JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 231-244
Mae-Wan Ho, Bioelectrodynamics Laboratory, Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK M.W.Ho@open.ac.uk
According to Bergson (1916), the traditional problem of free will is misconceived and arises from a mismatch between the quality of authentic, subjective experience and its description in language, in particular, the language of the mechanistic science of psychology. Contemporary western scientific concepts of the organism, on the other hand, are leading us beyond conventional thermodynamics as well as quantum theory and offering rigorous insights which reaffirm and extend our intuitive, poetic, and even romantic notions of spontaneity and free will. I shall describe some new views of the organism arising from new findings in biology, in order to show how, in freeing itself from the `laws' of physics, from mechanical determinism and mechanistic control, the organism becomes a sentient, coherent being that is free, from moment to moment, to explore and create its possible futures.
JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 267-277
Philip Novak, Dept, of Philosophy, Dominican College, 50 Acacia Avenue, San Rafael, CA 94901, USA firstname.lastname@example.org
This paper first reviews key Buddhist concepts of time anicca (impermanence), khanavada (instantaneous being) and uji (being time) and then describes the way in which a particular form of Bhuddist meditation, vipassana, may be thought to actualize them in human experience. The chief aim of the paper is to present a heuristic model of how vipassana meditation, by eroding dispositional tendencies rooted in the body-unconscious alters psychological time, transforming our felt-experience of time from a binding to a liberating force.
JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 217-230
Richard Warner, Chicago-Kent College of Law, 565 W. Adams, Chicago, IL 60661, USA email@example.com
In the keynote essay, David Chalmers (1995) proposes that we explain consciousness by a non-reductive theory of experience which adds new basic principles to the laws of nature. This essay endorses Chalmers' proposal but argues contrary to Chalmers that the principles of such a theory interfere with purely physical laws, since the principles entail violations of physical conservation laws. The essay argues that the qualified incorrigibility of the mental nonetheless provides compelling reason to opt for a non-reductive theory.
JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 194-210
Henry P. Stapp, Theoretical Physics Group, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720
JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 245-266
Rodney Cotterill, Biophysics Group, Building 307, Danish Technical University, DK2800 Lyngby, Denmark firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent conjectures regarding the nature and mechanism of consciousness (Cotterill, 1995) are extended to include the contribution of the cerebellum. The role of this brain structure appears to be a rather sophisticated form of prediction, as exemplified by certain dynamical capabilities of the visual system, and by the difficulty of self-administered tickling. The pars intermedia of the cerebellum is perceived as a direct feedback device, functioning in parallel to the primary neuronal circuit involved in consciousness; this leads to the suggestion that it serves as a tutor for the putative master node, the latter governing the collective movements of all the body's muscles. The cerebellar hemispheres are believed to act as an internal feedback device, and to be more directly coupled to the master node; they are seen as serving plenisentient unconsciousness. The possible importance of muscular spindles for the generation of qualia is discussed, as are the significance of the frontal lobes, the basal ganglia and the limbic system for the content of consciousness. Finally, the stages through which infant consciousness gradually acquires its sophistication are tentatively identified.
JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 211-216
Bernard J. Baars, The Wright Institute, 2728 Durant Avenue, Berkeley email@example.com
Why is the problem of subjectivity so hard, as David Chalmers claims ? This essay suggests that it becomes hard when we adopt an implausible, perfectionistic standard. In the last two decades the standard has come to be observer empathy --- the ability to know what it's like to be a bat or another human. That makes understanding consciousness difficult indeed. Far more practical criteria are used every day in medicine and scientific studies of consciousness, and indeed traditional philosophy from Kant to James tooka much more relaxed view of subjectivity. Once we adopt these more workable standards, subjectivity is suddenly revealed to involve a familiar concept, namely the self as observer of conscious experiences. Contrary to some,this sense of self is conceptually coherent and well-supported by hardevidence. For example, the left-hemisphere interpreter in split-brain patients behaves as one such self. Given a modest andpractical approach, we can expect to make progress toward understanding subjectivity.
JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 286-287
JCS, 3 ( 3 ) 1996 , pp. 278-286