An Integral Theory of Consciousness Essay

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AN INTEGRAL THEORY OF CONSCIOUSNESS Ken Wilber Journal of Consciousness Studies, 4 (1), February 1997, pp. 71-92 Copyright, 1997, Imprint Academic Abstract: An extensive data search among various types of developmental and evolutionary sequences yielded a `four quadrant' model of consciousness and its development (the four quadrants being intentional, behavioural, cultural, and social). Each of these dimensions was found to unfold in a sequence of at least a dozen major stages or levels. Combining the four quadrants with the dozen or so major levels in each quadrant yields an integral theory of consciousness that is quite comprehensive in its nature and scope. This model is used to indicate how a general synthesis and integration of twelve of the most influential schools of consciousness studies can be effected, and to highlight some of the most significant areas of future research. The conclusion is that an `all-quadrant, all-level' approach is the minimum degree of sophistication that we need into order to secure anything resembling a genuinely integral theory of consciousness. Introduction There has recently been something of an explosion of interest in the development of a `science of consciousness', and yet there are at present approximately a dozen major but conflicting schools of consciousness theory and research. My own approach to consciousness studies is based on the assumption that each of these schools has something irreplaceably important to offer, and thus what is required is a general model sophisticated enough to incorporate the essentials of each of them. These schools include the following: 1. Cognitive science tends to view consciousness as anchored in functional schemas of the brain/mind, either in a simple representational fashion (such as Jackendoff's `computational mind') or in the more complex emergent/connectionist models, which

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