The End of Materialism

The End of Materialism by Charles T. Tart

Professor Tart’s Latest Book: The End of Materialism

Introduction | Endorsements | Errata (corrections) | Purchase

Charles T. Tart is internationally known for his more than 50 years of research on the nature of consciousness, altered states of consciousness (ASCs) and parapsychology, and is one of the founders of the field of Transpersonal (spiritual) Psychology. His and other scientists’ work convinced him that there is a real and vitally important sense in which we are spiritual beings, but the too dominant, scientistic, materialist philosophy of our times, masquerading as genuine science, dogmatically denies any possible reality to the spiritual. This hurts people, it pressures them to reject vital aspects of their being.

Professor Tart writes:

I am proud to finally announce the 2009 publication of what may be my most important book, The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together. Three+ years to write, fifty+ years to prepare to write.

I met with a dozen staff members of my publisher, New Harbinger, in Oakland in late 2008, and they asked me to tell them, in a few words, why the book was important? What could they tell potential readers? I responded with a question: how many of them had some sort of personal spiritual practice, such as meditation or prayer?

I had just met these folks, so this was a rather personal question to ask them to respond to in front of a group, but this was California, we’re supposed to be honest and open folks, and after a few seconds everybody’s hand went up.

I looked at them gravely, and after a few seconds of silence told them that, if I spoke from the apparent position of a modern scientist, which I certainly was, I would have to tell them that they were all fools! Ignorant fools at best, neurotic fools at worst. Didn’t they know that science had long ago shown that all religion and spirituality were nonsense, the only reality was that of the physical world?

Like most of us, I have a strong need to be liked, so I felt like I was taking a risk in calling them fools, but I wanted to quickly get across the main thrust of The End of Materialism: in modern life many of us do believe that science has shown all spirituality to be nonsense. Yet my experience, both personally and professionally, has convinced me that there is some real and vitally important sense in which we do have a spiritual nature, and to deny and repress it wounds and lessens us. If you think the smartest people in your culture, the scientists, have proven your spiritual feelings to be dumb and neurotic, of course you try to suppress them….but yet….. So many modern people are thus wounded.

But my scientific work, as well as that of many colleagues, has shown me that, properly applied, essential science has actually provided a great deal of support for the reality of some kind of spiritual nature for us, so the suffering that comes from denial and suppression is unnecessary and useless. The main thrust of The End of Materialism is to give readers the kind of data that allowed me to reach a personal resolution where I can be both devoted to science and trying to develop and practice my spiritual side. If two living people, for example, can occasionally demonstrate telepathic communication under tightly controlled laboratory conditions, something we have considerable evidence for, is the idea of prayer, an inherently telepathic kind of communication with someone/something beyond us inherently nonsensical? I don’t think so!

Free Screensaver based on Charles Tart's End of Materialism book made by Lawrence Digges

Of course there are nonsensical elements mixed in with religion and spirituality: that’s true for all areas of human life. But to totally deny our spiritual nature, as science apparently does, harms and inhibits people. Indeed, a deeper look shows that it’s not science that denies our spirituality, it’s scientism, a rigid philosophy of materialism, masquerading as science.

I think the New Harbinger folks ended up liking me at the end, and they got the point. The End of Materialism is aimed at reducing useless human suffering by showing people that it’s rational and sensible to be both scientifically and spiritually oriented. And of course it’s a good read about what parapsychology has discovered in the last hundred years of research.

New Harbinger is in the business of selling books, so they like to advertise the book with things like quotes from leading figures who like the book, or mentioning that the forward to the book is by one of the world’s foremost scholars of religion, Huston Smith and his wife Kendra, but my style is this more personal introduction. I’ve attached a photo of the book cover to make this page pretty, put in some of the endorsements below, and made the title into links for convenient purchase from Amazon (but lots of web places and some book stores have it too). But basically if you (or your friends) have ever found your spiritual interests and aspirations inhibited or held back because you think science has shown spirituality is all nutty and dumb, I think you’ll find The End of Materialism helpful.

Charles T. Tart


“Amid the flurry in science about genes, neurons, and neurotransmitters, another quiet revolution has been building for several decades. It involves a view of consciousness in which the mind is not confined to specific points in space or time, such as the brain, body, and the present. In The End of Materialism, legendary psychologist and psi researcher Charles Tart assembles the pieces of this new picture. He is eminently qualified to do so, as he helped invent the new image of consciousness through five decades of meticulous research. Tart’s inspiring, majestic image of consciousness will prevail because of two compelling reasons: it is built on good science and it more fully accounts for who we humans are and how we behave.”

— Larry Dossey, MD, author of The Power of Premonitions and Healing Words

“Prescient! This book represents the next step in the geotransformational processes that are altering modern concepts of borders, social structures, wealth, and governance. The precepts are at once omnipresent and historical, yet often elusive or rejected. Buoyed by a confluence of cataclysmic socioeconomic upheaval, a growing awareness of paradoxes not explained by traditional science, and an innate human longing for understanding, Charles Tart succinctly provides a blueprint for metamorphosis to an evidence-based spiritual awakening for Western cultures.”

— John B. Alexander, Ph.D., counselor at the Society for Scientific Exploration

“If you would like a clear, readable, and eminently fair-minded introduction to some of today’s most contentious scientific topics, here is a book for you.”

— Roger Walsh, MD, Ph.D., professor at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Essential Spirituality

“This beautifully written book is not only a masterful survey of parapsychology and psychical research, but also a thoughtful analysis of scientific inquiry and how it can be used to explore and explain the spiritual aspects of human nature. Combining laboratory evidence, case studies, and his own extensive experience as a scientist and spiritual seeker, Charles Tart skewers the postulates of a materialistic worldview that for too long has ignored vast areas of the human potential.”

— Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., coeditor, Varieties of Anomalous Experience

“This book is an outstanding contribution to the emerging dialogue between science and spirituality. Tart makes a persuasive argument for questioning common assumptions about the nature of reality, thoroughly grounded in solid research. This is essential reading for anyone interested in the farther reaches of human awareness.

— Frances Vaughan, Ph.D., psychologist and author of Shadows of the Sacred

The End of Materialism is brilliant. This is the book Tart has obviously been working up to all his life.”

— Colin Wilson

“An extraordinary accomplishment in parapsychology by an enlightened experimental psychologist in the tradition of William James.”

— Eugene Taylor, Ph.D., executive faculty at Saybrook Graduate School, lecturer on psychiatry at Harvard Medical School

“A remarkable tour de force that will hopefully end forever the argument that science and the spiritual are opposed to one another. This wonderful collection of facts and arguments, written in a good-natured, almost conversational style, makes it easy to loosen yourself from your preconceptions and enjoy seeing reality more clearly and completely. We have needed such a book for a long time.”

— James Fadiman, Ph.D., co-founder of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology

“A truly seminal work based on lifetime of research and careful thought that not only challenges, but overturns the dominant scientific paradigm. Tart patiently explains the reasons for scientific resistance to parapsychology and spirituality, providing a comprehensive overview of the field and its implications for the nature of human existence. Compulsory reading for scientists and spiritual seekers alike.”

— David Lorimer, program director of The Scientific and Medical Network

“In The End of Materialism, Charles Tart has distilled a wealth of knowledge derived from his empirical study of human experiences that points to the presence of the spiritual in the world. Tart’s characteristic humor and sense of fun shine through the text again and again, but always against the background of his wisdom, acquired over a lifetime of pondering the mystery of what it means to be human. This is the book for those who value an approach to the spiritual that is both scientific and richly personal in tone.”

— Adam Crabtree, author of Multiple Man and Trance Zero

A vitally important book for these times of conflicts between materialism and the transcendent dimension of human experience. It puts belief in spirituality on a scientific basis, not just a matter of faith. This book dramatically shows that serious scientific study of so-called paranormal events reveals a wider reality than the meaningless physical materialism usually found in science.

Dr Tart, himself an eminent researcher and theorist, builds a case for the reality of spiritual experiences, based on solid scientific studies. The book challenges the myth that the material world is all that exists. Tart points to careful studies of ESP, spiritual healing, near death experiences, cosmic consciousness, and even reincarnation that imply dimensions of the self that go beyond physical laws.

Tart not only gives the scientific evidence for the reality of spiritual experiences, he writes personally about feelings, thoughts, and ideas that weave through these challenging perspectives. The book is readable and personal, as well as scientific and informative.

This book is a bridge between open minded science and spiritual events and experiences. Tart draws from his personal experiences, case studies, and wide spiritual literature, as well as scientific investigations. Rarely has there been a book so readable on these important topics.

Tart writes in a clear conversational style, posing questions, and providing personal reflections that reveal his thinking as he weaves together spiritual perspectives, research, examples, and challenging, yet persuasive ideas about the interactions of the mental, spiritual, and physical.

This book builds a case against the unvalidated, materialistic assumption that is held in most scientific thought, which asserts that we are conditioned mechanistic beings in a world with no values or meaning. Tart documents evidence from scientific research on ESP, spiritual healing, near death experiences, cosmic consciousness, and case studies that point to wider realities beyond materialism. Tart’s point is that science and spirituality are not in opposition. It is our minds that are closed, and this book can open them, or at least start them thinking.

Most welcome is Tart’s conversational style with the reader about research and experience of the worlds beyond the material. He writes about them matter-of-factly, and discusses the problems, questions, and beliefs that arise when these are investigated. He draws from his personal experiences, case studies, and wide spiritual literature as well as scientific studies.

Amusing, and yet serious is Tart’s suggestion of a Western scientific (materialistic) creed, which begins “I believe in the material universe” and asserts that all values and meaning are determined by conditioning and biology, free will is an illusion, life has no purpose, and the mind is just the brain. This is not a belief system that most people live by, and Tart brings scientific data to challenge such limiting beliefs.

— Arthur Hastings, Ph.D., Professor, Director of the William James Institute for Consciousness Studies, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, and author of With the Tongues of Men and Angels, A Study of Channeling

A faculty member at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, scientist Tart (Altered States of Consciousness, On Being Stoned) spent more than 50 years studying the paranormal. In this challenge to traditional science and spirituality, Tart employs scientific skepticism and an open mind (both essential to interpreting results “as objectively as possible”) to question the seeming contradiction between “the formal, rational rules of science, which have worked so well in understanding the physical world” and “behaviors that cannot be reduced to materialistic explanations.” To substantiate his thesis, Tart analyzes a number of scientific paranormal experiments: distinguishing the color of face-down cards, testing the hypothesis that feedback training improves telepathic ability, attempts to show a relationship between electromagnetism and clairvoyance, etc. Elsewhere, Tart makes intriguing comparisons between out-of-the-body experiences and near-death experiences, both of which support (but don’t prove) the phenomenon of “postmortem survival” (children who “remember” past lives are also examined). While admitting that he has no “final, absolutely certain, and wonderful answers,” Tart covers a wide range of phenomena (remote viewing, psychic healing, mediumship) and leaves readers much to ponder.

Publisher’s Weekly (Apr.2009)

The End of Materialism is a thoughtful and penetrating book that shows how an open minded look at psychic phenomena can undercut the tendency of scientists to reject not only the possibility of mind influencing brain but also broader spiritual realities. Tart is a scientist, hardly anti-science, and clearly believes that science has something to offer. What he counters is not science but the tendency to the materialist reductionism known as scientism. He is a man and a meditator as well, and holds that spiritual and the growth of meaning in life also have something to contribute to our knowledge. Out of this dynamic tension he combines in creative ways his own life experiences with careful research and science.

The End of Materialism is a must read for anyone who is curious about psychic experiences and open minded enough to explore them without assuming to know the answers. This is an important contribution and a good read.

— Robert Forman, Ph.D., Professor of Religion, founder of the Forge Institute, and co-founder of the Journal of Consciousness Studies

The end of Materials dynamic cover



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