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.
The hardcover contains a CD containing F. W. H. Myers's hard-to-find classic 2-volume Human Personality (1903) and selected contemporary reviews [ask us if the softcover also does]
--- from the publisher
" Irreducible Mind is well written, detailed, and passionately argued, and should be central to parapyschology for some years to come.
Its great value is that it helps to close the gap between the conventional view of mind on the one hand, and on the other, responsible research into phenomena which are utterly antithetical to that view. In that sense, it greatly advances the process that Myers began more than a century ago, but was so rudely interrupted by behaviourism and the virtual outlawing of consciousness as a scientific entity. "—July 2009, Journal of the Society for Psychical Research
"Irreducible Mind [is] yet another book on the mind-body problem. However, this book is different, very different, from all the rest... In the future history of the science of mind, Irreducible Mind may well prove a book of landmark significance, one that helped spark a revolution in the scientific investigation of the nature of consciousness... In the arena of neuroscience of mind, it is the most exciting reading to have crossed my path in years."—David Presti, Professor of Neurobiology, University of California-Berkeley
"...brilliant, heroic and astonishing ... a scientifically rigorous and philosophically informed critique of various contemporary orthodoxies in mainstream psychology, especially the idea that the human mind (including consciousness and our sense of free will and personal agency) is nothing more than a material entity and can be fully explained in terms of brain processes."—Richard A. Shweder, Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago
"a sustained, sophisticated, and empirically based critique of contemporary cognitive psychology and mainstream neuroscience... the implications for the study of mind, consciousness, and religion border on the unspeakable."—Jeffrey J. Kripal, Professor of Religious Studies, Rice University, Religious Studies Review
"The authors have not only plausibly argued that the empirical and conceptual horizon of science, particularly the science of the human mind, is both capable and in dire need of expansion, but—and I use this strong term deliberately—they have proven it."—Andreas Sommer, University College, London, Journal of Mind and Behavior
"a must-read for anyone working in consciousness studies, psychology and the history of science."—Jonathan Edelman, Oxford University
"Irreducible Mind is an enormous and daring enterprise. Its scholarship is impressive... and made me think long and hard about many issues."—Etzel Cardeña, Professor of Psychology, Lund University, PsycCritiques
"Thoroughly scientific, systematically reasoned and courageous... as exciting and enjoyable as it is provocative and profound!"—David J. Hufford, Professor Emeritus of Humanities and Psychiatry, Penn State College of Medicine
"a comprehensive review of empirical evidence that questions the assumption that "properties of minds will ultimately be fully explained by those of brains"...Kelly et al. deserve to be praised for their courage and scholarship in dealing with such a controversial topic."—Alexander Moreira-Almeida & Harold Koenig, Duke University, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease
"a monumental work...Only a very resistant observer will remain unpersuaded that a proportion, as least, of all this carefully evaluated data presents a significant challenge to conventional views"—Paul Marshall, Journal of Consciousness Studies
* Preface and Acknowledgements
* A View from the Mainstream: Contemporary Cognitive Neuroscience and the Consciousness Debates: - A compact history of 20th-century psychology from behaviorism to present-day cognitive neuroscience, emphasizing the inability of these theories to account for many important aspects of mind and consciousness
Edward F. Kelly
* F. W. H. Myers and the Empirical Study of the Mind-Body Problem: - An introduction to Myers, an important but neglected figure in 19th-century psychology whose work supports the view that mind is not generated by the brain but instead limited and constrained by it. The chapter summarizes Myers's theoretical, empirical, and methodological contributions and their significance for an adequate scientific psychology
Emily Williams Kelly
* Psychophysiological Influence: - A review of numerous phenomena such as placebo, stigmata, and hypnotic suggestion that demonstrate the influence of mental states on the body. Beginning with phenomena now generally accepted because they appear compatible with current reductionist views of mind-brain relations, the chapter progresses to more extreme but equally well-documented phenomena that undermine these views
Emily Williams Kelly
* Memory: - A critique of "trace" theories of memory, which have been taken as axiomatic by generations of psychologists and neuroscientists but are fraught with profound empirical and conceptual difficulties including those posed by a substantial body of well-documented evidence suggesting that memories sometimes survive bodily death
* Automatism and Secondary Centers of Consciousness: - An examination of phenomena such as automatic writing and multiple personality that involve conscious psychological processes occurring outside, and often simultaneously with, ordinary waking consciousness, and a critique of the major theories proposed to account for them
* Unusual Experiences Near Death and Related Phenomena: - An overview of near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, apparitions and deathbed visions, and related phenomena, emphasizing near-death experiences that occur under general anesthesia or during cardiac arrest and thus contravene the conventional belief that consciousness is impossible without a normally functioning brain
Emily Williams Kelly, Bruce Greyson, and Edward F. Kelly
* Genius: - A discussion of the importance and challenge of genius level creativity for scientific psychology, emphasizing the need to move beyond pathologizing and to situate genius within an adequate general theory of human mind and personality
Edward F. Kelly and Michael Grosso
* Mystical Experience: - An overview of psychological and physiological dimensions of this large and humanly vital -- but scientifically neglected - family of "ecstatic" states of consciousness, which sometimes occur spontaneously or in response to psychedelic agents, but can also be deliberately cultivated through transformative practices such as meditation
Edward F. Kelly and Michael Grosso
* Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century: - Having argued throughout for an enlarged scientific psychology that returns to psychology's great central problems and addresses the mind-body problem empirically, the authors conclude by showing that the theoretical framework developed by Myers and William James, supported now by the tremendous methodological and technical advances of the intervening century, not only accounts for a broader range of human experience but can be reconciled with leading-edge contemporary physics and neuroscience
Edward F. Kelly
* About the Authors
* Appendix: An Annotated Introductory Bibliography of Psychical Research
About the Authors:
Edward F. Kelly is currently Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia. He is author of Computer Recognition of English Word Senses and Altered States of Consciousness and Psi: An Historical Survey and Research Prospectus. His central long term interests revolve around mind-brain relations and functional neuroimaging studies of unusual states of consciousness and associated cognitive phenomena.
Emily Williams Kelly is currently Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia.
Adam Crabtree is currently on the faculty of the Centre for Training in Psychotherapy, Toronto.
Alan Gauld is a retired Reader in Psychology, School of Psychology, University of Nottingham, as well as past president of the Society for Psychical Research.
Bruce Greyson is the Chester F. Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and director of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia.
Michael Grosso, though nominally retired, is currently teaching at the University of Virginia's School of Continuing Education. He is currently a director of the American Philosophical Practitioner's Association and Review Editor of the Journal of Philosophical Practice.