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Monday, July 10 • 16:00 - 16:30
3020 Liminal Consciousness - A Systemic Theory for 'Altered States of Consciousness'

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Academic psychology focuses mainly on research regarding rational consciousness, while other forms of consciousness are first and foremost marginalized as ‘altered states of consciousness’. The indication of ‘altered states of consciousness’ consistently reproduces: firstly the positing of rational consciousness as a primal given; secondly the fixation on a (consciousness)process as a state; thirdly the mistake, to characterize something as ‘altered’ which is defined by constant alteration; fourthly a dichotomization of ‘normal’ and ‘altered’, which conceals the ongoing reproduction of rational consciousness; and fifthly the suggestion that non-rational consciousness is epistemically inferior, illegitimate and deviant. This paper aims to make a contribution to solving those problems, by focusing central aspects of autopoietic systems theory and the fundamental term liminality, which are then combined to a new theory of non-rational consciousness. In this paper the term ‘liminal consciousness’ is used, which refers to forms of a psychic system that are less focused on points of reference, rather they converge to the limit of (temporary) omission of its autopoiesis. This concept is not thought of as a dichotomous category, but rather as a continuously increasing omission of the reproduction of self-referential structures. Three basic possibilities are identified, which can lead to liminal consciousness: a focus on self-reference, a focus on external-reference, or a short-circuit of concentration by focusing on the occurrence of thoughts. Within this framework many forms of consciousness, e.g. those ‘invited’ by ecstatic or meditative practice, can be conceptualized, without relying on religious, reductionist or mystic terms. This paper recommends the use of the term ‘liminal consciousness’ over ‘altered states of consciousness’, to improve the connectivity of communication within the scientific system.

Monday July 10, 2017 16:00 - 16:30

Attendees (3)