Category Archives: Books – Epistemology/Hermeneutics

Book | In Search of Self edited by van Huyssteen and Wiebe

9780802863867Van Huyssteen, J. Wentzel and Erik P. Wiebe. In Search of Self: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Personhood. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Pub., 2011.

The following two paragraphs provide a good flavor for this collection of essays that explore the human self in an interdisciplinary conversation.

“While neuroscientists like Daniel Siegel, Louis Cozolino, and John Cacioppo have argued for a deep neurological basis for interpersonal attachment, neuroscientist and anthropologist Terrence Deacon has take a different direction in developing theories about the emergent self and the symbolic human mind by focusing on the remarkable co-evolution of the brain and language. Andrew Newberg and Eugene d’Aquili and archeologist David Lewis-Wiliams each in there own way developed different conceptual frameworks for these neurological processes and their connection to the complex spectrum of human consciousness, embodied emotions, and the unmistakable fact that all humans are significantly ‘wired,’ not only for attachment, but for alternate states of consciousness. In addition, cognitive scientist like Harvey Whitehouse and Justin Barrett focus on the evolution of the human brain’s natural disposition for metaphysical and religious questions, and primatologists like Frans de Waal are specifically looking at emotionally empathetic experiences in primates, linking the emergence of the self directly to the evolution of moral imagination. And as we saw earlier, this conversation gains new depth through the work of constructive psychologists/theologians Pamela Cooper-White and Leon Turner, who want to move away from monolithic notions of selfhood to the malleability of psychological processes that give reality to nonpathological notions of multiple selves. Neuroscientific ideas of spectra of consciousness, combined with the ideas of constructive, multiple selves, indeed pose a very serious but ultimately exciting challenge to Christian-theological notions of person and the imago Dei. This challenge is deepened by evolutionary epistemologists like Franz Wuketits, and archeologists and paleontologists like Steven Mithen, Ian Tattersal, and Richard Potts, who all argue that hominid and human brains, and therefore human selves, have evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to make physical, emotional, and spiritual sense of their environment. Scholars like Maxine Sheets-Johnstone have pushed even deeper into the roots of these questions by embedding notions of self, self-identity, and intersubjective communication, in the embodied prehistoric evolution of human sexuality, communication, and morality. read more