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The Hard Problem Revisited: From Cognitive Neuroscience to Kabbalah and Back Again

  • B. Les Lancaster
Chapter
Part of the Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality book series (SNCS, volume 1)

Abstract

The dialogue between cognitive neuroscience and spirituality/mysticism has largely entailed measuring the neural and cognitive effects of spiritual practices. Such research follows from the spiritual traditions’ teachings about the intended psychological effects of practice. The ontologically more challenging postulates of spiritual traditions (e.g., mind beyond brain, ‘higher’ or ‘ultimate’ realities) are ignored when focusing in this way on measurable concomitants of practice. In this chapter I argue that the dialogue should be widened to include some of the ontologically more challenging concepts, where these involve references to the brain and psychological states. A specific example is examined in some detail: the kabbalistic worldview posits a correspondence between higher and lower levels in the cosmos (‘macrocosm’ and ‘microcosm’), and includes notions of unconscious thought arising in ‘brains’ in the Godhead. I demonstrate that the macrocosmic principles advanced in kabbalistic literature display a degree of concordance with the results of current research into the neural correlate of consciousness. I explore the implications of this concordance for the light it may cast on the enduring hard problem of consciousness.

Keywords

Human Mind Cognitive Neuroscience Hard Problem Active Intellect Spiritual Tradition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Netherlands 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Natural Sciences & PsychologyLiverpool John Moores UniversityLiverPoolUK

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