The Birth of Post-Materialistic Science

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Thomas Steininger in conversation with Dr. Marjorie Woollacott

Is our awareness just the result of our neurons firing? Are the most sublime states of consciousness that lead us to see the universe as One, just a trick of our wiring? Increasingly, our understanding of consciousness is deeply influenced by the neuroscience and its deeply materialistic understanding of reality.

Dr. Marjorie Woollacott is a neuroscientist. The former chair of the Department of Physiology and a member of the Institute of Neuroscience at the University of Oregon, she lived a double life, caught between her experiences of unity in meditation and the materialistic boundaries of her profession. But she had to stand with both feet somewhere—where would that be?

Woollacott decided to look at what other researchers had begun to do in studying meditation and she began to examine consciousness and meditation with all the tools of a scientist. “What is consciousness?” she asks. “Is it an essentially human characteristic or a fundamental characteristic of the universe? Neuroscientists, like myself, are asking questions about the essential characteristics of consciousness, and the extent to which it is dependent on activity in the brain.” Her hope for the future is the development of a “post-materialistic science” that doesn’t simply reduce consciousness to the activity of neurons but respects the rigors of scientific reason.

This week on Radio evolve, Thomas Steininger speaks with Marjorie Woollacott about the potential of a post-materialistic science.

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