Argument for State Specific Sciences

Although traditional scientific methods are poorly suited to the study of consciousness, many beneficial tools that can be used to measure the physiological correlation of altered states, such as the electroencephalograph, have been developed as an outgrowth of the study of states of consciousness.

Psychologist Charles Tart suggested the creation of state-specific sciences. In reaching this conclusion, he argues that any particular state of consciousness (including ordinary waking) is a semiarbitrary construction—a specialized tool that is useful for some things but not for others and that contains large numbers of structures shaped by a particular group's value judgments. Thus, science is observation and conceptualization carried out within the highly selective framework provided by a culturally determined ordinary state of consciousness. Tart suggests that, as altered states of consciousness often represent radically different ways of organizing observations and reworking conceptualizations of the universe (including oneself), if the scientific method were applied to developing sciences within various states of consciousness, there would be sciences based on radically different perceptions, logics, and communications, and thus science as a whole would gain new perspectives that would complement the existing one.

Regardless of whether this suggestion is taken seriously, it is clear that the study of states of consciousness has achieved legitimacy in scientific psychology. The investigation so far has revealed that human consciousness is much more diverse and varied than many psychologists previously believed.

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