segunda-feira, 23 de julho de 2012

One Year Post‐Doc Position at the University of Udine (Italy), starting on January 2013: philosophy and neurophysiology of religious experience


Thanks to the funding of the Mind and Life Institute (Mind and Life Contemplative Studies Fellowships; MLCSF), we offer one (1) post‐Doctoral Fellowship to perform research concerning the philosophy and neurophysiology of religious experience. The successful candidate will join a team of philosophers and neuroscientists working on a one year project entitled Philosophical and historical accounts for the neuroscientific investigation of human spirituality, at the University of Udine, Italy.


The general aim of the project is to reach a comprehensive definition of
the concept of spirituality,and a scientifically grounded
operationalization of the observable behaviors that are related to it. The
group aims to develop a specific implicit association test (IAT) for the
evaluation of how people attribute spirituality adjectives to the self. It
will use a self‐other referential task in which self‐ and other‐related
adjectives will be categorized, and a spiritual‐non spiritual
categorization of another set of adjectives will be attempted. A crucial
part of the development of the IAT for Spirituality will be to identify
the appropriate adjectives to be used at the extreme of spiritual‐non
spiritual dimensions. It will then be tested whether changes of implicit
measures of spirituality may be rapidly induced in healthy individuals by
modifying plasticity of specific brain regions via neurostimulation
techniques (such as rTMS).

The neuroscientific study of spirituality opens two main philosophical
problems. The first problem is that empirical explanations need to be
clear about what are the mental items which they intend to explain:
defining the mental, its features and its borders, though, is a
philosophical enterprise, which requires a critical outlook about the
meaning of words such
as “mind”, “spirit”, “perception”, “experience”, “knowledge”, “reality”.
The task of philosophy, then, is to offer an internal collaboration to
scientific research, by helping it to identify and determine the features
of its object. The second philosophical problem is that, depending on how
the mental is defined, it might turn out that it is not wholly passible of
an empirical explanation; in that case, it must be considered which
features of the mental can be empirically explained, and which cannot;
furthermore and consequently, empirical explanations must be epistemically
assessed in terms of the limitations they have because of what they leave
out. The second task of philosophy, then, is to offer an external
assessment of the significance of empirical findings, by locating them
within its all‐encompassing account of human experience.

The person joining the team will have a strong background in the
philosophy of mind and in the philosophy of science or epistemology, and a
demonstrated interested in the neurosciences and the philosophy of
religion. She/he will join the neuroscientists in their lab work, and
offer constructive, philosophical analyses of the assumption of their
procedures and models. She/he will also report to the team of philosophers
and work on a philosophically meaningful operationalisation of empirically
testable variables.

Candidates should send the following material via email by

September 15th 2010

to both the addresses gabriele.deanna@uniud.it and cosimo.urgesi@uniud.it:
‐ 1500 words statement of purposes stating their background on philosophy
of mind,philosophy of science or epistemology, neurosciences, and
philosophy of religion.
‐ full CV
‐ One published article, possibly on a topic related to the project
‐ two letters of reference.

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