Shamanism: The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing

By Michael Winkelman | Go to book overview

representation through metaphorical predication. The neurophenomenological approach illustrates that shamanic, religious and mystical thought play important roles in representing human perceptual and conceptual structures and in producing a variety of individual and collective effects that are central to human social life, self, consciousness, and healing. These potentials, first institutionalized in shamanism, represented an evolution to a more inclusive and integrative consciousness. This book demonstrates that shamanistic healing activities and ASC are primarily based in elicitation of integrative processes, particularly those related to the paleomammalian brain. These integrative operations of consciousness reflect homeostatic physiological responses produced through shamanistic activities. Emotional and psychosocial functions of the brain are principal processes through which meaning stimulates the nervous system. Self, social attachment, and bonding represent important mediating concepts in these neurophenomenological relations and the shaman's traditions.


NOTES
1.
I have relied primarily on Kitchener's ( 1986) extensive analysis of Piaget's epistemology as the basis for this characterization.
2.
Piaget's ( 1969, 1971) stages of development are cognitive in an epistemic sense, that is to say, concerned with issues of evidence, justification, and questions of truth.

Most cognitive concepts -- belief, memory, information, problem solving, pattern recognition, imagination, consciousness, judgment, hypothesis, representation, reasoning, thinking, and skills -- are epistemic in nature. ( Kitchener 1986, 25-26).

These [epistemicl concepts include sensorimotor schemes, operations, "real" categories (space, time, causality, and object permanence), "formal" categories (classification, number, and quantity), perceptions, concepts, semiotic categories (ideas, images, symbols, signs), moral, emotional, and social categories, and so forth. (41)

Piaget's epistemology is Kantian, combining both empirical and developmental elements in extending Kant's perspective through constructivism, the epistemic subjects' construction of their knowledge. Piaget emphasizes "the active cognitive role of the epistemological subject in interpreting, categorizing, and structuring experience" (75) and constructing knowledge and objects. Piaget's conceptions of reality and knowledge correspond to Kantian notions of noumena and phenomena. He maintains a distinction between metaphysics and epistemology, differentiating epistemological issues of what is known from metaphysical

-53-

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Shamanism: The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1 - Shamanism and Consciousness: an Introduction 1
  • Notes 53
  • 2 - The Nature and Basis of Shamanism: Cross-Cultural and Neurophenomenological Perspectives 57
  • Notes 111
  • 3 - Physiological and Phenomenological Bases of Altered States of Consciousness 113
  • Notes 187
  • 4 - Physiological Bases of Shamanistic Therapies 191
  • Notes 230
  • 5 - Psychophysiological Dynamics of Shamanistic Healing 231
  • Notes 276
  • Bibliography 277
  • Index 307
  • About the Author *
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