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Religions 2016, 7(7), 87; doi:10.3390/rel7070087

Connecting Consciousness to Physical Causality: Abhinavagupta’s Phenomenology of Subjectivity and Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory

Religious Studies, University of Colorado, 292 UCB, Eaton Humanities 240, Boulder, CO 80301, USA
Academic Editors: Glen A. Hayes and Sthaneshwar Timalsina
Received: 28 May 2016 / Revised: 21 June 2016 / Accepted: 23 June 2016 / Published: 1 July 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cognitive Science and the Study of Yoga and Tantra)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [200 KB, uploaded 1 July 2016]


This article demonstrates remarkably similar methods for linking mind and body to address the “hard problem” in the work of 11th-century Indian philosopher Abhinavagupta with a currently prominent neuroscienctific theory, Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory 3.0. Both Abhinavagupta and Tononi and Christof Koch hinge their theories on the identity of phenomenal subjective experience with causality. Giulio Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory is remarkable precisely in its method for dealing with the mind-body problem; namely, Tononi’s mathematically oriented systems neurology proposes something we typically do not find in neuroscientific literature—that we start from a phenomenology of experience. Abhinavagupta’s sophisticated and, for his milieu, novel way of linking subjectivity and objectivity in the concepts of knowledge (jñāna) and action (kriyā) also offers a way of understanding how subjectivity can be linked to causality. This particular configuration is mostly absent in Western Cartesian models for understanding consciousness and in Indian philosophical speculations on consciousness. However, this, in any case, is precisely the move that Tononi makes when he proposes that information is both “causal and intrinsic.” Abhinavagupta’s similar linkage of subjectivity with causality can help us to think about Tononi’s neuroscientific mathematical model. View Full-Text
Keywords: Abhinavagupta; cognitive science; Integrated Information Theory; Phi; consciousness Abhinavagupta; cognitive science; Integrated Information Theory; Phi; consciousness
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Biernacki, L. Connecting Consciousness to Physical Causality: Abhinavagupta’s Phenomenology of Subjectivity and Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory. Religions 2016, 7, 87.

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