Qualified Materialism

Jake Small Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Elise Edwards Butler University, Chad Bauman Butler University
Materialism, one of the most recent additions to the compendium of academic theories in religious studies, needs to be qualified. While materialist theory is vital to abstaining from radical reductionism, crossing the Cartesian divide, and placing the focus on humanity in religious studies, it currently fails to accurately describe the interplay of culture and reality as well as the human functions of socially constructed religious stimuli. This paper seeks to build on top of materialism’s advances by exploring the social and philosophical implications of the embodiment of consciousness in reality and what is referred to as a religious experience. The basic argument of qualified materialism is this: embodied consciousness disregards the Cartesian subject/object divide and is the epistemological starting point for the interactivity of enculturation and physicalism. This in reaction to external, socially constructed stimulus during the performance of religious acts creates an environment of symbols and shared understandings which is interpreted by individuals as a deeply personal religious experiences. Coining new terms like intermodal consciousness and apical evocative stimulus, this theory takes an interdisciplinary approach to religious studies with evidence and arguments from ethology, anthropology, philosophy of mind, and neuroscience. This work draws from a long line of scholars of various disciplines in materialist theory, and like Manuel Vasquez’s materialism, explains the shortcomings of previous theorists in order to present a succinct argument of why and how it should be reined and qualified.
Philosophy & Religion
Oral Presentation

When & Where

01:45 PM
Jordan Hall 336C