Dr. Ann Taves presented a lecture entitled "Ecstasy: Linking the humanities and the brain" at the inaugural lecture for UCSB's Interdisciplinary Humanities Center series "The Humanities and the Brain." The lecture addressed the pervasive yet elusive term ecstasy, an experience that is widely discussed in the humanities and sought after in the general culture, illuminates many of the difficulties involved in linking research in the humanities with research in the social, psychological and neurosciences. In order to link these approaches, which employ different methods to study human experience at different levels, we need to identify features that are often associated with, but do not uniquely specify, ecstasy at the cultural level (studied by humanists) and specify these features in precise enough terms that they can be studied sociologically, psychologically, and neurologically. The lecture will draw on humanistic approaches to examine the range of experiences that people have characterized as ecstatic and the meanings that people have found in and drawn from them and on the psychological and brain sciences to help understand the underlying mechanisms involved.
October 20, 2015 - 11:10am