Waking, Dreaming, and Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy

Evan Thompson. Columbia Univ, $32.95 (480p) ISBN 978-0-231-13709-6
Thompson (Mind in Life), a philosopher and fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, sets out to explore consciousness taking his cue from a question he heard posed by the Dalai Lama: “Is consciousness wholly dependent on the brain or does consciousness transcend the brain?” Drawing on rich and diverse sources from neuroscience, philosophy, religion, and personal narratives, Thompson tediously examines consciousness and the sense of self across waking, dreaming, and deep-sleep states, as well as meditative states of heightened awareness and concentration. In the waking state, for instance, consciousness comprises diverse moments of awareness that can be shaped by the ways that attention shifts from one thing to another. In states of deep sleep, a subtle form of consciousness continues, which standard physiological evidence from sleep science cannot rule out, and Thompson argues that neuroscientists and contemplative thinkers can find common ground from which to rethink the ways consciousness functions in deep sleep. Encouraging dialogue between neuroscientists and contemplatives, Thompson concludes that in his research he has found that “wisdom includes a kind of awakening—a waking up to the dream of independent existence without having to wake up from the dreaming.” (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/22/2014
Release date: 11/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 496 pages - 978-0-231-13695-2
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