Mod+ 274. DR. BERNARDO KASTRUP, WHY OUR CULTURE IS MATERIALISTIC

#41
I enjoyed this episode very much
I'm glad to hear it!

Since intention has been shown to make quantum random processes non-random, I don't see why DNA mutation couldn't also be subject to whatever field or force is responsible for this phenomenon.
Exactly!

Perhaps after hundreds of generations of a bird wanting to see in the dark, his eyes get bigger and owls are born
Interesting, evocative example of the hypothesis here...
 
Last edited:
#42
Okay: so you only want to say that natural selection occurs, but on mutations that aren't random.
That aren't necessarily random. I don't think there is objective evidence either way, so I don't know. I just resent the propaganda by neo-Darwinists that it is a done deal that the mutations are random. They don't know that. They are just passing belief for fact.

Personally, I think that puts you somewhere in the ID camp
Fair enough. Notice, however, that I am just emphasizing that the hypothesis cannot be discarded. I am not stating outright that the mutations aren't random. I don't know either way.

I am, however, inclined -- based on subjective reasons -- to believe that they indeed aren't random.

It would mean that Darwinism is partially correct, but would undermine the key aspect of it that claims randomness and thus supports materialism.
Precisely. And, it would explain all the evidence in favor of Darwinism.

In fact, as so often before, you have helped me take on board a possibility I hadn't really considered. Many thanks for that.
Glad to hear it!
 
Last edited:
#43
Interesting, evocative example of the hypothesis here...
I took this example from "The Kolbrin", Book of Creation chapter 5: "Now the children of God were molded by the Hand of God, which is called Awen, and it manifested according to their desires. For all things which have life are molded by Awen. The fox, shivering in the coldlands, longs for warmth and so its cubs have coats. The owl, clumsy in the dark, longs to see its prey more clearly, and in generations of longing, the desire is granted. Awen makes everything what it is, for all things change under its law."

I don't know if The Kolbrin originates from antiquity as is claimed, but I find a lot of interesting/inspiring stories in it such as this.
 
#44
I took this example from "The Kolbrin", Book of Creation chapter 5: "Now the children of God were molded by the Hand of God, which is called Awen, and it manifested according to their desires. For all things which have life are molded by Awen. The fox, shivering in the coldlands, longs for warmth and so its cubs have coats. The owl, clumsy in the dark, longs to see its prey more clearly, and in generations of longing, the desire is granted. Awen makes everything what it is, for all things change under its law."

I don't know if The Kolbrin originates from antiquity as is claimed, but I find a lot of interesting/inspiring stories in it such as this.
I guess the interesting thing that differentiates this idea from "survival of the fittest" is that changes accrue through accrual of desire rather than or in addition to survival advantages.
 
#45
I guess the interesting thing that differentiates this idea from "survival of the fittest" is that changes accrue through accrual of desire rather than or in addition to survival advantages.
Well, if the desired changes don't lead to a survival advantage, they probably won't remain around for long, will they? And would anyone continue to desire changes that don't lead to a better life? Anyway, interesting quote!
 
#46
Well, if the desired changes don't lead to a survival advantage, they probably won't remain around for long, will they? And would anyone continue to desire changes that don't lead to a better life? Anyway, interesting quote!
In general, I would think this is the case since the desires for food and mates are typically among the strongest desires in an organism; however, as organisms become more complex and as the social structures within their species or within their ecosystems become more complex, their desires might become more diversified so that the changes produced in the expression of physical form have little or nothing to do with survival advantage - at least initially until the altered organism finds that its niche has shifted due to its changed form. In other words perhaps the evolution of the organism is not always led by the niche, but perhaps the organism or the species changes itself and this may or may not affect its fit for the niche. Curiosity can be a very powerful desire. And if consciousness is somehow prime and curiosity leads to expansion of consciousness, then curiosity could be a very powerful driving evolutionary force. It seems that most organisms are drawn towards boundaries and long to cross them. Bugs cling to windows, my dog has a rut along the fence, and all of us here are drawn to the boundaries of our present knowledge. Perhaps the curious desire to cross a boundary combined with the future state of that organism after having crossed the boundary leads to a synchronicity where just the right change occurs to enable that organism to cross the boundary. Perhaps many trillions of fish all wondering what was across the shoreline eventually led to legs?
 
#47
Some naturalists assert mutations do not occur at random because of how the DNA is structured and this can explain why changes that might seem improbable can occur at the needed frequency to explain evolution. One needs to be specific and say if you mean mutations are caused by design. (Intelligent design proponents will say that because of the no free lunch theorem and the law of conservation of information natural mechanisms for non-random mutation don't matter because you still have to explain how the structures in DNA arose.)


http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7396/full/nature10995.html

Evidence of non-random mutation rates suggests an evolutionary risk management strategy
...
Nature 485, 95–98 (03 May 2012)
...
A central tenet in evolutionary theory is that mutations occur randomly with respect to their value to an organism; selection then governs whether they are fixed in a population. This principle has been challenged by long-standing theoretical models predicting that selection could modulate the rate of mutation itself1, 2. However, our understanding of how the mutation rate varies between different sites within a genome has been hindered by technical difficulties in measuring it. Here we present a study that overcomes previous limitations by combining phylogenetic and population genetic techniques. Upon comparing 34 Escherichia coli genomes, we observe that the neutral mutation rate varies by more than an order of magnitude across 2,659 genes, with mutational hot and cold spots spanning several kilobases. Importantly, the variation is not random: we detect a lower rate in highly expressed genes and in those undergoing stronger purifying selection. Our observations suggest that the mutation rate has been evolutionarily optimized to reduce the risk of deleterious mutations. Current knowledge of factors influencing the mutation rate—including transcription-coupled repair and context-dependent mutagenesis—do not explain these observations, indicating that additional mechanisms must be involved. The findings have important implications for our understanding of evolution and the control of mutations.

 
#49
This is about non-random mutation rates in different parts of the genome, not non-random mutations. Not sure about how this ties into the discussion?

Some naturalists assert mutations do not occur at random because of how the DNA is structured and this can explain why changes that might seem improbable can occur at the needed frequency to explain evolution. One needs to be specific and say if you mean mutations are caused by design. (Intelligent design proponents will say that because of the no free lunch theorem and the law of conservation of information natural mechanisms for non-random mutation don't matter because you still have to explain how the structures in DNA arose.)


http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v485/n7396/full/nature10995.html

Evidence of non-random mutation rates suggests an evolutionary risk management strategy
...
Nature 485, 95–98 (03 May 2012)
...
A central tenet in evolutionary theory is that mutations occur randomly with respect to their value to an organism; selection then governs whether they are fixed in a population. This principle has been challenged by long-standing theoretical models predicting that selection could modulate the rate of mutation itself1, 2. However, our understanding of how the mutation rate varies between different sites within a genome has been hindered by technical difficulties in measuring it. Here we present a study that overcomes previous limitations by combining phylogenetic and population genetic techniques. Upon comparing 34 Escherichia coli genomes, we observe that the neutral mutation rate varies by more than an order of magnitude across 2,659 genes, with mutational hot and cold spots spanning several kilobases. Importantly, the variation is not random: we detect a lower rate in highly expressed genes and in those undergoing stronger purifying selection. Our observations suggest that the mutation rate has been evolutionarily optimized to reduce the risk of deleterious mutations. Current knowledge of factors influencing the mutation rate—including transcription-coupled repair and context-dependent mutagenesis—do not explain these observations, indicating that additional mechanisms must be involved. The findings have important implications for our understanding of evolution and the control of mutations.

 
#50
@Bernardo Kastrup Hi Bernardo, it's a fascinating conversation. I loved the show and I am looking forward to the new book. (Btw, is there a date for the Kindle version?)

A couple of questions for you, if you will:

1) In response to @bishop you said that mind-at-large is not self-reflective or self-aware, in my view.
And...
You seem to be attributing to mind-at-large certain characteristics that are specific to the inner lives of humans and perhaps a handful of other higher mammals: self-reflectiveness, self-awareness, intention, etc.

What exactly would be the fundamental characteristics of mind-at-large?
You alluded to the possibility that evolutionary mutations might not be entirely random. Wouldn't this require some form of intentionality, on the part of mind-at-large, to drive the mutations in a "useful" / purposeful way?

2) You have addressed many criticism from materialist. I think one challenge you should often get is "Evidence?!".
In other words: "give us good scientific evidence that your hypothesis is correct."

Is there a list of empirical/scientific evidence to support your philosophical position? (I guess one could be some psychoactive drugs)
(I am asking for bullet points, not details)

Thanks
 
#51
What you speak of is genetic engineering. So basically. if you're using that as a refutation to what I stated, you're equating genetic engineering with evolution.
First, I am not necessarily agreeing with Bernardo.

What I think he is saying, is that it is one thing to believe in evolution produced by tweaks to the genome produced in some systematic way, and quite another to believe in evolution by natural selection. He is, in effect supporting intelligent design by deliberate genetic modification.

David
 
#52
Idealism isn't a scientific theory. It doesn't aim to model the patterns and regularities of nature. Instead, it's an ontology: a framework for interpreting scientific theories as far as the underlying nature of things and phenomena. That said, it does have implications that depart from materialism.
OK - but if it is to displace materialism, it really needs a scientific theory to go with it!

I do agree that ψ phenomena including some alternative medicine are things that Idealism permits. However, Idealism doesn't seem to exclude anything - which makes it impossible to refute.
The jump is a subtle, remarkably small shift in perspective. Once you make it, you find it astonishing that you hadn't seen it before, so self-evident it is. The only difficulty comes from the cognitive pollution we get from the culture, with the myriad hidden assumptions we constantly absorb since childhood.

I have thought about substance dualism as a stepping stone for the culture at large -- not for science -- for a long time now. I have some sympathy for it. My first book was even written under a dualist metaphor. But ultimately, promoting substance dualism just adds more pollution, reinforces the confusion, and hides the key strengths of idealism: it's parsimony, logical coherence, and empirical honesty. Substance dualism may be handy from a spiritual perspective, but it simply cannot replace materialism as the ontology of science, for it isn't internally coherent or empirically grounded.
I suspect we would both agree that science 'needed' Newtonian gravity as a stepping stone to GR. Imagine if someone had come up with GR directly. It would have seemed impossibly clumsy, and excruciating to extract the orbits of the planets etc. Indeed, mathematics just wasn't sophisticated enough to handle GR back then. Moreover, the orbits would not (I think) have been ellipses or parabolas. The jump directly to GR would have held things up for centuries.

I suspect Idealism may be rather analogous - at least if it is to be made into a real scientific viewpoint - the jump is vast!

I think the argument that Dualism isn't internally coherent relates to the fact that you obviously need some interaction between the two realms. However, science has lived happily with QM and GR for decades, knowing that they ultimately can't coexist without modification! I see this argument as being more of an excuse that people have put up to get rid of what would other wise be an enticing theory - Dualism.

Finally, your concept of Idealism - in which "mind at large" runs the physics would fit awfully well into the scheme in which Dualism supplies the stepping stone. From that standpoint, the final step would be the realisation that the physical world was itself also mental.

I suppose I am interested in the practical prospects for science escaping from its obsession with explaining everything in terms of interacting particles - or equations, if you like (because they aren't really particles in any normal sense of that word).

David
 
Last edited:
#53
Hi Bucky,

(Btw, is there a date for the Kindle version?)
May 29th, but it can be pre-ordered now.

What exactly would be the fundamental characteristics of mind-at-large?
I think the ability to self-reflect -- that is, to not only know something but to know that you know it -- arises together with localization/dissociation and is unique to human beings and, perhaps, a handful of other higher mammals/birds. It is not present in mind-at-large, in my view. My empirical motivation to say this is two fold: (a) Neuroscience has shown that self-reflective awareness correlates with neural reverberation in the human brain; and (b) Humans can lose the ability to self-reflect -- but not to experience things -- when activity in the brain default mode network is reduced (dream-like trances). I elaborated extensively on this in Chapter 5 of Why Materialism Is Baloney. There is a short extract here:

http://www.scienceandnonduality.com/the-true-nature-of-the-unconscious/

I think mind-at-large unfolds according to intrinsic archetypes, feeling-toned patterns of imagination and self-expression that we could perhaps describe as instinctive. The empirical world is the outside image of these feeling-toned patterns, much like certain brain activity scans are the outside image of a person feeling love.

You alluded to the possibility that evolutionary mutations might not be entirely random. Wouldn't this require some form of intentionality, on the part of mind-at-large, to drive the mutations in a "useful" / purposeful way?
Depends on what you mean by intentionality. If you think of it as deliberate, premeditated, self-reflective action, I don't think it is required. It think it is more like a game of getting-warmer-or-getting-colder: if evolutionary changes 'resonate' with the archetypal feeling-toned patterns of mind-at-large, they are favored for they 'feel good' ('it's getting warmer!'). If not, they aren't reinforced ('getting colder'). Natural selection may be the image of this evaluation in an experiential context; that is, the image of a process by means of which mind-at-large gives itself a chance to 'feel' whether it's getting warmer or colder. Notice that the latter, although somewhat instinctive, still follows a preferential direction, goal, or telos, even if this telos cannot be self-reflectively articulated.

You have addressed many criticism from materialist. I think one challenge you should often get is "Evidence?!".
In other words: "give us good scientific evidence that your hypothesis is correct."
I answer this in the book, essay 2.2, criticism number 16. ;)

Is there a list of empirical/scientific evidence to support your philosophical position?
Plenty. Chapter 2 of Why Materialism Is Baloney cites 10 cases. Brief Peeks Beyond cites several studies from quantum physics.

Cheers, B.
 
#54
What I think he is saying, is that it is one thing to believe in evolution produced by tweaks to the genome produced in some systematic way, and quite another to believe in evolution by natural selection. He is, in effect supporting intelligent design by deliberate genetic modification.
I'd phrase it like this:

-1- It is one thing to believe that species evolve into other species by the accrual of genetic mutations that provide survival advantages;
-2- It is an entirely other thing whether those genetic mutations are random or, instead, somehow obey goal-oriented patterns through organizing principles yet unknown to science.

I grant validity to 1. I think 2 is a completely open question as far as the evidence is concerned.
 
#55
OK - but if it is to displace materialism, it really needs a scientific theory to go with it!
I don't see why at all. Science is about modeling the patterns and regularities of reality. Ontology is about interpreting those patterns and regularities from the perspective of their intrinsic nature. Idealism and materialism are ontologies, not science. They help inform scientific pursuits but are not essential to them. A new, better ontology does not require new science.

However, Idealism doesn't seem to exclude anything - which makes it impossible to refute.
How so? My formulation of idealism excludes e.g. that inanimate objects have a private, subjective inner life of their own; it excludes that other people are unconscious (philosophical) zombies; it excludes substance dualism; the list goes on. It also makes many predictions that are unique to it; for instance, that certain types of reduction of brain activity should lead to increased/intenser experience, that there should be a collective, obfuscated segment of mind (the 'collective unconscious'), the placebo effect is predicted by it, etc., which are all predictions that can be tested.

I suspect we would both agree that science 'needed' Newtonian gravity as a stepping stone to GR.
Again you are mixing science with ontology. Science is about models. Models are not meant to be the truth, but predictive behavioral approximations of it. That's why intermediate steps make sense in science: they progressively refine the accuracy and precision of the models' behavioral predictions. But ontology is about the correct way of seeing reality. It's not a game of progressive approximation through testing but of simply taking the right perspective on things. There is no reason that can't be done in one go, since we're not talking about carrying out ever more complex tests or elaborating on ever more complex predictive models here. Intermediate steps aren't necessary and may in fact just pollute.

I have some sympathy for your case, but after having thought long about it, I don't think it is optimal... in fact, I think it adds to the confusion and lack of clarity, merely for the sake of accommodating old habits of thought that make us feel comfortable.
 
Last edited:
#56
I think the ability to self-reflect -- that is, to not only know something but to know that you know it -- arises together with localization/dissociation and is unique to human beings and, perhaps, a handful of other higher mammals/birds.
What about disembodies consciousness?
The evidence from NDEs and controlled mediumship studies seem to suggest that intentionality (I am ok with your definition) is still present.

In your view, does non-filtered / disembodies consciousness return to the state of mind-at-large?

It is not present in mind-at-large, in my view. My empirical motivation to say this is two fold: (a) Neuroscience has shown that self-reflective awareness correlates with neural reverberation in the human brain; and (b) Humans can lose the ability to self-reflect -- but not to experience things -- when activity in the brain default mode network is reduced (dream-like trances).
(a) How exactly neural correlates are sufficient to motivate this statement? Isn't this contradicting the idea that when we look at the filter (brain) we're merely watching an image of the process in mind?

(b) I don't find this point very persuasive. We may also loose/suspend the ability to self-reflect (or being aware of being aware) while our attention is entirely taken by something, like watching an intense movie, or being concentrated on a critical task. Similarly I don't think dreams / trances can be a cogent example of suspension of self-reflection. There may be cases in which this happens. I am not sure it's a rule.

Thanks
 
#57
First, I am not necessarily agreeing with Bernardo.

What I think he is saying, is that it is one thing to believe in evolution produced by tweaks to the genome produced in some systematic way, and quite another to believe in evolution by natural selection. He is, in effect supporting intelligent design by deliberate genetic modification.

David
Yeah. I did get what he means. My apologies for assuming you were agreeing with him. But I think perhaps he needs to get clear on what biologists mean by evolution. ID with preset triggers isn't what it refers to. By that usage GMOs got that way by evolution.
 
#58
Bernardo and I had a discussion over at his blog a short while ago in which I hope I came to understand a little better his vision of mind-at-large. The sticking point for me, which I couldn't quite wrap my head around was how a m-a-l, which isn't aware that it is aware, could generate entities like us that are aware they are aware. I mean, awareness of awareness seems an advancement over mere awareness, doesn't it?

The answer, as I understand it, is that m-a-l's intentions can cause things to happen. If it has an "unarticulated" desire, then the object of that desire eventuates. Maybe the desire that gave rise to everything that materialists think is the concrete, external world was the result of an "unarticulated" desire to come to "know itself". Which would require the arising of something capable of self-reflection, of something able to be aware that it was aware, a capacity that m-a-l itself doesn't possess, but is able to experience through it/them.

I say "them" because there are apparently many of us, but only one m-a-l. Bernardo seems to think in terms of an analogy with multiple dissociative disorder, where one individual can identify with various different personalities or alters. Each of us is an alter of m-a-l that can experience from a particular viewpoint. This necessarily entails the illusion of separation: an illusion that many accept at face value, but which in certain states some of us can overcome, getting varying degrees of the sensation of oneness and connection. I've had this sensation myself, and have read many reports of people who've had it to greater degrees, as in samadhi, NDEs, psychedelic experiences, and so forth.

It's a sensation that is impossible to describe, because the thing attempting to describe it is the alter, which only has language available to it, and the alter borrows description from everyday occurrences. Nonetheless, the alter can experience it and retain a memory of having done so. Maybe we all experience it in deep sleep or anaesthesia, but don't form such a memory, so that for all practical intents and purposes, it might as well never have occurred.

Awareness of awareness is a marvellous thing, seeming like the pinnacle of human achievement, and we can't help projecting that on m-a-l. Surely m-a-l would be the most self-reflective entity that could be imagined, something that would have complete knowledge and understanding of all that is? Maybe it's this projection that gives rise to the idea of God as all-knowing, capable of having consciously created the universe and of being "in charge" of every tiny detail.

But the thing is this: as alters, our intentions can't make things happen. We can't, in normal states of awareness, think things into existence. This is what gives us subordinate status to m-a-l. We think we can create things, such as our scientific explanations, which many elevate to the status of absolute reality; but over time, such explanations change and are refined until there comes a point where we realise they can't actually account for empirical observations.

I suppose the classic example is QM, which despite giving rise to incredibly accurate mathematical description, remains completely mysterious. We're forced into such language as "waves of probability" that eventually "collapse", which in the end doesn't explain anything because there isn't an explanation in the usual way we think of explanations. It's just the place where the rubber meets the road, where the innate desire of m-a-l interfaces with the illusion it's created in order to "come to know" itself.

At the fringes, between our total identification with our alters (points-of-view) and m-a-l, there is the zone where, to larger or smaller degrees, we can get some intuitive insight into the true nature of m-a-l. This is what accounts for various psi and spiritual phenomena, the description of which is always hampered by the restrictions of ordinary language.

I don't mean by this to speak for Bernardo, only for my interpretation of what he's saying. Doubtless he will correct me if I've misrepresented his position.
 
#59
Yeah. I did get what he means. My apologies for assuming you were agreeing with him. But I think perhaps he needs to get clear on what biologists mean by evolution. ID with preset triggers isn't what it refers to. By that usage GMOs got that way by evolution.
What begins to worry me about Bernardo's position, is that it seems like a way to translate the world into a fresh set of jargon that (almost) leaves everything the same. It is almost as if the history and mechanism of evolution don't matter once you have translated it into intentional activity of the Mind at Large!

I mean, yes, the translation permits assorted ψ events to occur, but you could still make that translation in a world where no ψ events took place! Also, I guess the translation would work for a world where people's minds return to the Mind at Large after death - which sounds uncomfortably close to oblivion!

Although science is about models, most of its practitioners certainly think it is also about ontology - particularly when it comes to the matter at ordinary temperatures and pressures that fills our skulls.

How so? My formulation of idealism excludes e.g. that inanimate objects have a private, subjective inner life of their own; it excludes that other people are unconscious (philosophical) zombies; it excludes substance dualism; the list goes on.
Well does it? The operation of an inanimate object - e.g. a program running on a computer - would be controlled by the Mind at Large (MaL) - just as our bodies are controlled by some combination of our personal mind and the MaL. A zombie could simply be a person that is controlled purely by the MaL!
It also makes many predictions that are unique to it; for instance, that certain types of reduction of brain activity should lead to increased/intenser experience, that there should be a collective, obfuscated segment of mind (the 'collective unconscious'), the placebo effect is predicted by it, etc., which are all predictions that can be tested
Yes, but it doesn't demand that these things exist. For example it is comfortable with the fact that a reduction of brain activity induced by alcohol (or indeed anaesthetic) doesn't lead to intense experiences - it is just consistent with the fact that psilocybin does reduce brain activity and give rise to intense experiences.

David
 
Last edited:
#60
it seems like a way to translate the world into a fresh set of jargon that (almost) leaves everything the same.
lol. Yes. I have that opinion about many concepts I see presented. It's as if there's a knowing that something is off but at some level the person still wants to cling to the familiar, so they just apply a translucent coat of paint.
 
Top