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Keywords:

  • phenomenology;
  • existentialism;
  • altered states;
  • consciousness research;
  • anomolous experience

Abstract

The anthropology of consciousness is a field of enormous and demanding scope. In this article, there is no attempt to address all of the current trends in thinking and research; rather, the aim was to draw a line through the field that extends from the 19th century and European philosophies to some contemporary expressions of those philosophies in social science research. In particular, taking the original project of Edmund Husserl, an approach to the phenomenological investigation of the nature of consciousness and, in addition, states of consciousness is proposed in the form of “existential grammars.” The treatment is propaedeutic: The ideas presented here are part of an on-going, long-term project tied to cross-cultural and experimental research on consciousness. However, the short-term outcomes are promising in elucidating the foundational questions not only about consciousness but also about specific areas of interest such as healing and the nature of scientific investigation itself. One important direction in this work is to illuminate, where possible, the pre-reflective rationalities of human experience, of consciousness itself, in such a way that we might generate codes of consciousness ultimately not as the equivalent of genetic models, but as descriptors of the core matrix of consciousness out of which alterations of consciousness might be better understood.