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International Journal of Transpersonal Studies

Abstract

In the spirit of William James, we present a process view of human consciousness. Our approach,

however, follows upon Charles Tart’s original systems theory analysis of states of consciousness,

although it differs in its reliance on the modern sciences of complexity, especially dynamical systems

theory and its emphasis on process and evolution. We argue that consciousness experience

is constructive in the sense that it is the result of ongoing self-organizing and self-creating

(autopoietic) processes in the mind and body. These processes follow a broad developmental

agenda already described by psychologists such as Jean Piaget. Similar constructive transformations

of consciousness appear to have occurred across the course of human history. In this sense,

phylogeny indeed recapitulates ontogeny. Finally, modern developmental research suggests that

the most advanced levels of human growth transform consciousness in the direction of increasing

selflessness and spirituality, rather than simply toward greater intelligence.

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