A Spectral Model of Consciousness

The Radio Wave Metaphor

I’d like to propose a conceptual model of consciousness as a range of frequency; a spectrum whose natural division into discrete bandwidths defines the boundaries of state-specific perceptions. By defining consciousness as radiance, many of the same known laws governing the electromagnetic spectrum can be applied to comprehend the mechanics of subjectivity, objectivity, identity, and awareness.

Current Assumptions About The Nature of Consciousness

The currently fashionable Western view of consciousness as an internal biological function of the brain is both materialist and reductionist. Furthermore, it is a view built fundamentally upon 3 baseless assumptions, each of which I believe are flawed and will continue to limit the progression of consciousness research until the point they are re-examined:

1) Consciousness does not exist without a perceiver.
2) Consciousness begins and ends within the narrow bounds of human awareness.
3) The physical body is a prerequisite for physical perception.

I will address each of these related fundamental assumptions individually and as explicitly as possible, in such a way that the description may reveal the errors which underlie them.

1) Consciousness does not exist without a perceiver.

The assumed inseparability of consciousness and the experience of consciousness is without basis and limits our analysis of any individual component, either self or consciousness, as isolated from the other. One way to conceptualize a unified field of consciousness independent from a perceiver is to use our current understanding of the electromagnetic spectrum. Radio waves existed before the invention of the radio, and continue to exist as radiant frequency regardless of whether or not they happen to be picked up by a radio receiver. In the same way, consciousness can be thought to exist with or without our perception (or reception) of it. Additionally, our capacity of conscious awareness, like that of a radio, is of a limited range, which brings us to our second assumption…

2) The whole of consciousness begins and ends within the narrow bounds of human awareness.

The distinction of human awareness from the unified spectrum of consciousness it is immersed within, as afforded by identifying the first assumption as erroneous, inversely allows us to consider the broad range of frequencies extending both above and below the narrow bandwidth of the visible spectrum, for instance. By conceptualizing consciousness as carrier medium in this way, distinct from individual “modulators” and “receivers,” to return to our radio wave analogy, we reveal an irrational and egocentric assumption – that we, as humans, somehow define the range and center of consciousness. This Ergocentric view of ourselves as exclusive or special, with all consciousness “revolving” around our perceptual capacity, is not unlike the Geocentric view which dominated our understanding of the universe before the insights of those like Copernicus. No, it turns out, the universe does not revolve around us – and, likewise, there is no reason to assume all of consciousness and the electromagnetic spectrum revolves around us either!

To return again to our radio receiver analogy, simply because a radio cannot pick up very high microwave frequencies, for instance, does not mean that the microwave band does not exist — or that it could not, in theory, act as a carrier medium for intelligible modulations or communication. In this same way, there is no basis to assume that the ranges of frequency above and below our meager capacity of awareness are without conscious experience.

3) The physical body is a prerequisite for physical perception.

The assumption that our perception of objective externality requires a living body, with sensory organs and brain, or is a product of the brain, is without basis in either the full range of human experience or empirical research. The near cultural universality of accounts of out-of-body perceptions, extending from modern times back to the dawn of socialization and the skill set of the shaman, undermine this distinctly Western notion of a material necessity to physical perception

If the argument of consensus was not enough to call this assumption in to question, we may additionally look to the sleep research of Dr. Charles Tart, who tested and verified the legitimacy of out-of-body perceptions. However scant the number of researchers exploring this area of consciousness, we must acknowledge that the findings of the available studies suggest a non-physical or residual aspect of self which possesses verifiable physical perception.

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