cover image The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge

The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge

Jeffrey J. Kripal. Bellevue Literary, $19.99 trade paper (240p) ISBN 978-1-942658-52-8

Kripal (Secret Body), a professor of religion at Rice University, provocatively argues against the supremacy of science in this theoretical exploration of consciousness. He lays out several examples of what he calls “the flip”: an experience so anomalous and moving that it radically affirms a cosmic consciousness. His examples come from scientists who have had near-death experiences or apparently telepathic or prophetic communication, and other seemingly paranormal events. For instance, Francis Bacon, the “father of modern empiricism,” also experienced “natural divination.” Kripal assails the scientific fixation on consciousness as a mechanical process and advances a theory of the brain as a filter of external information rather than the originator of thought. He questions the uncanny ability of mathematics to model reality and the dominance of physics by drawing from ancient and contemporary philosophies that offer alternate understandings of reality, such as the ancient Greek philosophers, the modern skeptic Michael Shermer, and even Albert Einstein. Then, taking a wider focus, he closes with the possible ethical implications of valuing the humanities, which he believes could be a counterforce to the dehumanizing aspects of capitalism. At times unsettling and always precise, this polemic will ignite conversations about the limits of science and the potential for dramatic shifts in perspective. (Mar.)