Science and Consciousness

David Lorimer (Editor). Science. Consciousness and Ultimate Reality. Imprint Academic, 2004.

A collection of essays on the problems of consciousness, the nature of reality, and the relationship between science and religion. Although several viewpoints are expressed but mainstream scientific naturalism tends to be downplayed. It would seem that the majority of the contributors are unhappy with scientific naturalism and especially with the idea that consciousness is contingent on brain activity. It is probably the psychical researchers Bernard Carr and David Fenwick who express the most traditional dualistic approaches. Curiously Carr emerges as even more materialist than the naturalists when he argues that our perceptions exist in higher dimensional physical space. Philosopher Mary Midgley and psychologist Stuart Claxon argue against this kind of apartheid dualism which sees the ‘real person’ as something alien and apart from the natural world.
 
Several writers address the relationship between science and religion, which they invariably equate with Trinitarian Christianity, and claims that theology has access to truths that science doesn’t. The problem here that they make claims that some mythologies (for example the Hebrew, or the Vedic in the case of some of the other contributors) contain truths that others (e.g. Viking, Sioux, Xhosa, Roman) don’t. Perhaps we should look on a more global basis to all the world’s traditions. For example reviving the notion of the ‘un-dead’ may help to solve a number of current medico-ethical problems. Instead of seeing the world in sharp terms of the living and the dead, we should see that there are various levels of ‘un-death’ between the two.  |P.R.|


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