The Veridicality of Near-Death Experiences

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I have just started writing my PhD thesis and  I have decided to share this journey with my audience through my blogs.  Every now and then, I will post my thoughts, ideas and questions on my developing thesis.  Here is my first post on the topic itself.

My thesis is entitled, The Veridicality of Near-Death Experiences.  The central question is: Are near-death experiences veridical?  Are they real?

What is a near-death experience? A near-death experience is an experience from the first person point of view of the dying person in an altered state of consciousness.  For example, a person has a heart attack.  His heart stops and he needs to be revived.  When he is revived, he awakes with a story to tell about what has happened to him during his ordeal.  He may speak about having left his body and having entered into another world.  The experience is somewhat similar to a mystical experience.

Traditionally, near-death experiences are thought to have five key elements: 1) peace and sense of well-being; 2) separation from the body; 3) entering the darkness, 4) seeing the light and, 5) entering the light.  In addition to the basic narrative, there are other, less universal, elements that might be a part of the experience.

What does veridicality mean?  Instead of the word “veridical”, I could have used the word “real”.  Most people understand the word “real” much better.  However, I avoided this word because it has been overused in philosophy and its meaning is unclear.  “Veridical” comes from the Latin words “verus” and “dicere”, which means truth telling.  Veridicality simply means that it has a close relationship with the truth.  Something is veridical when it tells the truth about itself.  The word is mostly used in philosophy of religion in relationship to mystical and religious experiences.

Basically, my topic is the truth-telling of near-death experiences.  The question is whether NDEs are telling the truth about themselves.  The thesis has an epistemological approach, but it reaches into areas of philosophy of religion and metaphysics.  It includes scientific studies and personal anecdotes, as well.

This is the topic I’ve always wanted to work on for my PhD.  This is my topic.  I am going to have a wonderful time writing it!  Wish me luck!

M. J. Mandoki

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