Why You Should Be Skeptical of the Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness

eight circuit model of consciousness

The eight circuit model of consciousness proposed by Timothy Leary and championed by Robert Anton Wilson is fraught with issues, even as an analogy.

One of the first things to consider when somebody presents to you their model of reality is where that individual places their own self in that model. If it is at the top, absolutely or relative to everyone else, you should immediately be suspicious. All individuals and tribes make such models which support their unique superiority.

I had been a fan of that model for many, many years. I tried to get everyone I ever met to read Prometheus Rising, as I was certain that if everyone understood it as well as I did, the whole being a human problem would work itself out. So for the sake of reason, let us not begin with the assumption that I have just failed to understand it, and take this critique on its own merits, and not as a reaction to any perceived attacks against your reality tunnel.

When I first realized that the Eight Circuit Model of Consciousness (8CM) suffered from a massive dose of confirmation bias and ego validation, I almost immediately realized that many of my own models suffered from the same issue. That they tended to always support the idea that I, as opposed to everyone else, was doing life correctly, made me suspicious of my own motives. As well as the motives of anyone who involves themselves in the creation of such an egocentric abstraction.

A prime example of this is my Game Metaphor model, in which I break humans down into three categories of awareness and free will, and then place myself in the upper category and almost everyone else in the lowest. I was so damn self-assured by the whole thing that I was able to fool myself into intellectually converting my own abstraction into an objective certainty. And while I still appreciate the idea of awareness and free will being on a scale, rather than binary; using that concept to create labels that come with judgments was small-minded and petty of me.

There is no doubt that Leary and Wilson saw themselves as high achievers in the context of the 8CM. The fact that they proselytized it so much indicates how invested in and attached they were to their self-validating model. And while it does remain a useful metaphor for thinking about reality from a certain angle, even beyond its suspicious motivations it has ideological issues.

While Wilson had good enough sense to at least call his scientific materialism a strong suspicion, Leary was never in doubt. Although raised a good Catholic boy, Leary never faltered from the scientific materialism that has risen from the Protestant world view. And all of his theories and models were predicated on the literal truth of physicalism, dualism, objectivism and positivism. The 8CM makes it immediately clear right in the title, where he suggests that consciousness is some emergent property of our circuitry.

Read the rest of this piece at Advanced Dank Unicorn