Spirituality: New Age Nonsense? Or a New Field of Inquiry?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “I’m not religious, but I am spiritual” before, perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. But have you ever stopped to consider what it really means? On Wednesday, March 27, Dr. Rod Nicholls, CBU Professor of Philosophy, will be presenting his talk “A Philosophy of Spirituality: New Age Nonsense? Or a New Field of Enquiry?” as part of CBU Research Month 2019. For several years, Dr. Nicholls has been working on an edited collection of philosophical essays exploring the meaning and significance of spirituality, and recently this book, The Philosophy of Spirituality, was published. This led to his decision to discuss the topic during Research Month, as he has found that a wide array of people, both academics and non-academics, have an interest in or connection to the notion of spirituality. “I’ve always found it particularly satisfying to participate in discussions that draw on theoretical knowledge and expertise in ways that connect with people’s practical experiences,” says Dr. Nicholls. As Dr. Nicholls explains, many academic philosophers tend to place spirituality under the umbrella of religion, and often dismiss the term as quaint but obsolete.  Yet various experiences from listening to a beautiful piece of music, to spending time in nature or practicing Yoga have all been described as spiritual acts with very little connection to the world of religion. Dr. Nicholls’ presentation, a combination of a traditional lecture, accompanied by select images and an interactive discussion, will explore the theme of spirituality in a less skeptical way. If questions such as “what gives life a purpose or deeper meaning?” or “how can I deal with extreme stress or isolation in my life?” pique your interest, this presentation might be for you. For more than 2000 years, philosophers like Dr. Nicholls have been asking questions that go beyond simple data-driven answers. They seek the why, the motivation behind what leads people to believe or act in certain ways. “My presentation will be based on one simple assumption,” says Dr. Nicholls. “Namely, that no matter how healthy, psychologically well-adjusted, and practically successful one is, until we take our dying breath human beings remain vulnerable to undeserved events that can suddenly blind-side us in an apparently unjust world.” So why do such high numbers of humans turn to spirituality to combat this reality? Dr. Nicholls’ presentation aims to consider that query. The 2019 Research Month Interdisciplinary Panel on Spirituality, Art History, Affect and Cape Breton Rocks will take place on Wednesday, March 27 from 10:00am-11:30am.

For more information, check out the full schedule here.