Monthly Archives: November 2012

Paper: Contemplative Higher Education: Diverse Epistemological Foundations East and West

Abstract of a paper delivered by Margaret Benefiel, Ph.D., at a meeting of the
Association for Contemplative Mind in Higher Education, September 2012, Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts

“Objectivism,” the deeply flawed ruling paradigm in academic teaching, learning, and research, has been roundly criticized by leading contemplative thinkers. Arthur Zajonc, Jorge Ferrer, Stephanie Paulsell, Mary Frohlich, Mirabai Bush, Harold Roth, Alan Wallace, Parker Palmer, to name but a few, lay bare its shaky underpinnings.
This paper will trace the critique by these thinkers and examine the alternatives they propose. While the most developed alternatives are based on the new science and Eastern philosophy, this presentation will offer an alternative based on Western philosophy, complementing theirs. It will draw on the work of philosopher/methodologist/theologian Bernard Lonergan, who criticized the “already-out-there-now-real” philosophy of objectivism and developed an understanding of the relationship between subjectivity and objectivity based on the operations of human consciousness.
It will then suggest a direction for discussion on the complementarity of diverse Eastern and Western alternatives to objectivism and how further inroads can be made in the academy, both for teaching and research.

Paper: The Spiritual Practice of Authentic Interiority

Abstract of a paper by Michael O’Sullivan for the Cave of the Heart Conference, St. Mary’s University College, London, 28-30 June 2012.

This paper is available to SSCS members by sending a request to the CSStudies moderator.

From the abstract: “Interiority, for Bernard Lonergan, the internationally renowned Jesuit theologian, philosopher, and methodologist of human consciousness, is the foundational self-presence that enables us to know and choose. Mary Frohlich, a leading spirituality scholar, who draws on his work, has developed the concept of critical interiority as a distinctive methodological principle for the academic study of spirituality. In my paper, however, I will argue that spirituality as lived experience and as an academic discipline is grounded in an interiority that I call authentic interiority. The term critical, like the term mindfulness, can suggest an overly intellectualist approach to spirituality. Authenticity, on the other hand, suggests more clearly, I hold, that living and studying spirituality requires the practice of a holistic integrity. Spirituality as the disciplined practice of such integrity in living life, and studying it, is a practice involving four basic operations of consciousness, namely, experiencing, understanding, judging, and deciding (including the decision to believe or trust). Being authentic with respect to each of these operations involves a different practice depending on which operation the person, group, society, or religious tradition is employing at the time. Authentic experiencing involves attending to all the relevant data; authentic understanding involves raising all the relevant questions about the data; authentic judging involves being critical about the different interpretations arrived at by understanding; and authentic deciding involves acting consistently with correct judgment for the sake of promoting the good and the lovable. I will demonstrate this ascetical practice of authentic and transformative interiority during my paper.”