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Circular Reasoning Is Not the Uroboros: Rejecting Perennialism as a Psychological Theory
Efforts to present valid evidence for perennialist models do not withstand critical scrutiny. One strategy common to most versions of perennialism points to perceived patterns in reports of spiritual experiences, whether from traditional, clinical, or phenomenological accounts as evidence for such an approach; the shortcoming is that these same patterns are the basis for perennialist premises. Offering one’s premises as evidence for their conclusions is circular reasoning, and does not constitute valid support for an idea. Pointing to similarities between reports of spiritual or other transformative experiences is what inspires perennialist models, but is not evidence for their validity. Careful consideration is given to Wilber’s use of this and other efforts to support his integral perennialisms, with subsequent consideration of Studstill’s mystical pluralism and Taylor’s soft perennialism. Perennialist models are considered metaphysical because there does not appear to be any way to obtain independent evidence with which these appealing notions could be validated, and the authors considered here have not achieved effective solutions. However, a review of these three separate approaches reveals some similarities in what may be a genre of perennialist New Age religion.
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Hartelius, G. (2017). Circular reasoning is not the uroboros: Rejecting perennialism as a psychological theory. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 36 (2). https://doi.org/10.24972/ijts.2017.36.2.121
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