Transhumanism and Religion -- Call for Papers

The 2015 Call for Papers for the Transhumanism and Religion Group at the American Academy of Religion is online. The deadline for proposals is March 3rd, 2014, at 5pm EST. For more information, please follow this link: http://papers.aarweb.org/content/transhumanism-and-religion-group

Please note that this year, we are also co-sponsoring a special joint session with the Cognitive Science of Religion Group. Our call for papers is as follows:

This Group welcomes papers on any aspect of transhumanism and religion and seeks perspectives from a variety of religious traditions. We encourage feminist, queer, postmodern, and postcolonial analyses and more overtly philosophical critiques of posthuman discourse. Original research is a priority. Papers may identify and critically evaluate any implicit religious beliefs, practices, and values that might underlie key transhumanist claims, goals, values, and assumptions. For example, are there operative notions of anthropology, soteriology, ethics, embodiment, and eschatology at play in transhumanist quests? Papers might consider how transhumanism challenges religious traditions to develop their own ideas of the human future; in particular, the prospect of human transformation, whether by technological or other means. Papers may provide critical and constructive assessments of an envisioned future that places greater confidence in nanotechnology, cognitive science, robotics, and information technology to achieve virtual immortality and create a superior posthuman species. In accordance with the 2015 AAR theme (“Valuing Religion”), we are particularly interested in papers that address why religion is important to the transhumanist conversation.

We also are interested in receiving proposals that focus on potential modification of the human mind for a possible session cosponsored with the Cognitive Science of Religion Group. Topic/Title: "Can we now hack the religious mind?" (for possible co-sponsorship with the Transhumanism and Religion Group)

Papers Session Proposal Organizer: Don Braxton, don.braxton@gmail.com

Cognitive Science has made significant progress in explaining how the normal human mind produces religious ideas. What it has not done, and cannot do as a science, is offer advice on how to put that knowledge to use to improve human life. By contrast, transhumanism seeks explicitly to put scientific knowledge to work to improve human life beyond its normal functioning. This panel wants to place these two intellectual currents in dialogue to see how the mind, as cognitive science explains it, can be upgraded in terms of the quality of religious life. What counts as an upgrade is left to the panel participants to articulate and defend.

Papers are welcome on topics that include:
-- How can we limit or eliminate the least desirable outputs of religion (e.g, tribal violence, science denial, etc.) in our world given what cognitive science tells us?
-- How can we encourage the most desirable outputs of religion (e.g. prosocial behavior, self-esteem improvement) in our world given what cognitive science tells us?
-- Are there novel forms of religion that might be possible with a little mind-tweaking? If so, what are they, and why do you think such novel forms are possible?

The conference will be held in Atlanta, 21-24th November, 2015.

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