The issue of whether it is possible to separate science and metaphysics is discussed, with reference to William James and the writings of quantum physicists. The metaphysical framework of scientific materialism is analysed and some of its key assumptions are identified. It is suggested that these assumptions are becoming increasingly untenable, as is evident by the advocacy of post-materialist science by some contemporary scientists. The main appeal of transpersonal psychology to students and practitioners is arguably its lack of allegiance to a materialist metaphysics. Rather than allying itself to the metaphysical paradigm of naturalistic science or attempting to bracket out metaphysics, transpersonal psychology should operate openly within the framework of post-materialistic science. Rather than distancing itself from areas such as near-death studies and parapsychology, it should embrace and cooperate with them, sharing the same post-materialist perspective. Transpersonal psychology should not attempt to reduce itself to fit into mainstream psychology but to try expand mainstream psychology to include its concerns and principles. In a laudable attempt to pursue a more scientific approach, some transpersonal theorists have arguably swung too extremely away from essentialism/perennialism and metaphysics. It is hoped that a more balanced approach may be found, incorporating more nuanced and phenomenological forms of perennialism, and more cautious metaphysical claims.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Taylor, S. (2017). Moving beyond materialism: Can transpersonal psychology contribute to cultural transformation?. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 36 (2). https://doi.org/10.24972/ijts.2017.36.2.147