In which the material world dissolves into the immaterial and all that we know from traditional material science melts into air.
What's a flip? By the account of Kripal (Secret Body: Erotic and Esoteric Currents in the History of Religions, 2017, etc.), who holds a chair in religious thought and philosophy at Rice University and a research post at the Esalen Institute at Big Sur, it's an intuitive leap that leads to a new understanding of a scientific problem or reality: "a radically new real can appear with the simplest of ‘flips,' or reversals of perspective, roughly, from ‘the outside' of things to ‘the inside' of things." Some of these flips might be such things as Archimedes' bathtub-born insight into the displacement of volume and Friedrich August Kekulé's dream about the snake eating its tail that led to his divination of how the benzene ring works. Kripal goes a little farther into the land of esoterica, noting, for instance, that Marie Curie was no stranger to séances, while Wolfgang Pauli "was a pioneering quantum physicist around whose presence poltergeist phenomena erupted regularly." Philosopher A.J. Ayer returned from a near-death experience rather confused about what he saw on the other side, except to announce to the medical staff who revived him, "you are all mad," while neuroscientist Marjorie Hines Woollacott drew scientific insight from an experience with a swami in the nature of consciousness, which is "most likely not an emergent property of brain matter, contrary to what everyone around her in her professional life seemed to assume." Some of the science seems squishy even as Kripal insists that quantum physics is a "flipped science"—i.e., "one in which consciousness is no longer understood as an epiphenomenon, but as fundamental to the very nature of nature." More easily comprehensible is the author's idea that the humanities be reconceived as "the study of consciousness coded in culture," which has fruitful possibilities.
Kripal's book won't quite silence the inner skeptic in those trained in such truths as the laws of thermodynamics, but it offers plenty of points to ponder.
[The Flip] synthesizes some of the most recent speculations about the nature of the cosmos and the human, proposing a renewed mutual engagement of the sciences and humanities. . . . With its visionary notions and revisionary potential, The Flip merits a wide readership, across the academy and outside of it.” ―Houston Chronicle
“A warmly vivid account of various science-minded people who have experienced the ‘Flip’. . . . Passionate and often funny.” ―Guardian
“Wonderfully rich. . . . Reading this book is an embodied experience; it is yoga for the mind.” ―Reading Religion
“[The Flip] will ignite conversations about the limits of science and the potential for dramatic shifts in perspective.” ―Publishers Weekly
“Offers plenty of points to ponder.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Makes the baffling notions of quantum mechanics and neuroscience digestible. In this respect, The Flip is similar to The Lives of a Cell: Notes of a Biology Watcher by Lewis Thomas. . . . The research incorporated into the book is well thought out, and ranges from writer Philip K. Dick to mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan. Kripal even discusses how Joni Mitchell came up with the idea that ‘we are stardust’ ten years before Carl Sagan popularized it. . . . The Flip did open my mind to the fact that there are leading experts in both the field of science and religion (Kripal himself) who are pushing toward unification and the extinction of out-dated knowledge.” ―NewPages
“In The Flip, Jeffrey J. Kripal reflects deeply on non-ordinary experiences that transform people’s way of understanding themselves and the world. Kripal uses an imaginative transdisciplinary method that weaves together contemporary thought in ecology, quantum physics, evolutionary biology, philosophy of mind, comparative mysticism, and first-person experiential accounts. The result is an eminently readable manifesto for the role of the humanities in integrating emergent thought in these many domains. Prophetically, the larger goal is nothing less than transforming humanity toward a greater wisdom community that can move beyond many of our most intractable problems and dysfunctions.” ―Bradley Lewis, author of Narrative Psychiatry: How Stories Can Shape Clinical Practice and Depression: Integrating Science, Humanities, and Culture
“Kripal is one of the most important voices pushing the academy to broaden its perspective beyond the secular: to take seriously the idea that reality is more complex. He is slowly winning the argument and changing the terrain of debate without making an argument for any one religion. This is a remarkable achievement. The Flip is worthy of a wide readership.” ―T. M. Luhrmann, author of When God Talks Back and Our Most Troubling Madness
“One of the most provocative new books of the year, and, for me, mindblowing.” ―Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and How to Change Your Mind
“The Flip lucidly lays out a way of thinking about the enfolding of mind and reality that is at once empirically scientific and at the same time consistent with all we know from some of our most sophisticated philosophical and spiritual traditions. Kripal provides a practical guide to a deeper and more effective understanding of ourselves and our world. Read this book if you want to actively contribute to the development of a worldview that will be of extraordinary benefit to humankind and our planet.” ―David E. Presti, author of Foundational Concepts in Neuroscience and Mind Beyond Brain