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Expanding Science to Include an Investigation of the Scientist’s Subjective Experience of Consciousness.

Walton, Joan ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9875-0296 (2016) Expanding Science to Include an Investigation of the Scientist’s Subjective Experience of Consciousness. In: Fourth International Conference "Science and scientist 2016" Is science able to explain the scientist? University of Bangalore, pp. 44-53

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Consciousness is “our deepest mystery and our most intimate reality” (de Quincey 2002: 64). None of what we experience happens outside of consciousness; but we know little about its nature or origins.

Despite this, educational and social researchers show scant interest in inquiring into the nature and scope of consciousness. I argue that this is due to the legacy of classical Newtonian science, which has instilled a materialist worldview into western culture. This worldview perceives consciousness to have emerged from matter at a late stage of a physical evolutionary process. Consequently, all our thoughts, feelings and intuitions are seen to be caused by the interaction of neurons in the brain (Dennett 1991).

However there is a different worldview emerging from quantum physics (Wheeler 1994), and from a revisiting of spiritual traditions (De Quincey 2005): which is that consciousness, not matter, is the primary ‘stuff’ of the universe. That is, there is a universal Consciousness that is the source of our individual experiences; and, as the radio is the receiver rather than the originator of programmes, so the brain is the receiver of a universal Consciousness (Kelly et al 2015).

One implication of this worldview is that all of our internal experiences may be manifestations of a reality whose source exists beyond matter. Studying the nature of this reality, which may be as infinite and timeless as the external cosmos, opens up the need for faculties other than our five senses, such as introspection and intuition, to be accepted as valid and meaningful methods of academic research (Wallace 2010).

I explore the challenges involved in understanding consciousness, and argue for the acceptance and development of research methods that will include an investigation of inner subjective experiences of consciousness, to complement those that investigate consciousness from a third person perspective.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: Paper for keynote presentation.
Status: Published
School/Department: School of Education, Language and Psychology
URI: https://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/1835

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