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Toward a Science of Consciousness III: The Third Tucson Discussions and Debates (Complex Adaptive Systems): Stuart R. Hameroff, Alfred W. Kaszniak, David J. Chalmers
The MIT Press | ISBN: 0262581817 | 1999-10-29 | PDF (OCR) | 200 pages | 3.42 Mb
Can there be a science of consciousness? This issue has been the focus of three landmark conferences sponsored by the University of Arizona in Tucson. The first two conferences and books have become touchstones for the field. This volume presents a selection of invited papers from the third conference. It showcases recent progress in this maturing field by researchers from philosophy, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, phenomenology, and physics. It is divided into nine sections: the explanatory gap, color, neural correlates of consciousness, vision, emotion, the evolution and function of consciousness, physical reality, the timing of conscious experience, and phenomenology. Each section is preceded by an overview and commentary by the editors.
Contributors: Dick J. Bierman, Jeffrey Burgdorf, A. Graham Cairns-Smith, William H. Calvin, Christian de Quincey, Frank H. Durgin, Vittorio Gallese, Elizabeth L. Glisky, Melvyn A. Goodale, Richard L. Gregory, Scott Hagan, C. Larry Hardin, C. A. Heywood, Masayuki Hirafuji, Nicholas Humphrey, Harry T. Hunt, Piet Hut, Alfred W. Kaszniak, Robert W. Kentridge, Stanley A. Klein, Charles D. Laughlin, Joseph Levine, Lianggang Lou, Shimon Malin, A. David Milner, Steven Mithen, Martine Nida-Rumelin, Stephen Palmer, Jaak Panksepp, Dean Radin, Steven Z. Rapcsak, Sheryl L. Reminger, Antti Revonsuo, Gregg H. Rosenberg, Yves Rossetti, Jeffrey M. Schwartz, Jonathan Shear, Galen Strawson, Robert Van Gulick, Frances Vaughan, Franz X. Vollenweider, B. Alan Wallace, Douglas F. Watt, Larry Weiskrantz, Fred A. Wolf, Kunio Yasue, Arthur Zajonc.
Summary: Fish oblivious of ocean - the West's self-induced paradox
The third and final volume of these Tucson debates is considerably smaller than the mammoth Tucson II. It is as usual a mixed bag hitting a low with the incredible Science as the creation of Darwinian "just-so" story tautologies by psychologist Nicholas Humphrey. The vacuous neo-Darwinian argument that things are as they are as they had to evolve that way is repeated yet again by Humphrey for consciousness as if he has made some profound discovery!!!
If one can point to any progress over the course of these conferences in the mid-1990s it was that Tucson III ends with a final section on Phenomenology with eight chapters - the best of which is by B. Alan Wallace on Buddhist Phenomenology. Many of these chapters refer to the need to learn from Hindu/Buddhist yogic phenomenology (many New-Age types are very biased towards Tibetan Buddhism)and Husserlian phenomenology as the only way to really understand Consciousness with its transformations into different states of which mainstream Western philosophy and science are totally ignorant. But even these chapters often start well pointing out the deficiencies of Western approaches but then the authors' own models are themselves based on the same sort of culturally-limited assumptions which they had only moments earlier been criticising! It is truly hard to shake off indoctrinations! For instance, Laughlin holds to the Neuronal Man myth and views consciousness as some emergent phenomenon in central nervous systems with no ontological argument to justify his views. Harry Hunt tries to explain away the mystical Light in terms of Gibson's sensory optical array and reduce profound ontological claims to simple, trivial metaphors! The great mystics all assert that the Light is NOT a sensory phenomenon and sensory processes are stopped in deep mysticism!!! Jonathan Shear conflates Kant's Transcendental Unity of Apprehension or "Transcendental Ego" with the mystical Pure Consciousness when the yogic traditions make it clear that the Ego is not the same as the Deeper Self of the Pure Consciousness and that the subject/object duality disappears only when the Ego dissolves into the Light of Pure Consciousness!!!
In the first section on the "Explanatory Gap" Galen Strawson begins to appreciate the Neutral Monist panpsychist position but then refuses to budge from conceptions of "physical reality"- a term also used by Hameroff without any self-questioning. Only physicist Malin discussing Schrodinger's concept of Objectivation of Nature by Science and Whitehead's 'occasions' as "throbs" of experience (just like the Spanda (vibrations) of Nondual Kashmiri Shaivism) and astrophysicist Piet Hut who points out that we only know the outside ("physical") world as part of our internal subjective world and that a new metaphysical basis to science is needed begin to grasp that Objectivation is the despiritualization of Nature by abstraction and mistaking the concept for Reality itself! Harry Hunt makes a good point as to what whether the conference is about a Science of Consciousness or moving toward a Spiritualization of Science. All this confusion stems from the Mind/Body dualism which, as Werner Heisenberg pointed out in Physics and Philosophy, permeates the whole of Western Thought. Its roots go well beyond Descartes to the Christian myth of Creatio ex nihilo in which Nature is created out of Absolute Nothing by an anthropomorphic God completely separate from Creation (i.e. Spirit/Nature dualism). To cut a long story short, no resolution of the problem of consciousness in the West will come till the universal Light Pure Consciousness (the No-thing-ness Plenum/Void)is understood as the Ground of All Being and the physical World as a manifestation through energetic vibrations. The Buddhist/Whiteheadian emphasis on the energetic vibrations as discontinuities ignoring the universal Ground also leads nowhere as in Christian de Quincey's strange contribution.
In fact, I had already identified the physical correlate of the inner Light of Pure Consciousness with the brainwaves of the Brainstem Reticular Activating system in 1994 (see my other reviews) so all this huff-and-puff and brouhaha at Tucson was like a lot of fish unaware of the ocean in which they were all swimming! See my The Oneness/Otherness Mystery and perhaps also Philosophy of Space and Time and the Inner Constitution of Nature by mathematical physicist and mystic Michael Whiteman(Heisenberg himself checked the chapter on Quantum Mechanics in this).