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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A fractal topology of the transcendent experience
by Wilcox, Sally, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2012, 138; 3539760
Abstract (Summary)

This theoretical dissertation explores boundary conditions at the edge of individual consciousness during the transcendent experience. The unique characteristics in the transcendent experience are compared to those found in other natural boundary conditions. Analogous patterns are identified that suggest far from equilibrium conditions are present during subjective transcendent experiences which spontaneously reorder the boundary itself. The transdisciplinary method employed is tri-pronged relating dialectic philosophy, depth psychology and natural science to this investigation of boundary conditions in the transcendent experience.

Carl Jung's transcendent function (Miller, 2004) is utilized in describing boundary conditions between conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche. The transformative potential in the transcendent function suggests a dynamic process with porous tensegrity that I posit alters the architecture and function of the boundary itself.

This psychic tensegrity is compared to Donald Ingber's thesis of structural distortion of the cell membrane that profoundly alters cellular behaviour (1993, 1997, 2003). It is suggested that distortion of the cytoskeleton in microtubules may have an effect on consciousness. In that light, the Penrose-Hameroff model of conscious processes at the microtubule level (Penrose, 1994) is included in this discussion. This dissertation research suggests that during a transcendent experience, an individual's consciousness is driven into a far from equilibrium condition where the boundary at the edge of individual consciousness does not rupture, as presumed, but unfurls and spontaneously reorders to increase its fractal dimensionality.

This change from a bounded consciousness that is rigid, dualistic and excluding, to one that is richly textured; having a nearly infinite surface area, alters the fundamental role of the boundary from that of separating—to that of unifying; reconciling the self to the universal. The fractal, ubiquitous in non-linear systems of our physical world, is invoked to provide a description of the topology of the boundary of our inner being. In this way, the fractal topology of the transcendent experience provides a model where individual consciousness transcends itself in a state of non-duality.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Combs, Leslie A.
Commitee: Mitchell, Edgar, Swimme, Brian
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Humanities with a concentration in Transformative Learning and Change
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 74/02(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Metaphysics, Philosophy
Keywords: Boundaries, Boundaries of consciousness, Depth psychology, Far from equilibrium conditions, Non-duality, Tensegrity, Transcendence
Publication Number: 3539760
ISBN: 978-1-267-64222-6
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