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States of Consciousness

  Charles T. Tart, Ph. D.


          Introduction to the Web Edition

Section I: States
    1.   The Systems Approach to States of Consciousness
    2.   The Components of Consciousness: Awareness,
            Energy, Structures

    3.   Conservative and Radical Views of the Mind
    4.   The Nature of Ordinary Consciousness
    5.   Discrete States of Consciousness
    6.   Stabilization of a State of Consciousness
    7.   Induction of Altered States: Going to Sleep,
            Hypnosis, Meditation

    8.   Subsystems
    9.   Individual Differences
  10.   Using Drugs to Induce Altered States
  11.   Observation of Internal States
  12.   Identity States
  13.   Strategies in Using the Systems Approach
  14.   The Depth Dimension of a State of Consciousness
  15.   State-Specific Communication
  16.   State-Specific Sciences
  17.   Higher States of Consciousness

Section II: Speculation
  18.   As Above, So Below: Five Basic Principles
            Underlying Physics and Psychology

  19.   Ordinary Consciousness as a State of Illusion
  20.   Ways Out of Illusion

States of Consciousness  1975 by Charles T. Tart
First published by E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, in 1975.
ISBN 0-525-20970-0

States of Consciousness appears in The Psychedelic Library by permission of the Author

Introduction to the Web Edition, 1997

I am very pleased that the Schaffer Library, through the kind efforts of Peter Webster, is now making this book available over the World Wide Web. The greatly increasing interest in the nature of consciousness in the last few years makes this material even more relevant than when it was originally published in 1975.

Unfortunately too much of the current scientific and popular interest in consciousness tends to be simplistically reductionistic, a "Consciousness is nothing but……" approach, where the particular "nothing but" may be brain functioning, language, philosophical abstractions, etc. All these approaches have valuable things to offer our understanding, but do grave injustice to the richness and complexity of our consciousness with such oversimplification. My systems approach presented in this book is not simplistic, but tries to deal with the whole, rich range of conscious functioning, particularly as it is expressed in altered states of consciousness (ASCs) like hypnosis, dreaming, meditation, drug-induced states, etc.

While my approach is primarily scientific, the book was written clearly to be accessible to all educated people (indeed, I have sometimes gotten in trouble with the University, which has "reasoned" that if my writings can be understood they must not be really scholarly….). Many of the students in my altered states classes over the years have also found considerable personal relevance in this approach. As one young woman put it, at first she didn't understand what all these diagrams of mine were about and then one day she suddenly realized that I had been talking about the way her mind actually worked!

The basic systems approach I developed to understanding ASCs in this book is still my basic approach to working with consciousness. In my (undoubtedly biased) opinion, it is still superior in important ways to the simplistic approaches that have preceded and followed it. In the past 20 years I have developed this approach further, using computer generated virtual reality systems to illustrate how consciousness creates a biological-psychological virtual reality (BPVR) in which we experientially live, a semi-arbitrary construction, a simulation of the world, which we naively mistake for straightforward and accurate perception of external reality. This expansion of the systems model can be found in my writings listed below.

For those who prefer the pleasure of a real book to reading from a screen (I still do!), there are still some soft cover copies of the second edition of States of Consciousness available at $ 12.95 (plus sales tax for California residents) and $ 3 for shipping within the US, $ 10 for air shipping outside the US. Checks or money orders must be denominated in US currency. Other books and tapes of mine are also available, and $ 1 will bring a catalog. Write to PPI, Box 8385, Berkeley CA 94707-8385.

Incidentally I made a great literary mistake in naming this book States of Consciousness after earlier publishing my Altered States of Consciousness (1969), as readers get the two books confused, If they've read the one, they think they've read the other. Altered States of Consciousness is an anthology detailing the rich variety of what can happen in ASCs. States of Consciousness is my attempt to make some coherent sense of this vast spectrum of experiences. Altered States of Consciousness is also available from PPI for $ 16.95 plus shipping (and tax if the book is shipped to a California address), as above.

Charles T. Tart
Berkeley, California       
September 1997


Further developments of the Systems Approach:

Charles T. Tart, An Emergent Interactionist Understanding of Human Consciousness Brain/Mind and Parapsychology: Proceedings of an International Conference, held in Montreal, Canada, August 24-25, 1978 under the auspices of the Parapsychology Foundation, New York, NY. Available over the web from http://www.paradigm-sys.com/cttart/ (66K)

Charles T. Tart, Consciousness: A Psychological, Transpersonal and Parapsychological Approach Presented at the Third International Symposium on Science and Consciousness in Ancient Olympia, 4-7 January, 1993. Available over the web from http://www.paradigm-sys.com/cttart/ (27K)

Charles T. Tart, Mind Embodied! Computer-Generated Virtual Reality as a New, Dualistic-Interactive Model for Transpersonal Psychology,, Based on a speech given at the L. E. Rhine Centenary Conference on Cultivating Consciousness for Enhancing Human Potential, Wellness and Healing, Durham, North Carolina, November 9, 1991. A modified version was later published in K. Rao (Editor), Cultivating Consciousness Enhancing Human Potential, Wellness and Healing. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger, 1993. Pp. 123-137. Available over the web from http://www.paradigm-sys.com/cttart/ (44K)

Charles T. Tart, The World Simulation Process Approach. Portions of this paper were originally presented in an invited address at the Seventh International Conference on Multiple Personality/Dissociative States, November 7-11, 1990, Chicago, under the title, "Life in the World Simulator: Altered States, Identification, Multiple Personality and Enlightenment." This is the published version of the paper, which appeared as Multiple Personality, Altered States and Virtual Reality: The World Simulation Process Approach, in the journal Dissociation, Vol. 3, 222-233. Available over the web from http://www.paradigm-sys.com/cttart/ (80K)

Many other publications of mine are available on my web archives at http://www.paradigm-sys.com/cttart/

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