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Contemplative Studies: Prospects for a New Field

by Harold D. Roth - 2006

We have reached a moment in history when it is time to reenvision certain basic aspects of the existing models of teaching and research in higher education in order to foster a deeper knowledge of the nature of our existence as human beings in a world that is intricately interrelated on many levels. This article suggests that one way to accomplish this is to develop a new field of academic endeavor that takes account of the emerging scientific work on the neurological foundations of the concentrated and relaxed states of mind attained by meditation and by a variety of other human endeavors, and applies them directly to our lives. It is important that we do not study them only as objects divorced from our own experience, but bring our own subjectivities directly into the equation. The field I am proposing, "contemplative studies," would bridge the humanities, the sciences, and the creative arts in an effort to identify the varieties of contemplative experiences, to find meaningful scientific explanations for them, to cultivate firsthand knowledge of them, and to critically assess their nature and significance.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 108 Number 9, 2006, p. 1787-1815
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12682, Date Accessed: 8/10/2020 7:49:41 AM

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About the Author
  • Harold Roth
    Brown University
    E-mail Author
    HAROLD D. ROTH is professor of religious studies and East Asian studies at Brown University. His research and teaching are in the field of Chinese religious thought, Buddhist studies, comparative mystical studies, and textual history and criticism. He is the author of two books, compiler and editor of two others, and author of almost forty articles in relevant scholarly journals. These publications include "Who Compiled the Chuang Tzu?" in Chinese Texts and Philosophical Contexts: Essays Dedicated to Angus C. Graham (1991), edited by Henry Rosemont, Jr.; The Textual History of the Huai-nan Tzu (1993); Original Tao: Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism (1999); “Bimodal Mystical Experience in the Qiwulun of Chuang Tzu” in Journal of Chinese Religions (2000); and “Four Approaches to the Study of the Laozi” in Teaching the Daodejing, edited by Gary DeAngelis (2006).
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