Mind -- body -- spirituality

Mind and Matter 5 (2):215-240 (2007)
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The argument of this paper is that the modern brain-consciousness debate has left out one important element: the question of a transpersonal or spirit-like element of consciousness. Thus the problem really is not a mind-body-problem or brain-consciousness problem, but a mind-body-spirit or brain-consciousness-soul problem. Looking at the history of the debate it can be seen that, explicitly or implicitly, this aspect has always been part of the philosophical debate. Most notably, this can be seen in the Aristotelian concept of the soul, which held that form and matter were both together necessary to constitute a unity. But on top of that, a Platonic strand of teaching existed in Aristotle, which was lost. This tradition stipulated an aspect of the soul, the active intellect, that was separate and separable. This idea has inspired other and later writers into postulating an immortal part of the soul. In the modern debate this tradition has been lost and was frequently amalgamated with dualist positions. Phenomenological descriptions of mystical experiences, as well as other unusual (or exceptional)mind-matter anomalies suggest that this aspect of the problem needs reconsideration. For this purpose a transcendental kind of monism is suggested which does not violate the consensus that only a monist description of the world is scientifically viable. Such a position would, in addition, provide the option to incorporate the transpersonal side of the debate.



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