In this Tricycle web exclusive, scholar B. Allan Wallace responds to George Johnson’s New York Times review of the Dalai Lama’s new book The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality.
I especially like Wallace’s call for a more complete approach to consciousness studies that includes both first person introspective methods combined with third person methodologies, something I’ve advocated from the very beginning here, here, here and here. I’ve been meaning to pick up his book, The Taboo of Subjectivity: Towards a New Science of Consciousness , for a while…now might be a good time to check it out…
Allan takes a more “integral” route in defense of the tetrameshing nature of consciousness:
Scientists have established that specific neural processes are necessary for producing specific conscious mental processes in humans and some other animals. In this way, correlations have been identified between brain and mind processes. Brain processes are detected with the third-person methods of biology, but mental processes are directly observed only by means of the first-person perspectives of individuals introspectively monitoring their own states of consciousness. This evidence proves that certain neural processes are necessary for producing specific mental events in humans, but not that they are sufficient causes of consciousness, nor does this indicate that consciousness itself is a physical phenomenon. Moreover, while many scientists believe that mental phenomena are emergent properties of brain, no one has ever objectively measured any mental event emerging from the brain, so that, too, remains an untested hypothesis that can be taken for the time being only on faith.