In reply to Hartelius’s (2016) response to my paper “From Philosophy to Phenomenology: The Argument for a ‘Soft’ Perennialism” (Taylor, 2016a), I provide arguments in support of my model from contemporary scholars of mysticism, who advocate a move from a philosophically-based perennialism to a phenomenologically-based essentialism. This discussion illustrates that perennialist perspectives are far from outmoded. I discuss the metaphysical aspects of my model, suggesting that there is no reason why transpersonal psychology should not address metaphysical issues, as long as they are secondary to phenomenological issues, and as long as they are based on evidence rather than wholly speculative. Attempts to exclude so-called non-scientific phenomena from transpersonal psychology are based on invalid arguments, including an outmoded concept of the importance of falsifiability. I argue that attempts to explain the commonalities in accounts of spiritual or mystical experiences across and outside traditions through radical di usionism, contextualism, or neuroscientific reductionism are inadequate. I note that these commonalities also feature in accounts of near-death experiences and accounts of intense post-traumatic growth. I also highlight the importance of historical cases of natural wakefulness in individuals with no familiarity with spiritual traditions. I conclude with comments on the nature of recent debates in transpersonal psychology and on the importance of pluralism.
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Taylor, S. (2017). The return of perennial perspectives? Why transpersonal psychology should remain open to essentialism. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 36 (2). https://doi.org/10.24972/ijts.2017.36.2.75