Mod+ 274. DR. BERNARDO KASTRUP, WHY OUR CULTURE IS MATERIALISTIC

#61
I was introduced to the book "The Neck of the Giraffe" by a friend who has a Ph.D in the philosophy of science and was using it to teach his philosophy of science course at University. I found it very interesting, and supportive of the idea that there may be some sort of teleological force at work in the process of evolution.
 
#62
What about disembodies consciousness?
The evidence from NDEs and controlled mediumship studies seem to suggest that intentionality (I am ok with your definition) is still present.
In your view, does non-filtered / disembodies consciousness return to the state of mind-at-large?
Since the world can only be inferred to be but a partial image of the dynamics of mind-at-large, it is conceivable that the structure of self-reflection extends beyond the visible body, just like a plant extends beyond the leaves, into the invisible root. But I don't like to speculate much about it until the evidence for the persistence of self-reflectiveness after bodily death is stronger. I could, for instance, imagine that only after returning to normal bodily functions does the person actually self-reflect about her experiences during the NDE proper.

(a) How exactly neural correlates are sufficient to motivate this statement? Isn't this contradicting the idea that when we look at the filter (brain) we're merely watching an image of the process in mind?
One can validly infer things from the image of a process, like the temperature of combustion can be inferred from the color of flames. Neural reverberation is a back-and-forth exchange of information between different brain areas that is highly suggestive of self-reflection, like two mirrors facing each other self-reflect (or 'reverberate' as far as the images they reflect).

(b) I don't think dreams / trances can be a cogent example of suspension of self-reflection. There may be cases in which this happens. I am not sure it's a rule.
My point doesn't require that it be the rule; just that it happens with some consistency when the DMN is de-activated.

Cheers, B.
 
#63
I mean, awareness of awareness seems an advancement over mere awareness, doesn't it?
Yes, therein lying the meaning of life?

If it has an "unarticulated" desire, then the object of that desire eventuates.
Exactly.

Maybe the desire that gave rise to everything that materialists think is the concrete, external world was the result of an "unarticulated" desire to come to "know itself". Which would require the arising of something capable of self-reflection, of something able to be aware that it was aware, a capacity that m-a-l itself doesn't possess, but is able to experience through it/them.
There you go... you don't need me. ;-)

Maybe it's this projection that gives rise to the idea of God as all-knowing
Maybe 'God' is all-knowing, but doesn't know that It knows... ;-)

At the fringes, between our total identification with our alters (points-of-view) and m-a-l, there is the zone where, to larger or smaller degrees, we can get some intuitive insight into the true nature of m-a-l.
Precisely!

I don't mean by this to speak for Bernardo, only for my interpretation of what he's saying. Doubtless he will correct me if I've misrepresented his position.
As it often happens, you did a better job than me in many respects.
 
#64
What begins to worry me about Bernardo's position, is that it seems like a way to translate the world into a fresh set of jargon that (almost) leaves everything the same.
I strongly disagree, and expand on the reasons in Chapter 8 of Brief Peeks Beyond. Here is a partial overview of what is discussed there:
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/09/does-it-matter-whether-all-is-in.html

I mean, yes, the translation permits assorted ψ events to occur, but you could still make that translation in a world where no ψ events took place!
Any potentially valid ontology must remain consistent with established empirical fact, so I am glad mine does! :) My formulation of idealism remains consistent with the empirical facts that materialism purports to explain -- including the relative subtlety and rarity of psi phenomena -- which can only be a good thing. If someone proposed an ontology that predicted objects to fly into the sky when dropped, instead of falling, that would be very original and different, but not much more...

Also, I guess the translation would work for a world where people's minds return to the Mind at Large after death - which sounds uncomfortably close to oblivion!
That's an alter talking... ;-) It's like your dreamed-up character in a nightly dream fearing oblivion when you wake up. Never mind that when the real you wakes up you just have a laugh...

Although science is about models, most of its practitioners certainly think it is also about ontology - particularly when it comes to the matter at ordinary temperatures and pressures that fills our skulls.
They are wrong.

A zombie could simply be a person that is controlled purely by the MaL!
Yes, we call those inanimate objects. ;) No, seriously, it is valid to infer some basic things about a process from the image of the process. If by 'a person' you mean a metabolizing human being, it is entirely reasonable to infer that it has private inner life like you do. And otherwise, it's just an inanimate object.

Yes, but it doesn't demand that these things exist. For example it is comfortable with the fact that a reduction of brain activity induced by alcohol (or indeed anaesthetic) doesn't lead to intense experiences - it is just consistent with the fact that psilocybin does reduce brain activity and give rise to intense experiences.
If no intervention that reduces brain activity were found to enable an expansion of experience I'd throw my ontology away. By the way, anesthetics do lead to a recallable expansion of experience at the right dose (e.g. ketamine) and may in fact always do so, although we can't remember it afterwards when the dose is too high. Be it as it may, it is entirely reasonable that not all reductions of brain activity anywhere in the brain lead to expansion of awareness. The brain, after all, is a complex and heterogeneous organ, not a uniform mass of undifferentiated tissue.

Cheers, B.
 
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#65
If no intervention that reduces brain activity were found to enable an expansion of experience I'd throw my ontology away. By the way, anesthetics do lead to a recallable expansion of experience at the right dose (e.g. ketamine) and may in fact always do so, although we can't remember it afterwards when the dose is too high.
Yes, I too wonder if anaesthetics lead to NDE's I was interested to read that many people have a short period of delirium as they emerge from an anaesthetic - forgotten after it is all over. It would be an interesting project to discover what is the typical content of that delirious phase.

For long operations, the NDE's could be extensive.

David
 
#66
Yes, I too wonder if anaesthetics lead to NDE's I was interested to read that many people have a short period of delirium as they emerge from an anaesthetic - forgotten after it is all over. It would be an interesting project to discover what is the typical content of that delirious phase.
Yes, I've had this 'delirium' experience coming round after surgery, when I was a kid. It seemed to last forever and the emotional tone was very ambiguous... rather like... well, a psychedelic trance (an association I could only make much later). I've always remembered having had this experience, though I could never, for the life of me, remember the contents of the experience.
 
#67
I enjoyed this talk greatly, thank you both very much.

This is my first encounter with a real-life Idealist, and, prone to dualism as I am, my first instinct after reading the blog posts to which you linked, Bernado, was to try to find a way to critique Idealism. I may yet try to do that, but a thought has occurred to me prior to that: perhaps I can have my cake and eat it too, in the sense that an Idealist ontology might be able to subsume a dualist ontology. I'd be curious to know what you thought of that possibility.
 
#68
If you are trying to bridge the gap from dualism to idealism have a look here:
http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/realizing-ultimate.html
J. J. van Der Leeuw, an advanced meditator, wrote in The Conquest of Illusion:

"In that experience [of the Absolute] we are no longer the separate self, we are no longer what we call 'we' in our daily life. Not only are we our entire being, past and future, in that sublime experience of eternity, but we are the reality of all that is, was, or shall be, we are That."
....
Lester Levenson who developed psychological techniques that led to his realization...:

He saw this Beingness as something like a comb. He was at the spine of the comb and all the teeth fanned out from it, each one thinking it was separate and different from all the other teeth. And that was true, but only if you looked at it from the tooth end of the comb. Once you got back to the spine or source, you could see that it wasn't true. It was all one comb. There was no real separation, except when you sat at the tooth end. It was all in one's point of view.
Moving awareness to "the base of the comb", as Lester Levenson described it, is not like losing individuality, it is like remembering who you really are.​
Much more at the link


Idealism and dualism are compatible philosophies. Mechnaical engineers use Newtonian mechanics all the time even though it is only an approximation of relativity. If you want to discuss material physics, phyicalism is works best. If you want to discuss life and the afterlife, dualism works best. If you want to discuss the ultimate reality, idealism works best. What NDErs and evidential mediums report as the afterlife of spirits is not always the ultimate reality. There are different levels, the physical world seems to be at one end and pure consciousness seems to be at the other end but there are other levels in between. All these levels are a kind of technology created by mind. Someday there may be a new level beyond the physical world that exists in a computer. Physical beings like us may "incarnate" there and having drank from Lethe will debate whether there is an ultimate reality beyond qbits.
 
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#69
Thanks, Jim. Perhaps I simply don't understand the distinction clearly enough, but it seemed to me that the descriptions at your link could apply to either dualism or Idealism.
 
#70
Alex's questions at the end of the interview:

Do you think there's a synergistic relationship between materialism and our economic system? how do you think it might come into being and what does it say about what might lie beyond the materialistic paradigm?
Yes.

http://lifehacker.com/how-stores-manipulate-your-senses-so-you-spend-more-mon-475987594

How Stores Manipulate Your Senses So You Spend More Money
...

When you walk into almost any store, you're immediately overloaded with sights, sounds, smells, and various things to touch. This barrage on your senses are hand-picked for one goal: to make you spend more. Here's what's going on...
...
How Stores Tap Into Your Sense of Sight to Get You to Spend More
...
Why Touching Products Makes You Want to Buy Them
...
Why the Perfect Scent Makes You More Willing to Spend Money
...
How the Right Song Makes Expensive Products Look Better
...

 
#71
Hey Bernardo.

I very much enjoyed the show, and as always you present the case for Idealism leaving very little wiggle room for any other ontology to creep in.

However, I am unsure over "parsimony".... if one assumes (rightly or wrongly) that everything is physical, consciousness being a set of physical brain processes appears parsimonious... If one assumes (rightly or wrongly) that consciousness is "other" then Idealism appears obvious. In short, proponents of both Physicalism and Idealism indulge in some equally circular arguments dependent on initial assumptions. The apparent parsimony of each ontology is dependent on those initial assumptions and what looks parsimonious to one group, does not to the other. (I hope this makes sense, and isn't an argument for one being "better" than the other, just that they both face equal problems)

With all that in mind, can you dream up any new information/revelation that would shake your view that Idealism was the most parsimonious. What would be your falsification criteria?
 
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#72
Thanks, Jim. Perhaps I simply don't understand the distinction clearly enough, but it seemed to me that the descriptions at your link could apply to either dualism or Idealism.

The physical world is real, but it is a thought, so it is only a dream. In a realm where only mind exists, thoughts are the only reality.
 
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#73
Ian Idealist ontology might be able to subsume a dualist ontology. I'd be curious to know what you thought of that possibility.
Yes, there is a way to interpret things this way. Dualism isn't crazy, it reflects a seed of truth distorted in language. As I described in some earlier essays (http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2015/04/cognitive-short-circuit-of-artificial-consciousness.html and http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/09/in-defence-of-theology-reply-to-jerry.html) and more extensively in Brief Peeks Beyond, idealism entails that certain experiences can be had from two different perspectives. This way, you have a first-person perspective on your experiences right now, while a neuroscientist could have a second-person perspective on them by measuring your brain activity. Both are experiences: the neuroscientist experiences your brain activity as a visual or auditory stimuli. But they represent two different perspectives on somewhat the same information.

As such, the 'soul' in dualism can be seen as the first-person perspective of experience, while the 'body' is the second-person perspective. That is, the body is what a direct experience looks like from another point-of-view within mind-at-large. The universe could be seen as 'God's' (mind-at-large's) body, the inner life of 'God' being Plato's 'World Soul.'
 
#74
I very much enjoyed the show, and as always you present the case for Idealism leaving very little wiggle room for any other ontology to creep in.
Glad to hear you liked it!

However, I am unsure over "parsimony".... if one assumes (rightly or wrongly) that everything is physical, consciousness being a set of physical brain processes appears parsimonious...
This assumption is completely parsimonious; equally to idealism. The problem is that it is either empirically flawed or incoherent. If the physical is defined as independent of consciousness, a universe that is only physical should not have consciousness. Yet, all we can know is in consciousness.

For materialism to work in a parsimonious way, one has to be able to show that consciousness is actually physical; in other words, that consciousness is fundamentally an illusion. All other options lead either to mere labeling of unknowns (i.e. strong emergence) or property dualism (i.e. panpsychism, Chalmer's 'Type-F Monism'). The former means nothing, while the latter isn't parsimonious. Eliminative materialists know this, so they try to show that consciousness is an illusion. I find this attempt disturbing, for reasons discussed extensively in Brief Peeks Beyond, some of which are available here:

http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/09/the-magical-trick-of-disappearing.html

If one assumes (rightly or wrongly) that consciousness is "other" then Idealism appears obvious.
For consciousness to be 'other' there must be something different than consciousness. But consciousness is all there is as far as we can know. It is the cord whose vibrations are the entire reality you've ever experienced (similarities to M-theory probably aren't a coincidence).

In short, proponents of both Physicalism and Idealism indulge in some equally circular arguments dependent on initial assumptions.
I'd dispute that. Materialism infers a world outside consciousness, while idealists stick to the empirically obvious: consciousness itself. These two things aren't equivalent. Materialists play a game of abstract projections: they first abstract a world outside the only carrier of reality they can ever know (i.e. conscious experience), then they project their own experiences onto that abstract, inferred world! It's a rather gratuitous game unless there is no other alternative to make sense of things. Idealists, instead, just remain honest to the primary datum of reality: I am conscious and the entire world I seem to inhabit is composed of excitations of my consciousness, whatever consciousness intrinsically may be; there is nothing outside it as far as I can ever know for sure. If an idealist can make sense of things this way (i.e. if idealism has sufficient explanatory power), bingo.

The apparent parsimony of each ontology is dependent on those initial assumptions and what looks parsimonious to one group, does not to the other.
The existence of consciousness as the basis of all reality we can ever know for sure isn't an assumption. It is the primary datum of existence.

can you dream up any new information/revelation that would shake your view that Idealism was the most parsimonious. What would be your falsification criteria?
Check out criticism 16 in essay 2.2 of the book. The very question is misleading: in ontology, falsifiability applies to inferred theoretical entities (e.g. matter outside consciousness), which is precisely what idealism avoids altogether. The way to refute idealism is to show that it doesn't have sufficient explanatory power to account for reality; i.e. to show that it can't make sense of certain aspects of reality, so we can't avoid having to infer theoretical entities beyond consciousness. I haven't found anything that idealism couldn't make sense of yet based on consciousness alone, this being the very reason I am an idealist. In this context, for me to go and define some kind of falsification criteria would entail my imagining some unknown aspect of reality, which would be arbitrary. Idealism isn't a scientific theory to model and predict the behavior of some detailed aspects of reality (Popper's falsifiability applies to those), but a framework for ontological interpretation of all nature.

All this said, there is plenty of compelling empirical evidence for idealism, as discussed in e.g. Chapter 2 of Why Materialism Is Baloney and in several places of Brief Peeks Beyond. Here is a footnote of Brief Peeks:

Brief Peeks Beyond said:
In Kim et al. (2000), it is shown that observation not only determines the reality observed at present, but also retroactively changes the history of what is observed accordingly. This is entirely consistent with the notion that reality is fundamentally a story playing itself out in mind. In Gröblacher et al. (2007), it is shown that reality is either entirely in consciousness or we must abandon our most basic intuitions about what objectivity means. In Lapkiewicz et al. (2011), it is shown that, unlike what one would expect if reality were independent of mind, the properties of a quantum system do not exist prior to observation. In Ma et al. (2013), it is again shown that no naively objective view of reality can be true, which is consistent with the notion that reality is fundamentally subjective.
Cheers, B.
 
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#76
But I don't like to speculate much about it until the evidence for the persistence of self-reflectiveness after bodily death is stronger.
Then why do you not examine more in detail the empirical evidence on apparitions and mediumship? I think that is much more relevant than metaphysical speculations...
 
#77
@Bernardo Kastrup Thanks
Since the world can only be inferred to be but a partial image of the dynamics of mind-at-large, it is conceivable that the structure of self-reflection extends beyond the visible body, just like a plant extends beyond the leaves, into the invisible root. But I don't like to speculate much about it until the evidence for the persistence of self-reflectiveness after bodily death is stronger. I could, for instance, imagine that only after returning to normal bodily functions does the person actually self-reflect about her experiences during the NDE proper.
I see your point.
But it should be pointed out that self-reflection is often done after any experience, much more rarely during the experience itself. Typically because one has to be "outside" the experience to reflect on it.

In any case, it seems most people reporting an out-of-body experience, during a life threatening situation, are self-aware of their condition and able to recognize the very special situation they are experiencing (i.e. witnessing their lifeless body from a third-person p.o.v and the other people around them, doctors etc...)

This seems to strongly suggest that disembodied consciousness maintain the self-reflective ability.

One can validly infer things from the image of a process, like the temperature of combustion can be inferred from the color of flames. Neural reverberation is a back-and-forth exchange of information between different brain areas that is highly suggestive of self-reflection, like two mirrors facing each other self-reflect (or 'reverberate' as far as the images they reflect).
The problem is how direct (or indirect) is the link between the process and its manifestation.
In the example you propose the correlation between the flame and combustion is relatively simple and yet we may not be able to infer the temperature, if we don't know all the variables. E.g.: chemical composition of the material and amount of oxygen available.

It seems a big leap of faith to apply the same principle for consciousness (and it's features), where the number of variables and the mechanisms are largely incomplete.

cheers
 
#78
@Bernardo Kastrup I have an extra question, if you have time.
Maybe it is addressed in the upcoming book but I'll try anyways... :)

Let's suppose a paradigm shift in 2016: idealism à la Kastrup becomes the mainstream philosophical assumption in science.
How will this revolutionize the study of consciousness in the scientific / academic world? What sort of new directions should we expect if such a shift took place?

cheers
 
#79
Alex's questions at the end of the interview:

Do you think there's a synergistic relationship between materialism and our economic system? how do you think it might come into being and what does it say about what might lie beyond the materialistic paradigm?
I would like to express my deep, deep, DEEP gratitude to both Alex and Bernardo for their time and effort putting on this particular podcast.
It feels exceptionally difficult to express just how life enriching it is for me to hear two sharp, piercing and intelligent minds grappling with the raw fundamentals of such a profoundly important and quite frankly urgent problem, and I thank you both profoundly for creating this podcast.

I say it is an "urgent" problem, because quite frankly, until listening to Bernardo today expertly and eloquently join up the dots, and present such a coherent and comprehensive overview of both the limitations and ramifications of the Materialist fantasy (nightmare), I hadn't really felt I had any insight into the crazy and illogical way the world seems so often to unfold. Bernardo's interview has forced a crack in the doorways of my mind just large enough for me to have somewhat of an epiphany. That is to say, that previously, when I have often attempted to understand the seemingly crazy notions, decisions and actions of ordinary individuals, groups of people, institutions (scientific, corporate, governmental), whole countries etc, I have always felt at a loss as to how to understand how time and again, humanity seems in its choices to be both crazy and dumb. From the lifestyles we lead, to the things we value in life, to the politicians we elect, to the wars they then conduct in the name of peace. It really can feel like a bad nightmare.

I really feel that what Bernardo is showing about materialism, that it is a metaphysical paradigm (a quite absurd one in fact) and not in any way a fundamental reality with any true explanatory power, is fundamental to understanding why the heck the world, and the people who inhabit it often seem so infuriatingly dumb, selfish and conniving (certainly true of the politicians and the financial and corporate folks; the movers and shakers). Seeing this through the lens of Bernardo's masterful overview and exposition of the Materialist mind-set has given me a way of truly understanding how all this madness, on a truly global scale, can and has come about naturally, and organically. That is to say, it seems so obvious in light of this interview, that the reason the world is shaping itself in this crazy fashion, is that the consciousness of the majority of the inhabitants of this planet are all hypnotised at a foundational level by the Materialist notion that life is a fluke, and ultimately futile, and so the "grab what you can, while you can, and sod everyone else" ("except maybe my kids, no wait, sod them too, because I am leaving them a poorer world to live in so I can grab more for me now") type attitude, is an entirely natural consequence.

I am in the UK, and we have just voted in the Conservatives, who really are about quite simply propping up and increasing the wealth and power of the few, and ensuring the great unwashed of society don't rise above their filthy, uneducated servile stations. I see them as PURE materialists, and I thank Bernardo for sharing this podcast, as I feel I can after this at least now see them as misguided and hypnotised fools rather than somehow being the evil selfish demons I once did (alright, some prejudices are hard to let go of, I still see them as slightly demonic).

Also, I feel a strange sense of hope in that perhaps on a deeper level, it may be possible to understand that the influence of materialism on the world, which although we are all forced to confront on a daily basis, does not have to shape our inner world. In fact, once seen for the incredibly weak, and frankly absurd metaphysical position that it is, it really very easily, and naturally recoils of it's own accord. Almost organically, a strange sense of purpose and hope, that life is not futile or meaningless, and that it has purpose and direction, naturally and organically seems to return. If not fully return, there feels at least once again space for it in life, and as long as there is a space, we can start to construct something much improved on the old and oppressive monstrosity which took up all the space. Bizarrely, while on the one hand it all feels so desperately depressing that nearly all the world is under the hypnosis of the Materialist fantasy, the clear notion that it really is nothing more than a fantasy (albeit one destroying much of our world) is utterly liberating, and profoundly full of hope and good prospects.

So, I know I have rambled on a bit, but hopefully some of you will have detected that my points run somewhat parallel to the question of the synergistic relationship between Materialism and our economic (and political, social, moral etc ad infinitum) system, and that I feel without doubt that yes, not only does materialism feed and fuel the economic system, I would go further and say our economic system is materialism incarnate. But I like very much something Alex alluded to when he more or less said (my gist of it) that perhaps we need to fully immerse ourselves as a planet in the materialist paradigm, before we can fully overcome it, and evolve consciously beyond it, and consign it to being just one more rung on the ladder of our evolutionary journey. Here's hoping !

Once again, a massive thank you to both of you !!!

Soulatman
 
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#80
Alex's questions at the end of the interview:

Do you think there's a synergistic relationship between materialism and our economic system?
No. Materialism is used to mean completely different things. One can be a staunch believer in materialism meaning "only the physical exists" and be a caring person who believes that sharing with others, etc is of primary importance. Such is not rare. I fact many "green" people are in that grouping

The materialism spoken of in economics/public policy is the belief that acquiring material possessions for oneself is of primary importance. And one can know of the spiritual - even know that it is primary - and still be a hearty participant in that approach. Again, it is not rare.
 
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