Thursday, October 04, 2007

Stairways to the Mind

Alwyn Scott passed away recently. "Stairways to the Mind" was one of his books, on levels of organization and emergent properties. I knew him when he was at Wisconsin, and later read a copy of this book in draft form, to offer comments. In looking back over his work, I came across a review of the book written by Willis Harman, one of the founders of the Noetic Sciences Institute, which included a mild criticism that I don't completely agree with, but thought interesting:
Having gone so far in urging the usefulness of a hierarchical structuring of science, and having recognized (with Roger Sperry) that the consciousness level can be causal with regard to the biological or physical level (as well as the reverse), it seems a pity not to have gone one step further to recognize that the new disciplines of transpersonal psychology and anthropology, and the deepest insights of artists and mystics, can fit quite comfortably within the top level of the hierarchy. The metaphysical insight that the material world evolves within consciousness can live side by side with the complementary metaphor of consciousness as emergent from the physical.

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