MiCon 2002
Mind and Consciousness: Various Approaches

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Paper and event sponsored by the Infinity Foundation, NJ, USA

Abstract of "Can Scientific Research on Meditation Ever Really Be Significant?" By Jonathan Shear, PhD, Professor of Philosophy, Virginia Commonwealth University. Editor, Journal of Consciousness Studies.

Responses to the question of whether scientific research on meditation range from "No, all objective significance is evaluable scientifically," to "Yes, the objective realm in which science operates is intrinsically incapable of capturing the reality of the spiritual." These differences reflect various factors, such as paradigms of reality (material, spiritual), presuppositions about the purposes of meditation (health, moral behavior, enhanced psychology, enlightenment, contact with divinity, perception of the ground of being), and conceptions of what empirical scientific research is. Analysis of (i) the current status of meditation-related research and (ii) the logic of possible future research (including research on "supernormal" claims) supports the conclusion (iiii) that scientific research--defined via methodology rather than doctrine--is at all points precisely what is needed to evaluate the significance of meditation-related claims in a rational way.