Abstracts of Writings by Joseph Felser

(See also: Articles)

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After the Revolution, or, Paradigms Lost: Outsiders, Anomalies, and the Future of "Forbidden Science"
"After the Revolution" originally appeared in Abraxas, No. 14 (1997)
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Contents: Introduction | The Strange Story of Modern Philosophy | Back to the Future | Twilight of the Western | Strelnikov's Train: An Express to Nowhere | Paradigms Lost | The Owl of Minerva Flies Again
Abstract: [none. excerpt:] For better or for worse (and I also think far for the worse), mainstream academic philosophy in the English-speaking world of the twentieth century has been dominated by the teachings of such figures as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and A.J. Ayer. These thinkers were united by a common aim: they sought to turn philosophy into a "rigorous" and "scientific"—in the memorable phrase of William James, "tough-minded"—discipline. This was to be accomplished by purging philosophy of all things "metaphysical," which became a pejorative term; indeed, the worst possible insult. What could not be objectively verified by observation and repeated experiment, or expressed in terms having clear and unambiguous meanings, was dismissed as unreal, unimportant, or meaningless. Sheer hogwash. Metaphysics.
 Not surprisingly, obviously "woo-woo" topics such as religion, mysticism, and parapsychology (or what was then called psychical research) failed to make the grade. Moreover, anything that remotely smacked of the "subjective," including the inner desires, wishes, feelings, imaginings, intuitions, and inspirations of the philosophers themselves, likewise became suspect. In other words, from the standpoint of "scientific" philosophy, consciousness itself became an anomaly—and not a very philosophically interesting one at that. Wittgenstein's two most famous dictums—"That whereof one cannot speak one must be silent," and "There is no such thing as a private language"—epitomize this narrow, sectarian, behaviorist outlook.
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Angels Redux
"Angels Redux" originally appeared in Abraxas, No. 9, (1995)
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Contents: A short history of angels: from fate to freedom (human and divine) | From angels past to angels present: the meaning of 'angelology' in the New Age
Abstract: [none. Excerpt:] What may have to be transcended in the area of angelology is the belief that the guardian is essentially separate from the guarded. While, as I noted above, this is an indelible axiom of theistic thinking, it is precisely the kind of assumption that has been challenged by those explorers of human consciousness who have asked us to re-consider the canard that human powers and the potentials of human consciousness are strictly, and perhaps even fatally, limited.
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My Gateway Voyage: An Experiential Account
"My Gateway Voyage: An Experiential Account" originally appeared in EHE News, Vol. 7, No. 2 (September 2000)
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Abstract: [none. Excerpt:] Then I briefly "see" (as with all of these "seeings," they are half nonvisual impression and half mind's-eye snapshot) the image of a map. There is an oval-shaped island located in the center of an oval-shaped lake, with an asterisk at the extreme right side of the lake indicating a message, "You are here." Afterwards I realize that the "map" also resembled a large eye, the central island being the pupil. In our debriefing sessions, a number of voyagers have been reporting the presence of luminous eyes, seemingly either human or animal, staring at them in the blackness. The trainers invite us to read this image metaphorically, an "eye" for an "I," so to speak. Who or what is the self that is looking at me looking at it? I know I have a ways to go before I get to the center. I've just unlocked the treasure-chest and found the map. But the map is not the territory.
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The New Religious Consciousness
"The New Religious Consciousness" originally appeared, in an edited version, in The Quest, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Summer 1995)
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Contents: The hope for a new religion: four variations on a theme | Traditional religion and the limits of inquiry | Religion as inquiry: illustrations and corollaries
Abstract: [none. Excerpt:] This 'futurism', however, is largely an unconscious carry-over from the messianic/prophetic and apocalyptic/millenarian strains of the Biblical traditions, with their conception of historical time as a linear process, having a definite beginning and an end, and their emphasis on the action of the divine in and through a human history which requires redemption from its inherent sinfulness—its natural tendency to fall short of the greater glory of God. But what if the survival of these strains turns out to be a distorting factor?
 Consider, in this regard, the many UFO and near-death experiencers who have reported visions of world-wide nuclear or environmental cataclysm (the end of the world always has its horrific as well as its beatific aspects). In a number of these cases, specific dates have been attached to these 'precognitions'. For example, in 1985, Ring reported that many of his NDE subjects identified 1988 as the year in which the world or human history would end. But, of course, that date has come and gone without any such result.
 What we have, then, is the same pattern as in early Christianity, which expected the arrival of the New Jerusalem within the lifetime of Jesus' contemporaries—the same pattern found with the several false messiahs in Jewish history: First comes the elevation of expectations (or anxieties); this is followed by the great disappointment (or relief) when the promised cosmic dénouement fails to materialize; and this in turn leads to a reinterpretation of the meaning of signs and wonders, the restoration of hope—and on and on, in a continuous, exhausting, cycle of religious manic-depression.
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Philosophical Sensitives and Sensitive Philosophers: Gazing into the Future of Parapsychology
International Journal of Parapsychology Volume 12, Number 1, 53-82
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Contents: Parapsychology in Crisis? | Precognition and Prophecy: Psi and the New Religious Consciousness | Psychics or Sensitives? | Four Mutants: Psi Plus Phi | The End of the Road: Toward a New Mythology of Parapsychology
Abstract: This paper argues that parapsychology is suffering from an acute epistemological crisis, uncertain of its identity and future progress. The early hope of parapsychology, that the adoptionof a strictly experimental approach would bring the kind of acceptance mainstream science has denied to psychical research, has proved elusive. In the absence of a scientifically acceptable theory of psi, some researchers have argued that parapsychology should look to traditional religions or postmodernist theory for interpretive models and intellectual acceptance. This paper argues that parapsychology ought rather to insistupon its epistemological autonomy and refuse to subordinate itself to pre-modern religion, modernscie nce, or postmodern philosophy. Thus parapsychology might facilitate the creation of a new, more inclusive form of consciousness in which second-order theoretical reflection is openly and explicitly informed and guided by first-order psi experience. This possibility has been foreshadowed by the dramatic appearance in history of evolutionary mutants — the “sensitive philosophers” and “philosophical sensitives” discussed here.
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Through the Doorways of Change: A Philosopher's Inner Voyage Continues
"Through the Doorways of Change" originally appeared in EHE, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2004)
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Contents: Strange Interregnum | On To Lifeline | Beliefs, Limiting And Otherwise | Three Cases Suggestive Of Something | Carol’s Fountain | Bobby’s Retrieval | Coda: 9/11 And Beyond
Abstract: [none. Excerpt:] Thus, it turned out that the dream I had before arriving for the Lifeline (in which I had marveled at the apparent ease with which the widower effortlessly encountered his deceased wife) was, after all, a valid perspective, even if one not easily embraced by skeptics. But, as the English philosopher R.G. Collingwood (1946/1956, p. 252) observed, a skeptic is not the same thing as a critic. A skeptic is one who demands evidence but who, once they get it, won’t even examine it because it flies in the face of their basic guiding assumptions. A critic, on the other hand, not only asks for evidence, but is willing to examine, evaluate, and, if need be, accept it even if it contradicts his or her habitual ways of thinking. Although I was never a skeptic in Collingwood’s sense, I had always reserved a part of myself as a critic, which seemed not only appropriate but essential. Robert Monroe himself would agree. He cautioned that critical rational thinking is not to be abandoned in the course of these inner explorations, precisely because our specifically human purpose lies in developing “left-brain consciousness” in harmonious tandem with “right-brain” perceptions (Monroe, 1994, p. 86). I could hardly deny that my experiences at Lifeline had made headway in providing valuable evidence to convince my internal critic. More than ever, I perceived the curtain between what we call life and death as an exceedingly sheer and porous membrane. This may discomfit some, but that makes it no less true.
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When a Body Meets a Body: Invisible Bonds. Towards a New Cosmicpsychic Politic
"Invisible Bonds" originally appeared in The Lifwynn Correspondence, Vol. 5, No. 1 (Summer 2000)
and is available on the web site of the Lifwynn Foundation: http://www.lifwynnfoundation.org.
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Contents: Duel In Dreamtime | The Magical Web | The Psychic Body | Junction Impossible | Whose Violence? Which Body? | Whose History? Which Interpretation? | Breaking The Trance (To See The Invisible)
Abstract: [none. Excerpt:] But the poetic, body-loving, earth-grounded, intelligence of the nature mystic, the true psychic, and the real magician revels in the beauty and accepts the terror as part of the price of admission. The loneliness and responsibility of true individuality, the pain of separation, the reality of death and our imperfection, our partial, fallible, ever-evolving knowledge—all of these are terrifying conditions. But they are conditions without which there could not be a world, such as ours, in which the curiosity, creativity, and spontaneity of unique individuals attuned to their own inner processes and the larger rhythms of nature—as the despised Mother Eve was—is the ultimate heroism.
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