Paths Between Head and Heart: Book launch and talk by Oliver Robinson


The evening will comprise a brief introduction by David Lorimer, a talk about the book by Dr Oliver Robinson, followed by a wine reception and book signing.


Paths Between Head and Heart explores the idea that science and spirituality are complementary forms of knowing and experiencing the world. Their relationship can be characterised through seven pairs of opposites: outer/inner, impersonal/personal, thinking/feeling, empirical/transcendental, mechanistic/purposive, verbal/ineffable, explanation/contemplation. Science emphasises the first term in each pair, while spirituality emphasises the second. Between each pair of opposites runs a continuum or ‘path’, and in the middle of this continuum, science and spirituality overlap and interact. I provide a number of examples of this kind of interaction.

As well as contrasting with each other in these seven ways, science and spirituality share a number of values in common, which stem from the development of science and spirituality during the modern era and the modern ethos that both embody. These modern values are innovation, pluralism, experience-based knowledge, and the empowerment of the individual. Spirituality, being a product of modernity, is different from religion, which has earlier historical roots and has more collectivist values based on the importance of continuity with the past, and adhering to shared beliefs.

Science and spirituality thus have key differences andcommonalities, and I will argue that this combination of sameness and difference is essential for a harmonious combination of ideas.

The book discusses how these ideas relate to positive human and cultural development. It suggests that balanced development can be facilitated by simultaneous personal exploration of both science and spirituality, due to the way that one acts to counter-balance the other in the psyche with complementary values and priorities, and prevent the drift of either towards extremes or hubris. The outcome of this, I contend, is wisdom.

The book is published by O Books, and is officially released on 31st August. Advanced copies will be available for purchase at discounted price at the event.

“This book plays a vital role in building a bridge between science and spirituality, demonstrating that they are natural partners in the evolution of our understanding of the universe and providing a comprehensive account of attempts to synthesise them. I particularly commend its dialectical structure, which puts the topic in a broader context than usual.”

Bernard Carr, Professor of Mathematics and Astronomy at Queen Mary University of London


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