Title

MYSTICAL EXPERIENCES, NEUROSCIENCE, AND THE NATURE OF REALITY

Date of Award

2007

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Marvin Belzer

Abstract

Research by neuroscientists has begun to clarify some of the types of brain activity associated with mystical experiences. Neuroscientists disagree about the implications of their research for mystics’ beliefs about the nature of reality, however. Persinger, Alper, and other scientific materialists believe that their research effectively disproves mystics’ interpretations of their experiences, while Newberg, Hood, and others believe that scientific models of mystical experiences leave room for God or some other transcendent reality. I argue that Persinger and Alper are correct in dismissing mystics’ interpretations of their experiences, but that they are incorrect in asserting mystical experiences are pathological or otherwise undesirable.