NDE research: Implications for theories of Consciousness


Reaction score
The recent discussion of limitations of scientific inquiry into understanding consciousness with the particular case of NDE's got me to thinikg that a separate thread about NDE research's implications for understanding consciousness/mind might be interesting. This is a paper by a physician in the Netherlands systematically studying the phenomenon. He points out in it that such phenomena seem to poke holes in theories suggesting consciousness is simply all about brain functioning:
Netscape Search earl
what I also find fascinating is I cannot recall ever seeing an academic researcher in neuroscience/consciousness studies make any sort of reference to the phenomenon of NDE's. All those folk are sold to varying degrees on the belief that mind is simply an emergent property of the brain. Obviously, you cannot live in a modern society and not have encountered the notion of NDE which suggests that, rather than approaching phenomena is a truly scientific manner-seeing intriguing new evidence and researching its implications to current theories, modifying them as neccesary, they are indeed simply dismissing the phenomena as existing at all, worthy of any study, (like maybe some folk around here:p). That would be likely due to the deeply held bias of materialistic assumptions.

Recently saw saw some Buddhist mag-don't remember which one-that featured an interview with a well known academic psychological researcher and occasional collaborator with the Dalai Lama who's long worked alongside Western psychologists on matters related to mind. The academic is noted as saying that he believes that consciousness was simply a matter of brain function. It also noted him as having a life-long hatred of his father but when he met the Dalai Lama the hatred instantly disappeared and was filled with total peace for many months. He offered no explanation as to how this could have occurred, simply quickly moving on to other subjects. Did quote him as saying in reference to that that the Dalai Lama chuckled in amusement and told him they were brothers in a past life. While I have no explanation for it either, got a chuckle out of seeing that die-hard materialist simply attempt to brush aside an anomolous experience of profundity he could not explain within his biased assumptions. earl
The recent discussion of limitations of scientific inquiry into understanding consciousness with the particular case of NDE's...

I'd just like to amend you opening sentence to more closely describe how I feel about scientific inquiry and NDEs.

Rather than "limitations of scientific inquiry into understanding consciousness with the particular case of NDE's" which implies that science may be incapable of understanding consciousness and NDEs, I'd substitute "the limited scientific inquiry currently undertaken into understanding consciousness with the particular case of NDEs."

I have little doubt that rigorous study in this arena would help to shed light into what is at work here. I also have little doubt that there'd be a great number of people willing to take part as subjects in these studies. But we should not judge the efficacy of scientific inquiry before its been given a chance to be applied.

To talk about the limitations of science so early in this burgeoning field would be akin to talking about the limitations of energy technology when man first harnessed fire.

All I am saying, is give science a chance. (everybody sing!)
While I'm skeptical of applying theories from physics to consciousness, the theory this physician put forth in his paper was intriguing. earl