Nature of Consciousness
vsundaresan at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 19 12:56:40 CDT 1999
I think this issue is indeed very pertinent to this list. It is a
contemporary take on some traditional concerns of advaita vedAntins, namely
the analysis of states of consciousness, and the mechanisms of sense
perception, eventually leading to epistemology.
>How can a living person have _any_ state in the absence of brain
This is one of the central issues of advaita epistemology. That is why the
Self is distinguished from manas and buddhi, usually translated as mind and
intellect respectively. In modern scientific terminology, this issue relates
directly to neurology and brain physiology. Many traditional writers have
spent a lot of effort in discussing this from the traditional perspective.
I, for one, think that it would be useful to relate the traditional and the
contemporary aspects of this issue.
>This is the crux of the issue. Is it not obvious that consciousness is the
>medium of all human experience, regardless of whether consciousness is
>produced by the nervous system or vice versa? So how can a valid argument
>made on this basis that "all there is is consciousness"?
It would be useful to make a distinction between awareness or consciousness
in relation to sense objects and pure consciousness, which is
non-relational. There is no means of proof that establishes the latter,
simply because all human intellectual activity presumes it. Traditional
Advaita takes the view that pure consciousness is identical with pure being,
and is self-established. It is perhaps easier to see within advaita vedAnta,
that pure being has to be admitted as the substratum of the_all. It is the
equation of pure being with pure consciousness that remains a big issue.
There is a scriptural basis for this equation, which cannot be established
using other means of knowing.
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