An East Asian Perspective of Mind-Body

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 21 (4):439-466 (1996)
Abstract
This paper addresses a need to re-examine the mind-body dualism established since Descartes. Descartes' dualism has been regarded by modern philosophers as an extremely insufficient solution to the problem of mind and body, from which is derived a long opposition in modern epistomology between idealism and empiricism. This dualism, bifurcating the region of spirit and matter, and the dichotomous models of thinking based on this dualism, have long dominated the world of modern philosophy and science. The paper examines states of conscious experience from an East Asian perspective allowing analysis on achieved supernormal consciousness rather than a focus on “normal” or “subnormal.” The nature of the “transformation” of human consciousness will be studied both philosophically, as a transformation from “provisional” dualism to non-dualism, and neurophysiologically. The theoretical structure of the transformation will, in part, be examined through the model provided by a Japanese medieval Zen master, Takuan Sôhô. Then, to verify Takuan's theoretical explanation, toposcopic analysis of electroencephalographs will be presented of the performance of individuals practicing the martial arts technique of tôate
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