Sunday, April 7, 2013

(11) Consciousness

The study of Consciousness is a "hot" topic today and is likely going to be
even more of cutting edge effort of study in the future.  Over the past few
years scholars and scientists representing a variety of specialties have
met annually at the University of Arizona discussing, presenting papers,
on the topic of Consciousness.  Nonetheless, the difficulty remains that
Consciousness is still very much an unknown.  Put plainly, we still have
little understanding as to the how and why we humans are actually
conscious sentient beings.

However, there has been no lack of effort trying to figure the nature of
Consciousness.  Three major scientists have been in the forefront when
it comes to the study and theoretics of Consciousness.  There's Henry
Stapp, a particle physicist who has carried out research on the foundations
of quantum mechanics--with a particular focus on the role and nature
of Consciousness at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory at the University
of California.

There's also Sir Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist, who is the
Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford,
as well as Stuart Hameroff, a M.D., currently the Director of the Center 
for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona (Tucson).

Together. Penrose and Hameroff speculate that Consciousness is the
result of quantum gravity effects in microtubles, which they dub
ORCH-OR (orchestrated objective reduction).  Microtubles are part of
a structural network (the cytoskeleton) with the cells cytoplasm.

Even more esoteric thinking regarding Consciousness can be found
in considering the topic of non-local consciousness.  Basically this
refers to morphogenetic (or mental) fields, about telepathy, even about
prayer.  Non-local consciousness extends from one individual's
consciousness outward to other conscious persons!

In a sense Consciousness remains a "shapeshifter," in that in recent
years there has been so many perspectives.  The philosopher and
transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber provided a useful  list of these

"  *Cognitive Science* tends to view consciousness as anchored
in functional schemas of the brain/mind, either in a simple 
representational fashion...or in the more complex emergent/
connectionist models, which view consciousness as an emergent
of hierarchically integrated networks...

"  *Introspectionism* maintains that consciousness is best
understood in terms of intentionality, anchored in first-person

"  *Neuropsychology* views consciousness as anchored in
neural systems, neurotransmitters, and organic brain mechanisms...

"  *Individual psychotherapy*...tends to view consciousness as
primarily anchored in an individual organism's adaptive capacities...

"  *Social psychology* views consciousness as embedded in
networks of cultural meaning, or, alternatively, as being largely
a byproduct of the social system itself...

"  *Clinical psychiatry* focuses on the relation of psychopathology,
behavioural patterns, and psychopharmacology...

"  *Developmental psychology* views consciousness not as a single
entity but as a developmentally unfolding process with a substantially
different architecture at each of its stages of growth...

"  *Psychosomatic medicine* views consciousness as strongly and
intrinsically inter-active with organic bodily processes...

"  *Nonordinary states of consciousness,* from dreams to psychedelics,
constitutes a field of study that, its advocates believe, is crucial
to a grasp of consciousness in general...

"  *Eastern and contemplative traditions* maintain that ordinary
consciousness is but a narrow and restricted version of deeper and 
higher modes of awareness...

"  *Quantum consciousness* approaches...consciousness as being
intrinsically capable of interacting with, and altering, the physical
world, generally through quantum interactions...

"  *Subtle energies* research has postulated that there exist subtler
types of bio-energies beyond the four recognized forces of physics 
(strong and weak nuclear, electromagnetic, gravitational) and that
these subtler energies play an intrinsic role in consciousness..."
[Ken Wilber, an article entitled "Integral Theory of Consciousness.]

It's obvious the tremendous challenge that the topic of Consciousness
poses, now and in the future.  But it's important.