Jack Hunter, Ph.D., is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Religious Experience Research Centre, University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, and founder of the Journal of Paranthropology. He describes himself as an anthropologist exploring the borderlands of consciousness, religion, ecology and the paranormal. His doctoral research with the University of Bristol examined the experiences of spirit mediums and their influence on the development of self-concepts and models of consciousness, and is an effort towards a non-reductive anthropology of the paranormal.
Deep Ecologists have long argued that the ecological crisis is simultaneously a psychological and spiritual crisis, and that if we want to change our environmentally destructive behaviors, we will need to re-conceptualize our relationship to the world in which we live.
They have argued that there is an urgent need in the Western world to develop a new sense of self that sees the environment as an extension – or part – of the person – an ‘ecological self’. Similarly, anthropologists have noted broad distinctions between what might be called ‘individual’ and ‘dividual’ models of the self in different cultural contexts, which are broadly (though not exclusively) normalized in Western and Non-Western societies, respectively. The Western Individual self is conceived as bounded by the physical body, distinct from the rest of the environment, and as a relatively stable and consistent stream of consciousness. Dividual models, by contrast, see the self as consisting of multiple interconnected parts (an ecology), which is dynamic and may include elements that exist beyond the confines of our physical bodies (spirits, other persons, or features of the natural world).
Parapsychologists have also argued that altered and liminal states of consciousness appear to be psi conducive. It has also been noted that all manner of paranormal and extraordinary experiences seems to have the capacity to shake up our ordinary sense of self, often leading to an increased sense of connection to nature.
This presentation will argue that parapsychologists might have been investigating the ecological self all along, and that psi phenomena might represent the connecting principles that make these dividual forms of selfhood possible. Understood from this perspective, parapsychology may have an important role to play in addressing the ecological crisis.
Presented at the online PA Symposium “Ecology, Nature and Parapsychology” on November 21,2020; program chaired by Renaud Evrard, President of the Parapsychological Association. Download the Abstracts at https://www.parapsych.org/articles/37/525/ecology_nature_and.aspx
The Parapsychological Association is an international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. The primary objective of the PA is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences.
A longer version of this convention video, including the Q&A period, is available to PA members-only at parapsych.org. There is a level of PA membership for everyone interested in the scientific and scholarly advancement of parapsychology. Learn more at: https://www.parapsych.org/join_the_pa.aspx
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Published on May 20, 2021