Scientists dislike New Age subjects, but the issue of consciousness has been perhaps better approached via the ‘praxis’ of meditation than science. Argue that all you wish, but the issues of life, evolution, and consciousness elude science, and one suspects will continue to do so.
I have often discussed the issue of Samkhya, off the wall or not, and the version of J.G.Bennett which has a useful map of reality: a triple distinction in a scheme of universal materiality of the hyponomic, autonomic,and hypernomic. If, in addition, we bring in the noumenal/phenomenal distinction, we have ‘four’ realms, with an aspect beyond knowledge and observation.
The hyponomic is the realm studied in physics, the autonomic the realm of life, and, well, the hypernomic is beyond our knowledge at this point but is probably visible to us right under our noses as ‘consciousness’, a hopeless case term that shifts gears between different meanings. Samkhya in a funny way rescues us from new age mysticism by concretizing the ‘spiritual’ as material, but in a new sense. In fact, we know little of this realm and Bennett’s depiction is not especially clear, but perhaps the point here is that science as we know it from physics has explored very systematically the hyponomic realm, begun to move into the study of the autonomic realm, and is a basket case as to the hypernomic. But this leaves us to wonder if it isn’t the case that science has failed to explicate the life realm, or the once-called ‘spiritual’ realm, a realm that is not noumenal, as such, but so far beyond man’s experience or knowledge. But it is important to consider the way the noumenal and the ‘spiritual’ have been confused: samkhya insists we consider ‘material’ much that we thought ‘spiritual’, and yet the Kantian take also suggests the ‘real spiritual’ or noumenal beyond the three components of the material. This may be speculative but it makes sense of the total confusion now current.
Note: we must be careful not to equate the hypernomic with is crude outer manifestation in animals as the spectra of ‘consciousness’. The full hypernomic is simply unknown, although Bennett has some placeholders for its stages beyond consciousness. Who knows? Immense confusion has already arisen with claims ‘consciousness’ is all the totality, or that the universe is ‘conscious’, maybe true, but not what we think, etc…
Let’s make a guess that science, as seen in its failure to understand the evolution of life, and its failure to explicate consciousness, is stuck in its low ball perspective, on the way to higher understandings, if such are possible. It makes sense to consider that ‘consciousness’ is the hypernomic component entering the ‘animal’ evolution of living forms one that is a relatively primitive substrate of something we know very little about. Consciousness at the low end of the hypernomic is almost crude by comparison with the higher aspects of materiality beyond low-grade ‘consciousness’ that enters animal forms, and which is clearly equivocated in the ability of man to proceed beyond mechanical consciousness as it blends with the life realm to, well, a form of consciousness (the term here goes into reversal) that is somehow conscious of itself, self-conscious. This amounts to saying that consciousness has a kind of octane aspect and can upgrade its quality. Whatever the case this is perhaps prima facie evidence of our still minimal interaction with the hypernomic.
It is thus no use saying science is the arbiter of all knowledge. It has no real knowledge of the onset of life, or its evolution, nor of the consciousness that enters and pervades the life world.
What the future holds here is unclear, but the sudden interest in issues of consciousness in the last generation as physics has stalled just might be more than an accident.