The Consciousness Controversy

TED recently pulled out the videos of talks of three eminent modern thinkers from its website which started a heated debate between scientists about the role of consciousness in scientific approach. Graham Hancock, the author of many best sellers, in his talk theorized human consciousness to have dawned some 40,000 years ago with the consumption of potent herbs. Rupert Sheldrake, a biologist turned author, stands by an hypothesis named "morphic resonance" to demonstrate the role of collective memory in shaping the habits of life forms.

Scientists on both sides of the ensuing debate accuse the other side of harboring dogma in accepting/rejecting the role of consciousness. Contemporary science has evolved, believing consciousness to be a result of a chemical interaction in the human brain. Today, experts in many scientific fields, being challenged by new discoveries, are beginning to wonder if consciousness and matter should be considered as peers. Rupert Sheldrake may be way ahead of his time/peers just as Wegener was in 1915 when Wegener proposed the now well accepted theory of the continental drift.

Consciousness has been researched quite extensively in India for ages and thinkers on both sides of supremacy debate were given high positions in the courts of ancient Emperors. The renowned ancient Indian philosopher Charvaka would completely side with the view of contemporary science. A debate between Prince Rama and Jabaali, one of the eight ministers of Emperor Dasharatha with Jabali takes the position that human consciousness is limited to one's physical body and this debate is seen in the Ramayana, a spiritual text. Sage Vasishta, another of Dasaratha's eight ministers, on the contrary, is seen engaging in a different conversation with Prince Rama upholding the mysterious workings of an all pervading consciousness.

The debate on consciousness may never be resolved but the start of one is a healthy development in modern science!