Reflections on Charet’s Consciousness, Earley’s The Social Evolution of Consciousness and Grof’s Revision and Re-enchantment of Psychology

Charet’s encyclopedia entry serves as an entry point, a definition, of consciousness. As such, it is aa general introduction, but given the work done by others in this area, including the Buddhists, Jung, and others, this definition barely cover the territory. I concentrated the majority of my analysis on the other two articles.

While Early’s The social evolution of consciousness (2002) makes many valid points, he misses others. His emphasis on reflexive consciousness is key, his emphasis on the suppression of participatory consciousness (community and communal – usually matriarchal – is ignored) is particularly one-sided and biased from a Western viewpoint (i.e. not Asia, part East of Africa and Africa which he rarely takes into account contemporarily or historically) with its emphasis upon the mindset of a white Western Patriarchy, though he does not make a note of that.  Especially when he states, “Participatory consciousness (emphasis author’s) is characterized by a sense of aliveness and belonging to the world. In this mode, people relate to the world primarily through intuition, emotion, the body, and the immediate present.”  These are particularly if stereotypically maternal characteristics that are typical of matriarchal and communal societies in Africa and Asia).

Additionally, they were common in the West when worship of the goddess and a dual deity was more common before the adaptation of the male god.  I am fast forwarding through a lot of history here, but the control of the state apparatus by the Catholic Church also contributed to this as well.  Additionally, this separation from head and heart in philosophy was more common after the separation among the hard sciences that began during or after the generation of David Hume and his contemporaries in the 1720’s and grew into what grew more rapid during the 19th and centuries in the social sciences.

Grof’s Revision and re-enchantment of psychology (2012, on the other hand, makes note of these phenomena and introduces the concept of paradigm shifts that occur within certain times and ages of crisis as many of us felt during our first Saybrook University meeting of the minds in San Francisco.  Grof indicates that another shift is possible when the scientists of the era are forced to change their perspective after the revelation of new information or discoveries.  He makes note of Lord Kelvin’s assessment that there remains nothing new to be discovered, in spite of the fact that chaos science hovered and lingered in the background until it’s discoveries were slowly acknowledged later in the latter 20th century.

I believe his analysis of holotropic states of consciousness lies somewhere in the realm of chaos theory in the field of psychology; given that it is an unexplored area of consciousness psychology that “defies” standard sets of measurements, in much the same way that the ancient Indians discoveries defy modern scientists until one of their number stumble upon an aspect of their study that they hadn’t seen before (chaos!).  While the acknowledgement of Eastern spiritual science was virtually ignored in Earley, not acknowledging a desire in Western society to return to that earlier discovery of spiritual science, ignoring Huxley, Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) as well countless others, Grof does not and acknowledges several other cultures of spiritual scientists and their exploration of holotropic states.


Charet, F. X. (2010). Consciousness. In D. A. Leeming (Ed.), Encyclopedia of psychology and religion (pp. 174-178). New York, NY: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-71802-6_129

Earley, J. (2002). The social evolution of consciousness. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 42, 107-132. doi:10.1177/0022167802421006

Grof, S. (2012). Revision and re-enchantment of psychology: Legacy of half a century of consciousness research. Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, 44, 137-163.

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