Contents

Vol. 13, No. 9, September 2006

Refereed Papers

Todd Bresnick and Ross Levin   abstract
Phenomenal Qualities of Ayahuasca Ingestion and its Relation to Fringe Consciousness and Personality
Wolfram Hinzen   abstract
Dualism and the Atoms of Thought

Interviews

Rafael Malach & Zoran Josipovic   abstract
Perception without a Perceiver
Henry P. Stapp & Harald Atmanspacher
Clarifications & Specifications

Reflection

Ed Subitzky  full text
The Voyage

Conference Report

Chris Nunn  full text
Mind–Matter Research — Kreuth, July 2006

Book Reviews   full text

Igor Aleksander
Margaret A. Boden, Mind As Machine
Gary Fuhrman
Herbert S. Terrace and Janet Metcalfe, eds., The Missing Link in Cognition
Eva Jablonka & Simona Ginsburg
Derek Denton, The Primordial Emotions: The Dawning of Consciousness
John Dance
David M. Rosenthal, Consciousness and Mind
Chris Nunn
Stanislav Grof, When the Impossible Happens
Arkady Plotnitsky
Alexander Batthyany and Avshalom Elitzur, eds, Mind and its Place in the World
Chris Clarke
Gary L. Drescher, Good and Real
Books received

ABSTRACTS

Todd Bresnick and Ross Levin

Phenomenal Qualities of Ayahuasca Ingestion and its Relation to Fringe Consciousness and Personality

Abstract: Ayahuasca, a hallucinogen with profound consciousness- altering properties, has been increasingly utilized in recent studies (e.g., Strassman, 2001; Shanon, 2002a,b). However, other than Shanon’s recent work, there has been little attempt to examine the effects of ayahuasca on perceptual, affective and cognitive experience, its relation to fringe consciousness or to pertinent personality variables. Twenty-one volunteers attending a seminar on ayahuasca were administered personality measures and a semi-structured interview about phenomenal qualities of their experience. Ayahuasca ingestion was associated with profound alterations of temporal- spatial experiences including expansive space and slowed time. Ayahuasca use was also associated with positive emotional states, higher levels of fantasy proneness and psychological absorption and a greater openness to mystical experiences. Conversely, quickened time was associated with negative emotionality. The results are discussed within a multi-faceted model of fringe consciousness with a particular emphasis on Hunt’s (1995) models of cross-modal translation as the basis for higher-order symbolic cognition and support James’ (1890/1950) contention that fringe consciousness is essential to human cognition.

Correspondence:
Todd Bresnick, Psy.D &  Ross Levin, Ph.D., Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine Campus, 1165 Morris Park Avenue, Bronx, NY 10461, USA. Email: tbresnick@yahoo.com


Wolfram Hinzen

Dualism and the Atoms of Thought

Abstract: Contemporary arguments for forms of psycho-physical dualism standardly depart from phenomenal aspects of consciousness (‘what it is like’ to have some particular conscious experience). Conceptual aspects of conscious experience, as opposed to phenomenal or visual/perceptual ones, are often taken to be within the scope of functionalist, reductionist, or physicalist theories. I argue that the particular conceptual structure of human consciousness makes this asymmetry unmotivated. The argument for a form of dualism defended here proceeds from the empirical premise that conceptual structure in a linguistic creature like us is a combinatorial and compositional system that implicates a distinction between simple and complex, or ‘atomic’ and ‘molecular’ concepts. The argument is that conceptual atoms, qua atoms, are irreducible to anything else. If so, and if the atoms are essentially semantic, a form of dualism follows: though positively inviting naturalistic inquiry into the semantic and mental aspects of nature, it requires that we look at the mental as a primitive domain of nature. Schematically, then, the argument is as follows:
  • 1. Human consciousness/thought is conceptually structured.
  • 2. The human conceptual system is a ‘particulate’ system at a syntactic and semantic level of representation (the notion of a ‘particulate’ system is developed in Section 2).
  • 3. This implies the existence of conceptual ‘particles’, concepts that have no further semantic decomposition (‘atoms’).
  • 4. A conceptual atom cannot be explained in terms of anything that does not involve its own intrinsic properties (Section 3).
  • 5. Physicalism as normally conceived is inconsistent with (3) and (4) (Section 4).
  • Correspondence: W.Hinzen@uva.nl

    Rafael Malach in Conversation with Zoran Josipovic

    Perception without a Perceiver

    Rafael Malach is currently a professor in the department of Neurobiology at the Weizmann Institute in Israel. His current research is aimed at understanding how the neuronal circuitry in the human brain translates a stream of sensory stimuli into meaningful perception. Rafael Malach received his PhD in physiological optics from UC Berkeley and did his post-doctorate research at MIT. Originally doing research on the organization of neuronal connections in the primate brain, his focus has recently shifted to the study of the human cerebral cortex using fMRI. Professor Malach has begun this research at Massachusetts General Hospital, exploring a new object-related region called the lateral occipital complex. Since then he expanded this research, studying the human visual cortex using a variety of methods, including adaptation paradigms, backward masking, and more recently naturalistic stimuli — all aimed at deciphering the intriguing link between perceptual experience and brain activity.

    Correspondence

    Zoran Josipovic: Zoran@cns.nyu.edu
    Rafael Malach: rafi.malach@weizmann.ac.il

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