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William James (1842-1910) stands as one of America’s preeminent philosophical thinkers on the nature of consciousness. James advocated that the field of psychology should develop around an integrated cognitive psychology of experiential consciousness.  By asserting that consciousness does not exist as an independent entity, but rather as a function of particular lived states—of which waking consciousness is just one among many possible states of awareness—James experimented with, and gave philosophical credence to, the role of alternative states of consciousness in evolving conceptions of the self and society.

The Center for Cognitive Liberty & Ethics (CCLE) is a nonprofit public education, law, and policy center working in the public interest to foster intellectual freedom and cognitive liberty. The CCLE broadly defines cognitive liberty as the right of each individual to think independently, to use the full spectrum of his or her mind, and to engage in multiple modes of thought. More specifically, the CCLE considers cognitive liberty to mediate between freedom of thought and electro-chemical manipulation of the brain.

The CCLE has developed the William James Project to focus public attention on the philosophy of consciousness in relation to individual rights of mind. With this project, the CCLE calls for serious consideration by policy advisors and scholars to situate their work in relation to emerging cognitive liberty issues, and seeks their informed input in formulating social policies that respect and protect the full potential of the human intellect. 

The William James Project is multi-dimensional and seeks to:

  1) Foster collaborative exchanges with interested scholars and researchers from many backgrounds with an abiding interest in freedom of thought; and encourage them to frame issues, pose conceptual distinctions, and address the merits of cognitive liberty.

  2) Determine how available tools and mind technologies do or do not contribute to enhancing thought processes and address the regulation of these in the past, present, and near future.

  3) Encourage the development and implementation of course curriculum and the discussion of cognitive liberty issues in university forums.

  4) Provide support for scholars and researchers with grantable projects aimed at the study and development of cognitive liberty jurisprudence, social policy, or intellectual history.

  5) Solicit interest and participation in the CCLE’s upcoming conference (2003): “Mind Matters: Cognitive Liberty and Neuroethics.”

  To achieve these project goals, the CCLE:

  1) Provides informative lectures that highlight cognitive liberty issues for university audiences.

  2) Conducts and facilitates professional research on cognitive liberty jurisprudence, social policy, or intellectual history involving related social implications and systemic conditions.

  3) Provides 501(c)(3) status for eligible grant proposals.

  4) Develops and promotes a Cognitive Liberty & Neuroethics Curriculum and assist interested students, lecturers, and professors in offering such a course.

Return to William James Project Index