About this Research Topic
The importance of silence has been emphasized in both ancient and modern philosophical traditions. In Buddhist and other eastern scriptures, it has been linked to the inner stillness of the mind, a sense of equanimity and unity. In addition, western scholars such as Kierkegaard went as far as to prescribe creating silence as a remedy to the world's condition. Furthermore, Wittgenstein, who regarded silence as the answer to philosophy's most difficult questions, has stated that “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent”, interpreted by some to imply that things we cannot speak about are really things that are worth talking about, but it's just not possible as the meaning of these things is ineffable. But, can we define silence itself? And, can we speak about silence, scientifically? This is the -admittedly ambitious - aim of this Research Topic. Here, we would like to address the following questions: what is silence? Is it simply the absence of sound or thought? Do we all perceive or experience it in the same way? Is silence a subjective experience, or could we quantify it using objective measures? What are the neuronal underlying mechanisms supporting the experience of silence? How do experiences of silence affect human behavior and well-being? What are the consequences of technology on the experience of silence? In addition, what might be the outcome of silence in education, and for society as a whole?
While the importance of creating silence through practices like meditation has been addressed in different traditions, the scientific study of silence-induced effects, as well as typological conceptualizations, have only recently begun. The purpose of this current Research Topic is to advance current knowledge of the experience of silence, its relation to different contemplative or classical traditions, its underlying mechanisms, and its effects on psychological, educational and social perspectives. We thus aim at creating a broader picture towards a shared language defining silence and seek ways by which these different perspectives might enrich each other and provide a deeper understanding of this intriguing subject. The current Research Topic will thus include empirical and theoretical accounts exploring silence, utilizing diverse disciplinary and methodological approaches.
Keywords: silence, meditation, contemplative practices, consciousness, experience of silence, self consciousness
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