I find it our duty to walk the line that holds us from letting the veracity of a claim dictate our field’s observational models or orientations. A single informant’s truth is anecdote, not evidence.
Essentially, Kripal calls out the religious studies world for not having a sufficient appreciation of the power of imagination and invites scholars and the interested public into a new comparativism that moves away from strict materialism.
Jeffrey Kripal argues that we need to make room for the paranormal in the study of religion, and that consciousness should be at the forefront of our study.
In this second part we ask “the epistemic/ontological question”: in studying these experiences, how far should we be concerned with the ontology? Would to do so be an abandonment of the scientific materialism which underpins the discipline, and therefore a slide back into theology? Or can there be a bigger model of materialism – a “complicated materialism”, to use Ann Taves’ expression – in which these phenomena might be suitably explicable?
In October 2013, a four day international conference was held at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, on the theme of ‘Anthropology and the Paranormal’. This special two part episode explores some aspects of the sometimes fraught relationship between “paranormal” events and beliefs (Fortean phenomena, UFOs, Spiritualist phenomena and