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The Superhumanities

Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities

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.

256 pages | 1 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2022

Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion

Religion: Philosophy of Religion, Theology, and Ethics, Religion and Society

Reviews

“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'

Table of Contents

Prologue. Teaching the Superman
Introduction. How the Book Came to Be
1. Legitimate Science Fiction: From the History of Religions to the Superhumanities
2. “The Truth Must Be Depressing”: Immunological Responses of the Intellectual Body
3. The Human as Two: Toward an Apophatic Anthropology
4. Theory as Two: Rewriting the Real
Conclusion. The Solid Rock Was Once Flowing
Epilogue. Phoenix Reborn
Acknowledgments and the Sigil
Notes
Index

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