The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities (Hardcover)

The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities By Jeffrey J. Kripal Cover Image

The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities (Hardcover)


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A bold challenge to rethink the humanities as intimately connected to the superhuman and to “decolonize reality itself.”

What would happen if we reimagined the humanities as the superhumanities? If we acknowledged and celebrated the undercurrent of the fantastic within our humanistic disciplines, entirely new cultural worlds and meanings would become possible. That is Jeffrey J. Kripal’s vision for the future—to revive the suppressed dimension of the superhumanities, which consists of rare but real altered states of knowledge that have driven the creative processes of many of our most revered authors, artists, and activists. In Kripal’s telling, the history of the humanities is filled with precognitive dreams, evolving superhumans, and doubled selves. The basic idea of the superhuman, for Kripal, is at the core of who and what the human species has tried to become over millennia and around the planet.
After diagnosing the basic malaise of the humanities—that the truth must be depressing—Kripal shows how it can all be done differently. He argues that we have to decolonize reality itself if we are going to take human diversity seriously. Toward this pluralist end, he engages psychoanalytic, Black critical, feminist, postcolonial, queer, and ecocritical theory. He works through objections to the superhumanities while also recognizing the new realities represented by the contemporary sciences. In doing so, he tries to move beyond naysaying practices of critique toward a future that can embrace those critiques within a more holistic view—a view that recognizes the human being as both a social-political animal as well as an evolved cosmic species that understands and experiences itself as something super.
Jeffrey J. Kripal holds the J. Newton Rayzor Chair in Philosophy and Religious Thought at Rice University. He is the author of several books, including, most recently, The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Product Details ISBN: 9780226820248
ISBN-10: 0226820246
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Publication Date: September 23rd, 2022
Pages: 256
"It’s relentlessly fascinating, profoundly important and beautifully written. It should be required reading for everyone who reads books other than computer manuals."
— Fortean Times

"The Superhumanities marks a turn in Jeffrey Kripal’s oeuvre from the exploratory and theoretical to envisioning the future possibilities and implications of his work for the academy . . . [This book]  is written for an academic audience and is probably best suited for faculty and/or graduate students hoping to become faculty in the humanities."
— Choice

The Superhumanities marks a turn in Kripal’s oeuvre from the exploratory and theoretical to envisioning the future possibilities and implications of his work for the academy. This text serves as both a summation of this prolific scholar’s past contributions and a transition to his upcoming historical trilogy on the paranormal and science in America, suggestively and collectively named the Super Story Trilogy.”
— Nova Religio

"Kripal has written a brave, exciting book that rewards thoughtful discussion, reflection, and engagement. The Superhumanities is a book that changes minds, a book that changes lives."
— Reading Religion

"[Kripal proposes] de-colonising reality itself and enlarging our understanding of human identity, and hence of meaning  and purpose. This is a major and indeed essential cultural enterprise, and this book is an extraordinary tour de force to this end."
— Paradigm Explorer

“An electrifying, glorious, loving, and almost deranged romp through humanity’s greatest recurrent ideas and experiences, The Superhumanities is for anyone who senses that the transformative power of books, ideas, and spiritual experiences are intertwined and too often estranged.”
— Jonathan Haidt, author of 'The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion'

“One of the foremost historians of religion and a consummate storyteller, Kripal makes a compelling case for restoring the anomalous and inexplicable to the heart of inquiry in the humanities. A must-read for anyone interested in the future of education, society, and indeed reality and for all who have experienced or would like to experience amazement.”
— Priscilla Wald, author of 'Contagious: Cultures, Carriers, and the Outbreak Narrative'

“In this magical mystery tour of the superhumanities, Kripal takes us inside and out of the pantheistic, the paranormal, the metaphysical, the extrasensory, the anomalous, the weird, the wonderful, the awe inspiring. Reading the book is an experience—a mind-opening guide to the superhuman and soulful, as you feel where it leads you.”
— Richard A. Shweder, author of 'Why Do Men Barbecue? Recipes for Cultural Psychology'

“Kripal’s recent foray into the troubled waters of the nature of reality and the human may be his greatest work yet. Kripal does not make categorical claims; the end is uncertain, but he does hold space for the hopeful possibility that the superhumanities might help us envision and create a new and more egalitarian world.”
— Stephen C. Finley, author of 'In and Out of This World: Material and Extraterrestrial Bodies in the Nation of Islam'

"A fascinating read."
— Reader's Labryinth, on Youtube