Eurotas Conference 2019
Steve Taylor PhD is the author of several best-selling books on psychology and spirituality, and is a senior lecturer in psychology at Leeds Beckett University. He is the current chair of the Transpersonal Psychology Section of the British Psychological Society. His books include Waking From Sleep, The Fall, Out of the Darkness, Back to Sanity, The Calm Center and The Leap: The Psychology of Spiritual Awakening. His books have been published in 20 languages, and Eckhart Tolle has described his work as ‘an important contribution to the shift in consciousness which is happening on our planet at present.’ His new book Spiritual Science: Why Science Needs Spirituality to Make Sense of the World was published in September 2018. His articles and essays have been published in over 40 academic journals, magazines and newspapers, including Philosophy Now, The Psychologist, The Journal of Humanistic Psychology and The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. He writes the popular blog Out of the Darkness for Psychology Today magazine. Steve lives in Manchester, England with his wife and three young children.
Moving Beyond Materialism – How Transpersonal Psychology Can Contribute to Cultural Transformation
I briefly discuss my ‘soft perennialist’ model, then argue that it is a mistake to say that transpersonal psychology should not address metaphysical issues (in order to appear to be scientific). I argue that it is impossible to separate science and metaphysics. I analyze some of the assumptions of the metaphysical framework of scientific materialism, and suggest that the assumptions are becoming increasingly untenable (as shown by the increasing number of scientists who are adopting ‘post-materialist’ perspectives). The main appeal of transpersonal psychology to students and practitioners is arguably its lack of allegiance to a materialist metaphysics. Rather than allying itself to naturalistic science or attempting to bracket out metaphysics, transpersonal psychology should operate openly within the framework of a post-materialistic science. Rather than distancing itself from areas such as near-death studies and parapsychology, it should embrace and cooperate with them, as we share the same post-materialist perspective. Transpersonal psychology should not attempt to reduce itself to fit into mainstream psychology but to try expand mainstream psychology. In an attempt to pursue a more scientific approach, some transpersonal theorists have arguably swung too far away from the spiritual foundations of the field. I suggest a more balanced approach that incorporates a more nuanced form of perennialism, and more cautious metaphysical claims.
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