Kathleen D. Noble
Introduces the field of consciousness studies. Explores the interaction of mind and body through scientific studies of dreams, intuition, and intention, and anomalous phenomena. Includes the role of mediation and contemplative practices in physical and psychological well-being. Offered: A.
This course explores the nature and existence of consciousness and addresses such questions as "How does consciousness arise? Does consciousness emerge from or is it independent of physical reality? Why do non-Western wisdom traditions and Western scientific perspectives disagree so completely in their ideas about consciousness?" We will examine the evidence for extra-sensory phenomena, placebos, intuitive intelligence, and near death experiences, and investigate the creative and potential of dreams and shamanic experiences.
Student learning goals
Understand the ontological and epistemological differences between Western and non-Western ideas about consciousness.
Describe the incidence, prevalence, and variety of experiences considered anomalous in Western culture and the range of scientific experiments designed to investigate them.
Understand the basic concept of meditation and how it is used in both contemplative traditions and Western medicine to explore different states of consciousness.
Understand the relevance of dreams, near-death experiences, placebos, shamanism, and traditional Chinese medical practices to the study of consciousness.
Demonstrate the ability to read carefully and discuss cogently the ideas and experiments described in the texts.
Better understand your own beliefs about consciousness and develop skills of self-reflection, introspection, and contemplation.
General method of instruction
Lecture, seminar, discussion.
An open and curious mind; willingness to read carefully and study diligently the material presented in class; ability to challenge yourself to think in new ways and be open to perspectives that might be unfamiliar or uncomfortable; attendance and effective participation in every class session.
Class assignments and grading
1. Mayer, E.L. (2007). Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind. NY: Bantam Books. 2. Moody, R.A. (1975, 2001). Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon – Survival of Bodily Death.
Required Readings on Course E-Reserve: 1) Van de Castle, R.L. (1994). “Dreams: Portals between our inner and outer worlds” (pp. 3-9) and “Dreams that have changed the world” (pp. 10-42). In Our Dreaming Mind. NY: Ballantine Books. 2) Van Lommel, P. (2006). “Near-death experience, consciousness, and the brain.” World Futures, 62, 134-151. 2) Harner, M. (1980, 1990). “The Shamanic Journey: Introduction” (pp. 20-30) and “Shamanism and States of Consciousness” (pp. 40-56). In The Way of the Shaman. NY: HarperOne. 3) HH The Dalai Lama. (2005). “The Question of Consciousness” (pp. 117-137) and “Toward a Science of Consciousness” (pp. 141-161). In The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality. NY: Morgan Road Books.
Films (In class)
1) Science and the Taboo of Psi. 2) Ken Wilber: Meditation and Effects on EEG Readings 3) The Placebo Effect 4) Healing and the Mind: Chi (Volume 1) 5) What are Dreams? 6) The Day I Died: The Mind, the Brain, and Near-Death Experiences. 7) PEAR: Research Findings from the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab. 8) Excerpts from "The Shaman’s Message" 9) Alan Wallace: Toward a Revolution in the Mind Sciences 10) 10 Questions for the Dalai lama 7)
Grades are determined by performance on written assignments, in-class midterm exam, take-home midterm exam, final essay and presentation, and participation.
• Study questions (40%): 2 page, written responses to 16 study questions due at the beginning of each appropriate class session.
• In class mid-term exam (20%).
• Final Reflection Essay (20%) and presentation(10%): 5 pages reflecting on what you learned during the course. This essay will integrate your thoughts about the material we read or watched and discussed throughout the quarter. I want to know what you think about these ideas and issues and how you and your ideas have grown over the course of the course. [Typed, double-spaced, Times Roman 12 point font. Hard copies only. Due last day of class. No late or handwritten papers accepted.] Each student will present the main points of his or her final essay on the last day of class.
• Participation (10%): Students will evaluate themselves based on their level of participation, preparation to raise questions based on the readings, use of notes and texts to support their questions and contributions, and respect shown for other students. I will take students’ self-evaluations into serious account when determining final participation grades.