Need Help: Upcoming Interview w/ Bernardo Kastrup

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Feb 4, 2018.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Hi All... I have an interview with Dr. Bernardo Kastrup coming up and was looking for some input re what to chat about.

    248. Bernardo Kastrup Says Materialism is Baloney | Skeptiko ...

    This philosopher goes toe-to-toe with materialist science ... - Skeptiko

    158. Bernardo Kastrup's Controversial View of ... - Skeptiko

    Bernardo has published a new article (based on a new paper):
    Consciousness Goes Deeper Than You Think - Scientific American ...

    and others:
    Stories by Bernardo Kastrup - Scientific American


    And he has a lot of great posts on his blog:
    Bernardo Kastrup's Metaphysical Speculations






     
  2. Alex

    Alex New

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    BTW I'm particularly interested in finding some good video clips of Bernardo that would highlight the topics we might want to discuss. Vids of other folks on the same issues would be great as well.
     
  3. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Alex,

    I think my biggest problem with Bernardo's approach, is that because it is totally consciousness based, it seems to permit anything - i.e. it is untestable.

    Even though it is probably ultimately true, I can't see how it can be seen as a scientific theory. I have argued several times here that we really need some more modest theories to bridge the gap between materialism and materialism. For example, people really needed Newton's laws before they could eventually take the lep to General Relativity.

    Maybe that could form the basis for one line of questioning.

    David
     
  4. Alex

    Alex New

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    great. can you maybe for this into a question I might ask... and maybe a related vid from Bernardo that makes the point yr countering.
     
  5. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Unfortunately I don't have a suitable video clip - I am not sure he has addressed this point properly. I did raise it as a comment on his website years ago, but I don't think he responded in detail.

    Question:

    David
     
  6. Richard Cox

    Richard Cox Member

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    I was very interested to hear Gordon White describe himself as an Animist as opposed to Idealist, I would wonder what Bernardo's thoughts on that are (I don't understand it that well myself).

    I'd be interested to know what Bernardo's direct experience of reality is. He makes rational arguments for idealism over materialism, but when he looks out into the room does he directly perceive it as arising inside (his) mind, the way we might in a lucid dream? Or does he feel he's taken in by the illusion of a material reality? Is it then necessary to engage in some sort of spiritual practice to escape this illusion?

    I'd also be interested in how he perceives other people in contrast to objects. I can look at a cup and see it as arising inside of consciousness, but when I look into the eyes of another person I see something that is conscious. I suppose I'm wondering what he makes of solipsism.
     
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  7. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Dear Alex,

    A year or two back, I wrote an extended critique of Bernardo's idealism as described in his book, "Why Materialism is Baloney [etc]", partly motivated by my implied commitment here to look into his ideas more deeply. I ended up not publishing that critique - and rightly so, I believe, having now just reread it: it was neither entirely coherent nor entirely fair to Bernardo. That said, it provides ample food for thought, and I have mined it for a series of critical questions which you might ask of the man. Of course, you need to make these questions your own so that you can, if appropriate, follow up on them in a real-time interview situation, so definitely let me know if any of them fail to make sense to you. That said, here they are:

    1. Bernardo, in your book, "Why Materialism is Baloney [etc]", you provide various analogies for consciousness, including: flowing water and whirlpools, liquid mirrors of mercury, and vibrating membranes. These implicitly associate mind with dimensionality. Moreover, you explicitly associate mind with dimensionality on page 139 of your book, where you write that (emphasis in the original) "we need to imagine the medium of mind as a membrane with more than two dimensions vibrating in more than three dimensions of space". Would you acknowledge that this dimensionality (of, under your scheme, consciousness/mind) implies some sort of physicality [edit: on reflection, "substantiality" might be a better word than "physicality"] to that consciousness/mind, which might, per the question two below, be reconciled from stark physicality as "mind stuff"?
    2. If you don't acknowledge this, then would you acknowledge that the notion that your analogies, which strongly entail dimensionality - along with your explicit admission of dimensionality, and thus some sort of physicality [edit: again, better is "substantiality"] - can ultimately be "cashed out" into a non-dimensional, non-physical reality is as promissory as the materialism that you seek to refute? If not, how would you "cash out" these analogies in a way that is both non-dimensional and non-physical? If you don't believe that your analogies need to be cashed out in this way, then why not, and how do you avoid the implication of the existence of some sort of "mind stuff" (see below question)?
    3. Following on from the first question (and to some extent the second), and extending / elaborating on it: would you acknowledge with respect to your position, if not the implication of physicality [substantiality], at least the implication of the existence of some sort of "stuff", which might least disruptively be described as "mind stuff"? Admittedly, you explicitly deny the implication/existence of this "mind stuff" on page 67, where you write that "Idealism does not entail that the substrate of mind is the stuff of existence, insofar as we define 'stuff' as something that exists independently, and outside of, subjective perception": this denial, though, depends on a definition of "stuff" as "independent of, and outside of, subjective perception". What if instead we define this "stuff" as the contents of subjective perception? Would this not avoid your objection, as well as properly recognise that whatever it is that you define to be mind/consciousness is in some sense tangible [substantive]: that is, that it both has a dimensional structure as well as being some sort of "stuff"?
    4. Following up on all of the questions so far: would you, in the end, allow that the distinction that you try to draw between idealism and panpsychism is illusory? To elaborate: on page 66, under the heading "Idealism is not panpsychism", you write that (emphasis in the original) "Idealism entails that all reality is in mind. One should not confuse the claim that all of reality is in consciousness with the idea that everything is conscious. Idealism does not entail that rocks and chairs experience things subjectively the way you and I do". The two primary claims of this assertion can be contested thus. Firstly, that panpsychism need not entail that everything "is" conscious any more than (your vision of) idealism need do: it can simply entail, as does (your vision of) idealism, that "mind is a fundamental feature of the world" (quote from this version of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) article on panpsychism: https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2012/entries/panpsychism/). Secondly, that panpsychism need not entail "that rocks and chairs experience things subjectively" any more than idealism need entail that conclusion: both might adequately explain non-conscious entities as lacking the whirlpool-like self-reflective mechanisms that you propose as enabling consciousness in beings such as humans.
    5. Following up even further: if your answer to the previous question is negative, then how would you respond to this quote from the same SEP article as referenced in the previous question: "Idealists are panpsychists by default, as it were, believing as they do that nothing exists except minds or mental attributes"?
    6. Finally, this question is in the spirit of synthesis. Let's say that you do accept all of the (implications of the) preceding question-challenges, and that you acknowledge that (your vision of) idealism is - or could be reasonably conceived as being - panpsychism by another name: what do you think of the prospect of similarly embracing dualism as merely another aspect of this - perhaps universal - perspective on the mind-body problem?

    Alex, I have composed all of this fairly rapidly because I don't know how much time you have left before your interview. I might post amendments/additions if time allows. Please feel free to share any/all of it with Bernardo prior to interviewing him, and to involve me in that communication if/as you see fit.

    Warmly, and fruitfully,
    Laird
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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  8. I am not thoroughly versed in Bernado's writings and theories, and I haven't looked at his work recently, but two points of contention I had with his ideas were:

    1) I don't think it is justified to use mathematical analogies to describe or explain consciousness because math is a product of consciousness. Mathematics describes the physical world well because the physical world is produced by consciousness using mathematics. But consciousness is fundamental, it is not physical, for example time and distance do not limit consciousness, and there are no grounds to assume mathematical analogies apply to consciousness. People will use mathematical analogies to theorize about consciousness because they have no other ideas about how to describe non-physical things, but that is like looking for your keys under the lamppost where the light is good when you have lost them in the shadows across the street.

    2) I once had a discussion on the old forum with Bernado who thought, if I remember correctly, that spirits could not communicate in language, or appear in human form, or interact with the physical world, and any evidence that they can must be bogus. My view was that you can't ignore evidence simply because it contradicts your theory and there is plenty of good evidence that spirits can do those things. (The links to mind-energy.net in that article are broken because the directory structure there changed. The thread is here: http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/skeptiko-podcast-forums/skeptiko-podcast/4295-the-big-hurdle, my posts are under the username "anonymous". Two of the broken links are actually here:

    http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/...dcast/4295-the-big-hurdle?p=164608#post164608

    http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/...dcast/4295-the-big-hurdle?p=164620#post164620)
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
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  9. hypermagda

    hypermagda Member

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    Alex, THANK YOU for asking us to contribute questions before the interview! Both Laird and Richard have asked very important things and I very much look forward to hearing Bernardo's answers but I would have this one question which I hope you will ask, as for me (and I underline, for me) it is THE key one.

    Here it is:

    Bernardo, apart from your description of "how" reality works/what it is really like (idealism, MAL etc), could you share with us the WHY (well, in your opinion of course) and whether you find this reason satisfactory - I mean not just on an intellectual level (sort of "this must be the reason why we feel we exist, I get it, hence I feel I'm "on top of it" and I feel satisfied because I feel "I know"") but truly on a personal level ("this must be the reason why I feel I exist, this makes everything great, even the young child dying of cancer or the Haiti earthquake or whatever").

    So, in a nutshell - WHY in your opinion is this "unified field" (MAL) giving rise to this bizarre shadowplay? I feel that even many of those who would agree with your theory struggle with the why. Here an interesting video about Jim Carrey who is clearly in agreement with you - if you do not have time to watch it, go directly to 24:40 where he says: "One unified field of nothing, dancing for no particular reason except maybe to comfort and entertain itself" .



    Do you agree that this the 'why' we are all here (including discussing these things) ? This answer feels profoundly unsatisfactory to me, so much so that on an existential level I truly doubt that this is what is going on, or I don't see why so many people would have been wondering so much about it throughout the ages, or seeing so much wrong in the way reality "is" (trying to improve it on the so-called material level, too).

    To be honest, Jim Carrey doesn't appear very satisfied with the above 'answer' himself. In fact i have a feeling he keeps repeating this stuff in order to sort of hypnotise himself into believing it and thus reduce his suffering, which, seeing the sadness in his eyes, seems to be enormous.

    Thank you in advance for sharing your hypothesis about the "why" with us.
     
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2018
  10. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    From show 158 Bernado says "We need a new language to talk about these things. Materialism has evolved a very sophisticated, very precise language. We need something of that nature for Idealism. We need time to develop that, I think."

    Yeah. For the moment we are talking post-materialism using materialistic language. I am with Gordon in that preference for animism, however. Nevertheless I agree that we need a 'new language' - and by that a new way of thinking. I want to know how Bernardo envisions his transition from being a present 'recovering materialist' (I assume that is what he is in the sense of being 'anti-materialist' but still addicted -like the rest of us) to a full on post-materialist (whether an Idealist or whatever).

    What is his transitional therapy for moving from the undesired to the desired state? What would be his 'ten step program'?

    I have a fundamental problem with arguing for post-materialism using scientific language and terms. That is clunky and requires a lot of awkward fitting of ideas together (I hear a lot of bad theorising and rejecting stuff that shouldn't be rejected - because it fails some 'scientific' test of reasonableness or some such). I prefer using esoteric language, because it is far better suited - and its in its natural environment. Has Bernardo studied any esoteric disciplined - like Hermeticism or Kabbalah or Hindu metaphysics? If not, would he consider doing so - to condition his mind and language to a more post-materialistic frame?
     
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  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    It is amusing that we are having a discussion before the podcast, which is probably not dissimilar to the one we will have after the podcast! Since Bernardo is a member of the forum, it might be useful if he contributed here. After all, Alex clearly has conversations with his guests before the actual recording takes place, so it might make sense for us to join in, when the guest is someone we know.

    David
     
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  12. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Even though that quote came from the SEP, it seems profoundly misguided to me. Panpsychists claim that every bit of matter contains a grain of consciousness (something that doesn't seem to sit well with modern physics, as I have discussed before), whereas Idealists claim that consciousness creates an image in our minds, of a set of things that it wants to pretend exist.

    From that perspective, panpsychism is a bit like trying to assign some responsibility for the play "Romeo and Juliet", to Romeo himself! Of course the play came from Shakespeare himself (or maybe some other writer), not from its characters!

    I have to say, that I got heartily sick of all the metaphors!

    I feel we need to think about what (our ordinary) consciousness can actually do:

    Usually follow a set of rules invented by another consciousness.

    Put those ideas into other people's minds.

    Sometimes invent its own new ideas

    Maybe we should think of a hard SF writer, who writes a story set in a vastly different universe, with different laws, and then puts that idea into lots of other people's minds.

    David
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  13. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Well, that's one version of panpsychism. As Bernardo points out in one of his blog posts, there are a variety of panpsychist views, and it's kind of a difficult theory to pin down. The version of panpsychism that I think is most compatible with (Bernardo's) idealism is that in which consciousness is spread uniformly throughout the universe and is coexistent with the matter of the universe.

    ETA: I do think though that even the sort of panpsychism that you describe, David, where individual "physical" entities, even to the level of atoms, are conscious, might be able to be harmonised with Bernardo's idealism, perhaps with a bit of adjustment to Bernardo's theory, and most especially if those individual conscious units are seen to be "derived" from the uniformly-spread consciousness of the panpsychic variety that I mention above. I think animism is a likely truth, and parallels might be drawn between animistic and panpsychic concepts, which might in turn be supportable in idealism.
     
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2018
  14. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I must admit, I see panpsychism as the refuge for people like Christof Koch, who feel forced by the facts to budge from materialism, but have no intention of doing anything with with the idea!

    The idea of a consciousness that is extended across space, doesn't seem to correspond to some NDE's and OBE's, in which people outside their bodies can move long distances in very little time.

    I agree, animism might well form an intermediate theory that would lead on to real Idealism (see my first post in this thread).

    David
     
  15. KindaGamey

    KindaGamey Member

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    I love love love Bernardo's work, but I feel like he's tilting at windmills everytime he goes after panpsychism. There's no conflict with his view and panpsychism; both can be true.

    He loves the metaphor that a whirlpool in water is just the water -- it isn't anything different. BUT IT'S A WHIRLPOOL! We would point at it and say, "hey, there's a whirlpool!" It has it's own directional energy, it has it's own pressure and momentum. Yes, all is one, all is water, but there can be many distinct features within the water and that shouldn't be negated. Remove a drop and now it's a distinct drop, it is no longer the ocean.

    I also believe that the universe is granting us free will as a type of gift so that we can also create. So we all may be chunks of god, but we have our own godliness that is allowing us to invoke novelty that wouldn't be possible in a completely interconnected system. He claims "there is no experience of what it's like to be a table." I disagree. I think if we are beyond the veil and wanted to experience what it's like to be a rock or a planet or a star we could do just that. Why would these bodies be any different? Are they not made up of carbon and iron and the same elements that everything else is? We are whirlpools, but whirlpools ARE something, albeit temporary.
     
  16. Laird

    Laird Member

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    Sure, but that criticism applies as much to Bernado's idealism as to the variant of panpsychism that I described, at least at a first pass: both explain individual consciousnesses based on the localisation as a metaphorical whirlpool of a more universal consciousness.
     
  17. Laird

    Laird Member

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    +1
     
  18. Alex

    Alex New

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    would you be willing to listen to a couple of his vids and see what you can find?
    https://www.youtube.com/user/bernardokastrup
     
  19. Alex

    Alex New

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    great points here, Richard... thx. I love the hard-edge philosophical rigor Bernardo brings -- but where's the heart and soul!

    I don't know if you've seen any of Bernardo's excellent vids, but if you have a chance to watch and find a part this relates to this point I would love to include it in the show.
     
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  20. Alex

    Alex New

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    great stuff! again, if you (or anyone else) can point me to a clip from one of his vids that would be nice... but it not required... I mean, what you've given me here is a great point that I can use, but since it will be a video interview I would like to include vid clips.

    BTW if anyone has vid clips from other related vids (other than ones Bernardo produced) that would be great too...
     

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