Beyond Scientific Materialism: Toward a Transcendent Theory of Consciousness
Abstract:Analysis of the social-cognitive substrate of scientific activity reveals that much of science functions in an inauthentic mode whereby a materialist world view constrains the authentic practice of science. But materialism cannot explain matter, as evidenced by empirical data concerning the nature of physical manifestation. Nor, then, should materialism be the basis for our interpretation of consciousness. It is time to move beyond scientific materialism and develop transcendent theories of consciousness. Such theories should minimally meet the following criteria: they should be based on all of the usual empirical data concerning consciousness, including altered states of consciousness; they should take into account data about anomalous phenomena and transcendent states of consciousness; they should address the issue of existential meaning and provide soteriological guidance; and they should be consistent with the most accurate theories of physical manifestation, such as relativistic quantum field theories. Speculating within a quantum-theoretic context, consciousness could be inserted as a primitive element into reality by providing a role for intention in the selection process of observables, the collapse of the state vector, or the ordering of quantum fluctuations. But consciousness could be more fundamental, in the sense of a deep consciousness coinciding with a pre-physical substrate, from which intention shapes both mental experience and physical manifestation. If any significance can be attached to the mathematical formalism of relativistic quantum field theories, perhaps creation and annihilation operators, which determine the fluctuations of a quantum field, can metaphorically be regarded as the avenue through which intention acts. Morphic fields within the pre-physical substrate could hold in place patterns that shape the reality that we experience. Among such morphic fields could be ones that correspond to the world view of scientism. By becoming authentic, one could break from such constraints and consider alternative possibilities that can include various forms of radical transformation.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: King's University College, 266 Epworth Ave., London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 2M3, Email: email@example.com
Publication date: January 1, 2010