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On the Nature of Consciousness

Cognitive, Phenomenological, and Transpersonal Perspectives

Harry T. Hunt

View Inside Price: $70.00

August 30, 1995
384 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
15 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300062304

Out of Print

What is the relation between mystical experience and ordinary consciousness, between the principles of modern physics and the patterns of perception in all moving creatures, between our human self-consciousness and the more primary sentience of protozoa? This book pursues an inquiry into consciousness that ranges from ancient Greece to empirical neuro-psychology to the experiential traditions of introspection and meditation.

Harry Hunt begins by reviewing the renewed interest in ordinary consciousness and in altered and transpersonal states of consciousness. He then presents competing views of consciousness in cognition, neurophysiology, and animal psychology, developing a view of perceptual awareness as the core of consciousness potentially shared across species. Hunt next brings together the separate strands of neo-realist approaches to perception and thought, the phenomenology of imagery and synesthesia, and cognitive theories of metaphor. He develops an original cognitive theory of mystical experience that combines Buddhist meditative descriptions of consciousness and Heidegger's sense of Being. In relating both of these to James J. Gibson's views on perception, he avoids the various "new age" supernaturalisms that so often blight the transpersonal literature. Other themes include the relation between consciousness and time; the common perceptual-metaphoric rooting of parallels between consciousness and modern physics; and the communal basis of transpersonal states as reflected in a sociology of mysticism and a reinterpretation of parapsychological research.

Harry T. Hunt is professor of psychology at Brock University in Ontario and author of The Multiplicity of Dreams, published by Yale University Press.

"An original and intelligent work that will attract a wide variety of readers."—Gordon Globus, M.D., University of California, Irvine

"[A] profoundly fascinating book."—Gillian Mottran, Faith & Freedom

"In the information explosion that we all face there are a gifted few who can cross disciplinary boundaries and tie it all together. Harry Hunt is one of them."—Kathy Belicki, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

"What is so good about this book? . . . The subject matter . . . the vantage point . . . the scope . . . the writing style . . . and the integrative spirit. . . . A wonderfully ambitious and highly original book."—J. Allan Hobson, American Journal of Psychiatry

"This is a wise enquiry into the nature of consciousness. The author's approach is wide awake, and his text is clearly written and free of abstruse word games. . . . This book reflects the thinking of an unusually open, broadly educated, incisive and perceptive mind. Its thesis, easy to follow, is forcefully persuasive. harry Hunt has given the reader, not only food for thought, but an explanation of consciousness to cling to."—Stewart Wolf, Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science

"The breadth and depth of this brilliant synthesis defy neat description. . . . To the knowledge of this reviewer, Hunt's book is the most comprehensive theoretical treatise on consciousness; it should become part of the foundation of future theorizing and research."—Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"This book is astonishing. Rarely in modern academic discourse does one discover a work that is this wide ranging, this thought provoking, this audacious. Displaying a thorough grasp of a stunning range of materials, Harry T. Hunt brings together in one volume data and theories on the nature of consciousness from disciplines that are usually pursued in relative isolation from one another. . . . What makes this work truly stand out is Hunt's willingness to use this panoramic range of theories and research as raw material for several fascinating, if highly controversial, proposals of his own."—G. William Barnard, Journal of Religion