Noetic Sciences

AUTHORS:

From the Institute of Noetic Sciences, IONS:

no•et•ic: From the Greek noēsis / noētikos, meaning inner wisdom, direct knowing, or subjective understanding.

sci•ence: Systems of acquiring knowledge that use observation, experimentation, and replication to describe and explain natural phenomena.

no•et•ic sci•ences: A multidisciplinary field that brings objective scientific tools and techniques together with subjective inner knowing to study the full range of human experiences.


For centuries, philosophers from Plato forward have used the term noetic to refer to experiences that pioneering psychologist William James (1902) described as:

…states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority.

The term noetic sciences was first coined in 1973 when the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) was founded by Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, who two years earlier became the sixth man to walk on the moon. Ironically, it was the trip back home that Mitchell recalls most, during which he felt a profound sense of universal connectedness—what he later described as a samadhi experience. In Mitchell’s own words, “The presence of divinity became almost palpable, and I knew that life in the universe was not just an accident based on random processes. . . .The knowledge came to me directly.”

It led him to conclude that reality is more complex, subtle, and mysterious than conventional science had led him to believe. Perhaps a deeper understanding of consciousness (inner space) could lead to a new and expanded understanding of reality in which objective and subjective, outer and inner, are understood as co-equal aspects of the miracle of being. It was this intersection of knowledge systems that led Dr. Mitchell to launch the interdisciplinary field of noetic sciences.

Read more about IONS’ influence in the creation and execution of Kindred’s nonprofit mission in editor, Lisa Reagan’s article, Our Consciousness Journey.

See also cultural creatives (the book sponsored by IONS), the Blue Marble, earthrise, and New Story

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