Mod+ 248. BERNARDO KASTRUP SAYS MATERIALISM IS BALONEY

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by alex.tsakiris, Jul 1, 2014.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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  2. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's questions at the end of the interview:

    1. What lies beyond materialism?

    2. Do we need a new philosophical paradigm to move us forward?

    3. While the idea that everything is consciousness is parsimonious, could it in its own way be as incomplete and unsatisfying as the materialistic paradigm that says we are biological robots?
     
  3. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    1. What lies beyond materialism?

    2. Do we need a new philosophical paradigm to move us forward?

    3. While the idea that everything is consciousness is parsimonious, could it in its own way be as incomplete and unsatisfying as the materialistic paradigm that says we are biological robots?


    I enjoyed the interview very much, Alex, and liked the way that you spent some time going beyond Bernardo's basic thesis: there have been a number of interviews with Bernardo about his new book (and I believe there's another one coming up on Buddha at the gas pump), and so far they haven't really attempted to go much further. For me, while I find Bernardo's version of Idealism pretty satisfying, I find that when I think about how it relates to my own life and various topics we discuss here at Skeptiko, it kind of slips in and out of my grasp like a moist bar of soap.

    As I mentioned over at Bernardo's forum, where the difference of opinion between you is being discussed, I do think it's a good idea for him to be attempting to provide an alternative explanatory framework to materialism that can be approached through the intellect. That may actually be the best (perhaps the only?) way to engage the materialistic mindset. That said, I also appreciate your kind of approach and feel it has value too. However, I think it really does help if there's some kind of fresh philosophical underpinning that could conceivably make the various kinds of phenomena that we discuss at Skeptiko become more plausible to materialists.

    I'll probably have more to say later, but I'm off to watch the Belgium vs. USA World Cup football match, which I've been recording. I'm crossing my fingers for you Yanks: you've done very well to get beyond the group stages and I like your team's enthusiasm and grit.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2014
  4. Good stuff.

    Glad to see Bernardo break down the issues with strong emergence - as noted previously even Sam Harris thinks consciousness from non-conscious matter is nonsensical.

    The One Mind stuff made me think of some Native American ideas as well as Eastern stuff. I recall the lines "we live in the house of shattered light" from one Native American writer, though I can't recall the name...The basic idea was we are shards from a singular divinity but live in an illusion of separation.

    I believe I already mentioned it on the forum, but the Aztecs had a poem about this life being a dream:

    "…We only rise from sleep,
    we come only to dream,
    it is not true, it is not true,
    that we come on earth to live.
    As an herb in springtime,
    so is our nature.
    Our hearts give birth, make sprout
    the flowers of our flesh.
    Some open their corollas,
    then they become dry…”

    Tochihuitzin Coyolchiuhqui. Méxica poet, 15th Century.

    I suspect the idea of the world as arising from dreaming is probably something found across the world. The Gnostics believed we were shards of some higher entity, a true God who sat above the jailer deities...that also seems to tie into the concepts Bernando talks about.

    To answer the questions:

    1. What lies beyond materialism?

    I don't think anyone has a definitive answer. It's also unclear what to do beyond trying to get better and better results in parapsychology [and possibly QM].

    2. Do we need a new philosophical paradigm to move us forward?

    I think simply allowing for the possibility that there's more than materialism opens the doors to interesting ways to move forward. Would be good to see some open examination of evolution, for example, that doesn't assume materialism or deities.

    It's tiring to see adherents of materialism present a false dilemma between their paradigm and the Dark Ages. Ideally books like Bernando's can get people to look beyond the secular humanist vs religious conservative stuff that colors too much scientific inquiry.

    3. While the idea that everything is consciousness is parsimonious, could it in its own way be as incomplete and unsatisfying as the materialistic paradigm that says we are biological robots?

    I think the question about the consistency of consensus reality will always be a troublesome one for Idealism barring larger acceptance of Psi or more work like the IQOQI results questioning 'realism' in physics.

    That said, it does at least explain consciousness and doesn't shut the door on 'high strangeness', but leaves us with some questions about our experience of the material world as well as exactly how & why our place in reality seems so constrained...though one might point to synchronicity as suggestive that we are, as Jim Carpenter proposes, actually having psychic experiences all the time.

    Regarding whether any answer could be complete, I suspect Borges had the right of it:

    "...it is clear that there is no classification of the Universe not being arbitrary and full of conjectures. The reason for this is very simple: we do not know what thing the universe is..."

    ....though, at the same time, he did seem to agree somewhat with Bernando's ideas:

    "We (the undivided divinity operating within us) have dreamt the world. We have dreamt it as firm, mysterious, visible, ubiquitous in space and durable in time; but in its architecture we have allowed tenuous and eternal crevices of unreason which tell us it is false."
     
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  5. Alex

    Alex New

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    agreed. my ongoing discussions with Bernardo have pushed me forward to. I have a couple of upcoming shows that further explore this thread.


    your good wishes helped, but we couldn't quite pull it off.
     
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  6. Alex

    Alex New

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    great quote... thx. seems to me that once we move past materialism we have to give up on ideas like parsimony.
     
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  7. Ian Thompson

    Ian Thompson Member

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    Uwe Meixner has an excellent discussion of the historical swings between idealism, dualism and materialism.
    Meixner notes that idealism, as advocated by Kastrup:
    Then he regrets:
     
  8. ghost

    ghost New

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    Dr. Kastrup sounds like a nice guy so I don't want to be mean, but I didn't like what he had to say. When he described consciousness as a whirlpool, he lost me. But then he said everything is conscousness, but that's equivalent to saying that my toaster is consciousness.

    I like my interpretation better. It goes like this. Infinite Consciousness exists and we call it God. God creates universes to experience because that's what consciousness does, it experiences. But since God can't fit directly into our universe, God created souls to experience His creation. God gave our souls are given free will and we do the best we can. This way, we are the spark of the divine. We are brothers and sisters, and God is the Father.

    If I had to choose between Kastrup's ideas and religion, I would beat my head against the wall until I forgot what Kastrup had to say, it sounded terrible. Personally, I like Spiritualism, Theosophy, Yogic traditions, and I have an appreciation for Catholicism. All of these favorites of mine teach the existence of God, something which scientism doctrines lack.

    These scientific doctrines are aweful. If religion was food, then scientific ideas about a greater reality are like eating sand. Yuck!
     
  9. More materialism. Psi will be accepted as an extension of materialism long before survival after death will be accepted.


    Just like when science could no longer deny mesmerism, they ignored all the paranormal aspects and called it hypnotism.

    Mesmerism: How Science Adapts and Adopts Spiritual Phenomena

    Who is we?

    Materialist naturalists should stop trying to enforce their metaphysical beliefs on other scientists and allow science to follow the evidence wherever it leads even if it contradicts materialism and naturalism.
    Yes.
    Parsimony is a rule for interpreting data, it is not a law of nature. Reality doesn't have to conform to any person's opinion about what is parsimonious. I agree that everything is probably consciousness. But that doesn't mean I agree with everything in Bernado's cosmology. Our 3 dimensional physical brains do not have the capacity to represent the reality of consciousness. I don't think a new paradigm is going to be enough to overcome that limitation.

    Here is an NDEr who could not comprehend things the same way when she got back to her body.

    http://www.near-death.com/smith.html
     
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  10. radicalpolitik

    radicalpolitik New

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    The acceptance of psi will possibly lead to an acknowledgement of consciousness being more than just a purely brain thing. However, regarding survival, I need to know what you mean by survival. If you mean personality, then that is a very very long time away, if ever. If you mean consciousness as some fundamental thing, then if it is such, it will survive, but personality would be up for question. The problem is like Dean has said, all evidence points to memory being dependent on the brain at the moment, so until we find a way to definitively show disembodied memory, that isn't compounded by other issues (despite what people say, mediumship does have its problems) then we can't say if survival is true.
     
  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I agree with that a lot!
    By analogy, it is as though Newton had looked at the world and said,
    If indeed Newton did have that thought, he probably rowed back from it, and decided that he needed to find one or two specific equations if he wanted to make some progress and be remembered.

    I think dualism is a lot more workable as a philosophy - even if it ultimately needs to give way to Idealism (which I suspect it will). This is just like physics, where Newtonian mechanics is still used for most purposes even though it is inexact. Science could not have developed by simply missing Newtonian mechanics out and going straight to S/G relativity! Indeed, neither can youngsters learning about physics!

    In the same way, I think it is quite unrealistic to 'convert' wavering skeptics to his form of Idealism - the jump is too great, and even if you get across, there is nothing to hold on to on the other side!

    I think that is why Bernardo likes his metaphors, but are these starting to obscure his message?

    David
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2014
  12. Some form of idealism can be true even if Bernado's explanation is not right (or comprehensible to some of us). It is also helpful to understand that idealism could look a lot like dualism. I think Bernardo has said that idealism can approximate dualism. For most practical purposes dualism is fine.

    How did God create the physical universe? Through an act of thought? That is how non-physical entities do anything - through thought. What we consider matter is a thought, it is part of the mind of God, it is consciousness. Consider an analogy to a computer simulation, there would be no real matter only data in a computer but to the entities "living" in that simulation it would seem real. I don't mean the universe is a simulation, only that matter is not solid matter like we think. It exists in the mind of God and our own consciousness is part of that same consciousness.

    I don't believe the second law of thermodynamics applies in the non-physical realm.
     
  13. The physical universe is "like" a simulation running in the mind of God. (My previous post explains this in more detail).

    Your consciousness is not part of that "simulation", only your brain is part of that simulation. You, your consciousness, is not physical, you would still exist if the simulation ended.

    Mathematical descriptions may explain physical phenomena, things within mind. I doubt that mathematics can explain consciousness itself because consciousness is not physical, consciousness does not have dimensions, it is not within time. Once you start trying to make a mathematical description to explain consciousness you are attributing physical properties to it. Consciousness is something fundamentally different from anything physical. Physical things describable by math, are created by consciousness. If you try to explain consciousness through mathematics you are assuming what you are trying to explain.
     
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  14. radicalpolitik

    radicalpolitik New

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    Sorry, but consciousness has to be physical at least in part if the the findings of the GCP and Radin's double slit experiment are what they are. Something that is entirely nonphysical, cannot have an effect on the physical. It is for this reason that I think Radin's description of mind and matter being two sides of the same coin as the most parsimonious explanation for consciousness.
     
  15. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    I do really like the parsimony of Idealism. Bernardo, having a scientific mind, not unnaturally tends to value that highly. However, he does say he's not out to create a TOE, and is limiting himself to his central thesis. I think that's a good idea and one, by the by, more likely to engage the mind of non-fanatical materialists.

    So yes, in a way it's incomplete and unsatisfying, but I don't think Bernardo has tried to make it complete and thereby able to explain everything. I read that as humility, actually.

    Expanding on my comment that I find his version of Idealism rather slippery, I suppose that I (and probably others) try to complete the picture, i.e. to produce the TOE that Bernardo hasn't. So if I think about something he mentioned--whether there's some kind of direction or plan as opposed to things evolving as they go along--I don't actually get that much help from his model. But in a way it's a good thing that he doesn't try to resolve that question, and as he indicates, his central thesis doesn't preclude a variety of possibilities.

    I sometimes see evidence for planning, e.g. when I look at difficult problems like the origin and evolution of life. Even at the level of a unicellular organism, the complexity and degree of organisation is simply staggering; I think that Source Consciousness must be incomprehensibly intelligent, and that anything that intelligent must be capable of planning. At the same time, there's also evidence that there's some kind of contingency involved, and it looks almost as if SC is learning as it goes along. Maybe organic evolution is the image in SC's mind of an unfolding process that It is exploring and identifying with in Its grand dream of the universe--or something like that?

    I find that I sometimes struggle with deciding what the best approach to Bernardo's model might be. Should one start with considering one's individual, localised consciousness and try to think expansively towards an appreciation of SC, or is it more productive to try to go in the opposite direction? I flip-flop about this.

    Since SC is the source of all manifestation, it's logical to start by considering It; but my own limited localisation of consciousness is hardly up to the job: I can only think of what it's like to be SC by projection from my localised perspective, in which much is obfuscated. So I have no choice really but to start the other way round, which is an exercise seemingly doomed to failure: since, if SC can be understood at all, it's likely that only SC can possess that understanding. And out of that, a lot of dissatisfaction arises, but that's not a fault of Bernardo's conceptual model; any model whatsoever of the universe is bound to be unsatisfying. I can only say that it's the least unsatisfying model I've come across so far: the one with the most explanatory power and likely the most potential to accommodate my future speculations.

    I liked Sciborg's quote from Jorge Luis Borges: "...it is clear that there is no classification of the Universe not being arbitrary and full of conjectures. The reason for this is very simple: we do not know what thing the universe is...".

    Wrapped up in that is the message that it's difficult to stop ourselves conjecturing: trying to come to know because we know we don't already know. We're seemingly hard wired to try to come to know. Any time we stop trying to come to know, perhaps because we've convinced ourselves we know already, then the possibility of making progress stalls: we fall into a kind of deep, dreamless sleep.

    Maybe this is the meaning of separation; the meaning of hell, as a Scottish Catholic nun, sister Anselm, once told a class of of five-year-olds of which I was a member. I never forgot it, though at the time it made no sense: weren't the flames of hell much worse than merely being separated from God? The old bat must have been crazy, surely--or was she crazy like a fox?
     
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  16. ghost

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    I'm going to argue it this way. God creates spirit. Spirit is an invisible substance that can manifest a phenomena depending upon what rules, laws or characteristics are imprinted upon it. So the laws of physics are not written in stone, they are written in spirit. When God imprinted the laws of space-time upon spirit, the result was the big bang. The details of how spirit is created or how it is imprinted by the "thoughts of God" is a project for someone else to work out. I suppose once we figure out how it's done, we'll be able to create our own "physics upgrades".
     
  17. ghost

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    In is my belief that God, Infinite Consciousness, created souls out of "spirit" or "spiritual substance". Souls are given free will and are witnesses and observers to whatever they see and experience. What they witness is also witnessed by God. How God, Infinite Consciousness, divides up His observational resources is beyond anything that we can understand.

    To answer your question, there are lots of mysterious details, but then the soul is able to be interfaced with the biology of a physical body, one cell at a time. Cells build up a potential energy across the membrane. This potential energy is used to confine the "energy body" to the physical body. The energy body or etheric body somehow holds the soul.
     
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  18. radicalpolitik

    radicalpolitik New

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    You are entitled to that viewpoint, but I see us as the universe becoming aware of itself and looking at itself.
     
  19. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    I'm not with you: how does "mind and matter being two sides of the same coin" explain consciousness? Could you elaborate?

    As far as I can see, consciousness has no explanation: it just is. All manifestation arises out of it; all apparent distinctions, such as between mind and matter, are the result of having a restricted or localised viewpoint of the totality of consciousness.

    To say that consciousness can't have effects on its many apparently different manifestations is a dualistic assumption. In fact, language is inherently dualistic, which is why we talk in terms of different ontological realms: by doing so, I think we're reifying conceptual distinctions. That's what makes it so hard to talk about Idealism: we simply don't have a form of language suited to it, and having the kind of language we do is what creates our confusions. I'm by no means immune to this myself, by the way.
     
  20. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Well, about this at least, we are in agreement.:)
     
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