Consciousness Unbound makes it clear that the broad principles of post-materialist approaches – e.g., that mind or consciousness is a fundamental universal principle, that the human mind cannot be reduced to the brain, that anomalous phenomena such as psi and NDEs are real and there is compelling evidence for the survival of consciousness after physical death – are so well-founded both evidentially and theoretically that it is justifiable, and even essential, for us to include them in our worldview.
In organizing this work, psychologist Kelly and independent researcher Marshall have solicited chapters from ten scholars to assess "physicalism," the proposition that physical facts alone ultimately determine all valid descriptions of reality. Drawing on everyday experience as well as what William James called "wild facts" from anomalies studies, Eastern philosophy, Jungian psychology, parapsychology, psychedelics, quantum theory, and the neurosciences, the various chapter authors reach an opposite conclusion. In one way or another, they assert that consciousness is "unbound," that is, not "bound" by the brain because, e.g., "consciousness came first." This self-realizing nature of consciousness is argued to be the basis of free will, choice, and love but has no place in the current physicalistic world view, one that is devastating to the humanities and to spiritual perspectives.... [The] case is well made that phenomena of conscious thought rest at the foundation of existence and that humans are linked with these phenomena at the very depths of their being. Recommended.
This is undoubtedly one of the most important books of the year and deserves the widest possible readership.
Properly advanced science and spirituality serve to strengthen each other, and this magnum opus leads the way! This third book in a trilogy (so far!) offers a well-supported consolidation of empirical data and theoretical frameworks to help usher our world from the bleak and paltry fiction of physicalism into a far better supported model of the universe in which mind is primordial, and human will influences the universe-at-large. This masterpiece illuminates a rational path forward that will favorably support the best of human potential.
In this lucid and thought-provoking text (the third volume of a series initiated under the auspices of Esalen’s Center for Theory and Research) a stellar group of scholars from a multitude of different fields not only offer compelling empirical data that underscore the urgent need to radically re-envision the taken-for-granted metaphysical stance of physicalism/materialism that currently undergirds most scientific work, but also provide a series of interrelated, and theoretically satisfying, metaphysical alternatives to “the tyranny of materialism.” Read this book if you want to discover an intellectually rigorous middle ground between the fundamentalisms of both religion and science, and believe that it is not only possible, but important, to reconcile science and spirituality in a way that is thoughtful and empirically grounded.
Consciousness Unbound is an ambitious and bold sequel to the pioneering volumes, Irreducible Mind and Beyond Physicalism. It both complements and successfully extends the earlier works’ assault on empirically and conceptually myopic physicalist efforts to account for the role of mind in nature. Acknowledging sensibly that no science is thoroughly empirical, it offers an intriguing buffet of alternative worldviews or metaphysical approaches. And it presents a thoughtful and multifaceted case for adopting some form of idealism. This book should be mandatory reading for those wrestling with these venerable issues.
Darwin offered his epoch-making hypotheses as a way of rendering intelligible a panoply of unexplained facts. Similarly, Ed Kelly, Paul Marshall and their colleagues continue to develop, in this the third volume of a very important series, an impressive foundation for a non-materialistic view of mind and the universe. If you are a committed materialist, you should read this book to discover how much of what you take for granted should be questioned. If you are a committed non-materialist, you should read it for the same reason.
I met Ed Kelly at an Esalen conference over twenty years ago. I was excited by his views on consciousness, and have followed his project ever since. I now know many of his colleagues, and the more time I spend with them, the more I become convinced that mind and consciousness are not manufactured by brain processes and may therefore be capable of surviving bodily death. This is anathema to many scientists, despite their inability to explain many proven anomalies. But as the great epistemologist Count Korzybski wrote, “The territory is primary to the map.”
This is the third volume of an increasingly influential series. Its hallmark has been the realization by the contributors that the future of psychology and the neurosciences requires ditching many hitherto favored assumptions, empirical and theoretical, and investigating certain “rogue” phenomena and the new avenues to which they lead. Those who have read the preceding volumes will certainly wish to travel further with this one, and those who have not will find it an excellent starting place for some exceedingly interesting new explorations.
This marvelous read should stop all who continue to explain away the simple irrefutable fact that the universe is in some fundamental sense awakening to itself through the choices enlightened persons make. The rich documentation provided is the best critical overview of the scope and depth of the empirical and conceptual options for those who recognize this fact from their own experience.
Brains are not mindless. Mental causation and the “unmoved mover” (free will) are not illusions. Human beings have a spiritual aspect. There is more to ultimate reality than just physical particles in fields of force. In Consciousness Unbound, a collection of disciplined scholars— scientists and humanists—defend those propositions and argue that the scientific materialist account of what is really real is incomplete. If you have ever pondered the mysteries of the mind–body problem, Consciousness Unbound is the book for you.
Consciousness Unbound continues a potentially revolutionary interdisciplinary collaboration initiated by Esalen Institute’s Center for Theory and Research (CTR) and scientists with the Division of Perceptual Studies (DOPS) at the University of Virginia. Showing us how to separate the wheat from the chaff in disputes concerning science and spirituality, the book once again tackles issues unjustly marginalized by Western psychology and philosophy, and takes another step toward a robustly evidence-based transcendental framework of mind–matter relationships. Consciousness Unbound is mandatory reading for those tired of dogmatic assertions by theology, scientific orthodoxy, and popular New Age ideologies.
Consciousness Unbound—a rather grand title, yes, but it delivers on its promise. One of the major depressing parts of modern life is that we think our powerful system to advance knowledge, science, has somehow “proven” that all spirituality and religion is nonsense, and we are nothing but physical accidents, with no inherent meaning. Yet there is, unknown to even to most scientists, excellent evidence that yes, the physical is important, but there is something more, something pointing at the spiritual, that we must take into account if we really want to be reasonably rational and scientific in the way we approach the world and our lives. Here’s an excellent overview of that evidence.
The unquestioning allegiance of mainstream science to the materialistic reduction of mind to brain has caused researchers to ignore empirical evidence that challenges this metaphysical belief. But the eminent physicist Richard Feynman reminds us that experimenters who remain true to the self-critical, open-minded ideals of science “search most diligently, and with the greatest effort, in exactly those places where it seems most likely that we can prove our theories wrong.” The contributors to this book deserve great respect for adhering to this noble ideal and thereby embracing the theme of “truth prevailing over power.”
Consciousness Unbound provides a thoughtful and thorough examination of modern theories about the non-material nature of the universe that are compelling alternatives to the reductive nature of scientific materialism. Each of these theories offers answers to conundrums that materialism cannot explain, such as the nature of near-death experiences, mystical experiences, cases suggestive of reincarnation, and psi phenomena such as precognition. Each chapter offers very engaging reading, and I found myself for the first time receiving a clear explanation of the roots and scientific bases of metaphysical theories such as idealism and dual-aspect monism, as well as their relevance for understanding the nature of the universe. I applaud the authors for making a heady subject accessible to persons of all disciplines. I highly recommend this to all readers who see the real limitations of materialism, but who also want to know more about the scientific evidence and practical benefits of alternative worldviews regarding the nature of reality.