Perspectives on synchronicity, inspiration, and the soul

Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press (2020)
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Abstract

This book explores the notion of the human psyche ('soul') and its continuing usefulness in the background of the ongoing and always accelerating techno-scientific revolution. The main argument here follows the assumption that this revolution, while not necessarily being a threat to humankind, is often blind or ignorant as to its subject, the 'human being'. In the first chapters, the reader is invited to reflect on the notion of 'thinking' as a phenomenon of consciousness that transcends merely 'having thoughts'. Relating thinking to consciousness requires reconsidering the phenomena of 'inspiration' and 'ecstasy'. Provided that such a thing as 'inspiration' exists, it makes sense to revise the solipsist or substantialist account often given of the human mind. The book defines inspiration as a 'clairvoyance of one's psyche', and ecstasy as the experience of this clairvoyance. Next, a case is made for synchronicity experiences as a key to a better understanding of the human psyche. While being enigmatic all throughout, synchronicity experiences, both on the individual and on the collective level, help overcome both subject/object and body/mind dualisms. It is not likely, though, that the solution they could offer will be readily accepted by (what is called) 'science' today, since it challenges one of the latter's basic premises, 'causality'. As a more concrete example of a condensed synchronicity experience, the author dwells on 'physiognomy'. In the final chapter, death and suffering are discussed as extreme, and therefore relevant, experiences of consciousness. The book interprets death in terms of 'enhanced subliminality', and 'suffering' as unconscious resistance against maturing. Generally, this book explores a psycho-philosophical tradition, rooted in Romantic thinking (from Schelling and Schopenhauer until Klages and Jung), which has hitherto been unjustly neglected, if not repressed, by mainstream materialism and positivism. It makes a strong case for an intellectual account of the soul.

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Rico Sneller
Leiden University

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