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Introduction: Psychology and Religion as Pursuits of Wisdom
When psychology was constituted as an experimental science, during the nineteenth century, it became formally disconnected from philosophy and religious studies. Yet, traditionally – and recalling that “psychology” (psycho-logia) etymologically means “the study of the soul” – these fields of study gravitated around the broad concept of “spirituality.” In ancient philosophy, wisdom was sought through practical exercises intended to cure our false perceptions of the world. Epicureans and Stoics, for example, performed a series of attentional exercises, which they regarded as forms of healing the soul: “First and foremost, philosophy presented itself as a therapeutic, intended to cure mankind’s anguish” (Hadot, p. 265). Psychology shares this goal of curing ailments of the psyche. Religion, through prayer and other uses of attention, tries to cleanse the soul of the disordered or diseased perception it calls “sin.” Attention...
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