SPIRITUALISM – THE COGNITIVE SCIENCE OF SPIRITUALITY:
The term cognition is derived from Latin word ‘cognitio’ which means knowledge which is related to the Latin word ‘cognoscere( co-, together + gnoscere, know) which means the act or process of knowing. Cognitive Science involves the study of all human activities related to knowledge. These activities include attention, creativity, memory, perception, problem-solving, thinking, and the use of language. Cognition is the process involved in knowing, or the act of knowing which includes awareness and judgment. Cognition is often viewed as a psychological function and its nature is described as the relationship between the knowing mind and external reality. The Cognitive Science of Spirituality that I would like to describe is related to the cognitive abilities of a living cell or living organism; the abilities such as recognition, responsiveness, communication using signals, memory, ability to process, store, retrieve, and use information that could be innate or acquired, the ability of adaptation to changing internal or external environmental conditions, and the fact of awareness of its own existence; the awareness of its internal condition, and the awareness of its external environment.
The purpose of the Cognitive Science of Spirituality is not that of describing a cognitive theory of human personality. The Behavioral Science is primarily involved in the study of stimuli and responses; it observes human activities particularly social behavior and not that of higher mental processes which are not available to direct examination. While Cognitive Science is concerned with the mind’s ability to acquire, process, store, and use information, the information processed need not be represented in cortical awareness. Cognitive Psychology does not rely on conscious introspection or mental reflection. The Cognitive Science of Spirituality that I describe does not involve acts of Meditation or mental introspection to discover the spiritual nature of man. I suggest that Spiritualism can be understood without regard to the machinery of the brain/mind’s information processing. The organism that we all know as Amoeba( Greek word – ‘Amoibe’ which means change) is a spiritual entity as it is Conscious or Aware of its existence, it shows responsiveness by changing its shape as it likes, it is Intelligent for it uses, processes, stores, retrieves, and uses information to perform its metabolic functions, and it displays abilities such as adaptation and memory of its acquired experience. I tend to view these biological functions and characteristics as an attribute of the spiritual nature of its living substance and this spiritual nature brings functional harmony to sustain its existence as a biological entity.
THE THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE AND THE COGNITIVE SCIENCE OF SPIRITUALISM:
I am not concerned about Bertrand Russell’s skeptical atheist temperament. The Spiritualism that I describe is not about religious faith or belief and the Spirituality that I write about is not concerned with religious practices or rituals. I claim that man is a Spiritual being because of the spiritual nature of his living matter or living substance. It is important to know that Russell was determined not to be beguiled by human pretensions to knowledge. He had never supported unbacked assumptions either about the foundations of knowledge or about what may be said to exist. He endorsed the application of rationality to all aspects of human thought and language. He was seriously concerned with the application of logical analysis to epistemological questions and attacked this problem by trying to breakdown human knowledge into minimum statements that were verifiable by empirical observation, reason, and logic. He was convinced that all knowledge is dependent on sense experience. His primary aim was to inquire with skeptical intent, “how much we can be said to know and with what degree of certainty or doubtfulness.” In 1898, with Trinity Fellow G.E. Moore, he rebelled against Idealism and became an Empiricist, a Positivist, and a Physical Realist or a Materialist. He held that the scientific view of the world is largely the correct view. He addressed the problem of the pretensions of human knowledge in his books, An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth(1940) and Human Knowledge, Its Scope and Limits(1948). His aim was also analytic and he assumed that it is possible to infer something about the world from the language in which it is correctly described. Russell analyzed that language must be used to state its minimum requirements, its atomic facts and avoid the use of descriptive phrases which may postulate the existence of objects. He held that a proposition is a picture of the facts that it asserts and must have in a sense the same structure. He stressed the importance of similarity of the structure as a criterion in inferring causal relationships. In a Lecture titled ‘Why I am not a Christian’ given on March 06, 1927, Russell explained the nature of his beliefs about God and Mortality. In his opinion and personal belief, he held the view that Life suitable to Protoplasm could be possible under certain physical conditions like temperature. Russell’s speculative assumption about the existence of Life or Protoplasm is not supported by scientific evidence. He had no scientific data to support his view. The ideal conditions for Life and Protoplasm exist right now and what we know is that Life is always born from previously existing Life. However, he had concluded his Lecture by stating that, “it needs hope for the future……., the future that our intelligence can create.” His assumption that human intelligence is the basis for man’s biological existence is incorrect and is not consistent with the scientific reality about human existence and its nature. At a very fundamental level, man’s ability to acquire energy from an external source in the physical environment does not depend upon his physical or mental work or effort. If green plants with Chloroplasts have the ability to trap Sun’s energy, it could not be attributed to man’s intelligence and the fact of Chloroplasts and their ability is not dependent on man having any kind of intelligence. Russell’s theoretical claims have no relationship with observational evidence and his opinions could be easily refuted for lack of validity. Physical Sciences and Biological Sciences provide an accepted body of information about the world and the human body. We need to arrange this information into a meaningful pattern and interpret it to describe reality. The purpose of the Cognitive Science of Spiritualism is to describe and codify observations and experiences to explain the biological basis for human organism in its given environment as an individual, and as a member of a biological community.
Dr. R. Rudra Narasimham, B.Sc., M.B.B.S.,
Kurnool Medical College, Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh, India,
M.B.B.S. Class of April 1970.