The Babylonian Lottery – Academic Endorsements

Academic Endorsements for  The Babylonian Lottery, Vol.2 of Douglas Lockhart’s trilogy “The Perennial Philosophy Revisited”

In this highly-readable, thoughtful, and wide‑ranging study, Douglas Lockhart draws on the work of religious thinkers, mystics, philosophers, psychologists, and more besides, by way of pursuing the possibility that trans‑linguistic forms of experience and understanding may open to us that disclose more meaningful levels of experience and, just possibly, reality than are commonly accepted by the rational, analytical mind. If this possibility intrigues you, then you will find a wealth of ideas to conjure with and directions to explore in this fascinating study.

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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The Babylonian Lottery is an important book, grounded in a huge amount of thought and learning, and arguing the really big questions. More to the point, the argument is persuasive – it challenged me and actually changed my position on a number of things. Lockhart returns us to a serious exploration of the interior dimensions of mind, or psyche, and it is testimony to Lockhart’s judgment that in seeking to go ‘beyond the limits of language’ he has remained alert to the dangers inherent in such an exercise. The resulting argument is a condensation of a life-time of thought by a serious thinker unconstrained by the petty requirements and peer pressures which diminish the work of so many academics.

Returning us to a serious exploration of mind all but outlawed by a dominant intellectual culture divided between scientistic reductionism and a postmodern  “language-all-the-way-down” stance, Lockhart fruitfully explores past and present approaches to the study of mind and consciousness, and unapologetically challenges us to face the fact that the mind/body problem has not yet received a satisfactory philosophical solution.

Jean Curthoys, author of Victor Dudmans Grammar and Semantics

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‘The Babylonian Lottery’ continues Douglas Lockhart’s exploration of religious experience, this time extending it to the domains of psychology, sociology and philosophy. The question posed is ‘what is a sacred encounter?’ or, in fact, ‘what is the very nature of religious experience’? In developing an approach to this question Lockhart takes us for an exploratory trip through various religious and secular attempts to provide a clear answer. Philosophers invariably point to our cognitive capacities and to the inbuilt limitations those capacities reveal. Psychologists look into individual minds and their modes of operation. Sociologists try to ‘anchor’ religious experience in various forms of social experience. The key problem with these typically reductionist interpretations, however, is to mistrust claimed experiences of transcendence due to the absence of a language that can communicate the underlying, complex nature of those experiences. The multi-levelled answer proposed by Lockhart – as original and as exciting as one would expect of this unique thinker – is that we dearly need a more penetrative overview of religious experience free from the current postmodern tendency to view all religious experience as irrational. Restrictive dogma is shown to exist not only in religious thinking, but also, alas, in our major intellectual disciplines. In Lockhart’s view we have to question the ‘traditional interpretations’ offered by religion, science and philosophy to explain, or explain away, well-attested to experiences of an unusual kind. Only by doing so can we avoid disallowing creative human sensibility and end up reducing ourselves to the level of duped automatons. Lockhart’s books, especially ‘The Babylonian Lottery’, amply provides a rational trajectory to accomplish this difficult task.

 Professor Jan Palkulski
School of Sociology and Social Work
University of Tasmania, Australia

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The ‘linguistic turn’ has been a characteristic feature of much philosophical thinking over the last half century or more. But has that turn led us to overlook key experiential elements that shed a different light on our understanding of ourselves and the world?  Continuing his life-long rethinking of key issues at the intersection of philosophy, religion, and psychology, Douglas Lockhart’s The Babylonian Lottery addresses this central question, arguing for a turn back to a level of immediate experience that our preoccupation with language all too readily obscures. Written in an engaging, lively and accessible style, Lockhart steers the reader on an intriguing voyage through a diverse range of literature, deftly drawing together insights from writers, scientists, philosophers and visionaries, and in so doing, providing a clear elaboration of his own vision of the limits of religion and the expansiveness of mind.

Jeff Malpas,
Distinguished Professor, University of Tasmania
Distinguished Visiting Professor, LaTrobe University