Art Seeking Understanding
Art Seeking Understanding (ASU) is a program strategy concerned with improving the methods of inquiry into the existence and nature of what Sir John Templeton called spiritual realities. ASU begins with aesthetic cognitivism, a theory about the value of the arts that approaches them not simply (or not even) as sources of delight, amusement, pleasure, or emotional catharsis but, instead, as sources of understanding.
But is there an empirically demonstrable connection between art and understanding vis à vis what Sir John referred to as spiritual reality and/or spiritual information in particular?
And if so, what distinctive cognitive value does engagement with the arts (production and/or consumption) generate?
Under what conditions and in what ways does participation in artistic activities encourage or stimulate spiritual understanding, insight, or growth (meaning- or sense-making)?
Projects in this area would bring together writers, poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, dancers, filmmakers – artists of all kinds – as well as art historians and musicologists with philosophers, theologians, and scientists from a variety of sub-disciplines within the psychological, cognitive, and social sciences to conceive and design empirical and statistical studies of the cognitive significance of the arts with respect to spiritual realities and the discovery of new spiritual information.
Now Accepting Submissions
Templeton Religion Trust (TRT) is a global charitable trust chartered in 1984 by Sir John Templeton with headquarters in Nassau, The Bahamas, where Sir John lived until his death in 2008. TRT, active since 2012, supports projects and the dissemination of results from projects seeking to enrich the conversation about religion. In this initial round, TRT anticipates offering approximately 12 grants — including project grants and experimental pilot or proof-of-concept grants — of up to US$200,000 (or equivalent) for projects lasting 12–18 months (beginning July 2020). Successful grantees from this round may then be invited to submit follow-up proposals for 36-month projects up to US$1,000,000 (or equivalent).