January 26, 2006

Science of inner experience

KARL JASPERS FORUM TA13 (McFarlane on Integral Science) Commentary 3 (ON INTEGRAL SCIENCE) by Henry Swift21 October 1998, posted 10 November 1998
The overall comment that seems most appropriate is applause. McFarlane has written a clear, logical and coherent description of what he calls Integral science. This view of science encompasses both outer and inner experience and is generally in agreement with similar views of others such as Amit Goswami and Ed. Close. It also provides an integration of science and religion, by extending the purview of science to include inner experience, and restricting the propositions from religion to those learned from inner, mystical experience. All of this is deserving of acclaim.
<1>A major point made by McFarlane [15-21] is that there is a science of inner experience; that the experiential approach is as applicable here as in ordinary science's dealing with phenomena in the outer world. He periodically introduces throughout his paper quotations from both scientists and mystics, with both treated of equal significance. His comparison of the science of religion with the science of mathematics is particularly instructive, in that in both the truth of a proposition is determined by a consensus within their inner experience among a community of trained observers in the respective fields. This point was also made in the quotations from Ken Wilber in my TA11 C16.This point counters the usual, particularly strong belief, among scientists that religious pronouncements arise only from imaginings and superstition, with no truth-value at all.
However one should remember that spirituality is more than merely reaching consensus about inner experience. Spirituality is fundamentally a transformation of being, and must therefor be communicated directly, as being.
<2>I do also have a comment on the tone of McFarlane's paper. It is somewhat world-negating, which has been the approach of spiritual traditions. I hope that the integration of science and spirituality leads to a more positive outlook toward the world of manifestation. This is the message of such luminaries as Teilhard de Chardin, and Sri Aurobindo within Consciousness.
<3>In passing, there seems to be a proliferation of names for a new paradigm that integrates science and spirituality. I hope that McFarlane is aware of the work of Goswami, who calls this new paradigm Science Within Consciousness. Since this is quite generic and includes all the integrative aspects of the new science that needs to be included (including both outer and inner experiences), is it really necessary to coin new names? --Henry Swifte-mail

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