Sharon Hewitt Rawlette

Sharon Hewitt Rawlette

Sharon Hewitt Rawlette

Writer, Philosopher and Consciousness Researcher

Sharon Hewitt Rawlette is a philosopher and interdisciplinary researcher specializing in anomalous phenomena and their implications for our understanding of consciousness. She is specifically interested in how the value and meaning intrinsic to conscious experience connect to the functioning of the physical world.

Rawlette earned her PhD in philosophy from New York University in 2008, studying under Thomas Nagel and writing her dissertation at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. From 2008 to 2010, she was Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Ethics at Brandeis University before leaving academia for an independent writing career. Her books include The Feeling of Value: Moral Realism Grounded in Phenomenal Consciousness (2016), The Source and Significance of Coincidences: A Hard Look at the Astonishing Evidence (2019), and Beyond Death: The Best Evidence for the Survival of Human Consciousness (2021), which was named a runner-up in the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS) 2021 essay contest. She currently serves on the BICS advisory board and is a supporting researcher for the International Centre for Reincarnation Research.

The Impossible Efficacy of Intention? Psi as a Model for Value-Based Holistic Causation

Amidst all the variety and extraordinary strangeness of “impossible” phenomena, there is at least one pattern that continually recurs: the apparent ability of our thoughts, emotions and intentions to manifest in the external world without a need for our awareness of the means by which this occurs. That is, we seem — impossibly — to be intermittently capable of directly willing into being states of affairs that we deem valuable.

In this talk, Sharon Hewitt Rawlette will suggest conceptualizing the phenomenon of direct willing as a form of holistic causation, operating by way of a nonlocal organizing principle. Rawlette will show how holistic causation is compatible with the evidence of the sciences and yet challenges some of the unjustified assumptions that dominate the current interpretation of this evidence.

Drawing on research from parapsychology, philosophy, physics, and biology, Rawlette will argue that holistic causation by direct willing can actually provide a useful model for understanding more familiar, everyday forms of mental causation, like the way our intentions influence the behavior of our bodies.

Rawlette will suggest that one of the most important advantages of this model is that it gives us a way of understanding how value — an irreducibly mental quality — can exert causal influence in a seemingly value-neutral physical world.