Academic Endorsements for Mind in Transition, Vol.1 of Douglas Lockhart’s trilogy “The Perennial Philosophy Revisited”
Douglas Lockhart offers us a thoughtful, erudite, and massively wide-ranging exploration of the further reaches of human consciousness and the possibilities that may be open to us. We have explored the external world high and low; Mind in Transition is a book for open-minded explorers of the inner world.
Warwick Fox, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of Central Lancashire,
author of A Theory of General Ethics, Ethics and the Built Environment and Towards a Transpersonal Ecology
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Douglas Lockhart’s new book, Mind in Transition, is a challenge to both fundamentalist Christians who accept blind faith over reason, and hardcore rationalists who treat all forms of unusual inner experience as fundamentally meaningless. Both are confronted by the author with a body of experiential knowledge that transcends not only the opposition between faith and reason, but which makes a sharp distinction between rational thinking and forms of rational thought that are inherently unhelpful in this context.
Lockhart’s entire exploration is itself rational in its form; it follows the paths set not by orthodox mystics and theologians (whom he subjected to a critical overview in a previous volume), but by modern philosophers and psychologists. Yet, the subject matter of his exploratory reflection and the central object of his inquiry is the commonly referred to ‘sense of the divine’, the believed source of meaning and overarching comprehension which he prefers to call Reality. Such an open-minded inquiry, free from theological orthodoxies, is not only a most welcomed attempt at bridging the gap between the two forms of cognition, it is also an antidote to fundamentalist thinking in both camps. As such, Lockhart’s thesis attempts to restore a semblance of balance to this ongoing confrontation and open a fresh avenue of inquiry into the operation of mind as it functions in an increasingly complex social environment.
I intentionally add the concept of ‘social environment’ to this cognitive perspective, though Lockhart is concerned principally with the experiential dimension of individual minds. For throughout his exploration he progressively engages the social dimension of human mind and cognition, and I interpret this engagement as an appetiser foreshadowing a future volume tackling the psycho-social dimension of his multi-faceted inquiry into faith, inner experience, reason and hardcore rationalistic certainty. The success of the two initial volumes, and this a third excursion into findings similarly intriguing and challenging, increase the sense of anticipation of what is yet to come.
Professor Jan Palkuski, School of Sociology and Social Work,
University of Tasmania, Australia.
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Douglas Lockhart is an astute and clear thinker who is not afraid to defy conventional thought and delve into the grey areas between the black and white extremes of science and religion. Revolutionary in its claims and drawing on a wide range of sources, Mind in Transition is an exploration of consciousness, the nature of self and the creative process. In it Lockhart successfully makes a case for the descent into psyche as a necessary part of human experience if we are to evolve as individuals and as a society.
Dr Rosie Dub, Creative Writing Fellow, Aberystwyth University, Wales
and author of Gathering Storm and Flight.
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Douglas Lockhart’s Mind in Transition is a unique and intriguing work. It encompasses a wide range of sources and topics, drawing on material from contemporary philosophy of mind and language to personal accounts of mystical and psychotropic experience, and dealing with questions of mind and god, reality and human being. It also does so in a way that is highly accessible and personally engaging – Lockhart is an accomplished writer, and it shows throughout this work. Lockhart’s inquiries remain anchored in a direct and straightforward prose style that is a pleasure to read and that has a character all of its own. Indeed, part of the distinctiveness of this work is its refreshing tone. This is no dry academic volume, even though it is informed by an evident mastery of the relevant academic literature. It has the intrigue and pacing of a good mystery or detective story, always keeping one’s interest, always leading one on to want to read more.
Lockhart also takes on the weighty matters with which he engages in a genuine spirit of independent inquiry. While he is always alert to the shortcomings in the positions he considers, his scepticism is nevertheless tempered by a generosity of reading that places the need to understand before the impulse to criticize. I know of no other contemporary authors who engage across the range of material as does Lockhart with the same level of knowledge and expertise, with the same combination of scepticism and generosity, or in the same independent spirit. There are certainly few academic authors who write like this, and most are, in case, unlikely to make the same adventurous forays as are to be found in Lockhart’s work. One might say of Lockhart that he is, to use a phrase from Whitehead, a true ‘adventurer of ideas’. As such, he is also a rare creature in today’s world.
This book, Mind in Transition, which is itself one in a line of works, both fiction and nonfiction, is likely to appeal to a large readership. It will be especially of interest to those who are looking for an alternative to the usual oppositions between theism and atheism that now seem to dominate so much of the popular contemporary discussion of the ‘big questions’ concerning life, mind, and existence.
Distinguished Professor, University of Tasmania
Distinguished Visiting Professor, LaTrobe University