The Cognitive Function of Emotions of Spiritually Sublime

Leonid I. Perlovsky
Emotions of spiritually sublime are psychological foundations of religions. Whereas science and religion are often considered irreconcilable, this paper demonstrates that psychological foundations of religions are fundamental cognitive mechanisms. The paper reviews mathematical models of cognitive mechanisms of concepts, emotions, the mind hierarchy, and discusses specific emotions related to improvement of knowledge. These emotions at the top levels of the mind hierarchy motivate search for concepts unifying the entire human experience. Arguments are presented that these concepts are subjectively perceived as the meaning and purpose of life and emotions involved in improving these concepts include emotions of spiritually sublime. The article briefly reviews brain imaging data supporting these cognitive-mathematical models. Science strives for a detailed understanding of reality even if this differentiation threatens the wholeness of psyche. Religion strives to maintain the wholeness of psyche, even if at the expense of a detailed understanding of the world and self. The paper analyzes cognitive forces driving human minds to achieve both and presents arguments that these motivational forces are related to sublime emotions acting in top-down and bottom-up directions in the hierarchy of the mind.
Concepts; Emotions; Instincts; Knowledge Instinct; Aesthetic Emotions; Hierarchy; Beautiful; Spiritually Sublime; Cognition; Differentiation; Synthesis; Language; Mind; Religion; God
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