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Pure consciousness and cultural studies

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Commentary on ‘The View from Within’, edited by Francisco Varela and Jonathan Shear

[opening paragraph]: First-person methodologies have evolved in the humanities from the romantic introspection of a unified self, through a modernist nostalgia for that unity, to the fragmentation of the self in poststructuralist and postmodernism, which questions the pheno- menological unity of the self based on commonsense introspection as well as the possibility of an unmediated pure consciousness event. Literary and cultural studies can benefit from the way the Journal of Consciousness Studies draws upon Eastern approaches to first-person experience and corresponding western physiological research. Of particular relevance to the unity-fragmentation debate is the chapter by Jonathan Shear and Ronald Jevning, ‘Pure consciousness: Scientific explorations of meditation techniques’ in this special issue of JCS. Shear and Jevning explore pure consciousness as a state emptied of all ‘empirical phenomenal content’ (pp. 198-9), a void similar to that described in deconstructive postmodernism in terms of the experience of the real as difference. But while Shear and Jevning propose that the experience
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Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Eastern Mediterranean University, North Cyprus.

Publication date: 01 February 1999

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