Selected Writings By Topic

[Updated 20 Sept 2005]

This is a selection of papers in biogenetic structural theory and research that should give you a flavor for the kind of interests and approach we have addressed over the years.  The papers are organized by topic and may be downloaded and used as long as you give the appropriate credit and reference to our work.

Art and Spirit Papers

This links to another page dedicated to a biogenetic structural analysis of the spiritual power of art.  Both traditional and modern art are discussed, and  a theory and methodology is presented that places the study of art in the forefront of neuroanthropological and ethnological research.

Emotion and Self

The following paper applies a biogenetic structural analysis to the controversy between "constructivists" and "universalists" on the nature of emotion.

Emotion: The View from Biogenetic Structuralism [Written with Jason Throop and published in Biocultural Approaches to the Emotions (ed. by A.L. Hinton). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, pp. 329-363.; in RTF format.]


This is a fairly complete discussion of the structure of consciousness, and the position of the concept in biogenetic structural theory:

The Anthropology of Consciousness This is an early version of a paper Jason Throop and I published in P. D. Zelazo, M. Moscovitch, & E. Thompson (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of consciousness .  It traces the history of anthropology's interest in consciousness since its inception in the 19th century.

Consciousness in Biogenetic Structural Theory   [Published in 1992 in The Anthropology of Consciousness 3 (1-2): 17-22; in RTF format]

A later discussion was done for the Tucson III Conference in Tucson, AZ, April-May 1998, and later published in the proceedings -- in Toward a Science of Consciousness III , ed by Stuart Hameroff, David Chalmers and Alfred Kazniak, pp. 459-473, 1999:

Biogenetic Structuralism and the Neurophenomenology of Consciousness   [In RTF format]

Some of our theoretical work centered on the neurophenomenology of dreaming:

The Function of Dreaming in the Cycles of Cognition: A Biogenetic Structural Account   [Paper written with John McManus and Jon Shearer and published in The Function of Dreaming (ed. by A. Moffitt et al.). Albany: SUNY Press, 1993; in RTF format]

And the following is a paper that Tracey Spack and I wrote and delivered at the Annual Meeting of Society for the Anthropology of Consciousness, Tempe, AZ, April 1994:

Animal Consciousness: The View from Biogenetic Structuralism   [Written with Tracey Spack; in RTF format]

The Mystical Brain

We have argued that the human brain is inherently mystical in some of its ways of knowing and experiencing -- especially in how it comes to know the Hidden.

The Mystical Brain: Biogenetic Structural Studies in the Anthropology of Religion   [In RTF format]


Some of our earliest and best researched work has been on the nature of ritual, and the ritual control of experience.  This article further elaborates the model generated in our book The Spectrum of Ritual (New York: Columbia University Press, 1979), and the later paper "The Ritual Transformation of Experience." Studies in Symbolic Interaction 7 (Part A) (Norman K. Denkin, ed.), Greenwich, Conn.: JAI Press (written with J. McManus, R.A. Rubinstein and J. Shearer, 1986).

Ritual and the Symbolic Function   [In RTF format]

Development and Neurognosis

Pre- and Perinatal Brain Development and Enculturation [Published in Human Nature 2(3): 171-213, 1991; in RTF format]

Properties of Neurognosis   [Published in Journal of Social and Evolutionary Systems 19(4):363-380, 1996; in RTF format]

Play, Games and Sport

Some of our work has centered on the role of play and games in the development of consciousness.  John McManus and I wrote our original play and games paper entitled "The Biopsychological Determinants of Play and Games" for the volume Social Approaches to Sport (ed. by R.M. Pankin), Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1982.  Unfortunately, that paper isn't on computer file.

Later came the following paper which covered games and sport as epiphany, and published in Journal of Ritual Studies 7(1): 85-104, 1993:

Revealing the Hidden: The Epiphanic Dimension of Games and Sport   [In RTF format]

The following paper pertains to play and metanoia in spiritual experiences and cosmology.  It was published in Play and Culture 3 (3): 173-192, 1990:

At Play in the Fields of the Lord: The Role of Metanoia in the Development of Consciousness   [In RTF format]

Technology, Mind and Culture

The Artifacts of Knowledge   [English version of paper published only in French in Anthropologie et Sociétés 13(2): 9-29, 1989; in RTF format]

Transpersonal Anthropology

The following three papers (in RTF format) cover the theoretical and methodological issues involved in doing ethnography pertaining to alternative states of consciousness, especially those that produce transpersonal experiences.

Transpersonal Anthropology: Some Methodological Issues   [Paper published in Western Canadian Anthropology 5: 29-60, 1988]

Transpersonal Anthropology:  What Is It, and What Are the Problems We Face Doing It?   [Unpublished manuscript]

Transpersonal Anthropology: Then and Now   [Short paper published in Transpersonal Review 1(1): 7-10, 1994]

Philosophical and Phenomenological Issues

The following two papers (in RTF format) discuss the question of fuzziness of natural categories relative to  ethnological theory and methods.  These discuss insights from fuzzy set theory.  The first article is short.  The second is much longer.

The Fuzzy Brain   [Short discussion published in the short-lived Social Neuroscience Bulletin 6(2): 20-21, 1993]

Fuzziness and Phenomenology   [Lengthy discussion published in Journal of Anthropological Research 49(1): 17-37, 1993]

Apodicticity: The Problem of Absolute Certainty in Transpersonal Anthropology [This paper discusses the sense of certainty we experience in religious and spiritual experiences.  Published in Anthropology & Humanism 19(2): 1-15, 1994; in RTF format.]

Phenomenological Anthropology [A short article I did for the Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology , Vol. 3, (ed. by D. Levinson and M. Ember). HRAF Press, Pp. 924-926, 1996. In RTF format.]

On the Relationship Between Science and the Lifeworld: A Biogenetic Structural Theory of Meaning and Causation [An article that discusses the neurophenomenology of causation, and the relationship between theory and experience.  It was published in The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science . (Edited by W. Harman and J. Clark). Institute of Noetic Sciences Books in 1994.  In RTF format.]

The entire monograph from which the above article was abstracted is entitled Scientific Explanation and the Life-World: A Biogenetic Structural Theory of Meaning and Causation , and is now available for you in its entirity.  References to this monograph should read:  Laughlin, Charles D. 1992. Scientific Explanation and the Life-World: A Biogenetic Structural Theory of Meaning and Causation . IONS Report CP-2, Sausalito, CA: Institute of Noetic Sciences.

The Relevance of the Radical Empiricism of William James to the Anthropology of Consciousness   [An article written with John McManus discussing William James' notion of a radical empiricism -- concluding that James was one of the only theorists to come through to a view that was simultaneously structuralist and phenomenological,  It was published in Anthropology of Consciousness 6(3): 34-46, 1995]

Culture and Fisher Information This paper, written with Jason Throop, explores a model of culture using Fisher Information which brings ethnology back in touch with Adoph Bastian's original project.

Cycle of Meaning

The cycle of meaning is a central concept in biogenetic structural theory.  It refers to the feedback loop linking worldview, ritual & symbolism, experience and interpretation.  It is within the context of the cycle of meaning that experiences become integrated (or not!) into personality.

The Cycle of Meaning   [This is a RTF version of a discussion of biogenetic structural theory with an emphasis upon this very pivotal concept.  It was published in 1997 in Anthropology of Religion: Handbook of Theory and Method (ed. by Stephen Glazier). Greenwood Press, Pp. 471-488.]

The Quantum Sea

Archetypes, Neurognosis and the Quantum Sea    [This is an RTF version of the paper published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration 10(3):375-400, 1996]

Cyborg Consciousness

The Evolution of Cyborg Consciousness    [An RTF version  of the paper which was published in Anthropology of Consciousness 8(4)144-159, 1997.]

The Cyborg, the Ideology Chip and the Guru Program: The Implications of Cyborg Technologies for the Development of Human Consciousness    [The full RTF format version of the paper published in Foresight 2(3):291-312 (2000)]

Time and Intentionality

Time, Intentionality and a Neurophenomenology of the Dot    [The RTF version of the paper that was published in Anthropology of Consciousness 3(3/4):14-27 in 1992; in RTF format]

The concept of intentionality is briefly discussed in the following short unpublished manuscript:

Intentionality: A Brief Introduction To the Concept   [In RTF format]

The Body Image

The following paper develops a neuroanthropological model of the body image:

Body, Brain and Behavior: The Neuroanthropology of the Body Image   [Published in 1997 in Anthropology of Consciousness 8 (2-3):49-68; in RTF format]

Cultural Neurophenomenology

This is a link to a page covering C. Jason Throop's and my work in developing a cultural neurophenomenology This is a perspective that combines the Husserlian phenomenology of experience with ethnology and the neurosciences.  We argue that this is the most powerful possible approach to the study of consciousness.

Mirror of the Brain

The Mirror of the Brain, a book that Charlie completed in the early 1990s, but never bothered to publish.  It talks about neurophenomenology and the paths leading to becoming a mature contemplative -- intended as a sequel to his 1990 book, Brain, Symbol and Experience .  It has never before been available, and this is the only place you can find it.

The Anima Project

Mandalas, Nixies, Goddesses and Succubi: A Transpersonal Anthropologist Looks at the Anima .  This a transpersonal and autobiographical exploration of C.G. Jung's concept of the anima -- an investigation of the relationship between the conscious ego and the unconscious self through the medium of contra-sexual imagery and other transpersonal motifs.  This will be of interest to meditators and transpersonal scientists, as well as Jungians.  The html version above is accompanied by many illustrations and will take some time to open.  Be patient.  It's worth it.  But if you are in a hurry and you want the quick and easy .rtf version without all the illustrations, click here .   The paper without illustrations was published in the International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 20:33-52.

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