The Open Mind Project

Evan Thompson has kindly alerted us to a very interesting development, the Open Mind project, which just went live: http://open-mind.net. From the “About” page:

This is an edited collection of 39 original papers and as many commentaries and replies.  . . Besides offering a cross-section of ongoing, cutting-edge research in philosophy and cognitive science, this collection is also intended to be a free electronic resource for teaching. It therefore also contains a selection of online supporting materials, pointers to video and audio files and to additional free material supplied by the 92 authors represented in this volume. We will add more multimedia material, a searchable literature database, and tools to work with the online version in the future. All contributions to this collection are strictly open access. They can be downloaded, printed, and reproduced by anyone.

Of special interest to our own readers is Evan’s own paper, “Dreamless Sleep, the Embodied Mind, and Consciousness: The Relevance of a Classical Indian Debate to Cognitive Science.” Evan masterfully illustrates how to bring a very “classical” debate in India into conversation with contemporary cognitive science. His abstract:

One of the major debates in classical Indian philosophy concerned whether consciousness is present or absent in dreamless sleep. The philosophical schools of Advaita Vedānta and Yoga maintained that consciousness is present in dreamless sleep, whereas the Nyāya school maintained that it is absent. Consideration of this debate, especially the reasoning used by Advaita Vedānta to rebut the Nyāya view, calls into question the standard neuroscientific way of operationally defining consciousness as “that which disappears in dreamless sleep and reappears when we wake up or dream.” The Indian debate also offers new resources for contemporary philosophy of mind. At the same time, findings from cognitive neuroscience have important implications for Indian debates about cognition during sleep, as well as for Indian and Western philosophical discussions of the self and its relationship to the body. Finally, considerations about sleep drawn from the Indian materials suggest that we need a more refined taxonomy of sleep states than that which sleep science currently employs, and that contemplative methods of mind training are relevant for advancing the neurophenomenology of sleep and consciousness.

 

About Matthew Dasti

Matthew R. Dasti is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bridgewater State University.

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