We review an article by Dr Chris Fields, Physicist, multidisciplinary scientist, author, in IAI News – changing how the world thinks, Issue 86, 2nd March 2020
His article begs the question, Are Dr Fields’ views an example of the conclusion science has come to about the source of all human experience in general and, from our point of view, mysticism in particular? Is he saying science can’t explain MER so shouldn’t bother?
DR FIELDS: “The ‘hard problem of consciousness’ (HPC) as originally stated by David Chalmers in The Conscious Mind (1996) is the problem of explaining how experience is possible. How is any experience, anywhere in the universe, possible? From the perspective of the HPC, a single experience of a flash of light is as mysterious as a full human experience of a summer’s day or the most profound mystical experience of the most enlightened monk.” (Our italics).
Dr Fields says there are three responses to the hard problem that reflect different ideas about experience. He asks if the hard problem of consciousness can be solved by either approach:
“The possibility of experience (i.e. consciousness) is derived or emergent from something else … it could be fundamental rather than derived (man made) with only some having it sometimes; all entities have it in different kinds.
He says assuming response #1 we could take either of two tactics. One is to define consciousness as some other property but this does not explain how experience is possible. He says it “dodges the HPC instead of solving it. In short, the hard problem of consciousness seems unsolvable using response #1. It can be dodged, but not solved.”
In response #2 the problem is to explain how or why some systems have experiences but others do not. What is the basis for explaining this? What facts could possibly be relevant?
(So far no one has discovered a single common qualification for having the mystical experience of Reality, (MER). (Our italics).
Dr Fields says without such “independent criteria” the question is unsolvable. “If a system is conscious, it is conscious by its very nature, not for some other reason.”
He says response #3 says that all entities – everything that exists – has experiences. “There is no reason why or how. They just have them. End of story.
“The hard problem of consciousness (MER?) is therefore either unsolvable or unstatable. Knowing this, how should we respond? In my view, we should quit worrying about it. It is irrelevant to any possible science of consciousness.”
I am a big fan of “shouldn’t bother”. Or at least as applied to my own interest in finding and answer to such a question. The materialist will inevitably come up with the usual reductive and depressing theories so as far as I am concerned he can keep them. Consciousness is a delusion and anyone believing he has had a mystical experience is psychotic…. Something along those lines represents the typical scientific view. Anyway as I have been saying often of late I prefer these days to have experiences rather than try to explain those experiences. Old, tired and bored with pedantic reductionists!
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Hear, hear! Anthony.
Seems the good doctor has arrived at the only probable answer: You can’t prove
the mystic experience by current scientific methods.
So does ‘science’ have to change, rather than Reality!
Maybe science is being reduced to material scientific methodology, leaving the field to transpersonal psychology to unravel the mystical experience of Reality (MER)?
Perhaps transpersonal psychology will find Reality’s key to Existence eventually? I doubt it. I can’t see a multi trillion year old Existence left to the stewardship of a primitive humanity that’s only six million years old.
I can’t wait to se what science or transpersonal psychologists make of Hindhuism’s experience of the yugs. Hinduism says everything on earth is wiped out and starts again every few thousand years or so. Heh, heh.
But yes, he does seem to be saying we should investigate the easy stuff like neural correlates and leave the hard stuff like how such experiences arise and where they come from. Rather like electricity or gravity I suppose. Or matter. We seem to be able to describe what all this stuff “does” but we really have no idea what it is or where it came from.
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Albert Einstein said that he was not a mystic, but he often sounded like one:
“…the most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty – which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form – this knowledge, this feeling, is at the center of all religion.”
A good reference is “Quantum Questions / Mystical Writings of the World’s Greatest Physicists, ” edited by Ken Wilber
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