Sponsored By: Infinity Foundation

Menon Abstract

Paper and event sponsored by the Infinity Foundation, NJ, USA
Abstract of “Binding Experiences for a First-Person Approach: Looking at Indian Ways of Thinking (Darsana) and Acting (Natya) in the Context of Current Discussion on ‘Consciousness'” By Sangeetha Menon, PhD, Associate Fellow: Consciousness Studies, Philosophy of Science Unit, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Indian Institute of Science Campus, Bangalore, India 560 012

By following the current discussions on consciousness in the West one gets to think that the understanding of consciousness is dependent on the understanding of if not brain, physical processes guided by a mechanism and having the capabilities for replicating the phenomenon in vitro with the help of controlled experiments; secondly there is not a consensual definition of the problem, method and the major goals of inquiry itself; and thirdly there is insufficient recognition of the very complexity and subjective nature of the phenomenon. All the three features have jointly contributed towards generating vast literature, dialogues and discussions about a variety of issues relating to consciousness, the primary being empirical research and medical possibilities, especially in the area of ‘abnormalities’.

This paper will look at the importance of

i) recognizing ‘consciousness’ as a complex phenomenon by itself,
ii) understanding of ‘consciousness’ as an understanding of its ontology,
iii) shifting the focus of epistemology to normal and ordinary experiences from abnormal and transcendental experiences,
iv) holistic definition of the problem and method,
v) breaking ‘habitual’ ways of event or object oriented analysis by experience or first person oriented understanding,
vi) the categories of thinking formed by the analyst and his/her world view.

I will be looking at these issues in the context of two different traditions of thinking and experiencing: Indian epistemology (pramana-prameya-prama-prayojana vyaparah) and Indian dramaturgy (natya sastra).