Textmining Teresa of Ávila's Mind

Aktivitet: Tale eller præsentation - typerForedrag og mundtlige bidrag

Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet

Armin W. Geertz - Foredragsholder

This very brief presentation draws on a project that deals with the growing empirical knowledge about the interaction between bodily actions and human thinking and about the cultural embeddedness of human cognition. The ambition of this project is to employ state of the art cognitive predictive models on historical material, namely the activities, techniques and reported mystical experiences of Teresa of Ávila (1515-1582), a Spanish Carmelite nun who reformed that Order and founded the Discalced Carmelites. This project involves quantitative coding and text mining of her numerous books and letters in order to test the use of cognitive models in historical studies. In order to track the psychological and social developmental trajectories of Teresa, we have applied multi-category sentiment analysis and geographical network analysis to her collected writings (in English translation).
In the model we have developed at the Religion, Cognition and Culture Research Unit in Aarhus (RCC), we argue that experience, manipulation and explanations generally relate to systems involved in event-and-action-processing, which can be investigated by reference to a neurocognitive cluster consisting of prediction systems, perceptually driven event-perception, expectation-formation and the evocation of cultural narratives, frames and models (Schjoedt 2007; Schjoedt et al. 2013a, 2013b). Thus, human action-and-event-processing are based on and constrained by the interaction of predictive and perceptual systems. Contextually transmitted and evoked narratives, frames and models induce expectations that in turn influence experience and post hoc classifications of events (Jensen 2014; Siegel 2001). Manipulations of bodies, e.g. in sensory deprivation, excitement and exhaustion have experimentally been shown to have a significant influence on human religious experience (Andersen et al. 2014; Jegindø et al. 2013a, 2013b; Schjoedt et al. 2011; Xygalatas et al. 2013).
This is where religious behavior comes in. Through the millennia, many have noticed our abilities, weaknesses and strengths as cognizing, emotional creatures. Specialists and leaders have learned how to manipulate our nervous and mental systems. Techniques have evolved to create particular emotional, mental and spiritual states. We are social creatures, and our nervous systems are peculiarly vulnerable to influence from conspecifics. In fact, our brains thrive on this influence, and our minds try to make sense of it, mostly after the fact. Thus, mental representations, mental and emotional states, unconscious reactions and background emotions are socially oriented and often socially caused states. We are biocultural creatures in a very real sense, simultaneously vulnerable and resilient (Geertz 2010).
9 dec. 2016

Begivenhed (Konference)

TitelCAARE 4 Cognitive Approaches to Ancient Religious Experiences
AfholdelsesstedSenate House, University of London


  • text mining, kognitiv religionsvidenskab, neuropsykologi, religionshistorie, mystik, Spanien

ID: 107645861