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3944Re: [neoplatonism] Re: Book Recommendation

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  • Thomas Mether
    Dec 2, 2010
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      Greg,
       
      I know a number of people who describe themselves as Neoplatonists who are serious practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism because there seems to be a "lack" of a "practice tradition" for Neoplatonism. A few claim, I think credibly, to have direct experience with some of the phenomena you list. They regard the metaphysics more like a yeast or alchemical ferment to awaken and sustain contemplative seeing than a "model".
      Apparently, this is part of what is meant by "right view" in the Buddhist Eightfold Path as _one_ component of a practice in realization. So, I sympathesize with your sentiments and point. Thomas
       

      --- On Wed, 12/1/10, gregshaw58 <gregshaw58@...> wrote:


      From: gregshaw58 <gregshaw58@...>
      Subject: [neoplatonism] Re: Book Recommendation
      To: neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2010, 8:52 PM


       





      Thomas and List,

      I know the authors of Irreducible Mind quite well and I can tell you this book is a treasure trove of fascinating data and analysis. The authors are scientists, psychologists primarily, who are unwilling to accept the physicalist reductionism of consciousness seen in popular authors like Dennett. These authors have been inspired by F.W.H. Myers, a British classical scholar and colleague of William James; Myers was fascinated with paranormal phenomena and tried to make sense of it using a Platonically inspired framework. The study of paranormal events, synchronicity, telepathy, etc., is virtually shunned in most academic circles today, but the Kellys and the other authors bring a rigorous and careful methodology to examine these phenomena. I would be surprised, indeed, if the members of this list could not recount several events in their lives that could not be explained using our standard materialistic approach. I would encourage us to get copies of this
      rather gigantic book (now affordable in paperback). Why? Because the one aspect of the later Platonic tradition we do not discuss or even study a great deal is the fact that the later Platonists had a body that "we" don't believe in: the ochema, subtle body, augoeides, pneumatic body....they had various ways to describe it ... and, after Plotinus, they virtually all recognize it as important, even vital to their lives as philosophers. Much of the psi phenomena explored by Irreducible Mind seems impossible to our culture but would have been entirely explicable to Iamblichus, Proclus, and others because they recognized that the subtle body functions in ways and has capabilities different than the physical body.

      We scholars of Platonism might well pay more attention to ground-breaking research in the paranormal because it represents, I think, a way of recovering an element of the world of the Platonists that we miss by focusing exclusively on their metaphysics. In sum, it is through the subtle body that we experience and participate in the paranormal and synchronistic. How? Difficult to say, but I think that the authors of Irreducible Mind are daring to build a bridge out of reductionist materialism, one that arrives in a world with which the later Platonists were familiar. I believe they have something valuable for us and we for them.

      Along with this excellent book I would also recommend Jeffrey Kripal's Authors of the Impossible. It includes a fine chapter on the work of F.W.H. Myers.

      G Shaw

      --- In neoplatonism@yahoogroups.com, Thomas Mether <t_mether@...> wrote:
      >
      > List,
      >  
      > I've mentioned in the past that there are a growing number of defenders of a "substance dualist" philosophy of mind against the dominant physicalist paradigm. Some of these books include John Foster's The Immaterial Self (Oxford), Swinburne's The Evolution of the Soul (Oxford), and Moreland's Body and Soul (which, btw, is a defense not of Cartesian dualism but of what is variously described as classical Thomist-Bonaventurean-Neoplatonic dualism).
      >  
      > The book I am now recommending I was referred to by a neuroscientist friend and colleague. It is by a group of neuroscientists and psychologists. It defends the "F.W.H Myers- W. James" model with the latest research evidence supporting the model.
      >  
      > Here is the info with publisher's blurb.
      >  
      > Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, With CD containing F. W. H. Myers's hard-to-find classic 2-volume Human Personality (1903) and selected contemporary reviews. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. ( 2009).
      > Edward F. Kelly (Editor), Edward F. Kelly (Author) , Emily Williams Kelly (Author), Adam Crabtree (Author), Alan Gauld (Author), Michael Grosso (Author), Bruce Greyson (Author)
      > Publisher Description
      > Current mainstream opinion in psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy of mind holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are generated by physical processes occurring in brains. Views of this sort have dominated recent scholarly publication. The present volume, however, demonstrates--empirically--that this reductive materialism is not only incomplete but false. The authors systematically marshal evidence for a variety of psychological phenomena that are extremely difficult, and in some cases clearly impossible, to account for in conventional physicalist terms. Topics addressed include phenomena of extreme psychophysical influence, memory, psychological automatisms and secondary personality, near-death experiences and allied phenomena, genius-level creativity, and 'mystical' states of consciousness both spontaneous and drug-induced. The authors further show that these rogue phenomena are more readily accommodated by an alternative
      > 'transmission' or 'filter' theory of mind/brain relations advanced over a century ago by a largely forgotten genius, F. W. H. Myers, and developed further by his friend and colleague William James. This theory, moreover, ratifies the commonsense conception of human beings as causally effective conscious agents, and is fully compatible with leading-edge physics and neuroscience. The book should command the attention of all open-minded persons concerned with the still-unsolved mysteries of the mind.
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