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Hardcover | $18.75 Short | £14.95 | 672 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 73 fig/5 tbls illus. | April 2008 | ISBN: 9780262232593
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Ontology of Consciousness

Percipient Action


The "hard problem" of today's consciousness studies is subjective experience: understanding why some brain processing is accompanied by an experienced inner life. Recent scientific advances offer insights for understanding the physiological and chemical phenomenology of consciousness. But by leaving aside the internal experiential nature of consciousness in favor of mapping neural activity, such science leaves many questions unanswered. In Ontology of Consciousness, scholars from a range of disciplines—from neurophysiology to parapsychology, from mathematics to anthropology and indigenous non-Western modes of thought—go beyond these limits of current neuroscience research to explore insights offered by other intellectual approaches to consciousness. These scholars focus their attention on such philosophical approaches to consciousness as Tibetan Tantric Buddhism, North American Indian insights, pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilization, and the Byzantine Empire. Some draw on artifacts and ethnographic data to make their point. Others translate cultural concepts of consciousness into modern scientific language using models and mathematical mappings. Many consider individual experiences of sentience and existence, as seen in African communalism, Hindi psychology, Zen Buddhism, Indian vibhuti phenomena, existentialism, philosophical realism, and modern psychiatry. Some reveal current views and conundrums in neurobiology to comprehend sentient intellection.

Karim Akerma, Matthijs Cornelissen, Antoine Courban, Mario Crocco, Christian de Quincey, Thomas B. Fowler, Erlendur Haraldsson, David. J. Hufford, Pavel B. Ivanov, Heinz Kimmerle, Stanley Krippner, Armand J. Labbé, James Maffie, Hubert Markl, Graham Parkes, Michael Polemis, E Richard Sorenson, Mircea Steriade, Thomas Szasz, Mariela Szirko, Robert A.F. Thurman, Edith L.B. Turner, Julia Watkin, Helmut Wautischer

About the Editor

Helmut Wautischer is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at California State University, Sonoma.


“This collection provides a rich tableau of research on the nature of consciousness by twenty internationally recognized scholars and researchers who draw on perspectives from archaic traditions in religion and culture tocontemporary neuroscience to the testimony of personal experience. Masterfully edited by Helmut Wautischer, Ontology of Consciousness answersquestions such as: what kind of being is the being to which we refer as consciousness? How long have humans been perplexed by the awareness of being? Are the questions of being and consciousness one and the same?”
Alan M. Olson, Professor, Philosophy of Religion, Boston University
“These percipient 20 essays are like detonating explosives, profoundly disturbing to various intellectual universes, and highly appropriate to be published by an institution famed for pushing frontiers in science and technology. They connect the dots between the seen and unseen worlds. They require Kierkegaardian leaps of faith. They stretch referential meaningin order to understand human powers of wordless communication that we share with other animals. The essayists have playfully created a new Metaphysical Club open to all with courage to explore.”
Wilton S. Dillon, Senior Scholar Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution
“One does not realize how painfully narrow is our dataset concerning 'conscious phenomena' until one works one's way through this book. The astounding spectrum of human beliefs about and experiences of consciousness is here carefully organized, analyzed, and categorized. Many chapters, even as they evoke skepticism, make for spellbinding reading. Ambitiously interdisciplinary, this text will be superb for classroom use and could significantly influence the philosophy of mind—if this field is willing to expand the range of its data in the ways here suggested.”
Phillip Clayton, Ingraham Professor, Claremont School of Theology, and Author of Mind and Emergence: From Quantum to Consciousness
“An essential source book for the study of consciousness and foundations of experience. This book provides comprehensive analyses of diverse philosophical, religious, anthropological, and scientific approaches to human experience. Scholars who study consciousness, whether they be behavioral, social or biological scientists, or just educated readers, will find in this volume a store of data necessary for the pursuit of this subject.”
Douglass Price-Williams, Professor Emeritus, Departments of Psychiatry and Anthropology, University of California, Los Angeles