Alister Hardy: a naturalist of the spiritual realm

Moreira-Almeida, Alexander and de Freitas, Marta Helena and Schmidt, Bettina E. (2021) Alister Hardy: a naturalist of the spiritual realm. Religions, 12 (713). ISSN 2077-1444


Download (303kB) | Preview
Official URL:


Alister Hardy was one of the pioneers of the scientific study of spiritual experiences (SE), however his work and insights have not received the attention they deserve. This paper, based on in-depth analysis of Hardy`s own writings, presents his main methodological and epistemological con-tributions for advancing the investigation of SE. Hardy’s main epistemological guidelines were: the transcendent as the core of spirituality and SE as a major source of R/S beliefs; non-dogmatic approach, acknowledging that Darwinian evolution does not imply materialism and mind is not reducible to matter; call for studies of psychic experiences and considering an expanded natu-ralism, including the “para-physical” that could lead to a perennial philosophy and a natural theology. His methods focused on a phenomenological classification and the development of a natural history of SE based on studies with proper ecological validity on the experimental and the experiential, mixing large surveys of the general population with in-depth qualitative studies of the most prominent cases. In addition, it would be worth investigating developments of SE throughout a person’s life. Bringing back Hardy`s contributions will foster a better understanding of the history of the scientific study of SE and provide key insights for moving it forward.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: spiritual experience, religious experience, method, Hardy, research
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Institute of Education and Humanities > Academic Discipline: Humanities and Social Sciences
Depositing User: Bettina Schmidt
Date Deposited: 06 Sep 2021 13:07
Last Modified: 26 Oct 2023 15:24

Administrator Actions (login required)

Edit Item - Repository Staff Only Edit Item - Repository Staff Only