Thursday, July 9, 2009

(1) Consciousness


When it came to the pursuit of Consciousness Theory, I found
that I had walked into a mainly unknown but incredibly exciting
land. As I began to discover, in the scientific world the topic of
Consciousness may be one of the "hottest topics in town." In
other words, we humans have arrived at the Big Question: "We
know, but we don't know how we know."

There's no lack of trying, as I found out. Again I was fortunate
living in Princeton, because I had a friend who had worked with
the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR)
Program. At the time he was part of this small group of academic
colleagues from various countries who explored their interest
in the topic of consciousness in the face of physical reality. PEAR
was connected with the university's School of Engineering and
Applied Science. And, essentially, its agenda was to study the
"interaction of human consciousness with sensitive physical
devices, systems, and processes, and developing complementary
theoretical models to enable better understanding of the role of
consciousness in the establishment of physical reality."

[Just a special note, but PEAR no longer exists. Rather it has
been superseded by the International Consciousness Research
Laboratories (ICRL), which has expanded this quest towards
understanding consciousness via an even more international
and integrative level.]

But back when I talked with my friend at PEAR, he informed me
of then annual conferences held at the University of Arizona,
sponsored by a group which later became known as the Center
for Consciousness Studies. Anyway, my friend was going to attend
one of their special conferences--and asked if I might like to join
him. It was Fall and growing cooler in Princeton, so I figured
warm Arizona might be just the kind of exposure I might need
trying to come to grips with this big "unknown" called

So we winged our way out to Phoenix, rented a car and drove
through the desert and cacti, and arrived in Tucson for maybe
one of the most fascinating congregation of people I have ever
encountered. The focus was Consciousness, but the approaches
towards such were about as diverse conceivable! Virtually all
the academic disciplines known seemed to be represented,
ranging from Physics, Mathematics, Biology, Philosophy, Ethics,
Theology, History, Sociology, Psychology, to Parapsychology.
Amazing, too, there were "big names" at this conference. That's
when I began to realize that the subject of Consciousness was
beginning to become hot stuff in the academic world.

Later I learned that the succeeding Center for Consciousness
Studies at the University of Arizona--now--was not only holding
annual meetings, but providing lecture series, interdisciplinary
graduate courses, bimonthly meetings, workshops, panels at
professional meetings, etc.

Well, I certainly got the message that Consciousness Research
was by no means just an "esoteric pursuit."

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