Kastrup: On why Idealism is superior to Physicalism and Micropsychism

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Sciborg_S_Patel

#1
On why Idealism is superior to Physicalism and Micropsychism

I argue for a coherent Idealist metaphysics that explains reality in a more parsimonious and empirically honest manner than mainstream Physicalism and Micropsychism. This Idealist metaphysics also offers more explanatory power than both Physicalism and Micropsychism, in that it doesn't fall prey to either the hardproblem of consciousness or the combination problem, respectively. It can be summarized as follows: there is only universal consciousness. We, as well as all other living creatures, are but dissociated alters of universal consciousness, surrounded like islands by the ocean of its mentation. The inanimate universe we see around us is the extrinsic view of thoughts and emotions in universal consciousness. The living creatures we share the world with are the extrinsic views of other dissociated alters of universal consciousness. A physical world independent of consciousness is a mistaken intellectual abstraction.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
To get things going a couple things I mentioned to Bernardo ->

So if I understand the gist of the argument as it relates to that portion:

1) There is consciousness (rationality/intentionality/subjectivity), and all "objective" science takes place within it.
2) There is a physical process (namely us) that we understand correlates with consciousness.
3) Physical processes cannot explain consciousness, therefore consciousness is an ontological primitive.
4) Therefore unless we are willing to introduce a sharp discontinuity without justification, the entirety of the physical must correlate with consciousness.
5) Alters spun off from M@L account for individual conscious entities.

I guess the tricky part, to me at least, is that you seem to deflate the importance of the structural properties of nervous systems when you grant TWE as co-extensive with the universe but then evoke these same structural properties as designations of how to distinguish alters?

This isn't to say you're wrong just that this is the part that I think might benefit from clarification. I do understand that trying to isolate an ontological primitive is a very odd tactic, and lends itself to criticisms of "proto-consciousness" and "emergence" - neither of which has any good justification AFACITell.

There's also the for-ness of consciousness, which seems to be an intrinsic property that seems to mark a cut between the outer and inner world. This is one reason I've mused about whether M@L is necessary, if rather we can have Many Minds coordinating to make reality. Again I know one of your points is that there are laws which cannot be changed by whim, and this points to M@L coordinating reality...but I think directly addressing the question of why the "for-ness" isn't fundamental or isn't a problem might help?

But one might also wonder - as I admittedly have in the past - if this isn't more of a dual-aspect neutral monism than it is Idealism? I say this because of the importance given to structures with spatial extension? Of course by that point one might argue the non-dualist, holistic metaphysics isn't amenable to the varied limited "isms" while being outside their "jurisdiction" so to speak.
 
#3
The mechanisms by which we understand panpsychism, much less dualistic solipsism, are inherently engaged with our need to set aside universalism by default. This appears to be obvious even to those who choose sublimity as a construct.

Is it not a better approach to include all forms of - what is eventually Tibetan resurgence in Western civilization - than to fight about the emotional?
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#4
The mechanisms by which we understand panpsychism, much less dualistic solipsism, are inherently engaged with our need to set aside universalism by default. This appears to be obvious even to those who choose sublimity as a construct.

Is it not a better approach to include all forms of - what is eventually Tibetan resurgence in Western civilization - than to fight about the emotional?
I don't understand your uses of "universalism", "dualistic solipsism", "sublimity", "all forms of what is eventually Tibetan resurgence..."?

If you could clarify it would be much appreciated.
 
#7
Sciborg_S_Patel,

I have been skeptical of Kastrupian Idealism from when I first encountered it, in part for similar reasons to that which you lay out in your post above, but as I have not read all of Bernardo's books I do not feel I have the "authority" to critique it. But this paper seems to offer a summary of his reasoning, so maybe I'll give something of a critique a bit of a go, although it might be somewhat intuitive and not necessarily watertight.

The major "fact" which Bernardo supplies which I think is very contestable, especially on this forum, is #4: "Measurable electrochemical activity in a person's nervous system correlates with the person's private experiences". This might be generally true, but it does not seem to be true in the case of NDEs. I am not sure how Bernardo accounts for NDEs on his view that the brain is the extrinsic manifestation of an intrinsic subjective experience: consciousness appears to be able to exist in the absence of a brain. Reincarnation seems to be another phenomenon which it seems difficult to account for on a brain-is-required-for-the-dissociated-experience-of-an-alter view.

This is a similar critique to that which David has raised against Neil's consciousness-from-proto-consciousness-and-IIT-of-brain paradigm, and which I seem to recall I raised to Neil too in an earlier thread. It is also part of the reason for my preference for dualism.

I have other arguments against Kastrupian Idealism brewing, but not yet at a point where I'd want to publicise them, especially given I haven't read him fully enough.

Thanks for sharing.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#8
Sciborg_S_Patel,

I have been skeptical of Kastrupian Idealism from when I first encountered it, in part for similar reasons to that which you lay out in your post above, but as I have not read all of Bernardo's books I do not feel I have the "authority" to critique it. But this paper seems to offer a summary of his reasoning, so maybe I'll give something of a critique a bit of a go, although it might be somewhat intuitive and not necessarily watertight.

The major "fact" which Bernardo supplies which I think is very contestable, especially on this forum, is #4: "Measurable electrochemical activity in a person's nervous system correlates with the person's private experiences". This might be generally true, but it does not seem to be true in the case of NDEs. I am not sure how Bernardo accounts for NDEs on his view that the brain is the extrinsic manifestation of an intrinsic subjective experience: consciousness appears to be able to exist in the absence of a brain. Reincarnation seems to be another phenomenon which it seems difficult to account for on a brain-is-required-for-the-dissociated-experience-of-an-alter view.

This is a similar critique to that which David has raised against Neil's consciousness-from-proto-consciousness-and-IIT-of-brain paradigm, and which I seem to recall I raised to Neil too in an earlier thread. It is also part of the reason for my preference for dualism.

I have other arguments against Kastrupian Idealism brewing, but not yet at a point where I'd want to publicise them, especially given I haven't read him fully enough.

Thanks for sharing.
I know in the past Kastrup has been in favor of NDEs & Psi data, I believe he still is to an extent. In a discussion of whether the Idealism he supports would negate the possibility of ghosts (due to alters having metabolism) he noted that it's too early to make exclusionary cuts like that since we're on the edge of understanding reality under his metaphysics.

I think it's fine to throw out criticisms, especially on a forum like this. We can discuss and see where the problems are able to be resolved for ourselves at least.

Which isn't to say we'll necessarily become Idealists - I don't have a definitive "-ism" but lean toward some kind of Neutral Monism like Weiss's Long Trajectory describes - but at least we can refine our own thinking through discussion. :)
 
#9
Oh, hey, hat-tip to Bucky for first raising in one of the podcast threads the criticism (idealism not handling NDEs/OBEs/reincarnation very well) which I've reraised here.

Sciborg_S_Patel, in that same thread I committed to refraining from criticism until I'd read Bernardo more closely, so I probably should honour that commitment. But to give you a sense of the direction my critique might take: I'm skeptical of the idea that experience can have an extrinsic form; of the idea that the three-dimensional world around us is in fact an experience of a mind within which we exist. This, perhaps, echoes your concerns about structure.

I haven't yet read Weiss or looked into neutral monism, so can't offer any comments there.
 
#10
I would recommend taking a look at this informal debate hosted by Bernardo with J.F. Martel


I think it sums up well some of the valid criticisms moved to Kastrup's idealism. In particular I find very interesting the point by Martel at 1:07:00 where he points out that Bernardo seems to implicitly start from cosmic consciousness instead of getting there via the argument he makes.

Martel starts with Kastrup's criticism towards materialism from his "Materialism is baloney" book:
  1. Your conscious perceptions exist;
  2. The conscious perceptions of other living entities different from your own, also exist;
  3. There are things that exist independently of, and outside, conscious perception;
  4. Things that exist independently of, and outside conscious perception generate conscious perception.
Bernardo says:

In a nutshell, a materialist must grant all four points. An agnostic realist must grant the first three. An idealist grants only the first two.

And goes on:

To believe that they exist outside of you – that is, outside the stream of conscious experiences you call your life – does not require that they exist outside consciousness itself.

(source)

This is true if and only if one already starts with cosmic consciousness / Mind@Large. Which Martel points out should be the #4 in the previous steps of reasoning.

There is nothing inherently wrong in starting with mind as the ontological primitive but Bernardo is "selling" his argument as if he got there with the most rational and parsimonious sets of assumptions, while indeed it looks like the conclusion is already intrinsic in his premise.

cheers

ETA: fixed typos
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#11
Thanks for that Bucky, I highly recommend JF Martel's Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice as well as this essay about Art & Consciousness and this one about Reality.

There is nothing inherently wrong in starting with mind as the ontological primitive but Bernardo is "selling" his argument as if he got there with the most rational and parsimonious sets of assumptions, while indeed it looks like the conclusion is already intrinsic in his premise.
Hmmmm, not sure about this. You could have a form of Leibniz's Idealism where many minds (or "Monads" to use Leibniz's term) together work to make reality. Goswami, IIRC, maintains a similar idea.

From the paper in the OP it seems to me that Kastrup's reason for positing M@L is due to the consistency of reality and our general inability to change [the world external to our experiences] through direct application of will.
 
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#12
Thanks for that Bucky, I highly recommend JF Martel's Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice as well as this essay about Art & Consciousness and this one about Reality.
Thanks. I will take a look.

Hmmmm, not sure about this. You could have a form of Leibniz's Idealism where many minds (or "Monads" to use Leibniz's term) together work to make reality. Goswami, IIRC, maintains a similar idea.
I am not sure this is the "brand" of idealism Bernardo is proposing. He's pretty clear that we don't create reality in our minds, rather we're dissociated complexes of a transpersonal mind. In other words reality exists in mind and we, as conscious being, do as well. Therefore I am not sure the concept of "monads" applies to the Kastrup-ian type idealism. To put it in different words: we're part of M@L, we don't generate M@L.

From the paper in the OP it seems to me that Kastrup's reason for positing M@L is due to the consistency of reality and our general inability to change [the world external to our experiences] through direct application of will.
Exactly.
But he must presuppose M@L otherwise points #1 and #2 of his reasoning are not sufficient to infer cosmic consciousness.
He's claiming that his position is more parsimonious and rational because it doesn't introduce new ontological categories. First I recognize I am conscious, then I infer other living being seem also conscious, therefore Mind At Large ... aka ... an ocean of cosmic consciousness whose "vibrations" manifest as our cosmos and whose "whirlpools" are the dissociated conscious beings.

The two problems I see with this approach is that:
1 - cosmic consciousness doesn't necessarily follow from points #1 and #2... I agree with Martel
2 - so much for parsimony... after points #1 and #2 cosmic consciousness enters the scene: an obfuscated substrate suffering from dissociated personality disorder which seems ultimately unknowable, almost like the reality proposed by materialism.

cheers
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#13
Thanks. I will take a look.

I am not sure this is the "brand" of idealism Bernardo is proposing. He's pretty clear that we don't create reality in our minds, rather we're dissociated complexes of a transpersonal mind. In other words reality exists in mind and we, as conscious being, do as well. Therefore I am not sure the concept of "monads" applies to the Kastrup-ian type idealism. To put it in different words: we're part of M@L we don't make M@L.
Oh I realize this is not what Kastrup is proposing, what I mean is that the point is all Idealists who aren't solipsists would stop at 2.

Exactly.
But he must presuppose M@L otherwise points #1 and #2 of his reasoning are not sufficient to infer cosmic consciousness.
He's claiming that his position is more parsimonious and rational because it doesn't introduce new ontological categories. First I recognize I am conscious, then I infer other living being seem also conscious, therefore Mind At Large ... aka ... an ocean of cosmic consciousness whose vibrations appear as our cosmos and whose "whirlpools" are the dissociated conscious beings.

The two problems I see with this approach is that:
1 - cosmic consciousness doesn't necessarily follow from points #1 and #2... I agree with Martel
2 - so much for parsimony... after points #1 and #2 cosmic consciousness enters the scene: an obfuscated substrate suffering from dissociated personality disorder and seems ultimately unknowable, almost like the reality proposed by materialism.
I didn't get the sense Bernardo was trying for a 2-step proof. Rather those 4 propositions divide Idealists from Neutral Monists & Panpsychists from Materialists.

But I admittedly don't recall the exact nature of Bernardo's past arguments, as the argument in the paper is more fresh in my mind. I think it explains things rather well.

I don't know if something like M@L would consider it a disorder, anymore than we would if the alters of a human could split off into new bodies? My understanding is that M@L is knowable, as it's - as per my understanding - supposed to coincide with something like Brahman or Plotinus' One, an entity that precedes description/constriction.

Now all that said I don't consider myself an Idealist, but then I don't think of myself as anything but a gun-to-the-head-ok-I'm-a-Neutral-Monist. :)
 
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