Jorge Martins and I are finally sitting down to write the paper for Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, for the special issue on The necessary conjunction of the Western and Eastern Thought traditions for exploring the nature of Mind and Life.
it should be out in August 2017, here is the draft abstract,
In the study of a non-reductive mind-life continuity, the first-person method has been target of many controversial claims in science. Western scientific objectivity requires, as it is said, third-person quantitative methods, such as imaging techniques, times-response, and button-pushes, applied to the study of the mind. However, If mind and conscious experience are intrinsically qualitative and first-person, and if scientific objectivity only accepts third-person data, then the attempt to explain something that is first-person by exclusive third-person methods, might not be as informative as it intends to be, and moreover might as well be committing a reductive methodological fallacy under the easy-hard problem lens. It is, though, a common procedure, in the scientific study of qualitative self-experience, to design and conduct experiments that concern solely third-person, quantitative methods. We ask whether subjective experience can be studied from a scientific viewpoint, using a combination of first-person methodology (phenomenology) and third-person measurements (molecular biology and proteomics). In this essay, we will illustrate the proposed methodology with an experiment we conducted that is focused on eastern meditative practice as an intervention protocol. We studied the subjective experience of meditation through the combination of (1) a first-person phenomenological description of the subjective experience; and (2) a third-person method, by means of molecular biology measurements collected in saliva, further proteomics techniques, and of complementary statistical and data mining designed solutions: factor analysis, PCA and Expectation–maximization algorithms. We aim to show that subjective experience, such as meditative self-experience, has a bodily expression, on functional protein networks, and, particularly that meditative therapeutic methods might relate to the inhibition of biological and mental diseases, by the neuro-immune molecular coupling. We expect this study to contribute to a further biobank, on the biological level, that identifies particular proteins with health and homeostasis.
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