in religiosity and/or spirituality.
Volume 4: Prayer in Religion and Spirituality (2013)
Prayer is a phenomenon which seems to be characteristic not only of participants in every religion, but also men and women who do not identify with traditional religions. It can be practised even by those who do not believe either in a God or transcendent force. In this sense, therefore, we may assert that the prayer is a typically human activity that has accompanied the development of different civilizations over the course of the centuries. Both the material issues of concrete daily life as well as more symbolic elements expressed through words, gestures, body positions, and community celebration are brought together in the act of praying.