Lancaster (2004) presents 4 different levels of approaches to consciousness, the neurophysiological, cognitive and neuropsychological, psychodynamic and spiritual/mystical. I find it very useful and scientific to have such an overview of the ways we can and do approach consciousness.
Whilst Lancaster accurately points out to the different approaches to consciousness, I think that the larger academic community and cosmopolitan world around us somehow has an inherent drive or bias to have a “winner” approach or a best approach whilst not acknowledging the benefits multiple approaches might bring in their own right context and their inherent beliefs and how these shape such outcomes (Baruss 2008). It is my belief that limiting ourselves to choosing only one or two of these approaches as valid, or ourselves being biased by only one or two leaves a lot out that we are missing. I subscribe to Wilber’s (2017) notion that reality is tetra-enacted across the individual-subjective, individual-objective, collective-subjective, collective-objective, hence I think that we can gain a lot from understanding consciousness from all the approaches presented, not leaving any out and not completely ignoring consequentialism by focusing which approach maps out to which part of consciousness that it is trying to explain.
It appears quite clear, at least from my point of view, that none of the approaches on its own does justice to all there is in consciousness. One could argue that a spiritual/mystical non-dual realization is in the end all there ultimately IS to consciousness and reality ( I can think of Ramana Maharashis koan: “Everything that is not in deep dreamless sleep is not real”) however one cannot help but remain even slightly consequentialist and see that such a profound realization can help one understand a lot but might do little to better our understanding in relative reality, the messy life we lead day by day where some other approaches might have more pertinent solutions in store for us and for our understanding of consciousness.
In the end I do agree in a simple way with the statement that beliefs about reality fundamentally affect our theory of consciousness, however I want to stress that the source and form of these beliefs can be quite accurately mapped by using Wilber’s structure state model of reality (2017). For example, an individual at a rational structure of development (rational as basis, I agree that they overlap and are not rigid categories) and largely gross waking state will have very little chance to form genuine transcendent beliefs about reality as he simply did not gather the “evidence” needed to form such beliefs, the necessary evidence being first-hand direct experience of the subtle, causal, witness or non-dual states. His beliefs are shaped by his experience in structure and states (Vantage Point), whilst his theory of consciousness is ultimately affected by that.
Keep in mind that this is just a short post on a complex topic and until we will manage to release more in depth research in these areas, do email me at victor@quantumcivilization if you would like to disucss this topic in greater detail.
Ken Wilber, (2017), The Religion of Tomorrow, Shambala, First Edition
Barušs, I. (2008). Beliefs about consciousness and reality: Clarification of the confusion concerning consciousness. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 15(10–11), 277–292.
Cottrell, B. (2015). Only one mind: An artist’s exploration of consciousness. Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, 11(2), 127–135. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2014.12.002
Lancaster, B. L. (2004). Approaches to Consciousness: The Marriage of Science and Mysticism. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan