Research question 3. Epistemology and cognition of love
(a) Christianity. Can new scientific developments in social cognition throw light on the place and function of love in human life?
How can we bring together scientific measurements of a pre-thematic state of sociality and altruism, such as evolutionary biology and neuroscience explores, with love as primary in experience, traditions and shared interpretations?
How can new scientific knowledge of the material structure of the human ‘face to face’ which is at the very ground of our human sociality, illumine and be illumined by the meaning brought by love? What part does language play in this development of altruism and love, in the situation of human ‘belonging’ in the world? How does the world of a pre-thematic recognitional matrix relate to the everyday experience of life as a social agent in the world? Where can a Christian theologian find God to be encountered in all this?
How useful is the tradition initiated by Augustine and popularized by William of St. Thierry that love itself is a form of knowledge (amor ipsum intellectus est) because it is participation in the world and in God?
(b) Islam. How far has recent Islamic thinking about love corresponded to western Christian theological reaction against Enlightenment epistemology, placing an attitude of love in contrast to a knowing of the world which is manipulative, or treating others as objects to be dominated by the knowing consciousness? How does this connect with the stress on intuition in ‘Illuminationist Philosophy’ developed from the 12th century to the present day, especially in Iran (exemplars being Ibn Sina/ Avicenna and al-Suhrawardi)?
How significant is the Qur’anic idea of ‘adornment’ for the image of the loved person in the lover’s mind (See Ghazi, Love in the Holy Qur’an, 2011, pp.301-311)?
(c) Judaism. What contribution to present-day discussion of social cognition might be made by the discussion of the place of love in perception of the world and the making of mental images of the beloved in the third dialogue of Judah Abravanah’s Dialoghi d’Amore (Philosophy of Love)?