The so-called “myth of secularization” held that, with standards of living and education levels rising around the world, traditional religious beliefs and affiliations would eventually fade away. More and more people, it was thought, would join the West in its state of living without supernatural commitments or ancient superstitions, guided solely by rationality, empirical evidence and enlightened self-interest. This myth appears to be mistaken on at least two fronts. To begin with, religiosity has by no means faded away. In some regions of the world levels of religiosity have risen dramatically, and in many places strongly fundamentalist regimes have replaced secular ones. Religious-based violence seems to be alive and well. At a deeper level, it is questionable whether or not it is possible for human beings to live as purely secular moderns. Prof. Slingerland’s talk will focus on this deeper level, discussing a variety of historical, philosophical and psychological evidence suggesting that human beings cannot function outside a framework of metaphysical commitments that function to support both moral judgments and a broader sense of purpose or meaning. His purpose is not to deny the uniqueness or desirability of modern secular liberalism, merely to arrive at a more nuanced understanding of what it means to live in a secular age.
Prof. Edward Slingerland is Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia. His research specialties and teaching interests include Warring States (5th-3rd c. B.C.E.) Chinese thought, religious studies, cognitive linguistics, ethics, and the relationship between the humanities and the natural sciences. His latest monograph is entitled, Mind and Body in Early China: Beyond Orientalism and the Myth of Holism (OUP, forthcoming).
Please RSVP by end of day February 25th, 2018 to firstname.lastname@example.org or preferably, EventBrite.
As an aside on parking, while it may appear that the parking is completely full, if you study the following map you will see there is ample available parking around the Nat Bailey Stadium on all sides. Parking areas are highlighted in red.
February 26, 2018 at 7:00pm
Hillcrest Community Centre - Room 328 - (4575 Clancy Loranger Way, Vancouver, BC)
Medical and scientific topics had dominated ARPICO events since the beginning of my tenure as its president until Monday, February 26, 2018, when we had the privilege of having Professor Ted Slingerland, Distinguished University Scholar and Professor of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia, speak to our audience on the subject of secularity in our modern society, a very important and multi-layered topic at any given time, but especially in a period when, in my personal view, religious antagonism appears to be making an important resurgence in our world.
Already from the number of registrants, we knew that we were in for a well-attended event and that we were going to have a more diversified audience than usual. In fact, for the first time we had to cap the registration numbers to respect the legal room capacity. Professor Slingerland took us through a fascinating journey that linked once long-held myths on the Asian culture being secular by its own very nature (evidence from texts is against this), while a more western view of religiosity appears strongly tied to concepts of deities. You may or may not be surprised to learn that things are not so clear cut. It was also illuminating to learn of the so-called theory of mind, which, in a nutshell and in my limited recollection, suggests that even when a set of abstract objects moving in an apparently insignificant sequence is presented to our eyes, we as human animals cannot resist the temptation of inventing a story around them. Somehow we appear unable to stay away from casting an anthropomorphic interpretation of the events we see. The talk gave rise to a lively Q&A session, which was not the easiest to moderate (but that's all good!) and which carried on well into the networking-and-nibbling part of the evening.
This was our second time holding an event at the HillCrest Community Centre and this time we had better luck from the noise/sound standpoint, if we discount a minor amount of loud chatter at the start and some ping-pong playing sounds at times from next door... a much more manageable situation than having an entire class of violins practicing next door, as we had during our previous event with Professor Paul Rennie.
People had a much easier time finding parking thanks to a detailed map provided by Giorgio in the invite and in the end we had a full house event. We do appreciate the attendees' willingness to negotiate their way to the event room, not always easy due to the size and busyness of this community centre.
Judging from the response to this less traditional type of event for ARPICO, I think I interpret the entire board's sentiment by saying that we are happy we widened our selection of speakers with such a high caliber scholar as Professor Slingerland.