Three-Function Framework of Consciousness – an objective philosophical framework uniting science and spirituality derived from Indian Knowledge Systems

Martin Fleming
Vedanta philosopher


In western countries, and increasingly in India, many people feel there is a stigma in admitting to interest or belief in spiritual matters. The hegemony of scientific narratives that there is nothing other than the physical thus labels any other idea as naive, backward, anti-science and so on. The problem lies in the failure of philosophy challenging such narratives as unjustified and beyond the scope of the scientific methodology. Science cannot pronounce on the foundational metaphysics that underpins its realm of investigation. The dogma of scientism over-reaches when it claims certainty for the nature and origin of consciousness, life and the universe. 

The presenter will outline a foundational philosophical framework derived from the Indian Knowledge Systems of Vedanta, Sankhya and Yoga texts. This Three-Function framework elucidates consciousness as a primary irreducible function of reality and demonstrates how consciousness interacts through the interface of the non-neural mind with the neural activity and biological systems of our body as well as the physicality of the external world. Hence, it overcomes standard objections of interactionism, dualism, idealism, conservation theories, etc.

The framework is science-consistent in that it does not contravene any valid scientific evidence. Indeed it is supported by the most recent discoveries in neuroscience, biology and physics. Simultaneously, it is theistically-supportive in that it provides a rational basis for exploration of the connection of personal consciousness with the ultimate source of reality as the Supreme sentient being.

It is therefore, an ideal basis for neutral and objective education acknowledging that science and spirituality need not be at odds with one another. Rather, a well-grounded philosophical approach can enhance the value that each contributes to human progress.


Martin Fleming is a Vaishnava Vedanta theologian originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has served as the principal of Bhaktivedanta Manor near Watford; the director of Buckland Hall in Wales; a member of the Central Religious Advisory Committee for the BBC; and as a trustee of the faith authority for the Avanti Hindu schools in the UK.

Martin Fleming specialises in the integration of modern science and the philosophies of Vedanta, Sankhya and Yoga. Currently he is the director of the Science & Philosophy Initiative, a UK association and board member of the Bhaktivedanta Institute for Higher Studies in USA. He is best known for his regular broadcasts on the BBC since 1989.