Consciousness Unbound: Liberating Mind from the Tyranny of Materialism

Co-edited with Edward F. Kelly

Additional contributors: [to follow]

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2021. Coming soon!

“Building on the groundbreaking research of Irreducible Mind and Beyond Physicalism, Edward Kelly and Paul Marshall gather a cohort of leading scholars to consider the significance of extraordinary experiences for our understanding of reality. Currently emerging as a middle ground between warring fundamentalisms of religion and science, an expanded science-based understanding of nature finally accommodates empirical realities of spiritual sorts while also rejecting rationally untenable overbeliefs.

The vision sketched here provides an antidote to the prevailing postmodern disenchantment of the world and demeaning of human possibilities. It not only more accurately and fully reflects our human condition but engenders hope and encourages ego-surpassing forms of human flourishing. It offers reasons for us to believe that freedom is real, that our human choices matter, and that we have barely scratched the surface of our human potentials. It also addresses the urgent need for a greater sense of worldwide community and interdependence—a sustainable ethos—by demonstrating that under the surface we and the world are much more extensively interconnected than previously recognized.”

Publisher webpage

The Shape of the Soul: What Mystical Experience Tells Us About Ourselves and Reality


Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019.

“When Paul Marshall began to pay attention to his dreams, he could not have anticipated the transformative experience that would follow. A tremendous expansion of consciousness exposed the insignificance of his everyday self but also revealed unsuspected depths of mind and hinted at a deeper self that holds the universe within.

In The Shape of the Soul, Marshall—now a mysticism scholar—draws on personal experiences, along with a wealth of religious, philosophical, and scientific ideas, to explore this deeper self, sometimes experienced in mystical and near-death states as spherical in form. Drawing inspiration from the philosophers Plotinus and Leibniz, Marshall takes mind to be more fundamental than matter and views the basic units of nature as perceptual beings. We ourselves are such beings, striving for fulfilment in a long evolutionary journey of soul-making.

Bringing together mysticism, philosophy, biology, and even some physics, The Shape of the Soul offers a deeply integrated vision of the self and the universe. Addressing the mind–body problem, the origin of the world, evolution, reincarnation, suffering, and the nature of God, Marshall delivers what will surely prove an intellectual classic.”

Publisher webpage

Beyond Physicalism: Toward Reconciliation of Science and Religion

beyond physicalism

Co-edited with Edward F. Kelly and Adam Crabtree

Additional contributors: Michael Grosso, David E. Presti, Henry P. Stapp, Harald Atmanspacher, Wolfgang Fach, Gregory Shaw, Ian Whicher, Loriliai Biernacki, Eric M. Weiss, Michael Murphy.

Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 (paperback 2019).

“The rise of modern science has brought with it increasing acceptance among intellectual elites of a worldview that conflicts sharply both with everyday human experience and with beliefs widely shared among the world s great cultural traditions. Most contemporary scientists and philosophers believe that reality is at bottom purely physical, and that human beings are nothing more than extremely complicated biological machines. On such views our everyday experiences of conscious decision-making, free will, and the self are illusory by-products of the grinding of our neural machinery. It follows that mind and personality are necessarily extinguished at death, and that there exists no deeper transpersonal or spiritual reality of any sort.

  Beyond Physicalism is the product of an unusual fellowship of scientists and humanities scholars who dispute these views. In their previous publication, Irreducible Mind, they argued that physicalism cannot accommodate various well-evidenced empirical phenomena including paranormal or psi phenomena, postmortem survival, and mystical experiences. In this new theory-oriented companion volume they go further by attempting to understand how the world must be constituted in order that these rogue phenomena can occur. Drawing upon empirical science, metaphysical philosophy, and the mystical traditions, the authors work toward an improved big picture of the general character of reality, one which strongly overlaps territory traditionally occupied by the world s institutional religions, and which attempts to reconcile science and spirituality by finding a middle path between the polarized fundamentalisms, religious and scientific, that have dominated recent public discourse.”

Publisher webpage

Mystical Encounters with the Natural World: Experiences and Explanations

mystical encounters with the natural world

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

“Some experiences of the natural world bring a sense of unity, knowledge, self-transcendence, eternity, light, and love. This is the first detailed study of these intriguing phenomena. Paul Marshall explores the circumstances, characteristics, and after-effects of this important but relatively neglected type of mystical experience, and critiques explanations that range from the spiritual and metaphysical to the psychoanalytic, contextual, and neuropsychological. The theorists discussed include R. M. Bucke, Edward Carpenter, W. R. Inge, Evelyn Underhill, Rudolf Otto, Sigmund Freud, Aldous Huxley, R. C. Zaehner, W. T. Stace, Steven Katz, and Robert Forman, as well as contemporary neuroscientists. The book makes a significant contribution to current debates about the nature of mystical experience.”

Publisher webpage

Oxford Scholarship Online webpage

Google Books webpage

The Living Mirror: Images of Reality in Science and Mysticism

living mirror

London: Samphire Press, 1992 (revised edition 2006).

“How can human experience, vibrant with colours, sounds, flavours, emotions and meanings, arise from the skeletal dance of matter depicted in the physical sciences? Today the mind-body problem confronts not only metaphysicians and moral philosophers, but also workers in the fields of cognitive science, artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Paul Marshall offers a radical solution to the mind-body problem by rejecting the idea of a purely material world and asserting instead the primacy of experience. As many have recognized before, experience is not reducible to material bodies and processes alone. Marshall goes a step further and suggests that the matter investigated by modern science corresponds to structural features of an experiential universe that supports and includes our familiar experiences. Utilizing clues furnished by mystical experience and responding to a challenge posed by the physics of motion, Marshall takes up Leibniz’s philosophy of ‘living mirrors’ and arrives at a holistic world-picture that has suggestive links with quantum physics and the visionary cosmologies of East and West.”

Google Books webpage