Avoiding the columbus confusion: An Ockhamish view of near-death research
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The positive aftereffects of near-death experiences (NDEs) are sometimes regarded as due to the possibility that they may be “visions of the beyond.” But that notion could be a serious misconception, similar to what I call the “Columbus Confusion.” Five hundred years ago, Christopher Columbus's belief that he had found a new route to India prevented him from realizing that he had discovered a new continent. Likewise, contemporary belief that NDEs are glimpses of an afterlife may prevent us from realizing their more profound nature. Belief in an afterlife has not historically brought humanity a high quality of life, but NDEs seem reliably to do so, and may offer important clues about why the expanded vitality, the “eternity-consciousness,” of the mystics is commonly blocked. Those clues are obscured by popular emphasis on that minority of NDEs that resemble otherworld journeys.
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