ART & ORGANISM represents a radical undertaking: To reconceptualize and harmonize multiple disciplines in the pursuit of insight about consciousness and being.  This is a goal only because its pursuit promises a unique level of satisfaction for organisms such as we are.  Most of us are more-or-less (and sometimes highly) motivated to meet this apparent “need to know“. This is arguably highly adaptive and is in lockstep with the ancient and often reiterated precept: “Know Thyself.”     It is not clear that that the goal itself even exists, but the sense of pleasure in approaching it, even by modest successive approximations is gratifying: Approaching the goal seems to mitigate the stress that always accompanies uncertainty about our ability to cope with a real or perceived need.  

NEUROPHENOMENOLOGY: I like the way Tim CLACK Of The School Of Art History And Archaeology,  University Of Manchester, pursuing a highly interdisciplinary approach go the archaeological study of religion, framed our concern nicely In His 2004 essay On “Neurophenomenology…”:

“Essentially what is presented here is a brief commentary intending to open-up for explicit consideration the philosophical foundation, the practicalities, and the potential of using neurophenomenology for archaeological purposes.  This paper is not intended to rally practitioners … but rather to highlight a potentially promising research direction that deserves attention.”

Neurophenomenology, [Clack writes, is] sometimes referred to as ‘naturalized phenomenology’ (Petitot  et al 1999),  the embodied  mind (Lakoff  and Johnson  1999),  or experiential neuroscience (Varela  2001),  is  an embryonic research direction that provides an  original stereoscopic focus upon  issues inadequately dissected  by phenomenology and cognitive science. In practice this is conducted with a co-determination of  both  accounts to  become proactive partners in  the exploration of the bridges, fabrics, insights, complementarities and  contradictions between  them  (Varela  1999:  194).  In essence neurophenomenology is the systematic exploration of  the only  link  between  mind  and  consciousness – the structure of human experience itself. Varela (1999) highlights that neurophenomenology is not simply  a rearticulated  or homomorphic  form of identity theory. Identity theory notes the relationship between  experience and  neuroscientific accounts but only  out  of  an adherence to philosophical commitment.  Neurophenomenology, however, differs in its assertion that the correlates are causally active (1999: 194).”

Phenomenology is critical  of cognitive science  due  to its fundamental ignorance of  immediate, direct  experience. Neurophenomenology, in recognition  of this investigative myopia, gives primacy  to researching  the structure  of the lived human experience (Varela 1999:185). It must be recognised, however, that neurophysiological processes do not cause mental states, they are mental states at the neurophysiological level of description (Skarda 1990: 625).” (pp 51-52)

“Phenomenological accounts of the  structure of experience and their counterparts in cognitive science relate to each other through reciprocal constraints”(Varela 1999: 194)


* Tim CLACK (of the School of Art History and Archaeology,  University of Manchester) (2004).  NEUROPHENOMENOLOGY: A WORTHWHILE RESEARCH DIRECTION FOR THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY OF RELIGION?. In: Belief in the Past: The Proceedings of the 2002  Manchester Conference on Archaeology and Religion. pp 51-61)