Events Calendar
Dec 4
18:00 - 19:30
The way we think about thinking matters
Stirling Lecture

This talk makes the argument that the way we think about our minds matters and may shape the phenomenology of our mental events. It makes the case that different practices of attending to mental events have identifiable phenomenological consequences and that different cultures and different theologies emphasise mind and mental process in distinctive ways. The data to support this claim comes from research on the way charismatic Christians experience God and the way persons who meet criteria for schizophrenia experience psychosis in the US, Accra and Chennai. These are different populations: but both hear 'voices'.

We can see that the way people map the territory of the mind works as a kind of practice of attention: with practised attention and cultural invitation, Christians report that some kinds of events come to feel more 'external'—they develop more confidence that God has spoken and report a more sensory quality to the voice. Meanwhile, those with psychosis report different content to voice-hearing when they do not immediately infer from the experience that they are 'crazy' (as Americans do). They speak as if their negative voices are (on average) less caustic. The data suggests that one consequence of the different ways of representing mind and mental experience is that Americans have a harsher experience of psychosis and less a spiritual one.

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Lecture Theatre 1,
Keynes College,
University of Kent,
United Kingdom
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Contact: Danielle Rundle
T: 01227 823942
School of Anthropology and Conservation


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Last Updated: 10/01/2012