History of Science, Philosophy and Culture in Indian Civilization

General Editor D. P. Chattopadhyaya

Volume XVI Part 1


K. Ramakrishna Rao

  cognitive anomalies, consciousness & yoga
Rs. 2600,   US$ 85             904 pages
ISBN: 978-81-910142-2-8

The volumes of the PROJECT OF HISTORY OF SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY AND CULTURE IN INDIAN CIVILIZATION aim to discover the central aspects of India’s heritage and present them in an interrelated manner. In spite of their unitary look, these volumes recognize the difference between the areas of material civilization and those of ideational culture. The Project is not being executed by a single group of thinkers, methodologically uniform or ideologically identical in their commitments. Rather, contributions are made by different scholars of diverse ideological persuasions and methodological approaches. The Project is marked by what may be called ‘methodological pluralism’. In spite of its primarily historical character, this project, both in its conceptualization and execution, has been shaped by scholars drawn from different disciplines. It is the first time that an endeavour of such unique and comprehensive character has been undertaken to study critically a major world civilization.

Cognitive Anomalies, Consciousness and Yoga is Professor Ramakrishna Rao’s magnum opus, a culmination of life-long efforts to develop a comprehensive model of the person that is inclusive of our rational, emotional and spiritual dimensions without reducing or converting one into another. Professor Rao brings his vast scholarship in eastern and western thought systems and his experience as a practicing scientist and psychologist for a unified understanding of human nature. His arguments move with ease from Upanishadic conceptions to current phenomenological and existential discourses on the mind and from quantum mechanics and particle physics to neural correlates of consciousness.

Professor Rao sets out in the book with the primary question who we are. Are we merely brain-driven machines? Is consciousness no more than a pack of neurons firing in synchrony? Is there anything in us that does not fit into the material framework of the universe and calls for a paradigmatic shift in our search for a more inclusive universe?

These questions take him for an indepth discussion of paranormal phenomena, extraordinary human abilities. Pointing to the pervasive scientific evidence in support of such abilities that cannot be wished away as unreal artefacts of sloppy research nor explained adequately on materialistic/reductionist models, Professor Rao argues that the current research paradigms are simply inadequate to study these phenomena. Extensive discussions of current research on consciousness bring into focus certain aspects of consciousness that in principle appear to defy all attempts to explain them within the physicalist framework. Prominent among them is subjectivity, the “what is it like” feel of experience.

While acknowledging that physical models of the mind have contributed significantly to our understanding of cognitive abilities, Dr. Rao argues that they, however, leave many gaps in our knowledge of higher forms of consciousness. Professor Rao finds in Indian theories of mind and consciousness, especially Yoga, the necessary ingredients for a more comprehensive paradigm of human nature. From these ingredients, he develops the Trisula (Trident) model of the person as a composite of body, mind and consciousness. Body-Mind-Consciousness nexus in humans is conceived as a single unitary process, and yet one that takes on quantum jumps and qualitative leaps as we move on from bodily processes to mental experiences and to conscious phenomena. Consciousness and mind are independent and irreducible to each other, and yet are manifestations of the same process. The irreducibility aspect tends to lead us to mistakenly hypostasize them as noninteracting entities. Their origin from a single source gives us the temptation to reduce them into a single category.

Cognitive Anomalies, Consciousness and Yoga are three books in one. Each part can be read as separate and distinctive. However, together they give a comprehensive picture of the person. This, indeed, is a source book of serious ideas that could provoke much further discussion and research.

k ramakrishna rao

K. Ramakrishna Rao
Ph.D, D.Litt is a philosopher, psychologist and educationist with vast experience in national and international arena as a teacher, researcher and administrator.

An acknowledged international authority on Indian psychology, consciousness studies and parapsychology, Prof. Rao has published nearly two hundred research papers and fifteen books, the most recent ones include Consciousness Studies: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (McFarland, 2002), Towards a Spiritual Psychology edited with S. B. Marwaha (Samvad, India, 2005), Handbook of Indian Psychology edited with Anand Paranjpe and Ajit Dalal (Foundation Books, Cambridge University Press, 2008), and the most recent Yoga and Parapsychology: Empirical Research and Theoretical Essays (2010, edited).

He was Founder - Head and Professor, in the Department of Psychology and Parapsychology and Honorary Director of the Institute for Yoga and Consciousness at Andhra University. Dr Rao worked with Dr J. B. Rhine at Duke University and later headed his Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man as its Executive Director.

In addition to teaching and research Prof. Rao served in several top level administrative, executive and advisory positions. These include Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University, Chairman of the A. P. State Commissionerate of Higher Education and Founder President of the Institute for Human Science and Service.

Professor Ramakrishna Rao served as the editor of Journal of Indian Psychology and Journal of Parapsychology. He was elected as the President of the Parapsychological Association, an international professional body of scientists based in USA, on three different occasions. Dr. Rao was also elected President of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology during two consecutive terms.

Currently the Chairman of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research and President of the Asian Congress of Philosophy, Prof. Rao received numerous national and international honors and recognition for his work, which include Doctor of Letters (Honoris Causa) degrees from Andhra and Kakatiya Universities and Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) degree from Acharya Nagarjuna University.

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