Contrary to purely psychology-centered books that miss a lot of the
non-behavioral aspects of consciousness and to "spiritual" ones that
explain everything based on one point of view, this one discuss both
sides of the story. Consciousness is not just about the brain, or
thoughts, or some spiritual way of seeing life, but it emcompasses
everything, what we are and what we live.
Ornstein shows quite
well that the scientific viewpoint is too limited and focused in purpose
to broadly explain consciousness. By choosing to deal with the
subjective aspects of consciousness, Ornstein provides a full account of
the aspects of consciousness that are necessary to improve our
understanding of it. To understand consciousness it is necessary to deal
with aspects linked to culture, psychology, and education, but also to
more experiential (some will say less scientific, more subjective,
personal) aspects that cannot be communicated but are equally important
to know what consciousness is about.
As pointed out by another
reviewer, the second part that deals with non-scientific aspects of
consciousness is not well organized. Furthermore, it is largely centered
on the Sufi viewpoint. Other eastern philosophies and religions have a
lot to say about consciousness and are not treated in this book. But
this view of consciousness is mostly subjective and does not fit very
well any organization, so i don't think this is a problem. The choice of
the Sufi spiritual tradition does seem a good choice to me as Sufism is
not really embedded in a particular culture (although some might argue
it is grounded on Islam, this point is not relevant as Sufism goes
beyond any conception of life or any religious tradition).
think that this book does a fair job at linking scientific with
non-scientific aspects of consciousness. This topic is certainly
important for human kind to develop a less dogmatic view of what we are
and why. Science is good to answer the "what" question, while religion,
philosophy and spitirual practice tackle the "why" answer.