i n t e g r a l c o u n s e l i n g i n s t i t u t e
May 2006 Book Review and Quotes Archive
Conference Review: Toward A Science of Consciousness
I have had the good fortune to attend four of these conclaves in the desert: 1998, 2000, 2004, and 2006.
Their hallmark is academic intensity, diversity, and for me, at least, biannual inspiration. They are unique,
so say the attendees, in bringing together multiple disciplines - philosophy, neuroscience specialties,
quantum physics, anthropology, psychology, parapsychology, information theorists, and practitioners of
meditative traditions - all arrayed to shed some light on what Co-chair of the conference, David Chalmers,
dubbed the "easy" and the
works in terms of neural pathways, sensory integration and anatomical structure - in large part a mapping
process of the neural correlates of consciousness or NCCs. The hard problem is how the sense of
vivid subjective experience comes about. Qualia is the term describing such things as our experience of
the color crimson or the aroma of a Stilton cheese. David's site is a hub for articles, consciousness
links, and all
Hameroff described: "all continents but Antarctica". With over three hundred presentations in keynote,
plenary, concurrent, and poster sessions running from 8:30 in the morning till ten (or later) at night, the
challenge is to pick and choose themes or presenters and pace yourself to stay alert enough to soak up
the highlights. Huge plastic urns of coffee on the hospitality table may just be the secret energy source
driving the consciousness behind the conference. Check out the abstracts yourself at
psychoanalyst Mark Solms on the proposition: Freud's Dream Theory is Misguided and Misleading
and Should Be Abandoned. For an audience of contemporary scientists, it seemed Hobson's debate
to lose. He then commenced to do so and by no small margin. I was ready to vote his way before the
swung strongly to Solm's pro-Freud-in-perspective position.
self-righteous attitude. Though he accused Solms of "egregious errors of logic" he, himself, made an
egregious error of fact in claiming Solms had never published in a peer reviewed journal. In fact, he
has some 300 citations. It's a tough bluff when you've got Google on your side. I used the debate title
in a verse of "Crossroads Zombie" to immortalize the debate and Hobson's attitude. The brilliant and
effervescent Sue Blackmore, author of Teaching Consciousness has a jounalist's eye for detail on this
debate in her blog:
brain function and epiphenomenal consciousness. Keynoter Giulio Tononi gave a tour de force address:
An information integration theory of consciousness. Douglas Hofstadter perhaps best popularly known
as the author of Godel, Escher, Bach gave a startlingly, seemingly extemporaneous but for hand drawn
and colored overheads (refreshing, actually, in the age of power point overkill), titled Strange loops,
downward causation, and distributed consciousness. Let me refer you to the blog of my colleague
at ICI, John Parker,
for more detail regarding the information theme:
also the title of his newly released book. He offered up history and meta-analysis of paranormal (psychic)
research using quantum physics as metaphor and speculative model for explanatory theory. It was a
fascinating take both in hypothesis supporting the phenomena and explanation of its stigma to the
business of science. Read more at
www.alanwallace.org , and Clifford Saron led a pre-conference workshop titled: Toward a Science
of Contemplative Practice. As a clinician interested in meditation for stress and pain management,
I am also keenly interested in the methods for making essentially internal, subjective experience
an objective focus of understanding, enhancement, and validation. Alan's one-of-a-kind personal
background and position made their presentation a personal
night of revelry at the Congress Hotel by David Chalmers and Stu Hameroff. It is now an earlier evening
(10pm till midnight) performance art spectacle of music, poetry, observation, and bit shtick, introduced
by Hameroff's reading the consciousness-observed poetry of "Homeless Joe" and capped by the amazing
physical theatre antics of David Chalmers slinking Garlandesque to the stage apron and casting his six foot
self from the edge only to catch at the last split second by the stair handrail, hovering above the abyss in
come-hither levitation, while he composes a new verse for the night's anthem: the Zombie Blues. This
sight alone is well worth the price of admission.
just won't stop. My third ode to the conference in song: Crossroads Zombie completed The Triple Crown
Zombie Trilogy. Give a listen by clicking on the songs below for an alternative take on TASOC 2006.
Perhaps I'll see you there in 2008.
Tom Tower, Integral Counseling Institute
LISTEN TO THE TRIPLE CROWN ZOMBIE TRILOGY BY CLICKING ON THE TITLE!
Zombie Babe Blues* (2000 First Place Winner!)
No Simple Zombie* (2004 First Runner Up!)
Crossroads Zombie (Tom was disqualified for too many previous wins,
but this one stands on it's own for 2006!)
Tom and David Chalmers Tom and the effervescent Sue Blackmore The ICI Delegation (John Parker, Tom and Debbie)
Thanks so Kyle Gribskov for the photos!
May 2006 Weekly Quotes
I am interested in what is on top of information processing -
that is consciousness.
You are not wasting your time generating objectless
Some scientists feel the ultimate direction of scientific research would be the merger of
all three scientific revolutions in the far future. The quantum theory would provide us with
microscopic quantum transistors smaller than a neuron. The computer revolution would
give us neural networks as powerful as those found in the brain. And the biomolecular
revolution would give us the ability to replace the neural networks of our brain with synthetics
ones, thereby giving us a form of immortality.
the brain, but without a master conductor orchestrating the whole process. With all these
thoughts and sensations rippling past our brain, we are only left with the illusion that there
is a "place" where our soul and consciousness resides.