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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Inquiry into the Notion of Collective Consciousness
by Howenstine, Madeleine, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2020, 121; 28031494
Abstract (Summary)

Awareness of how we are embedded within collectives, and the degree to which collectives may create more complex forms of consciousness within which we participate as individuals, is of critical importance as we face the global challenges of the twenty-first century. We have begun to realize that our own well-being is interdependent with that of our environment and all the beings that share that environment. We are immersed in a constant interplay between our individual selves and the world around us, be it other people, other beings, or our physical environment.

In the interest of bringing our awareness to how we are embedded within and actively participate in multiple levels of collective consciousness, this dissertation is an inquiry into notions of what constitutes consciousness and how understanding these notions of consciousness can increase our awareness of our participation at the level of the collective. I propose that with greater awareness of our participation we can proactively engage with the consciousness of collectives. This investigation takes a multidisciplinary approach, examining theories and concepts from philosophy, physics, neurobiology, systems theory, and psychology.

A significant finding revealed in this work is how prevalent across disciplines is the distinction between two very different types of collective consciousness. The first form is that of a collective consciousness that exhibits pressure for conformity, supports mob behavior, and homogeneity. It has more like to like bonds than complex hierarchical bonds. The individual is subsumed by the collective. Groupthink is an outcome of this form of collective consciousness. The second form is a more organic and complex collective consciousness that embraces diversity, distinctions, and is heterogeneous. The value of the individual as a unique participant in a greater whole is acknowledged.

With this finding, it becomes of paramount importance to recognize our participation in either of these two types of collective consciousness in order to exercise agency in our participation. The final chapter suggests some potential methods for enhancing this awareness.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Kelly, Sean
Commitee: Swimme, Brian, Moody, David
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Philosophy and Religion with a concentration on Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 82/3(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Philosophy, Organizational behavior, Sociology
Keywords: Collective Consciousness, Group behavior, Group Think, Process Philosophy
Publication Number: 28031494
ISBN: 9798672149516
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