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image of Method & Theory in the Study of Religion

Although the subject matter of religious studies is essentially phenomenal (e.g., conscious acts, attitudes, intentions, worldviews), the analysis of the basic datum, consciousness itself, remains of necessity incomplete because of the discipline's restriction to the phenomenal envelope. Philosophical and psychological analysis contributed to our understanding of consciousness, but, lacking access to the neurological engine-room of consciousness, their explanatory power is compromised as well. Neuroscience, on the other hand, has moved beyond the behaviorist denial of consciousness and recent research indicates that the evolutionary development of the brain's representational capacity may well account for its ability to generate consciousness. These advances provide an opportunity to marry objective explanation with phenomenological descriptions of the view from the inside, creating a powerful new analytic tool: Neuro-phenomenology. Comprised of an exaggerated differentiation between conscious state and informational content, and constituting an important phenomenological category within many Hindu and Buddhist programs, lucid consciousness makes an ideal subject with which to assess the analytic power of Neurophenomenology.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Studies in Religion, University of Queensland


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