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Mystical Encounters with the Natural WorldExperiences and Explanations$
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Paul Marshall

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279432

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199279438.001.0001

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Mind Beyond the Brain

Mind Beyond the Brain

Reducing Valves and Metaphysics

(p.233) 8 Mind Beyond the Brain
Mystical Encounters with the Natural World

Paul Marshall (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Spiritual approaches to mystical experience can be fleshed out with insights from the sciences and philosophy. Two overlapping ways of understanding the consciousness expansions of mystical experience are distinguished. Filtration theorists, such as Henri Bergson, William James, and Aldous Huxley, believe that access to previously subconscious material takes place when neurological or psychological valves open. Psychophysical theorists draw on mind-body metaphysics to explain how consciousness can reach into the world at large. Several metaphysical alternatives are considered, including dualism, dual-aspect theory, and neutral monism, but idealism emerges as best suited to the task. J. E. Mercer and Edward Carpenter proposed idealist explanations, and more recently, T. L. S. Sprigge has raised idealism in connection with nature mysticism. A panpsychic form of idealism that reworks Leibniz’s monadology is a particularly fertile option. It not only addresses the deeper unitive and noetic facets of extrovertive experience but may also shed light on the relativity and holism of modern physics.

Keywords:   subconscious, filtration theory, psychical research, Huxley, mysticism, metaphysics, mind-body problem, idealism, Carpenter, Sprigge

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