Tag Archives: consciousness studies

The Future of Consciousness

Some of you might recall a book I was working on which I was tentatively calling The Great Mind Shift. I then changed the title to The Great Transition. The main idea of the book is to explore the futures of the extended mind – and especially what changes might occur once this idea becomes accepted by mainstream science. I kind of became stuck on this project for a while. I didn’t give up, just put it on the back burner.

Well, I’ve had a genuine breakthrough recently, and am going great guns on the project. The shift has been simple. I have clarified the title and the audience. I am now calling it “The Future of Consciousness: Towards an Integrated Intelligence.”

Rather than try to make the book water-tight for the scientific community (which would make it too dry and detailed) I am going to aim at a more popular audience. I am going to address the science, but also move beyond scientific convention. I will focus upon practical applications of integrated intelligence in education, business, IT and social development, and even bring in a few extraneous futures such as with mental health and the military. This will allow me to combine research, critical futures studies and personal insight.

I am in the process of interviewing experts in relevant fields. I will turn the first 12 of these into podcasts – probably under the title “The Consciousness Files” – which will be made available to the general public. If the podcasts go well, I will continue to produce them. You will hear more about this soon. I hope you can join me in this adventure. It should be both fun and a great learning experience for me and my audience.

PS, if you think you have something to share in this area, especially in terms of possible practical applications of integrated intelligence, send me a message here on Facebook, and I will see if we can turn it into a podcast – and if not, it might be able to incorporate your ideas into my book, fully referenced to you, of course.

Feel free to share this post! Marcus.

The Neuron With No Clothes

Our knowledge of the nature of the objects treated in physics consists solely of readings of pointers (on instrument dials) and other indicators. (Therefore) what knowledge have we of the nature of atoms that renders it at all incongruous that they should constitute a thinking object?(Thus) science has nothing to say as to the intrinsic nature of the atom. – Sir Arthur Eddington.

What do we really know about the intrinsic nature of consciousness and its essential role (if any) in the nature of cosmos? Probably a lot less than many would assume. There is no question that our knowledge of brains has expanded massively in the past century. But what does all this data about brains really tell us about consciousness? Not a great deal, I suspect. Yet mainstream psychology and neuroscience continues to ignore the obvious implications of the question: “Are brains and minds the same thing?”

Instead, these discourses tend to ignore the question, replacing it with an unquestioned presupposition: mind equals brain. Worse still, much of science still tends not even to bother with consciousness, intention, and the importance of the role of the perceiver. Ironically, the scientific detachment that was born of the awareness of the fallibility of first-person perception has typically led to the dismissal of the role of mind in nature, evolution and cosmos.

Galen Strawson in a well-known paper entitled “Realistic monism: why physicalism entails panpsychism” points out some of the logical inconsistencies in materialist science. Strawson is incredulous at the denial of personal experience which lies at the heart of the materialist worldview that still dominates much of science, especially biology, psychology and neuroscience. This, he states, is akin to the denial of “the existence of experience.”

At this we should stop and wonder. I think we should feel very sober, and a little afraid, at the power of human credulity, the capacity of human minds to be gripped by theory, by faith. For this particular denial is the strangest thing that has ever happened in the whole history of human thought, not just the whole history of philosophy. It falls, unfortunately, to philosophy, not religion, to reveal the deepest woo-woo of the human mind. I find this grievous, but, next to this denial, every known religious belief is only a little less sensible than the belief that grass is green.

Strawson is correct. What is it about first-person experience that science is so afraid of? What has created this absurd rejection of the “I”?

We could of course run through the history of science in the past several hundred years, talking about the necessity to challenge religious authority on matters of reason, and the subsequent discrediting of theology or mysticism in providing adequate explanations of most mundane things (it has to be admitted). We could also talk about the rise of more sophisticated ways of knowing such as calculation (e.g. Newton), classification (Darwin), analysis (Comte) and experimentalism (Hemholtz) by the mid nineteenth century. And we could acknowledge the massive impact and success of technologies which arose from that – the microscope, telescope, computer and so on – and how these in turn generated exponential increases in our capacity to “perceive”, collate and analyse data.

Out of all this a new culture, a new paradigm, a new way of looking at life and cosmos emerged. Materialism was a defining feature of this science. In this schema, things – including people, animals and minds – were at their very basis material objects, regardless of what properties or behaviours they exhibited at a macro-level.

All this has been widely discussed by philosophers of science, as have been the many challenges to such a reductionist approach to knowledge. Those challenges have always been around, of course, with perhaps the emergence of quantum physics early in the nineteenth century representing the most pronounced challenge. And yet even today materialism – and the denial of mind – remains strongly embedded in many of our sciences.

​Strawson’s paper argues that any rational take on the relationship between cosmos and mind has to admit at least a “micropsychism”, if not quite the idea of panpsychism (that consciousness is present in all things, to some degree). He states that “realistic physicalists… grant that experiential phenomena are real concrete phenomena… and that experiential phenomena are therefore physical phenomena.” He argues that everything concrete is physical and everything physical is comprised of physical ultimates. Conscious experience is part of that concrete reality. Therefore consciousness is an intrinsic aspect of cosmos.

Although I do not specifically define myself as a panpsychist, clearly the idea is quite compatible with the existence of the non-local mind. If there is at least a little bit of mind found in all things, it helps to explain how it is that minds can perceive of things that are not readily perceptible with the eyes, ears and other sensory organs. I believe the latter is now undeniable. I base that conclusion upon three sources: my own extensive experience with expanded and non-local mind; first-person insights gleaned from the world’s great wisdom traditions and recorded for posterity; and upon the scientific data which has been gleaned from psychic research for more than a century.

What lies at the heart of the debate is the mind-body problem. Even if one rejects the evidence for psychic phenomena and the extended mind, we still have the issue of how we get consciousness from brains. How does conscious experience arise from the firing of neurons? Implicit within the mechanistic paradigm is that consciousness IS the firing of neurons. Because if it isn’t, then what is it?

A key issue is how to explain why it is that our experience of mind is so utterly different from what we experience when we look at, say, a brain in a vat, or an fMRI scan of neuronal activity. Clearly there is something very qualitatively different between brains and consciousness. What exactly does that difference represent, and what is the relationship between these two things?

The question has not been adequately addressed in neuroscience. As Lawrnece Le Shan points out in his wonderful book “A New Science of the Paranormal,” there is an explanatory gap which lies at the heart of the mind-equals-brain model. We have sensory inputs, we have electrical signals and we got them neurons firing and then… wala! Thought, sensation, consciousness.

Such is one of several very, very big “miracles” that go unimaginably unexplained within modern science. The other two big, big problems which I can point to are how the cosmos arose out of the nothingness that lies at the moment before the Big Bang; while the third is the puzzle of biogenesis. How did life arise from lifeless matter? For the last query, reductionism arguably works for the bio-machinery of the organism, but fails miserably to account for the rise of consciousness.

And after all, the most wonderful and surprising aspect of life is consciousness, at least as it exists in multi-cellular organisms such as we human beings. An explanation for the emergence of life which fails to account for the origin of consciousness is a bit like an account of airplanes without bothering to mention that they tend to fly. Such “explanations” are ultimately merely descriptions.

Lawrence Le Shan points out an obvious double standard with a common criticism of psychic research. In the latter critique, it is incredulously stated that research into phenomena like ESP, telepathy, precognition and so on fail to provide an adequate explanation for how information might travel from one place or mind to another place or mind without some mechanical process to mediate that transfer (note: the idea of “travel” is highly problematic in regard to non-locality).

Yet as Le Shan indicates, this explanatory gap merely mirrors the explanatory gap in psychology and neuroscience regarding how we get consciousness from neurons. As yet there is no adequate explanation, and this remains more than a merely small problem. It begs the question of what the essential nature of consciousness actually is!

And still the discourse continues without so much as a pause for reflection, hailing His Majesty the Neuron With no Clothes. Perhaps it is about time that we finally admit that the emperor is totally buck naked – and duly tell him, such that in the long run we save him from further embarrassment, when he is informed that his game is up.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marcus

Sheldrake & the Credibility Issue in Modern Science

I share a link here to an interesting podcast entitled “Beyond Physicalism,” which features Mark Vernon interviewing biologist Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake talks of a new “humility” in science. This emerges from some of the recent research which indicates that the file drawer effect in science is far more pronounced than previously thought, and that a great many of the experiments in science are not repeateable.

The file drawer effect is the tendency for researchers to publish only results that support their research agendas or personal biases.

Sheldrake claims that psychic science has led the way here, as they have had to deal with accusations of the file drawer effect for many years. Now it turns out that mainstream science itself has a widespread problem in this respect.

image

Sheldrake mentions the “questionable research practices” which underpin the loss of confidence in science – scientists only publish 5-10% of their data. This means there is scope for tremendous distortion. One recent study by a pharmaceutical company attempted replication of 50 top papers in medical journals, and found that 45 were not replicable.

Sheldrake says that the problem is also present in psychology and chemistry, where many experiments experiments are not replicable.

Sheldrake mentions philosopher Mathew Colborn, who points out that psychology and science encourages us not to believe our own minds – there is a systematic attempt to distrust such experiences. We are training educated people not to trust their own experience, but instead trust scientific authority. Yet as we are now beginning to understand, the latter has a whole culture of distortion and denial, and many of its own experiments are not replicable.

Thus many ideas and beliefs common to mainstream sciences are actually grounded on unstable foundations, despite the fact that most laymen assume them to be solid.

http://www.sheldrake.org/audios/science-set-free-podcas

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

 

Marcus

A Great Wave Descends

I’ve been busy writing my new book The Coming Consciousness Revolution (edit: note it was previously called The Great Mind Shift). Below I’ve posted the introduction to the book (thus the title of this blog post), which covers some of the main themes, and tells you a little more about what is in the book. I’d be grateful for any feedback. Books don’t get written in an instant. They are a real work of art, and what you see below will probably change quite a lot before the book appears on the shelves. Any comments you make – positive or critical – will definitely be noted by me.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Regards,

Marcus

The Great Mind Shift: The revolution is coming by MarcusTanthony

Stan Grof’s legacy paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stan Grof is one of the great pioneers of consciousness research. He was one of the first to formally study LSD, going back to the 1960’s. This is a link to his latest paper, courtesy of Terry Patten’s web site. It summarises over half a century of his work. If you haven’t read any of his stuff, I highly recommend it. Marcus

Legacy-paper-Grof.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Integrated Intelligence

BOOKS (ACADEMIC): This book is an exhaustive coverage of a crucial but poorly understood subject  matter. Marcus T. Anthony examines theories of intelligence and consciousness, and the way in which they represent (or exclude) intuitive, spiritual and mystical experience. It will satisfy the more academically rigorous reader.

Marcus T. Anthony’s argument identifies the way narrowly defined ‘rational’ definitions of mind have come to dominate and restrict contemporary discourses in science and education. He develops the theory of integrated intelligence, an expanded model which incorporates the non-rational elements of human intelligence, long missing in mainstream western discourses. Anthony indicates how and why they should be incorporated into modern education systems.

 Available on major online book retailers such as Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.

 

Words of praise for Integrated Intelligence

Integrated Intelligence is an exceptional book. I am most impressed by the fact that Anthony has forged ahead and got to where the discourse will, if we are lucky, arrive in maybe another decade or more.

DR DAVID LOYE, ex-faculty Princeton University.

 

This book is a highly ambitious one which succeeds in presenting a well documented, intelligently structured, convincingly developed concept which could well make an original contribution to thought.

DR FELICITY HAYNES, ex-Dean of Education, The University of Western Australia.

[twitter name=”marcustanthony1″] [/twitter] [facebook]