After what has seemed like a very long wait, A Philosophical Critique of Empirical Arguments for Postmortem Survival (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) was released earlier this month, quickly appearing on the Amazon Best Sellers list in the category of books in analytic philosophy (reaching #3 in the top 100, and #1 new release). The Contents, Preface, and Chapter 1 are available for viewing at Palgrave, Amazon (Kindle Edition), and on the homepage at michaelsudduth.com. Due to the high volume of purchases (a pleasant surprise), Amazon has the book on back order for the fourth time since its release, with another stock expected this coming week. I’m working with the marketing department at Palgrave to ensure that the book gets to distributors like Amazon in a timely manner. I’ve also created a Facebook page – Philosophy of Postmortem Survival – for the book that provides updates and links to various related resources.
Although the book has been published, I continue with writing projects on the topic of survival, which will no doubt include responses to critics once readers have digested the book and its arguments. I can only hope that the critical engagement with my arguments, which I certainly welcome, will exceed in quality some of the strange emails and incoherent Facebook rants I’ve received from a small number of disgruntled survivalists. By contrast, while writing my book and subsequent to its completion, I’ve had some promising discussions with other philosophers and some survival researchers who are interested in participating in and collaborating on critical work in this area.
One of the aims of my book was to help build a bridge between survival research and the tradition of analytic philosophy, something analogous to the constructive dialogue that emerged between analytic philosophy and philosophy of religion in the last century. While theistic philosophers, mainly in the Christian tradition, have made a number of important contributions to the philosophy of postmortem survival over the past thirty years, the specific topic of empirical arguments has been largely sidelined since the death of C.D. Broad and H.H. Price. The interest expressed by a handful of philosophers of religion (e.g. HD Lewis and John Hick) has been something of an exception. However, the Immortality Project at UC Riverside (under the direction of philosopher John Martin Fischer) provides some reason for optimism that a broader range of mainstream philosophers will help advance the exploration of the empirical dimensions to the question of life after death. Perhaps the forthcoming Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife (Oxford University Press, May 2016), co-authored by John Martin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin, will make an important contribution to this.
In the coming months I’ll continue blogging on topics related to my book. I’ll begin this in my next blog (tentatively scheduled for publication on Thanksgiving this coming week), by discussing neuroscientist Sam Harris’ critique of near-death experiences as evidence for life after death, specifically Harris’ critique of Eben Alexander’s book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife (2012). Harris blogged on this in October 2012 and November 2012, and incorporated his critical remarks in chapter 5 of his more recent Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion (2014). In a recent but brief exchange with Alexander on Facebook, I told him that I think Harris is essentially correct in his negative evaluation. Alexander begs to differ and appealed to Bernardo Kastrup’s 2012 critique of Harris as something of a definitive refutation of Harris’ arguments. I’ll comment on Harris’ argument and show why Kastrup’s response falls considerably short of a refutation. Indeed, Kastrup failed even to understand Harris’ critique of Alexander.
In the meantime, and since many people have asked, I provide here an updated list (with links) of my main blogs on postmortem survival since 2013.