Placing Pure Experience of Eastern Tradition into the Neurophysiology of Western Tradition

Cognitive Neurodynamics 13 (1):121-123 (2019)
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While the presence or absence of consciousness plays the central role in the moral/ethical decisions when dealing with patients with disorders of consciousness (DOC), recently it is criticized as not adequate due to number of reasons, among which are the lack of the uniform definition of consciousness and consequently uncertainty of diagnostic criteria for it, as well as irrelevance of some forms of consciousness for determining a patient’s interests and wishes. In her article, Dr. Specker Sullivan reexamined the meaning of consciousness in the DOC taxonomy and proposed to go away from the routinely used clinical definition of consciousness as “wakeful awareness”, and adopt the meaning that is common in the Eastern tradition which is a form of “pure experience” (Specker Sullivan 2018). She further argued that understanding consciousness as a “pure experience” is ethically relevant for DOC patients. This suggestion is original, novel and important since it preserves the importance of the notion of consciousness for the clinical practice while simultaneously offering an additional ethical tool for the moral decisions in medicine. At the same time, without placing such Eastern notion in the Western tradition it is difficult to see how pure experience could be usefully operationalized to make sense in the clinical practice with DOC patients. It is so because pure experience is a subjective phenomenon which is completely inaccessible in noncommunicative DOC patients and also it does not express behaviorally (Monti et al 2010), therefore some objective-like operationalization is needed. This is why the fusion of Eastern and Western traditions is required to gain the full potential of Dr. Specker Sullivan’s suggestion. We propose that such fusion could be achieved on the basis of the Operational Architectonics (OA) theory of brain-mind functioning (Fingelkurts et al. 2010; 2013a) which suits ideally the purpose due its compatibility with both Western and Eastern traditions of consciousness.



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Andrew And Alexander Fingelkurts
BM-Science - Brain and Mind Technologies Research Centre