porpoise wrote:The scientific view broadly seems to be that consciousness arises in dependence on form ( specifically the brain ), this point has been made repeatedly.
But this isn't what's described in the suttas, specifically in the teachings on dependent origination, where 2 options are given:
1. Form arising in dependence on consciousness;
2. Form and consciousness being mutually dependent.
So it appears that science and Buddhist teachings disagree on this point.
Fundamentalist Christianity & Science may disagree on some fundamental life matters but this disagreement does not necessarily exist between Buddhism & Science. Much of Science concerns itself with a materialistic explanation of phenomena. Where as Buddha was concerned with psychological explanation of how suffering arises & ceases. It is possible a 'Scientific', i.e., materialistic emphasis, is applied to Buddhism, which results in a materialistic interpretation.
Dependent Origination is not necessarily the appropriate explanatory principle pertaining to consciousness because Dependent Origination is primarily concerned with how the arising of ignorance generates suffering. It is a logical explanatory principle to include consciousness as the 3rd link, since:(i) the sense bases (5th link) are a natural extension of the physical body (4th link) & (ii) the formless realms include citta-sankhara & consciousness but not rupa. But, in general, this is not necessary as an explanation of reality, given consciousness could be included at the 4th link and nama-rupa at the 3rd link and nothing would change. Since consciousness & nama-rupa are mutually co-existent, in that they arise & cease together, it does not matter in which order they are referred to in Dependent Origination. For example, when the body & mind are sleeping, the mind is unconsciousness but kaya sankhara (breathing in & out) will still continue to condition the rupa (physical body). While sleeping, laboured breathing, such as when there is sickness, will still condition a laboured body. Materialistically, the 3rd link (consciousness) is not required for the 2nd link (sankhara) to condition the 4th link (rupa). However, Buddha was not concerned with such materialism. Instead, he was concerned with how ignorance conditions the mind, body & consciousness in a way that leads to suffering.
There are other explanatory principles that more appropriately pertain to consciousness, where consciousness itself is actually the topic of explanation, such as:
It's good, monks, that you understand the Dhamma taught by me in this way, for in many ways I have said of dependently co-arisen consciousness, 'Apart from a requisite condition, there is no coming-into-play of consciousness'. Consciousness, monks, is classified simply by the requisite condition in dependence on which it arises.
Dependent on eye & forms, eye-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact....Dependent on ear & sounds, ear-consciousness arises...Dependent on nose & aromas, nose-consciousness arises...Dependent on tongue & flavors, tongue-consciousness arises...Dependent on body & tactile sensations, body-consciousness arises...Dependent on intellect & ideas, intellect-consciousness arises. The meeting of the three is contact.
"Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible.
There are not necessarily "2 options" given in the suttas, particularly the option of: "Form arising in dependence on consciousness". There is probably only 1 option given in the suttas, namely, of: "Form and consciousness being mutually dependent".