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Finding a place for the paranormal? In the conceptual fruit bowl Placing fruit in a bowl Placing fruit in a bowl Where do we place the ‘strange fruit’

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Presentation on theme: "Finding a place for the paranormal? In the conceptual fruit bowl Placing fruit in a bowl Placing fruit in a bowl Where do we place the ‘strange fruit’"— Presentation transcript:

1

2 Finding a place for the paranormal?

3 In the conceptual fruit bowl Placing fruit in a bowl Placing fruit in a bowl Where do we place the ‘strange fruit’ Where do we place the ‘strange fruit’ Of the paranormal? Of the paranormal?

4 Why is the paranormal a problem at all? The paranormal is a problem The paranormal is a problem Primarily because of science Primarily because of science Which tells us that only molecules Which tells us that only molecules Are real and nothing else Are real and nothing else This dominates our thinking This dominates our thinking It has hijacked our imagination It has hijacked our imagination

5 introduction How many of you believe in science? How many of you believe in science? How many believe the world is entirely physical? How many believe the world is entirely physical? Is there anything beyond the molecular? Is there anything beyond the molecular? How many believe in religion? How many believe in religion?

6 Issues The molecular view raises several issues The molecular view raises several issues Is mind solely a product of molecules? Is mind solely a product of molecules? Are mind and brain the same thing? Are mind and brain the same thing? Are ‘things’ real? Are ‘things’ real?

7 Paranormal Paranormal includes Paranormal includes Telepathy Telepathy Ghosts Ghosts Mediums/Clairvoyance Mediums/Clairvoyance Telekinesis Telekinesis Intuition, dreams? Attractions? Intuition, dreams? Attractions?

8 Science Science first kicked off Science first kicked off by Galileo [ ] around 1600 by Galileo [ ] around 1600 Who first questioned Who first questioned The truth of the Church The truth of the Church And conducted experiments And conducted experiments

9 Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes [ ] Thomas Hobbes [ ] Established a materialistic philosophy Established a materialistic philosophy Sceptical of religion Sceptical of religion

10 Sir Francis Bacon Francis Bacon [ ] Francis Bacon [ ] established the method of induction established the method of induction so central to science: so central to science: Based in observation Based in observation And experiments And experiments

11 Rene Descartes René Descartes [ ] René Descartes [ ] contributed to this new system contributed to this new system In mathematics In mathematics And psychology And psychology

12 Sir Isaac Newton Newton [ ] Newton [ ] regarded world as a machine regarded world as a machine Gave birth to the mechanical philosophy: Gave birth to the mechanical philosophy: An exquisite mechanism created by An exquisite mechanism created by The divine watchmaker The divine watchmaker

13 Locke John Locke [ ] John Locke [ ] He developed Hobbes’s views He developed Hobbes’s views Into a wholly materialistic view Into a wholly materialistic view

14 Science and Religion Yet they were all religious men!! Yet they were all religious men!! A fact conveniently forgotten A fact conveniently forgotten by scientists today by scientists today

15 Enlightenment 1 In the 1700s In the 1700s science made great strides forward science made great strides forward This was called the enlightenment This was called the enlightenment Materialistic culture Materialistic culture

16 Enlightenment 2 Opposed to religion and spirituality Opposed to religion and spirituality This view dominates modern life since 1800 This view dominates modern life since 1800 The paranormal challenges this belief system The paranormal challenges this belief system

17 This talk today We need to try and place We need to try and place The paranormal into a new context The paranormal into a new context And try to reconcile science And try to reconcile science With non-molecular views With non-molecular views

18 Paranormal Phenomena We need to create a theoretical framework We need to create a theoretical framework For the paranormal to be possible For the paranormal to be possible And find a belief system And find a belief system that reconciles it with science that reconciles it with science This is no easy task! This is no easy task!

19 choices We seem to have a straight choice: We seem to have a straight choice: either to believe that paranormal phenomena are genuine either to believe that paranormal phenomena are genuine or to dismiss them all as bogus or to dismiss them all as bogus

20 problems However, if we accept even provisionally However, if we accept even provisionally that paranormal is true and real, that paranormal is true and real, then this poses a problem then this poses a problem both for science both for science and for our understanding. and for our understanding.

21 mutuality However, maybe we can find However, maybe we can find a philosophy that embraces a philosophy that embraces both science and the paranormal, both science and the paranormal, Giving them both some validity? Giving them both some validity? Is such a view possible? Is such a view possible?

22 plurality The answer is ‘yes’ if we The answer is ‘yes’ if we Cast around and Cast around and can accept views like… can accept views like… Berkeley, Husserl, Simmel, Buddha Berkeley, Husserl, Simmel, Buddha

23 George Berkeley George Berkeley [ ] George Berkeley [ ] Matter is merely thought Matter is merely thought In the mind of God In the mind of God An entirely spiritual view – all is mind! An entirely spiritual view – all is mind!

24 Husserl Edmund Husserl [ ] Edmund Husserl [ ] his phenomenology: his phenomenology: We should strive to We should strive to Seize the whole Seize the whole In all its fullness, In all its fullness, Which can never be grasped Which can never be grasped Through ‘parts’ Through ‘parts’

25 Simmel Georg Simmel [ ] Georg Simmel [ ] Who stressed empathy Who stressed empathy Which allows us Which allows us To engage with To engage with Each other and Each other and Reality Reality

26 Implications The upshot of Simmel’s work applies The upshot of Simmel’s work applies Especially in the arts, literature, music, healthcare and religions Especially in the arts, literature, music, healthcare and religions Where empathic connection of some form Where empathic connection of some form Is of paramount importance Is of paramount importance

27 Buddha Buddha [624 BC BC] Buddha [624 BC BC] A Buddhist view: A Buddhist view: World is a flux World is a flux Self is an illusion [transient] Self is an illusion [transient] ‘things’ are an illusion [transient] ‘things’ are an illusion [transient] Lose ego… Lose ego…

28 Buddhist view The upshot of Buddhism stresses The upshot of Buddhism stresses Two factors of relevance to our search Two factors of relevance to our search First, demolition of the self is a pre- requisite for empathic engagement First, demolition of the self is a pre- requisite for empathic engagement The world is constantly created and destroyed The world is constantly created and destroyed moment by moment moment by moment

29 construction From these elements From these elements we can construct a broader view we can construct a broader view of ourselves of ourselves and the world and the world as being more intimately commingled as being more intimately commingled into a vast and subtle matrix. into a vast and subtle matrix.

30 A view Such a view would allow Such a view would allow telepathy and clairvoyance, for example, telepathy and clairvoyance, for example, to be quite valid aspects of life to be quite valid aspects of life Just as scientific phenomena are. Just as scientific phenomena are.

31 No dislocation Such a view would reduce Such a view would reduce the tension that exists the tension that exists between science and telepathy between science and telepathy by seeking common ground by seeking common ground to underpin them both. to underpin them both. HOW? HOW?

32 No ego Such a view would comprise Such a view would comprise spiritual empathy spiritual empathy mental osmosis mental osmosis when ego is dropped when ego is dropped Ego blocks empathy & knowledge WHY? Ego blocks empathy & knowledge WHY?

33 Holistic The resulting view is a Neo-Berkelian form of Phenomenology & entails: The resulting view is a Neo-Berkelian form of Phenomenology & entails: Holism Holism Continuity Continuity Inter-connectedness Inter-connectedness Empathy Empathy System. System.

34 Ecology Ecological awareness Ecological awareness also contributes to this worldview also contributes to this worldview as an interlocking matrix or complex as an interlocking matrix or complex comprising multi-leveled events comprising multi-leveled events and self-regulating feedback loops. and self-regulating feedback loops.

35 combination If we combine this If we combine this with the ideas of some mental and emotional realities with the ideas of some mental and emotional realities beyond mere molecules… beyond mere molecules…

36 Imagine Then it is possible to imagine Then it is possible to imagine all minds networked together all minds networked together But this is rarely our experience But this is rarely our experience WHY? WHY? Because of ego? Because of ego? Because of solid belief in ‘things?’ Because of solid belief in ‘things?’

37 Connections However, from an ego orientation However, from an ego orientation or from scientific materialism or from scientific materialism they still seem separate they still seem separate and disconnected ‘things’ and disconnected ‘things’ And we each seem separate beings And we each seem separate beings

38 Hangs together If you then add to this If you then add to this the idea of an immortal essence the idea of an immortal essence then it all hangs together. then it all hangs together.

39 Spiritual machine? Neo-Berkelian phenomenology Neo-Berkelian phenomenology would see the world not just as would see the world not just as A vast physical machine A vast physical machine Composed only of myriad ‘things’ Composed only of myriad ‘things’ But also a vast spiritual machine. But also a vast spiritual machine.

40 Events, dear boy… In this machine In this machine events shadow events events shadow events in a non-rational manner in a non-rational manner that can never be fully explained that can never be fully explained by reduction into solely physical particles and forces. by reduction into solely physical particles and forces.

41 Delusional view? It is because reductionism It is because reductionism is only part of the picture, is only part of the picture, [a delusional view?] [a delusional view?] that the complete view that the complete view of our experience of our experience fails to conform to the world as ‘things’ fails to conform to the world as ‘things’ World is thus more than simply ‘things’ World is thus more than simply ‘things’

42 Incomplete If it were complete If it were complete then it would explain everything. then it would explain everything. That it cannot do this, That it cannot do this, renders it incomplete. renders it incomplete.

43 Only one view Reductionism Reductionism is merely one view is merely one view of how the world might be, one view of how the world might be, one view of how it seems to function of how it seems to function In a fragmented sense… In a fragmented sense…

44 Missing link? What is left out? What is left out? = the non-molecular dimension = the non-molecular dimension of substance of substance that binds the whole thing together that binds the whole thing together I.e. a matrix I.e. a matrix

45 The glue that binds… This acts rather like the ‘glue’ This acts rather like the ‘glue’ that binds the fabric in a model that binds the fabric in a model or the medium on/in which something floats. or the medium on/in which something floats. This is the interface between This is the interface between Subjective inner reality Subjective inner reality And the ‘outer’ world And the ‘outer’ world

46 Matrix is this mysterious ‘substance’ is this mysterious ‘substance’ or substrate or substrate or medium or medium that underpins that underpins every ‘physical’ thing every ‘physical’ thing in the universe. in the universe.

47 Subjective This extra something is This extra something is The subjective dimension The subjective dimension Of our experience Of our experience Our inner lives and how Our inner lives and how That connects with what we think is That connects with what we think is The external world The external world

48 Inclusivity What is excluded from science What is excluded from science is perhaps just as real to us is perhaps just as real to us as physical phenomena appear to be. as physical phenomena appear to be. Art, dreams, feelings Art, dreams, feelings Love, creativity… Love, creativity…

49 Irreducible But it is a something But it is a something that is unsuitable for reduction that is unsuitable for reduction to molecular phenomena to molecular phenomena or the molecular view. or the molecular view. It is an aspect of our experience It is an aspect of our experience Quite irreducible to molecules Quite irreducible to molecules

50 Non-real? If something If something cannot be reduced cannot be reduced It is seen by science It is seen by science as proof that it is non-real. as proof that it is non-real.

51 Subtle forces For science to even conceive of telepathy or clairvoyance it has to For science to even conceive of telepathy or clairvoyance it has to invoke invisible subtle forces invoke invisible subtle forces and particles and particles to connect ‘things’ together and so to connect ‘things’ together and so to create ‘events’. to create ‘events’.

52 Hard science Because science Because science cannot find cannot find such subtle particles and forces, such subtle particles and forces, it dismisses the paranormal it dismisses the paranormal as nonsense and delusion. as nonsense and delusion.

53 Vast medium? But what if But what if the whole universe the whole universe is underpinned and pervaded anyway is underpinned and pervaded anyway by some subtle and vast by some subtle and vast interconnecting ‘medium’? interconnecting ‘medium’?

54 Matrix A subtle non-molecular matrix, A subtle non-molecular matrix, would no longer need forces or particles would no longer need forces or particles to connect ‘events’ to connect ‘events’ in one part of the matrix with another… in one part of the matrix with another…

55 Same matrix … because they are already connected together anyway … because they are already connected together anyway as part of the same matrix as part of the same matrix part of the same whole [web] part of the same whole [web]

56 God? The matrix is like God and The matrix is like God and pervades everything pervades everything just as mind permeates, underpins just as mind permeates, underpins and interconnects everything and interconnects everything in our body. in our body.

57 Analogies In fact In fact the analogy between the analogy between person and world person and world or person and universe or person and universe is a good one. is a good one. God is an optional concept God is an optional concept

58 Binding parts What is missing in the molecular view What is missing in the molecular view of each is mind or spirit of each is mind or spirit that binds and interconnects that binds and interconnects What we see as ‘parts’ or ‘things’ What we see as ‘parts’ or ‘things’ into a functioning whole. into a functioning whole.

59 Resume This account This account Succeeds in showing Succeeds in showing That a holistic view That a holistic view Of the world Of the world Makes possible a framework Makes possible a framework That accepts the paranormal That accepts the paranormal As a possibility As a possibility

60 Immanuel Kant [ ] Kant said the world Kant said the world Cannot be known Cannot be known Except through sense images Except through sense images And our thought processes And our thought processes Both of which distort it and cast it into certain patterns Both of which distort it and cast it into certain patterns

61 Fragmentalism However, we have However, we have Mostly focused on the process Mostly focused on the process Beloved of science Beloved of science That breaks the world down That breaks the world down Into named ‘things’ Into named ‘things’ Fragmentalisation [reductionism] Fragmentalisation [reductionism]

62 Problems evaporate Fragmentation is merely one option Fragmentation is merely one option One way to view the world One way to view the world It is not compulsory It is not compulsory Instead, matrix is a valid optional belief Instead, matrix is a valid optional belief Then problems between science and paranormal Then problems between science and paranormal Evaporate automatically Evaporate automatically

63 Complete knowledge? the only way to complete knowledge the only way to complete knowledge is through wholes rather than parts is through wholes rather than parts

64 Fragmented Newtonian world the Newtonian worldview the Newtonian worldview relies upon an optional classification system relies upon an optional classification system that breaks the world into named parts that breaks the world into named parts and then describes events in causal chains and then describes events in causal chains of ‘things’ linked together of ‘things’ linked together

65 Acceptance another option - another option - not to fragment experience not to fragment experience or the world, or the world, but just accept it as it is but just accept it as it is

66 Inapplicable? Although a fragmented view of phenomena Although a fragmented view of phenomena Works well for a science of material ‘things’ Works well for a science of material ‘things’ Yet it is singularly inapplicable Yet it is singularly inapplicable to mental matters to mental matters and the whole realm of human affairs and the whole realm of human affairs

67 Paranormal is possible How the paranormal might be theoretically possible, How the paranormal might be theoretically possible, hinges very largely on an analysis hinges very largely on an analysis of why fragmenting the world of why fragmenting the world into named "things" into named "things" is the source of our ‘primary delusion’ is the source of our ‘primary delusion’

68 Magical worldview Magical worldview Magical worldview World is one World is one Life is one interlinked ‘matrix’ Life is one interlinked ‘matrix’ Wholeness – things are all connected Wholeness – things are all connected Oneness with everything else Oneness with everything else Afterlife and this life are continuous Afterlife and this life are continuous World of things is an illusion World of things is an illusion Separate self is an illusion Separate self is an illusion Supernatural is real Supernatural is real

69 Religious worldview Religious worldview Religious worldview Belief in God Belief in God Rituals Doctrines of belief are real Rituals Doctrines of belief are real God, heaven, hell, soul, redeemer, etc are made into rigid concepts of dogma God, heaven, hell, soul, redeemer, etc are made into rigid concepts of dogma Belief is the central dogma Belief is the central dogma Religion is social control by reward and punishment Religion is social control by reward and punishment The spiritual element has faded from view The spiritual element has faded from view

70 Scientific worldview Scientific worldview Scientific worldview Matter is absolute basis of reality Matter is absolute basis of reality World is composed of ‘things’ World is composed of ‘things’ Holism is an illusion Holism is an illusion Proof is always tangible Proof is always tangible Non-molecular is unreal Non-molecular is unreal

71 Finale We can see that We can see that A synthesis of all 3 views A synthesis of all 3 views Is possible Is possible And is desirable And is desirable Such we have explored here today Such we have explored here today

72 William Blake [ ] “Self-educated William Blake “Self-educated William Blake Who threw his spectre in the lake, Who threw his spectre in the lake, Broke off relations in a curse Broke off relations in a curse With the Newtonian Universe, With the Newtonian Universe, But even as a child would pet But even as a child would pet The tigers Voltaire never met, The tigers Voltaire never met,

73 William Blake [ ] Took walks with them through Lambeth, and  Spoke to Isaiah in the Strand, And heard inside each mortal thing And heard inside each mortal thing Its holy emanation sing,” Its holy emanation sing,” [W H Auden, New Year Letter, 1940] [W H Auden, New Year Letter, 1940]

74 Nietzsche [ ] Finally we might say Blake is preferable Finally we might say Blake is preferable To the “God is Dead” view of Nietzsche To the “God is Dead” view of Nietzsche Which is the view that life is nothing but molecules Which is the view that life is nothing but molecules Such is science Such is science


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