I was lucky enough to attend a historic meeting San Francisco last weekend at CIIS, where the Association for Humanistic Pychology and the Association for Transpersonal Psychology formally held hands and promised to play nice in the sandbox again. Even though these two associations (representing the third and forth forces in American psychology) have a lot in common, it’s been dicey ever since the humanists were invited over to play at the Academy back in the 1970s. Why the split? It’s more about personalities than values. But that’s water under the bridge, and the organizations promise an enthusiastic renewal of joint research ventures.
Psychiatrist Eugene Taylor gave an amusing presentation about the history of psychology in America, focusing on how experiental psychology has continued to operate under the radar all these years, despite the Academy’s love affair with torturing rats. The future, as Taylor sees it, includes a further cross-pollination of existential and transpersonal depth psychology, a renewed neurophenomenology, and a movement towards intersubjectivity as the foundation of a person-centered science.
That’s a mouthful, but what does it mean for consciousness studies? It means it’s gonna get interesting again at the white coat conventions. Objectivity is under scrutiny in an unprecedented way. Introspectionism is making a comeback (although few would dare use the “I” word). Technology and meditation are becoming closely linked tools. As Andrew Weil would say, this is a marriage between the sun and the moon. Truthfully, the union of these two sister organizations is a small step towards a unified field of knowledge, that holy grail of Western thinkers, but it does mean we”re a little closer to bridge that gap between the sciences and humanities.
I”m most excited about the potentials for neurophenomenology, especially for dream studies. Lucid dreaming research, my first love, is one field of study that is poised to cross the divide between third-person science and first-person data collection methods. At the end of the day, our technology is only as useful as our ability to describe what is happening on the inside.
So let’s hear it for laying down arms and working together! Now on to the hard problem.
Mark A. Schroll says
Ryan knows how I missed this meeting, but I’m glad he was able to attend. Nearly 20 pages were devoted in my dissertation to reconciling the humanistic/transpersonal divide and I’ve yet to publish any of this. Hopefully this divide is now a fading memory and these two groups can form an alliance to help transform our current Western science paradigm. This spring I finished a paper I’ve been working on for 15 years titled, “Toward A New Kind of Science and Its Methods of Inquiry.” I’m considering presenting this paper at the spring Society for the Anthropology of Conscioiusness meeting at Yale Divinity School in late March 2008, but this paper could also be given at a meeting of humanistic/transpersonal psychologists. The current abstract reads:
This essay is a critique of EuroAmerican science???s limitations and humanistic anthropology and humanistic psychology???s contributions to what Daniel Halperin and Edith Turner refer to as a ???delicate science,??? that I call an integral/essential science. Second, this essay reflects on EuroAmerican sciences??? paradigmatic parameters that define and limit its methodological inquiry, specifically the emic/etic, ideographic/nomothetic problem. This encouraged me to champion ethnomethodology and ethnography as methods that could balance etic methodologies by providing emic narratives. I continue to support these emic methodologies, yet also examine their limitations, expressing the need for a synthesis and a transcendence of these views. Third, this essay examines the various obstacles that we will need to overcome in our quest to create a new kind of science that can include within it the study of psi/spirit.