Consciousness Part 1 What Are the Key Term Paper
- Length: 7 pages
- Subject: Psychology
- Type: Term Paper
- Paper: #21108547
Excerpt from Term Paper :
Part 1 "What are the key challenges facing a science of consciousness?"
The study of consciousness has been plagued by the perception that traditional scientific methods are not capable of explaining or exploring the meaning of human consciousness adequately. This is essentially due to the division between science and religion that occurred in the development of Western thought. As a result of this fact, the science of consciousness is faced with problems on a number of levels.
The first and possibly most obvious level with regard to the full scientific understanding of consciousness is the emphasis on scientific objectify and the reduction of the importance of subjective experience. This is particularly a problem with regard to the definition of consciousness. The second issue is related to the various definition and understanding of what constitutes human consciousness. An example of the problematic of a scientific understanding of copiousness can be seen in the scientific rejection of the understanding of consciousness as something that is beyond the brain or mental state. Science, in its search for objectify, defines consciousness in terms of measurable and largely physical aspects; whereas other less conventional views understand consciousness in broader and more inclusive terms.
Dualistic thought is also another aspect that is part of the scientific method. This view tends to divide consciousness into matter and non-matter and creates a further range of problems that obscure the integral understanding of consciousness. Many scientists oppose the view that defines consciousness " ... In such a way that it no longer has its normal meaning of mental consciousness, but instead is supposed to refer to something non-mental." (Lloyd P.B. 1999)
Scientists even go to the extent of stating that consciousness which cannot be observed or measured objectively simply does not exist. "Strictly speaking, at present there is no scientific evidence even for the existence of consciousness! All the direct evidence we have consists of nonscientific, first-person accounts of being conscious." (Whitehead, 2000, p. 3)
Therefore, as consciousness is difficult to objectify and difficult to discuss without the subjective component of experience, this has resulted in the present impasse with regard to consciousness studies in the sciences. However, as many scientists realize and openly acknowledge, the enduring aim of all knowledge and science is to understand the foundation of human experience and reality. This involves a more inclusive approach and particularly one that includes the aspect of subjective experience.
... The ultimate passion of the Western mind over two thousand five hundred years has been to understand the ground of its own being. Being conscious is central to being human -- and an understanding of consciousness has to be reflexive. From studying the things that we experience, we progress to studying the experiencer and the experience.
(Velmans, 2000, p. 3)
This gap or distance between science and other systems of knowledge and thought has been realized as an aspect that has to be remedied by many modern scientists and thinkers. The problem that the sciences experience is largely one which relates to a certain perspective which, while extremely important, is limited in various ways. This has led contemporary thinkers, like Authur Young to suggest a more comprehensive and inclusive method of understanding human consciousness and reality.
Part 2. Arthur Young and the Theory of Process,
The foundation of Young's Theory of Process is a model of consciousness and reality which is based on the synthesis of various systems of thought, including number theory, geometry, theosophy, astrology, yoga, mythology and other modes of knowledge, including the sciences. (The Theory of Process)
Therefore Young's theory is inclusive rather than exclusive and attempts to integrate and heal the divide between science and religious thought.
Young's view of the dilemma of scientific knowledge and the purpose of his Theory of Process is clearly outlined in the following quotation.
It is because science became the Scientific Method and ceased to be the search for truth that it lost relevance and, like a time bomb ticking in an airliner, is dangerous because it is cut off from our control, following its own dictates. It is because the institutionalized churches have taken little cognizance of scientific discoveries and have insisted on a literal reading of all sacred writings that they have become irrelevant and have had their traditional teaching dismissed as superstition.
( Barr F. )
Therefore, in terms of Young's viewpoint, there has been a lack of integration and symbiosis between science and religion. Most importantly, his view stresses that human consciousness is not, as some scientific views would have it, a "meaningless accident." "Rather than being simply a meaningless "accident," self-conscious man is considered to be part of an advanced stage of a universal process, which can be formally represented by a self-reflexive, toroidal model of development." ( ibid) This view obviously contrasts with those reductionist views which would reduce consciousness and human nature to the actions of a random deterministic universe. As Young states,
What is our scientific civilization? Nothing? No, it is a very impressive something, but this something is really not what we thought it was ... Once upon a time there was magic. Civilization learned to reproduce, reduce to a formula, and duplicate a part of this magic. That is our world of science. The rest of the magic has been tossed on the junk heap. We are now scratching around trying to piece it together again."
(The reflexive Universe)
Young's work therefore is intended to " ... reclaim the world of inner facts as a world of equal reality to the world of outer facts." ( ibid) He does this not by rejecting the findings a theories and science but by using and incorporating these into the world of knowledge and ideas that can be found in religious, mythical and various other non-scientific structures of human knowledge.
The Theory of Process is therefore an attempt to synthesize and develop a more comprehensive working model of human nature and reality. This theory is extremely complex and the following exposition is meant only as an outline of the core aspects of the theory
In Young's Reflexive Universe the integrative motif becomes clear from the very outset. The theory deviates from normative scientific methods by suggesting that all of nature is teleological. This is an important aspect in that it emphasizes the belief that, through process, all of consciousness in nature is directed towards a certain end and purpose. This aspect is an essential component of a view of consciousness. It is also important in that it indicates an integration of traditional scientific method with religious or theological perceptions of the nature of reality. "Using the formalisms of the theory of process, he is able to describe the pattern he has perceived underlying the universe and evolution." (Saloma J.S.)
A second primary constituent of the Theory of Process is that the universe and nature are in reality a dynamic learning process. This innate dynamic nature of the universe also deviates from the classic scientific view of the universe as static 'matter." This also relates to the teleological aspect as this learning process is directed towards a transcendent goal. "The manifest universe does not exist of and by itself but as part of a broader dynamic process-"self-realization," or in the words of the ancients, '"so that God might come to (consciously) know himself (through experience in time)." ( ibid)
Flowing from these theoretical assumptions is the view that the source of the entire physical universe derives from a First Cause - which is non-material and 'spiritual 'in nature. The First Cause is both imminent and transcendent. More importantly, this conception of the First Cause is not prescriptive but rather open - ended. The First Cause is also not reducible and cannot be diminished or "known" completely. In order to understand this aspect Young makes use of scientific theories such as the uncertainty principle and quantum physics He relates the First Cause or origin to the modern theory of photons; which are not able to be reduced in science.
In terms of his theory, the four levels are an essential foundation of the understanding or reality. These levels are to be understood in terms of the development or evolution of consciousness and reality, from the least to the most material and physical aspect of nature and mind. The first level refers to the "zero-dimension" which is outside of space and times. This is the Ground of Being and the motivating force for the realization of consciousness. The second level refers to the linear of single dimensionality. This level exists in time. It has " ... two degrees of freedom and one degree of constraint." ( Barr F. )
The third level refers to the two dimensional level of reality." Level III defines the "airy" matrix of relationship -- the mind-like pattern of form/field. "(ibid) The fourth level is the level of solidity and is three dimensional in character. This level is one which is physically tangible and appears in space and time. This…