Prof. Max Velmans – How do we Know What’s Real?

In current Western materialist reductionist culture it is common to take the reality of physical entities and events for granted, but to question the status of ordinary conscious experiences and even more so, the status of extraordinary conscious experiences. For example it is common in Western science to argue that ordinary conscious experiences are really nothing more than states or functions of the brain, and to dismiss extraordinary experiences as hallucinations, illusions, evidence of psychological disorder and so on. In this talk Max will argue that this reduction of conscious life to physical states and functions is dehumanising, conceptually flawed, and that we need a more inclusive model. While extraordinary human experiences cannot be dismissed simply because they are extraordinary, their range is immense, and their reality status is complex. In this talk we will discuss a few of these, including mystical states and experiences of paranormal events.

MAX VELMANS is Emeritus Professor of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London, has been involved in consciousness studies for around 40 years, and has around 100 publications on this topic including Understanding Consciousness (2009) and The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness (2007).

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