I know that several different philosophy currents touch the subject of what we are as humans, what does it mean to be alive, and if we are something transcendent to the mere bodily representation that we have. I am aware that there are great differences in what these philosophies proclaim.

Some of these currents conclude that we, as alive persons exist beyond the realm of pure physicality and continue to exist when our bodies cease to live. Furthermore, I think most religions are based on different philosophies on this side.

However, are there any specific philosophic currents that, along this path, have come to describe what could be concluded as paranormal? For instance, if A concludes that we exist beyond our bodies, but for X reason we may still interact with reality, then it would — naively — explain for what is popularly known as "ghosts", "appearances" and all that.

My question is: Do these philosophies, leading to the concept of para-normality, exist?

  • @stoicfury Hi, thanks for the great response and the edits, but I think the question and answer now drifts a little bit away of my original intent. While I do understand metaphysics and what they deal with, I haven't seen them supporting the idea of soul/anima/whatever manifesting themselves out of a regular body. If they do, then there's still a gap to call that "paranormal activity", and my question wonders on if anybody did close that gap between metaphysics and popular para-normality. – Alpha Aug 19 '12 at 20:41
  • Sorry for the misconstrual. Note that "metaphysics" is a singular term, so you would say "and what it deals with..." :P And yes, there is certainly talk of the soul there; the ancient philosophers up to Descartes wrote of the soul more than it is written of today, so you might start with them. As for "para-normality", you'll have to define that for us if you want us to be able to help guide you. By itself, that word doesn't really mean anything to me; I associate it with no known concept other than something that is not "normal", which is vague and ambiguous. What do you mean exactly? :) – stoicfury Aug 22 '12 at 1:30

The area of philosophy you are referring to does not typically use the term "paranormal". It falls under the category of metaphysics, the general field being Philosophy of Mind and the specific issue is known as the mind–body problem. The issue at hand is: what is the composition of the universe (and thereby, ourselves)?

At first glance one might claim, "Well, the universe is material, it is physical, for I can touch and feel things that seem to posses physical characteristics." The mind-body problem really is just a collection of arguments raised throughout the history of philosophy that suggest that the mind—mental phenomena—do not fall under this category of "physical", and therefore there must be more to the universe than physical things. There must be another realm, they say, where "thoughts" and perhaps "souls" must reside; what you might call the "paranormal" realm.

I'm personally not sure of any philosophers who touch upon the notion of "ghosts" in their writings on this topic, but the notion of souls is (was) a common topic. I say "was" only because the whole business of souls and dualism in general is not really a mainstream topic in contemporary philosophy of mind anymore.

The answer to your question, "Do these philosophies, leading to the concept of para-normality, exist?" is yes, they do. Monism, dualism, and pluralism are the foundational metaphysical categories of thought regarding the substance of the universe (one, two, or many, respectively), and positions such as physicalism, idealism, property dualism, and epiphenomenalism, are some examples of the many theories that fall under those categories. There's a lot of literature there, as you will see. I would begin by reading some of the articles I linked in this answer, perhaps trying some of the SEP versions as well, as a start, and see where that takes you.

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