Towards an Epistemology of Inner Experience

  • Harald WalachEmail author
Part of the Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality book series (SNCS, volume 2)


Meditation research in the West has so far been a view onto the meditator from the outside, that is from a third-person perspective. Using inner experience, i.e. a first-person perspective, is uncommon, mostly because we do not have a reliable methodology, but also, because the prevalent mindset within science holds that such an enterprise is, ontologically speaking, of not much use. As long as consciousness is seen as purely derivative of matter and secondary to it, it cannot possibly have its own epistemological access to reality. I sketch here the historical conditions and systematic requirements that are necessary for an epistemology of inner experience to work. I hold that inner experience is not only a viable but also necessary mode of insight for a science that is more than natural science in the current sense. Many aspects of knowledge, such as values, creative insights into new theoretical models, intuition about new and fruitful avenues of research are strictly speaking only available to a first-person perspective and hence results of inner experience. The preconditions of such an epistemology are being discussed in this chapter.


Default Mode Network Sense Experience Scientific Enterprise Pure Consciousness Descriptive Psychology 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European University ViadrinaFrankfurt (Oder)Germany
  2. 2.Samueli Institute, European OfficeFrankfurt (Oder)Germany

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