Dr. Karen Jaenke, Consciousness Studies and Politics |353|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jun 20, 2017.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Dr. Karen Jaenke, Consciousness Studies and Politics |353|
    by Alex Tsakiris | Jun 20 | Consciousness Science

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    Dr. Karen Jaenke discusses her approach to Consciousness Studies at JFK University.
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    photo by: Skeptiko
    On this episode of Skeptiko…

    Alex Tsakiris: I want to read this next question, so folks don’t think I’m sandbagging you, the question I wrote: “Are your students, rioting against the university’s secular humanists, demanding recognition of soul and spirit? Are they protesting against atheistic feminism? I’m kidding of course, you but get the point. The central issue, relative to the intersection of consciousness and politics, seems to have been swallowed in a shallow thinking ocean of, ‘not my president,’ identity politics.”

    I mean, the issue here is ‘we are more’, we are more than biological robots in a meaningless universe. We have a spirit. We have a soul. So why not join arms with local seminary students and march on Berkeley? That’s really the battle here and it mystifies me how folks in your camp, of which I am part of, do not see the divide, the real divide, is between atheistic materialism, which is the underlying dogma of science, and the kind of creative spiritualism, which is, I think, what you’re whole program is really all about. Haven’t we misidentified the real cause of the friction here?

    Dr. Karen Jaenke: I’m not sure. I guess Alex, you know, people are going to be where they’re going to be in their consciousness evolution. If people are in an atheistic world, my sense is they’re probably suffering from that, even though they may be gloating from that. So, I mean, I guess my question to you is, why are you bothered by those people?

    Stay with us for Skeptiko…

    Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. I’m your host, Alex Tsakiris, and this week a listener suggested guest, and a good one, Dr. Karen Jaenke, who heads up a consciousness studies program at JFK University.

    So there were two topics I sought to explore in my interview with Karen and she did a fabulous, I really appreciate her coming on and talking about them, because they were both kind of pushing the edge a little bit, but I think she does a great job of putting forth a new and different perspective. Those two issues are: 1) consciousness from a transpersonal psychology and spiritual perspective. That is, doing an end run on the scientific neuroscience about debate. Can we take that path? Where does that path lead? What are the issues surrounding that kind of expansion of consciousness without ever defining what consciousness is? So that’s number one and the second issue is: 2) Since JFK University, her university, is very outwardly, socially, orientated, what is the intersection between consciousness and politics, and in particular, this expanded view of consciousness and politics? How does that play out, how might our understanding of consciousness inform right action?

    So, those are the two topics that I wanted to talk about and I did with our guest this week, Dr. Karen Jaenke. I hope you enjoy the interview.
     
  2. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    Well. I have a digital camera which does exactly that. But it sure ain't conscious.

    Hardly the most auspicious place to begin. Hope it gets better.
     
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  3. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Spot on!

    I'd also like to question the idea that animals that can recognise their own reflections in a mirror, have a higher level of consciousness. It has been used as a basis for research, but:

    1) I think the term "self reflection" uses the idea of reflection as a metaphor for what is going on in a person's mind - treating the idea literally is almost certainly a mistake.

    2) An animal's ability to recognise itself in a mirror, presumably depends on the frequency with which it encounters mirrored surfaces in practice. There need be no deep significance to this skill. My cat would no doubt rate consciousness in terms of the ability of an animal to understand a faint rustle in the bushes, and identify what sort of creature was responsible.

    My feeling is that all animals - at least the higher ones - have a consciousness that is qualitatively, but not quantitatively, equivalent to ours. I think everyone who has a pet cat or dog can feel that that is true. That isn't a very 'scientific' criterion, but science seems to be where this discussion goes wrong - defining consciousness in terms of information, being a prime example!

    I haven't yet listened to the whole podcast, but so far it isn't exactly gripping.

    David
     
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  4. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the interview:

    Have those within academia, particularly the transpersonal psychology types, misidentified the target of their political rage?
     
  5. "Have those within academia, particularly the transpersonal psychology types, have they misidentified the target of their political rage"

    Alex, I read the partial transcript, I think you're saying they blame conservatives when they should be blaming atheists? But blame them for what?

    Knowledge of what NDErs say about love would help theoretically, but as a practical matter it is not easy to change an atheist's mind. And personally I don't like to mix politics and spirituality because there is a risk of people with the "wrong" opinions being labeled as "unspiritual" i.e. evil.

    The source of political rage is the human tendency to think people who disagree with you are either stupid or evil. When people don't get what they want, they get angry at whatever is obstructing the satisfaction of their desires. This phenomenon is used by manipulators, politicians and journalists, for their own personal gain.

    The solution to political rage is a cultural change where people learn to see through the illusions spun by manipulators and recognize that people in different circumstances are affected by political policy in different ways. Good people can have legitimate differences in opinion about what the best policy is and the way to find a compromise is through democratic processes.

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2017/03/most-news-stories-are-crafted-to.html
    "Problems can be identified and solutions found without experiencing anger, fear, and hate. But we are programmed by the media to react with those emotions every time we think of the other political party or hear their views expressed. It is a major cause of political polarization in the US."

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2017/02/what-someone-should-say-at-political.html
    "I could go through every issue that divided us in the last election and show that both sides have legitimate concerns."

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2016/01/jonathan-haidts-constructive-approach.html
    "The politicians are not going to solve this problem until it is in their interest to do so. We the people have to come together ourselves and reject media sources and political candidates that persist in dividing and polarizing the country."
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
  6. LetsEat

    LetsEat Member

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    Unfortunate that she responded to your questions about the secular humanist meaningless universe narrative (at 42mins) by saying that its their choice to live like that. There's a huge indoctrination component which Alex covered earlier.
     
  7. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Have those within academia, particularly the transpersonal psychology types, misidentified the target of their political rage?

    I'm not sure what the question is directed at. Is it asking why academia is so outraged at the election of Trump, for example? One simple answer is that most academics are at the left of the political spectrum, and Trump is seen as the epitome of the right -- even beyond ordinary Republicanism.

    Some Wilberites who self-style as "Turquoise" and beyond sometimes strike me as possibly suffering from hubris. That is, they may see themselves, evolutionarily speaking, as being superior, and can seem a little smug. Maybe not all of them, but some of them occasionally do come across that way.

    In any case, most of academia, I suspect, doesn't have much of an interest in transpersonal psychology. For what it's worth, I see them as a group as being mired in so-called liberalism, which these days has Marxist undertones, and, in its own way, instinctively leans towards authoritarianism. It's not (yet) killing dissenters, so much as attempting to marginalise them by denying them the right to independent thought and expression that happens to differ from their own.

    It's a moot point whether those academics who are interested in transpersonal psychology are in fact in a state of political rage. Amongst academics, one suspects, they might be unique in trying to stand outside the political arena and examine what's going on more dispassionately. Here's what the Wilberites say:

    Trump and a Post-Truth World
    An Evolutionary Self-Correction

    The election of Donald Trump is an evolutionary self-correction that has been decades in the making — a backlash against the failure of the leading edge of consciousness (postmodernism and pluralism) to acknowledge the lie underlying the progress they’ve pursued: it’s not equal, it’s not consistent, and it doesn’t make room for everyone. But a new integral force is emerging that can move beyond the narcissism and nihilism of political correctness to offer genuine leadership and move towards a developmental-based wisdom of greater wholeness.

    You can decide for yourself whether or not a "new integral force" is emerging. Read Ken Wilber's analysis by downloading his PDF: Trump and a Post-Truth World - Amazon Web Services. A snippet:

    Beginning in the 1960s, green began to emerge as a major cultural force
    and soon bypassed orange (which was the previous leading-edge stage,
    known in various models as modern, rational, reason, formal operational,
    achievement, accomplishment, merit, profit, progress, conscientious) as
    the dominant leading-edge...

    But as the decades unfolded, green increasingly began veering into
    extreme, maladroit, dysfunctional, even clearly unhealthy, forms. Its
    broad-minded pluralism slipped into a rampant and runaway relativism
    (collapsing into nihilism), and the notion that all truth is contextualized
    (or gains meaning from its cultural context) slid into the notion that there
    is no real universal truth at all, there are only shifting cultural
    interpretations (which eventually slid into a widespread narcissism).

    This is an 80-page document which I haven't yet completely read. When I have, I may come back with further comments.
     
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2017
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  8. Max_B

    Max_B Member

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    Dr Jaenke sounded like she understood her specialism, and what she was talking about, unfortunately she wasn't able to communicate her understanding to me, whoosh... it went completely over my head.

    I finished the discussion none the wiser... I honestly have not got a clue what I've just listened to.

    Anybody else help me out here...?
     
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  9. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I know exactly what you mean, but I would not put it as kindly!

    To me, it seemed as though she recognised that materialistic explanations of consciousness were incomplete/impossible but she didn't seem to know where to go next. I mean, the way she was talking I was expecting her to talk about meditation or yogi's but she never got beyond saying that students should explore their own consciousness! I also expected her to reference some of the other thinkers - Dean Radin, Rupert Sheldrake, Eccles, Penrose, etc - but unless I had dozed off by that point, she never did. Alex nudged her into disagreeing with Dennett, but that was about it. Alex seemed to have to push to get her to say anything interesting at all!

    To be fair to her, I suspect a lot of people in academia feel too constrained to do the research they would really like to do or to express their true opinions , and their research ends up as a bit of a damp squib. From what Alex said, someone on this forum suggested this guest, and it would be great if that person could explain what he/she saw in her.

    I don't think it helps to mix modern crazy politics into discussions of consciousness. I am encouraged by the fact that Trump seems to have won a set of house elections overnight, that had been seen as a chance for electors to show their displeasure with him. I think the Democrats need to row back from all the phoney 'identity politics', and return to real issues. I understand from Fox News that the rest of the media backed the Democratic candidates as hard as they could and lost. Perhaps they too should think hard about returning to real issues.

    David
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2017
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  10. Their problem is that they are habituated to analytical thinking and that inhibits empathic thinking.
    http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/252241.php
    Due to neuroplasticity, a lifetime of unbalanced analytical thinking causes their brains to be wired for analytical thinking and they lose empathy. It makes them callous.

    The solution is for people to develop a balance of analytical thinking and empathic thinking, using each in the appropriate situations. One way to develop empathic thinking is through certain types of meditation.
     
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  11. oleo

    oleo Member

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    At first blush Transpersonal Psychology and politics seem like strange bed fellows. Or maybe not. The former at its core can be taken to mean that we have access to an under lying oneness. The later may be the best metaphor at hand that this reality is an illusion.
     
  12. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    The trouble is, politics is never really what it pretends to be. Donald Trump got where he is by appealing to poor white people - many of whom have a very difficult time in the US, and in fact in many other Western countries. While the Democrats were finessing policies towards sexual minorities and other races, they seemed to forget that there are lots of white, heterosexual men and women who are getting a really rotten deal - hardly an example of underlying oneness!

    I have come to realise that politics is always tainted. Maybe if everyone had a vote about all major issues, things might change. Imagine if the US had to get majority support before it could launch yet another foreign war - that might really be a new world!

    David
     
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  13. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    The rage against Trump is truly astounding in its ferocity. I find it incomprehensible and deeply shocking and troubling.
    Even here in Europe in newspapers traditionally read by the educated classes, the Guardian for example, the hatred expressed by commenters on the daily anti-Trump articles is quite shocking. People compete to say the most horrible things about him and his family and to wish the most horrible things to happen to them. These tirades of pure irrational almost psychopathic hatred build up in their hundreds under any article about him on which readers are allowed to comment.

    I am not a Trump supporter. I am just observing what is unfolding in the US and here in Europe and globally.
    I do not have a dog in these partisan political squabbles. I am not on either side.
    I am on the side of human beings and humanity and the hope for a rational and humane human world.
    But I am a realist and I know we have to make the best of what we have.

    Trump rode a wave of rising discontent among the US working poor and lower middle classes which had been building for a number of decades under the mismanagement of the economy and the nation by the Washington Regime. He recognised it and knew how to tap into it. That and the Democrat's corruption and incompetence won him the White House against all the odds.

    Trump was not supposed to win imo and it has freaked out the US ruling elites (and the European elites). Hence the intense anti-Trump propaganda in their corporate media cartel in the US and in Europe since he won the Republican nomination; and especially since winning the White House. Hence also their campaign to shut down dissenting views on many platforms such as Youtube (Adpocalypse), Facebook, etc. What I call the Fake News wars. They fear their media cartel is losing control of the narrative and the perceptions of the population. Brexit and Le Pen and similar manifestations elsewhere have spooked the neoliberal globalists. There is a massive rising tide of discontent in Europe too.

    I think perhaps Trump though he would be able to govern with the authority he has become use to in his private empire; but that is not how Washington works. A president is essentially a prisoner of the Washington Regime; which is a titanic system that is already plowing away on a determined trajectory established by deals struck over decades by a host of stakeholders. It is full of career bureaucrats and politicians who regularly pass back and forth through the revolving doors to the private sector amassing substantial personal wealth along the way. There is no way a president can just march in and start giving orders to change course. Orders such as reversing the neoliberal globalist agenda or the various imperial wars or nation building projects and the current and upcoming foreign wars on which the Pentagon and intelligence budgets depend.

    So I think the media propaganda war and the ridiculous Russia thing are part of an effort to tame and corral Trump; and I expect they will succeed. But he is a tough guy and negotiator and I do think he sincerely wants to do something for America and Americans. Not that I think that what he wants to do is what needs doing. In fact I think what he thinks will help will only hasten the decline of the US - eg the massive tax cuts for the wealthy will just further undermine the US economy. Trickle down economics is baloney. Most of the trillions he gives them will end up off-shore and invested in financial and other dead assets.
     
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  14. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    I enjoyed this discussion - thank you Alex and Karen

    Alex and Karen brought up an important point at the beginning concerning how the word 'consciousness' has many different meanings in how it is understood and used by people
    And later on a good example of that emerged when they were discussing materialism and materialists and modern materialistic scientism
    Karen made an important point I thought about how different people are at different levels or stages of development and/or consciousness evolution; and thus the word 'consciousness' and what it represents means different things to them; things which are appropriate to their stage of development.
    In my view materialism is a stage in the journey or process of consciousness evolution. Materialism is a higher stage than for instance fundamentalist religious consciousness; but is a lower stage than a developed spiritualized consciousness. I see the stages as akin to children moving from class to class as they grow older and pass through the education process; so higher or lower in this context does not mean superior or inferior. We have people at all levels in our communities.
    In my philosophy we are all evolving or developing all the time. Evolution is not something which occurred in the distant past. As a species humanity is evolving and in humanity evolution is most active and dynamic in the sphere of consciousness - which at the species level I would call the noosphere. Humanity and the human world is the noosphere; which represents a new evolutionary emergence on planet Earth; the emergence of a new level of planetary order.
     
  15. Typoz

    Typoz Member

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    "Materialism is a higher stage than for instance fundamentalist religious consciousness;"

    One could certainly find fault with each of these, but materialism is clearly lower since it denies even the possibility of things which everyday experience demonstrates to be true. Religious fundamentalism by contrast allows those things to exist, but encapsulates them within a framework.
     
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  16. Alex

    Alex New

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    excellent... thx for sharing.

    amazing... classic Ken Wilber... navel-gazing. I wish it were true, but I think the globalists have Trump and his "evolutionary self-correction" in full retreat. I predict that the "useful idiots" will carry the day.

    and where to run then... maybe back to church... any church... even a "mildly dangerous cult" is starting to sound good. can I pay my carbon tax along with my tithing? get chipped along with communion? :)
     
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  17. E.Flowers

    E.Flowers New

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    Aye. If we are to consider multiple lives as a parallel to developmental processes, I feel that classic materialism and its offshoots would be akin to the degree of sophistication that a child requires to play with legos (it's basically an extrapolation of the same concept), whereas fundamentalism requires at least basic metaphysical and epistemological introspection, albeit wrapped in an adolescent sense of self-superiority.
     
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  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Don't forget to use the quote mechanism when you are quoting! I particularly like the mechanism by which selecting a portion of someone's post, gives you a button to reply to that specific sentence.

    I'm not sure it is possible to define a hierarchy here (just as you can't sort complex numbers into a single order). Materialism does seem to require a certain abstraction, and a willingness to conceive of non-obvious ideas - such as the idea (IMHO wrong) that consciousness might just be a computation.

    David
     
  19. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I'm not sure - there is clearly a titanic battle going on, but I understand Trump recently won five 'special elections', that were supposed to be a chance for people to protest against their president (what is a special election?).

    I feel the liberals (or whatever is the right name) are not showing in a good light now - their 'do good' image is being replaced by real aggression, and I can't help but feel they are going to pay for that. Perhaps you should watch Fox News a little more!

    David
     
  20. David Eire

    David Eire New

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    Yes David, that is my meaning
    The passage from religious consciousness to spiritual consciousness is often via an atheist and/or materialist interlude
    The baby gets thrown out with the bathwater
    In a similar way the transition from childhood obedience to adult responsibility often passes through an interlude of rebellion to all order and authority
     

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