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Brief Peeks Beyond

BERNARDO KASTRUP
2015

This summary is an idea gestalt – an organized cognitive whole beyond the mere sum of its parts – about the human condition as it is presently manifested.

On metaphysics and cosmology
  • Our culture takes for granted that reality exists "out there" and is fundamentally independent of consciousness.
  • Consciousness is that whose excitations are subjective experiences. It is the only carrier of reality anyone can ever know for sure. It is the one undeniable empirical fact of existence.
  • I claim that we do not need more than consciousness to explain reality: all things and phenomena can be made sense of as excitations of consciousness itself.
  • For exactly the same reason that a whirlpool doesn't generate water, the body-brain system doesn't generate consciousness.
  • Neurons are simply what our thoughts, emotions and perceptions look like when another person observes them.
  • Once you drop the notion that your consciousness is confined to your body, it becomes entirely plausible that our psyches are all united at the deepest, most obfuscated levels.
  • The empirical world itself is the overwhelming, concrete evidence for the existence of mind-at-large.
  • Personal experience is to brain activity as the transpersonal experiences of mind-at-large are to the world we observe around us.
  • Consensus reality is the framework where active brains arise as local structures. It is the localization of flow in the broader stream of consciousness – the formation of whirlpools – that gives rise to a second-person perspective and, with it, the illusion of a world outside consciousness.
  • There's no true unconscious, for all reality is in consciousness. But because the conscious activity unfolding in mind-at-large becomes seemingly unconscious from the point of view of a whirlpool, every human being effectively turns into a dissociated personality – an alter – of mind-at-large.
  • Monistic idealism: the notion that all reality is grounded in a transpersonal form of consciousness of which we, as living beings, are merely dissociated complexes, or alters.
  • A common fallacy is a kind of circular reasoning called "begging the question." One begs the question when one takes the conclusion of an argument as a premise of the argument.
  • It is materialism that states that the reality you experience is inside your head. After all, experience is supposedly the product of brain activity. On the other hand, monistic idealism states that the reality you experience is indeed outside your head.
  • Our lucid awareness results from a reverberation phenomenon that amplifies certain contents of consciousness.
  • Solipsism is the notion that all reality is an individual's private dream; that other people don't have inner life, but are merely shells projected by the individual's own dreaming mind.
  • Monistic idealism: everything is in consciousness; Panpsychism: everything is conscious.
  • Inanimate objects are excitations of consciousness. Living beings, on the other hand, are images of processes of self-localization in mind-at-large. Inanimate objects: ripples in mind-at-large. Living beings: whirlpools in mind-at-large.
  • The localized, self-reinforcing vortex of experiences begins to reverberate in the center of the whirlpool. Reverberating mental contents become amplified and end up obfuscating all other mental contents outside the whirlpool.
  • Obfuscation causes the whirlpool to dissociate itself from the rest of mind-at-large. Each living creature is a dissociated "alter" of mind-at-large.
  • The world is the image of experiences in mind-at-large, but mind-at-large doesn't experience the world the way we do.
  • The mystery of death consists in the shift of our experience of the world from second-to first-person perspective.
  • The explicate order is the world we can measure, while the implicate order is the reverse, hidden, primary reality whence the explicate order springs as a projected image.
  • Quantum mechanics seem to show that, when not observed by personal psyches, reality exists in a fuzzy state, as waves of probabilities.
  • Only certain aspects of nature enter personal awareness, in the form of ripples that penetrate a whirlpool and get caught and amplified within its central vortex.
  • The ripples in the broader stream – mind-at-large – must be ripples of probabilities, governed by Schrödinger's equation. They are subjectively experienced by mind-at-large as fuzzy possibilities, not definite storylines.
  • When a ripple of probabilities penetrates a whirlpool, the many possibilities superposed in it collapse into one well-defined, classical storyline. How this collapse happens is not understood, which is known in physics as the "measurement problem."
  • Only one of the possibilities superposed on the ripple gets amplified, obfuscating all others in exactly the same way that all reality external to the whirlpool is obfuscated. All possible storylines continue to be experienced as fuzzy, obfuscated possibilities in the stream of mind-at-large, but only one is amplified and lucidly experienced in a classical manner.
On Consciousness, Neuroscience and the Media
  • In all known cases of emergence, we can deduce the emergent property from the characteristics of the lower-level entities that give rise to it.
  • Consciousness remains an anomaly under materialism.
  • All conceivable structure and function of conscious beings can, in principle, and under materialist assumptions, be achieved without consciousness. Therefore, evolutionarily speaking, consciousness just shouldn't be there.
  • Under the materialist metaphysics, memories are supposedly analogous to information stored in a computer. Memories are nothing but ongoing obfuscated experiences in the periphery of the psyche.
  • When one sees more consciousness consistently accompanied by less brain activity, one is forced to contemplate the possibility that brain function is associated with a localization of consciousness, as opposed to its production.
On Skepticism and Science
  • Inductive inferences are entirely dependent on our ability to correctly evaluate probabilities. The problem is that, in order to correctly make inductive inferences by elimination, we must know all the alternatives.
  • Technology is designed to eliminate – by construction – the influence of all but the potentially small set of causal forces that are understood by science.
  • Because technology is deliberately insulated from the unknown, its effectiveness in the larger world is no evidence that science has a significant understanding of that larger world.
  • Although random data is defined in information theory as lacking pattern, there is a non-zero theoretical chance to find any pattern in truly random data.
  • Archetypal science is metaphysically neutral: it is a method for unveiling and mathematically modeling the consciously observable patterns and regularities of nature. But science-as-you-know-it implicitly adopts the materialist metaphysics, which is merely one way to interpret these consciously observable patterns and regularities.
  • Materialism is a metaphysical interpretation that seeks to make sense of observations. It is a philosophical inference, not a scientific conclusion.
  • Science is a method for explaining things and phenomena in terms of measurable, concrete causes. "Magic," on the other hand, entails an appeal to undetectable or ethereal causes, only their effects being concretely observable.
  • Magic has never been a taboo. The real taboo is meaning. Built right into the culture and core values of science, is a deep phobia against delusions of meaning.
  • There is no convincing evidence that the mutations at the root of evolution are random, which opens up the possibility that evolution is a purposeful natural process.
  • Each living creature is merely a dissociated complex, or alter, of mind-at-large. Since intentionality is a paradigmatic attribute of mind, it isn't then unreasonable to hypothesize that, underlying the evolution of life, there is a transpersonal form of intentionality. As such, evolution by natural selection could reflect an iterative attempt of mind-at-large to reach certain goals.
  • Skepticism is a general and healthy attitude of doubt. In terms of ontology and cosmology, a skeptical attitude translates into a preference for parsimony.
  • Parsimony regarding theoretical entities is not the same as parsimony regarding nature's degrees of freedom. Less theoretical entities may actually imply that nature has more degrees of freedom to operate.
On Culture and Society
  • Because our operational knowledge of nature in many fields is growing exponentially, the specialists who hold much of this knowledge feel that only they are qualified to interpret reality for the rest of us.
  • Without philosophy, science is merely an enabler of technology; it tells us nothing about the underlying nature of nature. Science provides practical tools that mostly work, but it is philosophy – even when unthinkingly and precariously done by scientists – that relates those tools to the framework of our being.
  • Philosophy has become increasingly more academic and departmentalized. In trying to emulate science and mathematics to gain more respect within academia, academic philosophy ended up formalizing itself into irrelevance. A new path must be found; one that brings academic philosophy closer to the people and the culture.
  • To this day, members of aboriginal cultures do not understand why we, civilized peoples, make such a distinction, since both myths and facts are realities of the mind.
  • What is the world for if not to evoke and reflect back to us, as mirror, the obfuscated aspects of ourselves? In denying the world the significance of our psychic life, we deny ourselves our own significance.
  • In analytical psychology, projection is the act of attributing to other people qualities of ourselves that we do not acknowledge.
  • There are two types of knowing: intellectual and experiential. The first is an indirect form of knowing that entails conceptual models. The second is a form of direct, intuitive knowing by experiencing the truth of what is known. Only experiential knowing has transformative impact.
  • Philosophy is about intellectual knowing. Philosophy gives people intellectual permission to truly embrace what their intuitions and experiences are already telling them to be true.
  • Direct transcendent experience is liable to egoic hijacking and misinterpretation unless the individual has attained sufficient self-awareness and psychic integration.
  • Depth-psychology relies on direct experience if the individual is to gain transformative insight into the deeper layers of his or her psyche. Without this experience, the most obfuscated and transpersonal parts of the psyche remain merely conceptual and abstract. Without a suitable metaphysics to ground it, depth-psychology is unable to address the real, the road to psychic wholeness.
  • Truly fundamental change happens when the most pervasive paradigm of a civilization or historical nexus is suddenly transformed. A change of paradigm transforms the entire way we see and relate to reality.
  • The true strength of materialism is its symbiotic relationship with the economic system and power structures upon which we have all come to depend. The combination of materialist metaphysics and the economy forms a point of stable equilibrium from which society can only dislodge itself by temporarily making things worse.
  • We are the source of what we desperately seek and it has been so all along. But given the current cultural climate, we are woefully equipped to pursue a path of self-exploration.
On the strange and mysterious
  • Our individual psyches unite at a deep, obfuscated level, and the dream of consensus reality is imagined at that unified level.
  • Human beings may be alters of a meta-alter, and there may be multiple, parallel metaalters in mind-at-large.
  • What if UFOs and aliens are protruding elements of parallel "dreams" unfolding in mind-at-large, which penetrate our consensus reality and acquire a form amenable to integration within it?
  • To create life from dead matter is called "abiogenesis". No one has been able to do this in a laboratory.
  • Mechanistic abiogenesis is indispensible for materialism.
  • The discovery of a second instance of abiogenesis in our solar system would, therefore, force us to consider the possibility that life is the expression of yet-unrecognized but intrinsic organizing principles in nature.
On Free Will
  • Free will is the capacity of an agent to make a choice unhindered by any factor outside that which the agent identifies itself with.
  • The insoluble problem of libertarianism is the notion that a truly free choice must be completely non-determined.
  • True free will can be the expression of a fully deterministic process, as long as the determining factors of that process are internal to that which the choosing agent identifies itself with. A true choice must be determined. But it is only a free choice if all determining factors are internal to the agent that makes the choice. Since there is nothing outside mind-at-large, all determining factors of all possible choices can only be internal to it. All archetypes are within it. Hence, mind-at-large as a whole certainly has metaphysical free will.
  • The behavior and choices of mind-at-large can only be a deterministic consequence of what it essentially is. In this sense, existence is mentally deterministic. But since all determining factors involved in this unfolding of experiences are necessarily internal to mind-at-large – there being nothing external to it – there is metaphysical free will at its level.
  • To the extent that we identify with our own dissociated thoughts and feelings, our metaphysical free will is limited. But insofar as we identify with consciousness itself, the matrix of all thoughts and feelings, we partake in the unlimited metaphysical free will of mind-at-large.
On Practical Applications
  • Our cultural value system entails that nothing is really worth anything if it doesn't have practical applications.
  • When we say that our personal psyches are merely segments of a broader mind-at-large, all we are doing is extrapolating a known and empirically undeniable ontological category – namely, consciousness itself – beyond its face-value space-time limits. But when we say that there is a whole universe outside consciousness, we are inferring a whole new ontological category; one that is unprovable.
  • Integrative medicine seeks to heal the whole being, including – and often starting from – one's psychic, emotional functions.
  • The physical body is an outside image of our personal obfuscated psyche; that is, an image of our repressed, forgotten or otherwise unacknowledged psychic activity.
  • The ego corresponds to self-reflective processes in consciousness.
  • Unhealthy psychic activity in the personal obfuscated psyche causes all illnesses.
  • We can treat all illnesses by influencing obfuscated psychic activity.
  • For effective integrative medicine:
    • The patient must be helped to bring all unhealthy psychic activity into the light of self-reflective awareness, so it doesn't become somatized. This can be through heart-to-heart interaction between patient and healer.
    • Healers can influence the psychic conditions in the personal obfuscated psyche. Healers must help patients internalize the treatment, so it drops past the ego and into the deeper layers of the psyche. This may be accomplished through bypassing egoic barriers and defense mechanisms. A form of benign manipulation is required, which may conflict with present-day notions of ethics.
  • It is thus conceivable that thoughts and imagination originating in our personal psyche, if they somehow sink into the deepest, most obfuscated, collective levels of consciousness, could indeed affect consensus reality directly.
  • Things we could all, individually, stop doing to help improve our collective sanity and wellbeing:
    • Let us stop compulsively stupefying ourselves. Our ordinary life is becoming increasingly empty and meaningless.
    • Let us stop believing so readily. The hysterical fringes are often pathological, the materialist worldview is demeaning to the human spirit. Negative Capability is when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. Cynicism is a disguised but extreme form of belief: the often-baseless commitment to the impossibility of something.
    • Let us stop acting so much. The only real strength is the courage to present ourselves to the world as we really are, so we can live in authentic community and help each other out.
    • Let us stop eating so much meat.
    • Let us stop buying so much unnecessary stuff. Withdrawing our projections from mere things, and modifying our spending habits accordingly, will force a potentially painful but certainly necessary adjustment of the economic system.

These notes were taken from Bernardo's book.
See his website at www.bernardokastrup.com


RELATED NOTES

» The Idea of the World 2019
» More than Allegory 2016
» Brief Peeks Beyond 2015
» Why Materialism is Baloney 2014
» Meaning in Absurdity 2012
   Bernardo Kastrup


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