Need Help: Upcoming Interview w/ Bernardo Kastrup

#21
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
hi Laird... there is a lot of great stuff here. I particularly like to the idealism v. panpsychism critique... then again I wonder if all of this kinda falls under Mike's point about "recovering materialists."

do you think you could find a vid clip that hones in on the idealism v. panpsychism thing? I can then use that to get to yr question.
 
#22
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)
hey Jim... great points re the spirits. I too have gone round-n-round with B on this. can you take a look for a quote from his blog, or books or vids that I could use to tee up this question.
 
#23
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
the forum represents a tiny fraction of folks who listen to the show. contributions have been great so far.

I don't want to lose the spontaneity of the interview by inviting Bernardo... but I don't think we have to make the conversation private either.
 
#24
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
would you (or someone else) mind finding a Christof Koch clip... either from his skeptiko interview or on Closer to Truth.
 
#25
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.
thx KG... would you mind drilling into the "free will" thing a bit and see if we can find a question and vid clip.
 
#26
hey Jim... great points re the spirits. I too have gone round-n-round with B on this. can you take a look for a quote from his blog, or books or vids that I could use to tee up this question.
The first point, about not assuming mathematical analogies (you could also say physical analogies) apply to consciousness relates to any time he mentions "Mind as a hyper-dimensional membrane" http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2012/08/as-part-of-online-debate-in-discussion.html (August 05, 2012 )

I am not an expert on his writings and especially not on his recent stuff so I don't really know if this is still relevant.

In my post (above) I included links to the thread at mind energy.net where we discussed the spirit interacting in the physical.
http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/skeptiko-podcast-forums/skeptiko-podcast/4295-the-big-hurdle

I don't know if he discussed that anywhere else.

Maybe he is reading this thread and can comment?
 
#27
The first point, about not assuming mathematical analogies (you could also say physical analogies) apply to consciousness relates to any time he mentions "Mind as a hyper-dimensional membrane" http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2012/08/as-part-of-online-debate-in-discussion.html (August 05, 2012 )

I am not an expert on his writings and especially not on his recent stuff so I don't really know if this is still relevant.

In my post (above) I included links to the thread at mind energy.net where we discussed the spirit interacting in the physical.
http://forum.mind-energy.net/forum/skeptiko-podcast-forums/skeptiko-podcast/4295-the-big-hurdle

I don't know if he discussed that anywhere else.

Maybe he is reading this thread and can comment?
I'm looking for a video clip (ideally) or a quote from his blog. this is a video interview, I would like to tee up the question by referring to something specific he has written.

I'm not going to ask him beforehand... I like the spontaneity of an interview.

for ref... this is exactly what I'm looking for:
http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threa...nterview-w-bernardo-kastrup.4089/#post-121605
 
#28
hi Laird... there is a lot of great stuff here. I particularly like to the idealism v. panpsychism critique... then again I wonder if all of this kinda falls under Mike's point about "recovering materialists."

do you think you could find a vid clip that hones in on the idealism v. panpsychism thing? I can then use that to get to yr question.
I really like Mike's point: a new terminology independent of the prevailing materialistic terminology would indeed be very helpful.

Not sure whether I can find a video clip but I do know of a couple of blog posts. Would those be at all useful? I could offer a brief commentary as to how my questions apply to them.
 
#29
I do know of a couple of blog posts. Would those be at all useful? I could offer a brief commentary as to how my questions apply to them.
yes, the would be great. think in terms of a quote on the screen that B would then be asked to respond to. like:
 
#30
I guess I'd like to hear about Bernardo's views on non-dualism (perhaps especially the non-dualistic A Course in Miracles (ACIM) if he knows anything about that) and its relationship to Idealism.
 
#31
yes, the would be great. think in terms of a quote on the screen that B would then be asked to respond to.
OK, here are a few quotes which you might use, accompanied by my brief comments.

In Bernardo's article, The threat of panpsychism: a warning, he acknowledges that panpsychism is a broad tent:

[T]he term 'panpsychism' has so many possible interpretations as to render it at best ambiguous and at worst useless.
He then limits his focus to the following two interpretations which for brevity I've truncated (emphases and underlines in the original):

Panpsychism Interpretation 1: consciousness is just one more irreducible property of matter at a subatomic level
Panpsychism Interpretation 2: consciousness is the intrinsic nature of matter, not just one more of its properties. However, consciousness is still considered fundamentally fragmented in exactly the same way matter is.
He distances himself strongly from these interpretations in these two quotes:

[T]o my horror [...] my ideas sometimes get conflated with the interpretations of panpsychism discussed above.
Panpsychism, according to the two interpretations of the term discussed in this essay, is fundamentally different from Idealism/Nondualism.
According to the current SEP article on panpsychism, the two interpretations Bernardo discusses seem to fall under the label "Constitutive Micropsychism":

Constitutive Micropsychism—The view that all facts are grounded in/realized by/constituted of consciousness-involving facts at the micro-level.
However, as Bernardo acknowledges, these are not the only interpretations of panpsychism. What he doesn't acknowledge is that there are interpretations of pansychism that are compatible with idealism.

One such interpretation is that which that SEP article labels "Non-constitutive cosmopsychism", according to which:

human and animal minds are causally dependent on the conscious cosmos whilst being fundamental entities in their own right
The archived SEP article on panpsychism is explicit about the potential compatibility of idealism and panpsychism, as per these two quotes, the second of which seems to describe something very similar to Bernardo's idealism:

[Underlying] metaphysical assumptions, in particular various forms of idealism, can provide an overarching argument for panpsychism
[According to] what may be called “idealist panpsychism” [...] the primary motivation for the ascription of mental attributes to matter is that matter is, in essence, a “form” of mind and thus panpsychism is a kind of theorem which follows from this more fundamental philosophical view. [R]eality [is] a “world self”, a conscious being that [comprises] absolutely everything and of which we, as well as everything else of course, [are] but parts.
And that archived SEP article gets as explicit as it can get in the following quote without actually mentioning Bernardo by name (as I understand it, Bernardo sees himself as updating George Berkeley's idealism):

The philosophy of George Berkeley (1685-1753) is also worth mentioning here as an early and pure form of idealist panpsychism. Idealists are panpsychists by default, as it were, believing as they do that nothing exists except minds or mental attributes.
Another source which links George Berkeley's idealism with panpsychism is the introduction to the book (which I have not read), Panpsychism: Contemporary Perspectives (emphasis mine):

According to Meixner, the only appealing option for the panpsychist is idealistic holistic panpsychism. Meixner's approach is inspired by Edmund Husserl, George Berkeley, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.
That's probably way too much, but I can provide more if you need it, or if it's too much you can pick and choose what you like. I hope this helps!
 
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#33
thx KG... would you mind drilling into the "free will" thing a bit and see if we can find a question and vid clip.
Here is Bernardo's take on Free Will:
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/05/freewill-explained.html
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/05/a-brief-general-definition-of-freewill.html
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/05/a-brief-general-definition-of-freewill.html
And my favorite article about Free Will (which shows that no matter what is true, 'belief' in free will leads to more efficient neurons so you might as well believe):
http://bigthink.com/artful-choice/do-you-believe-in-free-will-maybe-you-should-even-if-you-dont
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/05/freewill-explained.html
To answer this question properly, we must first bite an unavoidable bullet: it is incoherent to think of a free choice as a non-determined outcome that also isn't random. And a random choice is not intentional. An intentional choice must thus be determined by something; by some set of determining factors. The essential question here, which I think most people overlook, is: What factors? The core of our intuition about freewill is that the determining factors must be internal to us as subjective agents. Because nothing outside subjectivity can be internal to us in that sense, materialism immediately defeats true freewill. But my formulation of idealism again endorses it: according to the metaphysics in the book, our individual psyches are split-off complexes of the cosmic mind within which the entirety of existence unfolds as parallel streams of experience. Since there is nothing outside this cosmic mind, all determining factors of each stream can only be internal to our true selves. Freewill is thus true.
Ok, that's fine. Slapping materialists is always fun low hanging fruit. And I agree, materialism is a slippery slope there with determinism. I can't remember the interview where the scientist basically told us he doesn't believe in free will. Hell, I was just watching Jim Carey in Jim & Andy and even in his new age enlightened state he still alludes to determinism when he says, "your stomach tells you you're hungry, are you really making a decision when you go get a sandwich?" (I believe, yes, you are.)
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/05/freewill-explained.html
According to my formulation of idealism, choice is the outcome of mental processes. These mental processes may very well be 'mentally deterministic' insofar as they obey yet-unknown mental patterns and regularities that we may call the 'laws of mind.' But watch out: the 'laws of mind' are not necessarily reducible to the dynamics of subatomic particles.
Bbbbbut... why not? Why wouldn't they all be part of the same ocean? Are subatomic particles hard detritus in the ocean of mind? Wouldn't they be made up of mind too?

My formulation of idealism grants fundamental reality to things like feelings and emotions, and does not require them to be reducible to known physical laws. Since feelings and emotions are clearly valid determining factors in the making of a choice, the 'mental determinism' I am suggesting here is clearly of a very different order of complexity, richness, meaning and nuance than physical determinism. Moreover, the word 'law' must not be misinterpreted here: the 'laws of mind' are simply a metaphor for the observed patterns and regularities inherent to the natural flow of mind, not external constraints prohibiting mind from doing this or that.
Eh. Gobble gook. If god is elegant simplicity I think he could do better than this. I would think the 'laws of mind' even if they are variable and changing would be the causal factors in the resulting physical plane, no? If it's all consciousness that is. And nature being fractal why wouldn't it be that the tiniest particle, as a piece of thought, also has its own internal emotional struggle as we do?

In this sense, existence is 'mentally deterministic.' Finally, since all factors involved in this unfolding of experience in the cosmic mind are necessarily internal to it (there being nothing external to it), our intuitions about freewill are again endorsed: choice is fully determined by the internal subjective dynamics of our true selves.
He admits to a bit of word salad in the comments. Let's read the second article (2014) and see if that states it any better.

Freewill is the capacity of an agent to make an intentional choice unconstrained by any factor outside that which the agent identifies itself with.
Yes! Terminology we can agree on. Go on..

To say that our choices are the deterministic outcome of processes that we identify ourselves with does not refute the essence of our intuition about freewill. The appearance that it does is merely a linguistic illusion. Let me try to illustrate this with an example. I may say: 'I made choice A but I could have made choice B.' This statement is a clear assertion of my freewill; in fact, it captures the very core of what freewill entails, doesn't it? Yet, the statement implies that the choice was indeed determined: it was determined by me! In other words, it was the perceived essence of what it means to be me that determined the choice. Therefore, I can rephrase the statement in the following way, without changing its meaning or implications: 'I chose A because it is my perceived essential nature to do so, although there were no external factors preventing me from choosing B.'
.

Except that you cannot choose B because it is not your perceived essential nature. So it isn't really a choice/exertion of will? Even if you tried to psyche yourself out and said, "My nature is A, so I choose B! Take that, universe!" ~ you would only do that if your perceived essential nature was of an anti-authoritarian who would try and subvert their own pre-determinism. That's pre-determined!

In this conscious universe do subatomic particles not alter their 'behavior' based on observation? True randomness is almost unheard of in this universe except for the 'probability patterns' of the subatomic world and we might even crack that one day - that is, unless they're truly making decisions and are ultimately the source of free will. Do virii (who we're not sure if we should classify as alive or dead) seek (desire) to reproduce or is it just a causal process? Why would the universe utilize carrot and stick for larger beings/forms/constructions, but keep the smaller ones a causal process? At what level of resolution does causality become free will? Do cells contain an internal motivation? Do they have little emotional lives? Do water drops seek to be back together again because they're family? Is gravity love? If you put my 'soul' into a squirrel wouldn't I be just like a squirrel in every possible way? I'm fairly certain that animals basically have internal emotional lives as we do, why would that stop at a certain level of development (e.g. the ant) and not be carried all the way through all of creation? That includes ideas and thoughts. They reproduce, they spread, they do all the same things as virii do. It seems to me that the nature of the universe is not built like a watch-maker who constructs different pieces and assembles them, it's more like a fractal creation where there is one idea (equation) and every inch of creation is reflective of it throughout.

We all accept that human-level is most likely where free will is occurring. Here's a silly Matrix video game where thousands of Agent Smiths combine into one giant robot.

Now imagine we have an actual building-sized robot in our world and we as a society determine that it is too powerful to put in the hands of one human being. Therefore we will allow any human being at any time log in to a 'game' where they can control one aspect of the robot (finger joint, knee, etc.) We establish a communication network so that we can work together to accomplish tasks that we never could as a tiny human being. We figure out a democratic way to establish motives. We now have a giant building-sized perspective - we can see farther, lift more, construct projects we never could before. The robot's behavior is far more causal than any individual human's is because all of the opposing minority wills would kind of cancel each other out, but it would still ultimately be free because it was controlled by free wills. We are still using an aggregate of all of our free wills (and you would inevitably get some random troll who f*'s with your knee cap, but then again you'd probably have a process to log him off and ban him just as quickly), but for the most part, an external viewer of the robot might concur that HE has free will -- and he does! His free will is the AGGREGATE of all the free wills that are controlling him. And creating an aggregate of free wills is obviously an important piece of universal technology that is extremely useful in navigating scale.

Osmosis Jones
Inside Out
Iron Giant

--
Still, I don't think you can ultimately lance Bernardo here. He will twist in wind as he does in the comments of that thread. I'm just typing to hear myself think. Sorry I'm wasting people's time. :(
Maybe someone can take my word salad and make it palatable.

One thought I have had is, does it matter if the physical universe is made up entirely of thought or if the matter universe is what contains thought and information (the way a hard drive contains the works of shakespeare) ~ isn't what really matters (with matter) is that both matter and thoughts are derivatives of the same thing? It seems to me that even a materialist could start to understand that a certain configuration of information (e.g. words stored on a hard drive) CAN influence behavior, words in the mind change the electro-chemical state of the brain's hard drive, so therefore quite obviously thoughts DO affect matter and matter DOES affect thoughts so we should stop pretending like they're these vastly different worlds. It always makes me laugh that (the majority of) religious people are basically materialists with God inserted onto the stage or as a magic dust imbued in everything, but with the same underlying premise.

Skeptics like to chastise 'believers' as believing in invisible pink unicorns, but if I believed in invisible pink unicorns (you believe in the unicorn, but you have faith in their pinkness) and convinced all of America that they exist and like to sleep in the threshold of a doorway then everyone will be stepping over thresholds and that is NOT an illusion. That is, behaviorally, a REAL thing. Totally, undeniably REAL. Belief is real with real-world effects. If you extrapolate that to the idea of tulpas and that sort of thing then you're really starting to see the big picture. Thoughts are real. Information is real. We're not talking steel balls versus fairy dust.

We might as well say both matter and thought are constructed of flim-flam rather than fighting over which one is dominant since they both seem to be elements on a sliding scale from causal to less-causal. It's the same as biology vs technology -- they're the same thing! The Earth creating us creating technology is the Earth evolving a greater technology. It's also us. Yes evolution is experimental and based on many attempts, but it is also free-WILFUL. That fish wanted to get up on land to escape predators and even if it wasn't his generation that made it, the idea carried through the day.

 
#34
Here is Bernardo's take on Free Will:
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/05/freewill-explained.html
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/05/a-brief-general-definition-of-freewill.html
And my favorite article about Free Will (which shows that no matter what is true, 'belief' in free will leads to more efficient neurons so you might as well believe):
http://bigthink.com/artful-choice/do-you-believe-in-free-will-maybe-you-should-even-if-you-dont


Ok, that's fine. Slapping materialists is always fun low hanging fruit. And I agree, materialism is a slippery slope there with determinism. I can't remember the interview where the scientist basically told us he doesn't believe in free will. Hell, I was just watching Jim Carey in Jim & Andy and even in his new age enlightened state he still alludes to determinism when he says, "your stomach tells you you're hungry, are you really making a decision when you go get a sandwich?" (I believe, yes, you are.)


Bbbbbut... why not? Why wouldn't they all be part of the same ocean? Are subatomic particles hard detritus in the ocean of mind? Wouldn't they be made up of mind too?



Eh. Gobble gook. If god is elegant simplicity I think he could do better than this. I would think the 'laws of mind' even if they are variable and changing would be the causal factors in the resulting physical plane, no? If it's all consciousness that is. And nature being fractal why wouldn't it be that the tiniest particle, as a piece of thought, also has its own internal emotional struggle as we do?



He admits to a bit of word salad in the comments. Let's read the second article (2014) and see if that states it any better.



Yes! Terminology we can agree on. Go on..

.

Except that you cannot choose B because it is not your perceived essential nature. So it isn't really a choice/exertion of will? Even if you tried to psyche yourself out and said, "My nature is A, so I choose B! Take that, universe!" ~ you would only do that if your perceived essential nature was of an anti-authoritarian who would try and subvert their own pre-determinism. That's pre-determined!

In this conscious universe do subatomic particles not alter their 'behavior' based on observation? True randomness is almost unheard of in this universe except for the 'probability patterns' of the subatomic world and we might even crack that one day - that is, unless they're truly making decisions and are ultimately the source of free will. Do virii (who we're not sure if we should classify as alive or dead) seek (desire) to reproduce or is it just a causal process? Why would the universe utilize carrot and stick for larger beings/forms/constructions, but keep the smaller ones a causal process? At what level of resolution does causality become free will? Do cells contain an internal motivation? Do they have little emotional lives? Do water drops seek to be back together again because they're family? Is gravity love? If you put my 'soul' into a squirrel wouldn't I be just like a squirrel in every possible way? I'm fairly certain that animals basically have internal emotional lives as we do, why would that stop at a certain level of development (e.g. the ant) and not be carried all the way through all of creation? That includes ideas and thoughts. They reproduce, they spread, they do all the same things as virii do. It seems to me that the nature of the universe is not built like a watch-maker who constructs different pieces and assembles them, it's more like a fractal creation where there is one idea (equation) and every inch of creation is reflective of it throughout.

We all accept that human-level is most likely where free will is occurring. Here's a silly Matrix video game where thousands of Agent Smiths combine into one giant robot.

Now imagine we have an actual building-sized robot in our world and we as a society determine that it is too powerful to put in the hands of one human being. Therefore we will allow any human being at any time log in to a 'game' where they can control one aspect of the robot (finger joint, knee, etc.) We establish a communication network so that we can work together to accomplish tasks that we never could as a tiny human being. We figure out a democratic way to establish motives. We now have a giant building-sized perspective - we can see farther, lift more, construct projects we never could before. The robot's behavior is far more causal than any individual human's is because all of the opposing minority wills would kind of cancel each other out, but it would still ultimately be free because it was controlled by free wills. We are still using an aggregate of all of our free wills (and you would inevitably get some random troll who f*'s with your knee cap, but then again you'd probably have a process to log him off and ban him just as quickly), but for the most part, an external viewer of the robot might concur that HE has free will -- and he does! His free will is the AGGREGATE of all the free wills that are controlling him. And creating an aggregate of free wills is obviously an important piece of universal technology that is extremely useful in navigating scale.

Osmosis Jones
Inside Out
Iron Giant

--
Still, I don't think you can ultimately lance Bernardo here. He will twist in wind as he does in the comments of that thread. I'm just typing to hear myself think. Sorry I'm wasting people's time. :(
Maybe someone can take my word salad and make it palatable.

One thought I have had is, does it matter if the physical universe is made up entirely of thought or if the matter universe is what contains thought and information (the way a hard drive contains the works of shakespeare) ~ isn't what really matters (with matter) is that both matter and thoughts are derivatives of the same thing? It seems to me that even a materialist could start to understand that a certain configuration of information (e.g. words stored on a hard drive) CAN influence behavior, words in the mind change the electro-chemical state of the brain's hard drive, so therefore quite obviously thoughts DO affect matter and matter DOES affect thoughts so we should stop pretending like they're these vastly different worlds. It always makes me laugh that (the majority of) religious people are basically materialists with God inserted onto the stage or as a magic dust imbued in everything, but with the same underlying premise.

Skeptics like to chastise 'believers' as believing in invisible pink unicorns, but if I believed in invisible pink unicorns (you believe in the unicorn, but you have faith in their pinkness) and convinced all of America that they exist and like to sleep in the threshold of a doorway then everyone will be stepping over thresholds and that is NOT an illusion. That is, behaviorally, a REAL thing. Totally, undeniably REAL. Belief is real with real-world effects. If you extrapolate that to the idea of tulpas and that sort of thing then you're really starting to see the big picture. Thoughts are real. Information is real. We're not talking steel balls versus fairy dust.

We might as well say both matter and thought are constructed of flim-flam rather than fighting over which one is dominant since they both seem to be elements on a sliding scale from causal to less-causal. It's the same as biology vs technology -- they're the same thing! The Earth creating us creating technology is the Earth evolving a greater technology. It's also us. Yes evolution is experimental and based on many attempts, but it is also free-WILFUL. That fish wanted to get up on land to escape predators and even if it wasn't his generation that made it, the idea carried through the day.

great suff... many thx. lots to use here, including "Eh. Gobble gook"... I gots some good ones for that... hint Moogi.
 
#35
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.
I agree completely. While I do love full blown idealism, it does fail to get to grips with a whole range of unusual human experience (ie. spirits/aliens/NDEs/reincarnation/etc.).

Weirdly, I think the traditional emanationist philosophies of Christian Hermeticism/Jewish Qabalah/Islamic Sufism (stripped of their baroque philosophical excesses) might provide a more usable conceptual framework than full blown idealism. They all hold that a unitive God splits into increasingly concrete levels of dualistic being, with all levels still being contained within the whole. At least this conceptually provides us with the room to fill in some gaps between here and infinity.

By the way, I think many eastern 'non-dual' religions admit the existence of these intermediate levels but consider them to be unimportant..... a distraction, even.
 
#36
I agree completely. While I do love full blown idealism, it does fail to get to grips with a whole range of unusual human experience (ie. spirits/aliens/NDEs/reincarnation/etc.).
great point.

By the way, I think many eastern 'non-dual' religions admit the existence of these intermediate levels but consider them to be unimportant..... a distraction, even.
another great point... thx... but I often wonder if the non-dual perspective fully comes to grips with the above reality as well :)
 
#37
If you can see how idealism can produce the physical universe, then by a similar process the spiritual realms are produced as well.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature.

It is all mind.
 
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#38
I, for one, think these are pretty good questions that I'd love to discuss.

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
 
#39
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)
I addressed the second question long ago, here: http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2012/09/apparitions-ghosts-and-mediumistic.html
 
#40
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?

This sounds interesting to discuss as well
 
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