Book Review: Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Mind-Body Connection Page: 459
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between opposing camps that in other respects the book appeared to
try to avoid.
At the outset my attention was caught by the strong antipathy ex-
pressed against Cartesian dualism in Western thought. The author's
background as an Italian with a particular interest in Japan-she
spent a year at the University of Tokyo participating in the Program
on the Construction of Death and Life Studies-is clearly relevant
to her multi-cultural approach. I wondered whether there was a clue
about her personal preoccupations in an aside in the first chapter that
she worked as a professional model in Milan and London for some
years and became convinced that real beauty comes from the spiri-
tuality of the material body. "Never before," she lamented, "have we
spent so much money on beauty treatments and products, rejuvenation
remedies, and so on, pretending to be younger and smarter" (p. 9).
In place of dualism Corazza comes out strongly for the non-dualist
and non-reductionist concept of embodiment advanced by Eastern
commentators, notably the Japanese philosopher Yasuo Yuasa. This
perspective reflects a holistic view of the human body whereby the
function of the mind is not only related to the brain but also to the
rest of the body. Corazza considered this to be a new and important
approach, relevant to both Eastern and Western theories of mind-body
as well as to contemporary brain research, and she asserted that it
offered "a new and improved understanding not only of what human
beings are, but of what they can become" (p. 4). I considered this a bold
claim, one that, again, considering the dramatically unembodied na-
ture of NDEs, left me keenly anticipating the direction her argument
would take with regard to this particular phenomenon.
Chapter One is chiefly concerned with laying out the attractions
of the non-dualist approach to consciousness-describing Husserl's
phenomenology, its influence in Japan, and its recent revaluation in
cognitive science as neurophenomenology-and highlighting the need
for a recognition of the primacy of lived experience if David Chalm-
ers' so-called 'hard problem' of consciousness is ever to be resolved.
Here the reader finds references to William James' idea that humans
have 'fields of consciousness' and Rupert Sheldrake's parallel theory of
the 'extended mind' formulated in his 2003 book The Sense of Being
Stared at and Other Aspects of the Extended Mind.
Chapter Two summarizes NDE reports and research, from myths
of afterlife journeys and the origin of near-death studies to examples
of actual experiences, with extended quotes. This presentation is quite
thorough: Among other things the author covers children's NDEs; car-
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McLuhan, Robert. Book Review: Near-Death Experiences: Exploring the Mind-Body Connection, review, Summer 2011; Durham, North Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc461692/m1/2/: accessed December 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .