HomePHAVISMINDA Journalvol. 10 no. 1 (2011)

Postmodern Perspectives on the Study of Consciousness

Stanley Krippner

Discipline: Psychology, Philosophy



Among the scientific disciplines to be impacted by postmodernism is the study of consciousness. Narratives, key aspects of postmodern approaches, are already replacing abstract generalizations in theoretical formulations about such aspects of consciousness as memory and imagination. Research studies, both quantitative and qualitative, can be looked upon as attempts to tell stories that yield new information. A postmodern project for the study of consciousness would utilize narratives that are embedded in a time and a place ─ and the constant evaluation and questioning of the usefulness of these narratives.


In 1992, Vaclav Havel, the playwright-turned-statesman, counseled, “We have to abandon the arrogant belief that the world is merely a puzzle to be solved, a machine with instructions for use waiting to be discovered, a body of information to be fed into a computer in the hope that, sooner or later, it will spit out a universal solution.” This proclamation could serve as a precept for the shift that some scientific disciplines are making as they move from modernism to postmodernism. Nowhere is this transformation as apparent as in the field of the scientific study of consciousness ─ the disciplined inquiry into perception, cognition, emotion, and intention in all of their aspects and permutations. Intention, in fact, plays a vital role in determining the state of the organism, depending on the strength of the individual’s affective response and the ability to find meaning in experience.