chapter  11
11 Pages

The spiritual and the sacred: prospects for convergence between religious and non-religious outlooks

ByJOHN COTTINGHAM

If the road ahead was always clear, with no existential crises of the kind Dante describes, and no crucial decision points such as Robert Frost refers to, the life in question would not be a recognisably human life – or at least it would be a very untypical one. Unlike the other animals, whose lives follow a set pattern determined by environmental conditions and their inbuilt drives and goals, each of us to a great extent maps out his or her own distinctive pathway, as we struggle to see the right way forward. Hence, while the life of any given cow or horse will not significantly diverge from that of any other in similar circumstances, the life of a human being, however much it may have in common with that of a similarly placed neighbour, always has its own unique trajectory.