- Paperback: 239 pages
- Publisher: Bellevue Literary Pr (12 March 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1942658524
- ISBN-13: 978-1942658528
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.9 x 21 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 286 g
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 73,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge Paperback – 12 Mar 2019
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Praise for The Flip
"Wonderfully rich. . . . Reading this book is an embodied experience; it is yoga for the mind. The Flip is an important book that deserves a broad readership both inside and outside the academy." --Reading Religion
"[The Flip] will ignite conversations about the limits of science and the potential for dramatic shifts in perspective." --Publishers Weekly
"Offers plenty of points to ponder." --Kirkus Reviews
"Makes the baffling notions of quantum mechanics and neuroscience digestible. In this respect, The Flip is similar to The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas. . . . The research incorporated into the book is well thought out, and ranges from writer Philip K. Dick to mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Kripal even discusses how Joni Mitchell came up with the idea that 'we are stardust' ten years before Carl Sagan popularized it. . . . The Flip did open my mind to the fact that there are leading experts in both the field of science and religion (Kripal himself) who are pushing toward unification and the extinction of out-dated knowledge." --NewPages
"In The Flip, Jeffrey J. Kripal reflects deeply on non-ordinary experiences that transform people's way of understanding themselves and the world. Kripal uses an imaginative transdisciplinary method that weaves together contemporary thought in ecology, quantum physics, evolutionary biology, philosophy of mind, comparative mysticism, and first-person experiential accounts. The result is an eminently readable manifesto for the role of the humanities in integrating emergent thought in these many domains. Prophetically, the larger goal is nothing less than transforming humanity toward a greater wisdom community that can move beyond many of our most intractable problems and dysfunctions." --Bradley Lewis, author of Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice and Depression: Integrating Science, Humanities, and Culture
"Kripal is one of the most important voices pushing the academy to broaden its perspective beyond the secular: to take seriously the idea that reality is more complex. He is slowly winning the argument and changing the terrain of debate without making an argument for any one religion. This is a remarkable achievement. The Flip is worthy of a wide readership." --T. M. Luhrmann, author of When God Talks Back and Our Most Troubling Madness
"One of the most provocative new books of the year, and, for me, mindblowing." --Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and How to Change Your Mind
"The Flip lucidly lays out a way of thinking about the enfolding of mind and reality that is at once empirically scientific and at the same time consistent with all we know from some of our most sophisticated philosophical and spiritual traditions. Kripal provides a practical guide to a deeper and more effective understanding of ourselves and our world. Read this book if you want to actively contribute to the development of a worldview that will be of extraordinary benefit to humankind and our planet." --David E. Presti, author of Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience and Mind Beyond Brain
Select Praise for Jeffrey J. Kripal
"[Kripal offers] a genuinely hopeful vision of what we yet could be in the mirror of what we have been." --Deepak Chopra
"Kripal makes many sympathetic points about the present spiritual state of America. . . . [He] continues to believe that spirituality and science should not contradict each other, and that the Cartesian split between mind and body can be transcended." --New York Times Book Review
"[Kripal] effortlessly synthesiz[es] a dizzying array of dissonant phenomena (Cold War espionage, ecstatic religiosity), incongruous pairings (Darwinism, Tantric sex), and otherwise schizy ephemera (psychedelic drugs, spaceflight) into a cogent, satisfyingly complete narrative. That he reconciles all this while barely batting an eye is remarkable; that he does so while writing with such élan is nothing short of wondrous." --Atlantic
"Kripal prompts us to reflect on our personal assumptions, as well as the shared assumptions that create and maintain our institutions: materialism is called out as dogma, at odds with the spirit of empirical inquiry, as is unreflective religious faith. . . . [His] work will likely become more and more relevant to more and more areas of inquiry as the century unfolds. It may even open up a new space for Americans to reevaluate the personal and cultural narratives they have inherited, and to imagine alternative futures." --Los Angeles Review of Books
"[Kripal] is a serious intellectual, but one who wears his heart on his sleeve. He writes with sensitivity and self-deprecating humor." --New York Journal of Books
"Kripal's writing glows with insight and enriches our understanding of humanity's gnostic dignity." --Library Journal
"[Kripal] is an engaging storyteller." --Publishers Weekly
"Kripal has one of the most distinctive, interesting voices in the humanities today." --Choice
"Kripal's work is playful, engaging and original. His references to both 'high' and 'low' culture are reminiscent of prominent intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Slavoj Zizek." --Times Higher Education
"According to Kripal, mysticism is very much a praxis, a set of techniques that lead to a goal, inner depth and self-knowledge. . . . [His work] can bring much-needed clarity and depth, and no little intelligence, to the 'subjectivity wars' of postmodernity." --Journal of Religion
"[Kripal] make[s] the case that excluded, silenced, lost perspectives need to be heard in twenty-first century academe and also in our spiritual quests." --Harvard Divinity Bulletin
"[Kripal's work] suggests methodologies that can integrate the humanities and the sciences, the brain/mind distinctions, contemporary neuroscience, and psychical research." --Journal of Contemporary Religion
"A trickster-guide, Kripal lures his readers through mirrored doors and ironic tunnels into the inner chambers of the study of religion. There he conducts a disconcerting initiation. The mysteries of his religious studies are an antidote to the imperial certainty, the bombastic piety, of too much religion." --Mark D. Jordan, Harvard Divinity School
"Kripal [is] in the grand tradition of Ludwig Feuerbach: showing us how we have projected our own superhuman potential into a world of gods and monsters, and pleading with us to recall that potential from exile. However, Kripal tops Feuerbach in at least one column: he has an infectious sense of humor about the whole charade." --Charles M. Stang, Harvard Divinity School
"[Kripal] argues incisively and in detail in ways that seek to shake our materialist and rational foundations at their base, so that our defensive walls come tumbling down." --Catherine L. Albanese, University of California, Santa Barbara
"[Kripal] explores key ideas and thinkers in their respective contexts. In the process, the reader is introduced to the largely rejected knowledge of the psychical, the sacred is resurrected in the paranormal, and lazy skepticism is challenged. . . . [He] will, I suspect, become a key figure in the development of new trajectories in the study of religion." --Christopher Partridge, Lancaster University
"Jeffrey Kripal is an epic' imagination trapped in an historian's body." --Joseph Donahue, author of Dark Church
"In Kripal we have a classic Romantic thinker/writer who is formulating--in a conscious meld of the subjective and objective that is the hallmark of Romantic writing--his own distinctive and highly original Biographia Spiritualis." --Victoria Nelson, author of The Secret Life of Puppets and Gothicka
"[Kripal] bridges the gap between spirituality and its sometimes seedy outcroppings in pop culture, and forges--or rather, reveals--a synthesis that was really there all along." --Roy Thomas, writer of The Uncanny X-Men, Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and more
"Always scholarly yet never stuffy, always fun but never superficial." --Doug Moench, author of Batman and The Big Book of the Unexplained
About the Author
Jeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University and is the associate director of the Center for Theory and Research at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California. He has previously taught at Harvard Divinity School and Westminster College and is the author of eight books, including The Flip. He lives in Houston, Texas.
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The Flip is a little gem of a book. It’s an acrobatic coaching manual that moves one from being a non-committed materialist to something different. This isn’t a book intended to ‘flip’ the reader into religious belief. Despite Jeff’s title, and anybody’s fears, inducing belief is not his goal.
This is not about evidence that flips you from believing A to believing B. It’s about how you go from definitely A to “I have no idea, really. There’s a bunch of stuff I need to think through carefully.”
I am a flagrant and passionate anti-materialist. My life experiences leave me with no doubt that our human reality does not comport with the materialistic propositions. But I am not going to sell you a proposition based on what I have experienced and you have not.
The Flip seems to be aimed at well-educated intellectual peers – maybe fellow academics. Jeff lays out an intellectual landscape and proposes arguments that seek to persuade a movement to frame of mind that is not obedient to the materialistic world view that is so pervasive.
If you are not prepared to be persuaded, buying this book is a waste of money – unless your objective is to trash it with no regard to its argument.
I am supporting this book because it’s the neatest, most persuasive and most coherent argument for not thinking as a materialist. The alternative is, surprisingly, very fluid and engaging. Once you jump the fence there’s not another constrained set of beliefs on the other side. Rather there is a wild world of opportunity – intellectual, scientific, cultural, personal.
If you have a genuine personal commitment to responding to the full scope of human reality, but you are afraid to fully cast off from the familiar and safe shores of the comfortable way of knowing we were brought up in, The Flip is a must read.
It may not do the trick, but it will loosen you grip.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The literature of this persuasion (i.e., propagating the notion that consciousness is fundamental) tends to carry with it, either explicity or implicilty, the sense that such a worldview is inherently optimistic. I seek to challenge this conventional, and thoroughly unexamined, assumption. There is actually nothing about this orientation that is inherently optimistic. In fact I would contend, not unlike Arthur Schopenhauer, that this orientation is fundamentally and hopelessly pessimistic. I would even go so far as to say that it portends something rather hellish.
Kripal's incessant inveighing against materialism, like so many other authors of this ilk, is at least in part an emotional response to the perceived nihilism that materialism is seen to represent. Materialism is portrayed as the boogeyman that has wrenched all meaning and purpose from existence, reducing all of life to dead particles bouncing around in dead space. He says that we are battling a cancer" of "nihilism and meaninglessness" (191).
But what the author proposes in the place of material nihilism is equally nihilistic, it is just that he, like so many people, utterly fails to realize this. This material nihilism is replaced with nothing other than a spiritual nihilism, and the latter is far more hopeless and terrifying than the former could ever begin to be.
If materialism leaves existence bereft of all meaning and purpose, what exactly is the meaning and purpose that immaterialism automatically confers? Of course, the meaning/purpose of existence supplied by this alternative worldview is not divulged. Predictably, we are told that this supposed deep meaning and purpose are inexpressible and one must be in the throes of some transcendent rapture in order to grasp them. If you find this dodge all too convenient, you are not alone.
In addition to a promissory meaning, the conciousness-as-fundamental orientation only confounds the already problematic nature of existence vis-á-vis suffering. What is rarely acknowledged is that the existence of suffering is entirely explainable and understandable in the context of materialism. We suffer simply because we are limited. We are weak, fragile beings enmeshed in an indifferent, unforgiving world of near infinite competing interests. Of course we suffer! It couldn't have been any other way. Suffering is an inevitable byproduct of the very nature of conscious existence. Even a small child can understand this and accept it.
On the contrary, suffering makes absolutely no sense in the context of philosophical idealism or a spiritual/mystical worldview. Kripal writes, "If there is a common message of mystical literature, it is that everything is one thing, that 'all is One.'" (160). If there is fundamentally only one thing, why should that one thing suffer in any capacity at all? Intense unremitting suffering is issuing forth from no cause other than the "one thing" itself. This should be an excruciating realization to those with a mystical/idealist bent, but it is generally unnoticed or at the very least ignored.
Thus, this problem has never been answered by mystical traditions. They don't address this problem because they can't. They hide behind "paradoxical" proclamations, employed with the explicit intention of obfuscating the glaring irrconcilable contradictions.
Suffering will always be experientially problematic but with materialism it is not intellectually or cognitively problematic. With a spiritual worldview, the experience of suffering is further compounded by its inscrutability. This generates an additional layer of suffering on top of the initial raw experience, producing a psychological terror and confusion that materialism could never even approach.
With materialism, there is no struggling to comprehend the cause and origin of suffering. We don't have to struggle with questions as to how and why it exists in relation to preexistent consciousness. There is no Mind distributed throughout, existing behind, or at the very root of existence. There is nothing there. Therefore, one does not engage in the utterly futile endeavor of attempting to reconcile the coexistence of this "One Thing" and brutal suffering, and why the "One Thing" tortures itself.
Whereas many are ostensibly encouraged by a "spiritual" worldview, there is really nothing encouraging about it. In fact, quite the contrary. The spiritual worldview is more hopeless than materialism. At least with materialism there is an end to suffering with death. If consciousness is immaterial, and by extension indestructible, then there is no hope that suffering will end at death (or even ever end at all). If consciousness has always existed and is (at least here) mired in disease, war, hatred, death camps, suicidal despair, etc, then there is no hope of any expanse of time ever putting an end to suffering. It seems that ever novel forms of suffering will just replace older forms. Suffering will continue to broaden with the development of consciousness. This is evidenced by our greater capacity for both joy and misery as compared to less complex animals. Further human development will augment our capacity for suffering as well. There is, theoretically, no limit to our capacity for experiencing suffering.
Materialism, in addition to being the most credible explanation of existence, is also the most desirable. This undoubtedly runs counter to the views of most spiritually oriented people but this is only because they subscribe to the unwarranted presumption that suffering is temporary. A spiritual worldview (wherein consciousness does not and cannot die) actually implies indefinite (and possibly eternal) suffering. In my decades of reading and study in comparative religion and mysticism, I've never come across any argument that would counter this.
Kripal says that we need a political and moral revolution. I agree. We need these advancements to reduce suffering. It is all about reducing suffering. Our "deepest and most intractable problem" is not the unbridgeable chasm between the humanistic and techno-scientific spheres, as C.P. Snow speculated (189). This is a problem only to the extent that it contibutes to suffering or prevents the reduction of suffering. Our deepest and most intractable problem is the existence of suffering itself. What makes this suffering even more tragic is the fact that its logic, should there be any, is incommunicable. This incommunicability is the insult to the injury of suffering.
No mystic, no mystical theories, no mystically oriented intellectual (Jeffrey J. Kripal conspicuously included), no common person given "ALL knowledge" in a flash of ecstatic insight, nobody has ever been able to bridge that gap and communicate a reconciliation of the existence of Oneness and extreme misery—a reconciliation that is rational, plausible, coherent, and optimistic. It has never been done.
We are urged to simply hope, like Julian of Norwich, that "all shall be well." But how? Based on what? There is no reasonable basis for this hope of all being well unless one knows (or has a plausible theory) of how and why things became unwell. Is it even possible that all can be well? Everlastingly well?
We are told that telepathy, messages from beyond the grave, and even levitation are all possible. We are told that we are "endowed with spectral superpowers...and literally and truly cosmic" (189). But somehow, a rational explanation and justification for a oneness that suffers is outside of the realm of possibility. Our spectral superpowers don't include that power of communication. That mystery must remain inexpressible and any attempt at all must be thoroughly couched in "paradox", gobbledegook, and loads upon loads of mumbo-jumbo so obstruse as to be impenetrable.
The point is, no one has any grounds for thinking that they can be free of suffering if they have no understanding of suffering in the deepest, ontological sense— Its cause, its perpetuation, its limits (should there be any), its mutability, its temporality (or lackthereof), etc. If suffering is indeed temporary, the reality of this should be able to be rationally conveyed...but of course, this isn't the case.
Wolfgang Pauli said he had an ambition in "overcoming opposites...embracing both rational understanding and the mystical experience of unity..." (200). Here he concedes that the rational is the the opposite of the mystical; that the experience of understanding is the opposite of the experience of "oneness". It seems that these opposites can never truly be overcome, try as we may. A rational mysticism is an oxymoron. Some open paradoxes (maybe all of them) are ultimately self-negating. As such, the mystical worldview will never be able to rationally integrate something so basic as the existence of suffering. Without this rational integration, such an orientation can never make the claim that suffering is ultimately transient and nonrecurring.
The spiritual worldview implies an irreducible, essentally indestructible consciousness that will persist ad infinitum. What the spiritual worldview does not grapple with (but should) is the realization that suffering will almost certainly accompany consciousness as long as it exists. If consciousness will exist eternally, then suffering will exist eternally. An eternal existence in which there is no end to suffering is none other than hell itself.
Thankfully, materialism is almost certainly true and we will therefore almost certainly be obliterated at death. Thank nonexistent god for the relief of death! Consciousness-as-fundamental may be true but you'd better hope that it isn't.
A mass change of consciousness is obviously required and in this work Jeff Kripal does an admirable job of bringing the necessary understanding up into the light of day in a highly readable fashion.
Love this book and its central tenets.
I'm having a Kripal-fest as I'm currently also reading 'Changed in a Flash' co-written with Elizabeth Krohn - also highly recommended.
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