Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 01, Issue 1 (1994)
Source: JCS - Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 1, Issue 1 (1994)
Paper - Abstract

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  1. “The Astonishing Hypothesis'” (Francis Crick, in discussion with Jane Clark)
  2. Discussion of “Shadows of the Mind” (Roger Penrose)
  3. Psychology's “binding problem” and possible neurobiological solutions
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 66-90
    • Valerie Gray Hardcastle,
    • Abstract: Given what we know about the segregated nature of the brain and the relative absence of multi-modal association areas in the cortex, how percepts become unified is not clear. However, if we could work out how and where the brain joins together segregated outputs, we would have a start in localizing the neuronal processes that correlate with conscious perceptual experiences. In this essay, I critically examine data relevant for understanding the neurophysiological underpinnings of perception. In particular, I examine the possibility that 40 Hz. oscillatory firing patterns in cortex are important lower-level neuronal events related to perceptual experiences. I suggest that “binding” - understood as a process of hooking together disparate psychological units - reduces to a property inherent in the structure of our brain's firing patterns. However, this reduction may not reflect the firing rates of individual cells, but instead a “higher level” order superimposed on individual cells' activity.
  4. Quantum coherence in microtubules
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 91-118
    • Stuart R. Hameroff
    • Abstract: The paper begins with a general introduction to the nature of human consciousness and outlines several different philosophical approaches. A critique of traditional reductionist and dualist positions is offered and it is suggested that consciousness should be viewed as an emergent property of physical systems. However, although consciousness has its origin in distributed brain processes it has macroscopic properties - most notably the ‘unitary sense of self’, non-deterministic free will, and non-algorithmic ‘intuitive’ processing - which can best be described by quantum-mechanical principles.
  5. A testable field theory of mind-brain interaction
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 119-26
    • Benjamin Libet,
    • Abstract: The paper begins by contrasting the unitary nature of conscious experience with the demonstrable localization of neural events. Philosophers and neuroscientists have developed models to account for this paradox, but they have yet to be tested empirically. The author proposes a ‘Conscious Mental Field’, which is produced by, but is phenomenologically distinct from, brain activity. The hypothesis is, in principle, open to experimental verification. The paper suggests appropriate surgical procedures and some of the difficulties that would need to be overcome in such an experiment.
  6. Collapse of a quantum field may affect brain function
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 127-139
    • C.M.H. Nunn, C.J.S. Clarke, B.H. Blott,
    • Abstract: Experiments are described, using electroencephalography (EEG) and simple tests of performance, which support the hypothesis that collapse of a quantum field is of importance to the functioning of the brain. The theoretical basis of our experiments is derived from Penrose (1989) who suggested that conscious decision-making is a manifestation of the outcome of quantum computation in the brain involving collapse of some relevant wave function. He also proposed that collapse of any wave function depends on a gravitational criterion. As different brain areas are known to subserve different functions, we argue that ‘Penrose collapse’ must occur in a particular brain area when performing a task that uses it. Further, taking an EEG from the area should amplify the gravitational prerequisite for collapse, so affecting task performance. There are no non-quantum theories which could lead one to expect that taking an EEG could directly affect task performance by subjects. The results of both pilot and main experiments indicated that task performance was indeed influenced by taking an EEG from relevant brain areas. Control experiments suggested that the influence was quantum mechanical in origin, and was not due to any experimental artefact. The results are statistically significant and merit attempts at replication in an independent laboratory, preferably with more sophisticated equipment than was available to us.
  7. Health as one's own responsibility: no, thank you! (Ivan Illich)
  8. Minds and machines: a radical dualist perspective
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 32-37
    • John Beloff,
    • Abstract: The article begins with a discussion about what might constitute consciousness in entities other than oneself and the implications of the mind-brain debate for the possibility of a conscious machine. While referring to several other facets of the philosophy of mind, the author focuses on epiphenomenalism and interactionism and presents a critique of the former in terms of biological evolution. The interactionist argument supports the relevance of parapsychology to the problem of consciousness and the statistical technique of meta-analysis is cited in support of this position.
  9. ‘Of capsules and carts’: Mysticism, language and the via negativa
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 38-49
    • Robert K.C. Forman,
    • Abstract: While a surprising number of people, both religious and non-religious, have had deep and significant mystical experiences, scholars have reached little agreement about their cause and character. Many analyze mystical experiences as if they are formed by the same linguistic processes that shape ordinary experiences. This paper shows that this is based on a misunderstanding, for these experiences result from letting go of language. The paper concludes that we need to think about mystical experiences - and what they have to teach about consciousness and reality - in a new light.
  10. Is causality1 circular? Event structure in folk psychology, cognitive science and Buddhist logic
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 50-65
    • Eleanor Rosch,
    • Abstract: Using as a framework the logical treatment of causality2 in the Buddhist Madhyamika, a theory of the psychology of event coherence and causal connectedness is developed, and suggestive experimental evidence is offered. The basic claim is that events are perceived as coherent and causally bound to the extent that the outcome is seen to be already contained in the ground of the event in some form and the connecting link between them is seen as the appropriate means for changing the outcome-in-the-ground to the outcome-as-perceived. There are four types of such connections: (a) the identity of the object in the ground and outcome is seen as the same (as in the phi phenomenon); (b) a property is seen to be transferred from ground to outcome (as in a Michottean analysis of perceived causal motion); (c) for animate beings, a cognitive representation and a state of the world are seen to match - either the representation-as-outcome coming to match the world-as-ground (as in the folk psychology of perception) or the world-as-outcome coming to match the representation-as-ground (as in intentional action); (d) the ‘essence’ of a category is seen to manifest itself (as in folk explanations based on personality). The standard critique of such coherence explanations is that they are tautological. We demonstrate that ‘nontautological’ scientific accounts become convincing coherent explanations only to he extent that the outcome is re-introduced (in a disguised form) into the ground. Explanations which are noncausal altogether, such as probability or chance, are shown to be psychologically unstable. This critique suggests some new perspectives on causal thinking both in the cognitive sciences and the folk theories of daily life.
  11. Towards an adequate epistemology for the scientific exploration of consciousness
    • JCS, 1 (1), 1994, pp. 140-148
    • Willis Harman,
    • Abstract: The statement below is an outgrowth of a retreat at Tomales Bay,California, December 3-6, 1992, at which fifteen scientists and philosophers attempted to explore the question of an appropriate epistemology for consciousness research. Contributions were made by the scholars listed below and others; the final synthesis was performed by Willis Harman. The statement is submitted to the broader scientific community, and to the concerned public, to stimulate dialogue about a long-standing question, and to foster interest in an ever-deepening scientific study of human consciousness. Basically, the question is: How does it happen that our powerful methods of scientific enquiry appear so ill-suited to the study of consciousness? If understanding our own consciousness is so central to understanding anything else, will we not have to take this question more seriously than has been the case so far?

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