Consciousness Studies: Cross-Cultural Perspectives
Consciousness is perplexing: too familiar and intimate to ignore, too complex and elusive to understand. Although consciousness is embedded in all our experience and is considered basic to all our knowing, no one seems to know what exactly it is, and the concept is both widely used and much abused. For the better part of the twentieth century, the study of consciousness was viewed as unworthy of scholarly and scientific pursuit. Research has consequently suffered. This cross-cultural examination first explores the varieties of conscious experience and reflects on the attempts to understand and explain consciousness in the Western scholarly and scientific tradition. The next section deals with Eastern spiritual traditions and how they differ with and complement the Western viewpoints. In the final chapters the author reconciles the two traditions for a comprehensive understanding of what consciousness is, and considers how such an understanding may be helpful for a cross-cultural assessment of behavior, as well as for enhancing human abilities and wellness.