TOWARD A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS by Kenneth R. Pelletier

TOWARD A SCIENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Pelletier may be grasping for a science of consciousness but he's not reaching it. This text is a mÉlange of hunches and feelings, quotes and minimally reported data by a researcher associated with the Langley Porter Neuropsychiatric Institute in San Francisco. It makes consciousness intriguing, yes, but more elusive than ever. There is much verbiage about the Uncertainty Principle and Complementarity, holograms, and Fourier transforms, all of which suggests that mind/brain exhibit such phenomena. Further, mind/brain interact; they are not opposed. Is mind ever defined? Is consciousness defined? (One longs for Jaynes' elegant delineation of the many things consciousness is not!) Instead of meanings there are tedious discussions of right-brain left-brain, along with much enthusiasm for biofeedback and for yogis and others who have achieved altered states of you-know-what. There is also glaring misinformation (""The thalamus. . . appears to be hollow and may be said to resemble an empty room""); sloppiness (the spinal cord is often equated with autonomic activity and the cortex with higher order thinking); and wishful thinking (""Startling feats of autonomic control nearly rivaling those of adept yogis are demonstrated by average individuals every day""). Certainly there should be studies of consciousness, certainly research should probe the complexities of central nervous system activities in examining how emotions and motivation (or ""will"") affect states of health or disease. But this kind of information will not come from an approach which reports, ""Experimental research. . . has yielded data permitting great refinement of the concept of ephemeral mind acting upon static matter; [theirs] is a model of ineffably subtle interractions among infinitesimal energy fields occurring in quantum space."" With hyperbole like that who needs reason?

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1978
Publisher: Delacorte