Academic journal article Journal of Transpersonal Psychology

Completing Piaget's Project: Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of Psychology

Academic journal article Journal of Transpersonal Psychology

Completing Piaget's Project: Transpersonal Philosophy and the Future of Psychology

Article excerpt

DALE, EDWARD J. (2014). Completing Piaget's Project: Transpersonal philosophy and the future of psychology . St. Paul, MN: Paragon House. ix + 378 pp, ISBN: 978-1-55778-910-5. Paperback. $24.95. Reviewed by Jorge N. Ferrer.

Neo-Piagetian Transpersonal Psychology: Dancing In-Between Pluralism and Perennialism Essay Review

Building on a number of prior publications (e.g., Dale, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014a, 2014b), Edward J. Dale (2014c) has written a very signi^cant book that not only settles long-standing transpersonal disputes, but also bridges transpersonal and mainstream psychologies-and originally advances the development of a pluralistic transpersonal philosophy. In a way, Dale's new work contains two related-but-di^erent books. The ^rst part focuses on what I call ''the transpersonal Piaget,'' that is, the largely overlooked spiritual experiences, interests, and motivations in Piaget's life and work. Comprising most of the book, the second part applies insights from neo-Piagetian thinking and modern evolutionary biology to central questions of transpersonal studies, such as the dynamics of spiritual development and the challenges raised by religious pluralism. Since I have no scholarly expertise in (neo-)Piagetian psychology, in this review I summarize the ^rst part before discussing the second part in greater detail. I then identify three possible tensions or ambiguities in the book, which arguably emerge from Dale's commendable attempt to pave a middle path between a nai ve universalism andafragmented pluralism in transpersonal studies. I conclude with a strong endorsement of the book's merits, as well as a recommendation to transpersonal scholars to study it with the care and attention it surely deserves.


This section provides a short overview of Dale's account of Piaget's transpersonal leanings. I also discuss Dale's nonlinear paradigm of spiritual development and his related pluralistic vision of transpersonal philosophy.

The Transpersonal Piaget

Dale begins his book by developingapowerful case for the transpersonal foundations and ultimate goals of Piaget's life work. Through a comprehensive analysis of Piaget's writings, Dale has demonstrated that Piaget underwent a profound spiritual emergency (S. Grof & C. Grof, 1989) during his adolescence, was interested in the moral dimension of nonordinary states of consciousness, developed an immanentist theory of the divine, understood evolution as a journey toward God-realization, and sought to unify science and religion. Dale has argued that modern psychologists have consistently ignored these spiritual themes in Piaget's life and work, and that the recognition of the ''little known spiritual side of Piaget'' (p. 27) not only establishes ''Piaget [as] a transpersonal thinker ahead of his time'' (p. 1), but also can influence ''the direction of psychology in the future'' (p. 27).

While scholars of Piaget have yet to comment on Dale's exegesis of Piaget's corpus, Dale's alignment of one of the most influential psychologists of all time with transpersonal matters doubtlessly provides an invaluable service to the field of transpersonal psychology.1 On the one hand, Dale argues that transpersonal psychology has ''the potential to complete aspects of [Piaget's] work that he was unable to substantiate during his life'' (p. 27). On the other hand, Dale shows that the combination of Piagetian insights with recent developments in both modern biology and transpersonal psychology shapes a neo-Piagetian or genetic transpersonal psychology. He then characterizes genetic transpersonal psychology as not only intrinsically nonlinear and strongly pluralistic, but also crucial for the future of psychological research in general. As the two main features of Dale's neo-Piagetian psychology are of particular importance to contemporary transpersonal debates, the next two sections address nonlinear transpersonal development and a pluralistic transpersonal philosophy, which are interrelated. …

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