The majority of the world’s cultures encourage or require members to enter alternative states of
consciousness (ASC) while involved in religious rituals. The question is, why? This paper suggests
an explanation for the culturally prescribed ASC from the view of Fisher information. It argues
from the position, first put forward by Emile Durkheim in his magnum opus, The Elementary
Forms of the Religious Life, that all religions are grounded in reality. It suggests that many of the
structural elements of cultural cosmologies are similar and that the ritual induction of ASC may
help to bring individual experience into greater accord with a pan-human eidetic cosmology, and
thus with certain invariant attributes of reality. The necessity of this process is demonstrated by
recourse to Fisher information. The paper shows how experiences generated during alternative
states of consciousness may help to maintain a minimal level of realism in the interests of adaptation
to what is in other respects a transcendental reality.
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Laughlin, C. D., & Throop, J. C. (2003). Laughlin, C. D., & Throop, C. J. (2003). Experience, culture and reality: The significance of Fisher information for understanding the relationship between alternative states of consciousness and the structures of reality. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 22(1), 7–26.. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, 22 (1). Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ciis.edu/ijts-transpersonalstudies/vol22/iss1/4