Evagrius Ponticus and Cognitive Science: A Look at Moral Evil and the Thoughts
Description: This study puts the thought of Evagrius Ponticus, a fourth-century theologian, into dialogue with modern cognitive science in regard to the topic of evil, specifically moral evil. Evagrius, in his writings about prayer and the ascetic life, addressed the struggle with personal moral evil in terms of the eight ""thoughts"" or ""demons."" These ""thoughts"" were transmitted by John Cassian to the Western church, and later recast by Gregory the Great as the Seven Deadly Sins. Though present understandings of evil appear to differ greatly from those of Evagrius, his wisdom concerning the battle against evil may prove to be of great help even today. Using the work of Pierre Hadot to recover Evagrius's context, and the work of Paul Ricoeur to discuss how we construct descriptions and myths of evil, Evagrius is brought into dialogue with the cognitive sciences. Using current research, especially the work of Eugene d'Aquili and Andrew Newberg, this study reveals the contemporary relevance of Evagrius' approach to combating evil. In addition, the interdisciplinary study of patristics and cognitive science opens the pathway to a better understanding between Christian tradition and the modern sciences. Endorsements: ""Recent years have seen a resurgence in studies of Evagrius of Pontus bringing his work into a new relevance to today's world. This book by Dr. Tsakiridis examines the work of Evagrius and focuses on a perspective not well-covered in the literature-Evagrius' importance to science especially the cognitive sciences. The book is insightful and represents an important new contribution to studies of Evagrius' work and to the science and religion discussion as a whole. --Gayle E. Woloschak The Feinberg School, Northwestern University ""Few writers in the field of religion and science have the competence to interpret so many and varied texts in patristic mystical and moral theology, contemporary neuro - science, and the turn to spirituality in contemporary theology . . . He shows how both cognitive science and mystical theology can mutually enrich and inform each other in ways unimagined by today's popular neo-atheists and agnostics."" --Robert A. Cathey McCormick Theological Seminary ""In a thoroughly limpid style, George Tsakiridis sets before us an exceptionally interesting project: (1) he centers on sin, evil, and prayer in a way that is central to the religious life; (2) he engages the cutting edge domain of cognitive sciences; and (3) he invites us to take seriously both a much neglected fourth century religious thinker and the most contemporary work of scientists who focus on the mind and its activities."" --Philip Hefner Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Emeritus ""George Tsakiridis artfully compares and clarifies the concepts used by ancient and modern thinkers to describe meditation, ways to deal with good and evil, and mysticism, and adds neuroscientific studies of such experiences. Though the times were vastly different, enlightening human commonalities emerge."" --Carol Rausch Albright Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago About the Contributor(s): George Tsakiridis is currently a Lecturer in Religious Studies at Saint Xavier University, Chicago.
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Evil and Prayer
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