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SPIRIN Encyclopedia

Introduction to SPIRIN
Inigo Bocken
Jos Huls
Hanno Wupper
Kirstin Zeyer

Introduction to SPIRIN

Inigo BockenJos HulsHanno WupperKirstin Zeyer    2010Course

Spirin ("Spirituality International") is an international scientific forum for the study of spirituality. Spirin is a web-based network of academics, teachers, students and professional practitioners, who exchange and discuss academic information, present their results and research questions in the context of other results and questions, and who keep in touch in academic teaching even if they live in different continents. The underlaying idea of spirituality encourages academics out of different disciplines, cultures and religions to participate in this community.

In SPIRIN, researchers, teachers, and students are together building an encyclopedia like craftsmen in the middle ages have built cathedrals. Work and learning are interweaved. At present, there are 1,163 encyclopedic lemmata, some of them being very large ones: some whole books, some texts together with their translations and commentaries.

118 lemmata in the Encyclopedia are accessible to everybody. Most of the information, however, is accessible to registerd members only.

from Encyclopedic Approach in the Study of Spirituality by Inigo Bocken and Kees Waaijman:


Seen from the inside, the making of encyclopedias is driven by a variety of motivations. A collection of these drives can be named the Encyclopedic Quest. At this moment, we distinguish in the encyclopedic quest the following dynamics.

  • An encyclopedia functions within the context of the historicity of human knowledge. Particularly in times of transition the encyclopedic quest seems to be a bridge: the preservation of old knowledge, the promotion of new knowledge, and the rediscovery of forgotten knowledge.
  • An encyclopedia can be seen as an interaction between scholars in different fields of knowledge. They express (perhaps unconscious) the will to present knowledge within the broader community of researchers at that moment.
  • The circle of knowledge, made by a collective of scholars, is at the same time, however, a cycle of learning, seen from the perspective of the student. This is an important drive behind the Greek concept of the enkuklios paideia.
  • The encyclopedia functions, in modern times, as a means of democratisation of knowledge: For the lay every entry can become an entrance in the whole of knowledge.
  • The encyclopedia can be seen as the realisation of the phenomenological method of Variation, and the paradigmatic method of Levinas.
  • The encylopedic quest seems to be motivated by the search for the whole of knowledge, sometimes organized in a alphabetical order, sometimes arranged in a systematic order.
  • The encyclopedia, on a fundamental level, can be conceived as a spiritual search for truth, as expressed, in practices as the different forms of collatio, the ars coniecturalis of Nicholas of Cusa.


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