Towards a Real Science of Consciousness
Consciousness which is uniquely universal among all people, is also completely personal to each person. Though universal to the human experience, as a subjective and introspective phenomenon, it resists easy quantification and measurement. Traditional scientific methodologies in physics, chemistry and biology, which rely on objectively and collectively observable data, have long skirted the study of consciousness since it does not play nicely with its methods. But there is undoubtedly great reward to be found in better understanding consciousness, and this understanding will require a broad and interdisciplinary approach that incorporates philosophy and psychology with hard sciences and theoretical mathematics.
The prevailing emphasis on practicality and profitability that rules our early 21st century world has locked the common sense idea of what it means to do science into the domain of highly trained and hyper-specialized science, technology and math experts who are pragmatically focused on what can best direct engineering applications toward profitable outcomes.
Profit-oriented science has undeniably played a significant role in directing research towards areas that offer tangible commercial potential. The quest for patents, marketable products, and financial returns has driven a considerable portion of scientific endeavors. As a result, studies that promise immediate returns – such as advancements in physics, technology, medicine, and industry – maintain `substantial funding and recognition.
But the narrowing of our scientific focus primarily to the material interests of industry - which began with the industrial revolution and was reinforced through subsequent world wars and industrial and technological booms - has established a dogma asserting that that the fundamental nature of all reality, including the thoughts in our heads, is all about physical material.
This prevalent scientific dogma that accepts materialist explanations as the only legitimate basis for scientific hypotheses dismisses or overlooks other paths of inquiry that could be taken around the nature of reality. This materialist bias now tends to restrict certain directions of scientific inquiry, preventing us from fully exploring the profound and transformative implications that the study of consciousness can offer.
Recognizing the importance of shifting this paradigm is crucial. Broadening the scope of scientific inquiry to include alternate hypotheses about the nature of consciousness and subjective experience opens up new avenues of exploration and unlocks the potential for groundbreaking insights into the very nature of reality itself. It invites us to bridge the gap between objective observations and the rich tapestry of human experience.
Moreover, placing consciousness at the forefront of scientific inquiry can have far-reaching consequences for our society. It can help us develop a deeper understanding of mental health, human behavior, and the complexities of interpersonal relationships. It may also contribute to advancements in areas such as Artificial Intelligence, as we strive to create technologies that truly grasp the essence of human consciousness.
To break free from the limitations of the commerce-centered materialist dogma, we must foster a more inclusive scientific culture. This entails encouraging interdisciplinary collaboration, providing resources and support for consciousness-focused research, and valuing the exploration of the subjective aspects of human experience.
As each of us is in possession of consciousness, no extensive specialized labs or machines are needed for anyone to work directly with this subject of scientific inquiry.
By embracing consciousness as a prominent area of scientific inquiry and democratizing who can form hypotheses about its nature that can be explored through equally democratized philosophical and experimental practice, we can challenge the status quo and uncover profound insights into the nature of our existence. We can each ask fundamental questions about the nature of consciousness, explore its connection to the physical world, and delve into the potential realms of expanded human potential and interconnectedness.
Reorienting our scientific priorities to encompass consciousness does not necessitate disregarding materialistic studies or scientific approaches to examination of theories and hypotheses. Instead, it involves recognizing that an integrative approach that sets aside a dogman of materialism and acknowledges the role of consciousness in shaping our reality enriches our scientific understanding and promotes a more holistic perspective.
So let’s begin to develop a more democratic scientific landscape that values the pursuit of knowledge beyond the pursuit of profit, where curiosity-driven exploration of consciousness is cherished, and where the study of particles, molecules and minerals coexists harmoniously with the exploration of consciousness itself. In doing so, we can embark on a transformative journey that transcends the confines of materialism that may begin to unveil the mysteries of consciousness and reveal the vast possibilities it holds for the advancement of humanity.