An ideal world: Who's up for a(n ontological) quest?

What?

A proposal for a series of Cosmos Café (CCafé) sessions or some other TBD format of a structured, organized, collective, close reading (of all or parts) of

Bernardo Kastrup’s (2019) The Idea of the World: A multi-disciplinary argument for the mental nature of reality, Winchester, UK/Washington, USA , iff Books.

This is a book about what Kastrup calls idealism, an alternate ontology to the currently dominant physicalism paradigm (i.e., matter is what matters because reality/everything (should be) explainable in terms of the properties of matter). One need not be a philosophy freak to get in on this one. The word “ontology” may seem intimidating, but what it is really about is simply: what is reality and why do we think so?

Why?

This topic ties into and overlaps with so many subjects, themes and threads and authors that have been discussed and presented on this site that it would take too long to list them.

Nevertheless, it has long been clear to many of us here that the current, dominant (ontological) paradigm of modern, Western science is failing us. It can’t (and very often refuses to) consider and account for obvious phenomena, such as the so-called paranormal, or even consciousness itself. Its dominant position, however, makes life miserable for many, but without a coherent, viable, expressible alternative, we can’t shift, let alone re-frame, the ontological discussion, regardless of how necessary this appears to a lot of us.

Underpinning everything we think, say, and do is our own (personally flavored) ontology, to be sure. For most of us, it is better termed a belief, because it is hard for us to make it clear to others just why we think some of the things that we do, at least in a way that is convincing to others. I would like to shore up my own, of course, and think that Mr. Kastrup has provided a sound contribution to that effort, one that is originally organized and presented in a language that even laypersons can follow.

In spite of its systematic approach and its relatively clear language, it is nevertheless closely argued and full of logical detail. It is the kind of book that needs to be talked about with others, not just read on its own. I, for one, would like the opportunity for “sanity checks” of my reading. While not wanting to project my own shortcomings onto others, given the depth and seriousness of the underlying topic, I think others would also benefit from being able to “kick the tires” on this one before deciding on whether to take it out for a spin.

How?

The “book” for the most is a conglomeration of articles which Mr. Kastrup got published in peer-reviewed, open-access journals. In other words, he took the classical, accepted approach to getting his ideas “out there”, and he was successful, even if these ideas run counter to the accepted wisdom of the community publishing them. In order to construct an overall argument for his idealist ontology, he provides some introductory writing to explain his approach and purpose, then arranged these articles in a logical sequence of five parts:

  • Part I reviews the currently dominant non-idealist ontologies to uncover their inherent weaknesses.
  • Part II presents his idealist ontology as an alternative.
  • Part III systematically refutes objections that have been raised against idealism.
  • Part IV discusses empirical evidence that contradicts the mainstream physicalist approach.
  • Part V address two questions: why, even though the less convincing approach, physicalism has been able to become and remain the dominant ontological position, and what difference an idealist approach can make for our own lives and understanding of reality.

After this, he wraps up his “book”, including an Afterword by Edward Kelly, whom many of us know from our CCafés on Irreducible Mind , and an Appendix of another previously published, but not peer-reviewed, article on some of the consequences of taking such an approach. All in fewer than 300 pages.

Ideally, I would like to see at least an online threaded discussion of each of the sections and articles in the book, but video meet-ups to kick off the reading, one for each “Part” of the book, and one at the end to wrap things up. These could be organized as a series of CCafés or as a separate reading group or as a creative combination of the two or any other way that the potential participants would like to organize them. These video meet-ups would occur, I’m guessing, at about three-week intervals … but again, that’s up to the participants. Once agreed, I would be willing to take the administrative lead to ensure that threads and pages were set up for all the get-togethers, synchronous and asynchronous.

The question always arises as to whether one needs to invest in yet another book, but given Kastrup’s overall approach this becomes a secondary issue. All the “content” chapters and the appendix were, as noted above, previously published and are freely available online (links can be provided for access). What is more, if you get the free Kindle reading sample offered by Amazon, you receive all the introductory material plus the first two chapters of the book itself. All that would be missing is some of the material at the end, where it all comes together, but we could address that issue later.

When?

Given sufficient interest, we could start whenever it is convenient for all interested parties. However …

It is clear to me that the current timing of the CCafé sessions is limiting to those who regularly appear. I would be willing to shift that time for these sessions to a timeslot more amenable to more participants (if a CCafé approach is agreed). All we need to do is agree on when that should be; if we decide on another format, we need to decide that anyhow.

Who?

Anyone game?

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Childhern Dancing in the Rain

Sure I’ll Dance & Play until There Be a Different Wave of

New Growth Tree

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This is a great idea, Ed, for all of the reasons you have mentioned. I am looking forward to studying this book as a group. By becoming more conversant with good arguments we reinforce the possibility of a new wave. I watched dozens of interviews by Bernardo but his book is new to me. Thanks for making this happen.

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Y’all may be interested in Bernardo Kastrup’s open letter to Peter Kingsley, whose work we explored briefly last year:

I enjoyed Kastrup’s reflections, and I essentially agree with his and Kingsley’s idealism (though I believe matter (and materialism) exists for a good reason)… though in contrast to his conclusion, I don’t really see the point in championing “Western” culture or civilization any more than “Eastern.” For me the future, and the way forward for our planet, is integral and cosmic. It is also indigenous, insofar as we must find our way based on what we know already works, wherever we are.

We know, for example, that much in nature (e.g., natural foods and plant medicines) work wonderfully and don’t require bioengineering or pharmaceutical manufacturing. They do, however, require great sensitivity to ecosystems and organismic realities. And we must also learn to accept death as a part of life—for in our rejection of death (based on fear) we create far worse lives for ourselves. A good death is one part of a good life.

Anyway, I’m glad to see this discussion coming together and welcome others to join in. I will see if I can make it, based on the timing, and will spread the word in case any other cosmonauts out there would be keen to participate in this particular quest.

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Thank You for the Piece,I too Feel Incarnation is a Real Ideal

Jesus after Being hung on the Cross Hairs of the Deficient-Rational(driven by Fear of Death?) it seems to this humble wayfarer😎

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This link does not work, Marco. Thanks for the Kastrup article, I think he does an adequate job of summarizing Kingsley, as they both approach the dragon at the front door by running out the back. This may be the wisest thing to do. I admire their stamina as they rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. I agree we are in trouble. Our skeletons and brains are arranged in three dimensions for gravity. And our minds are all over the place, without such constraints. This can be a problem, which both thinkers are mindful of, our amazing meta-cognitive capacities, and what to do with them.

The Dragon is the deficient Mental as Gebser would say. Although I tilt in Kastrup’s direction, I find both of these thinkers are playing for an audience that can’t sit still and is too busy trying to change the channel.

Kingsley tends to wrap himself in a beautiful soul syndrome. He is just too good for this world, and so he can stay in the library and crank out more diatribes against his dim witted colleagues. This is an academic exercise that seems to fortify him against his own self confessed nihilism. He has decided not to stay with the trouble.

I tilt towards Kastrup but find any rigid idealism or rigid materialism equally creaky and hard to stay with. I have to chop wood and carry water and I try to do that as beautifully as possible. They also serve who can sing and dance.

These verbal acrobatics between these well matched contestants is great to watch. I have tried to get through this debate style of combat, as our our old friend, JF Martel, tries to hammer it out with Kastrup.

I sense that all of these encounters are attempting to move the public beyond the deficient mental in different ways, employing different kinds of strategies.

And is there a relationship between these controversies acted out between these distinguished thinkers and the return of the stolen harp as reported by Elizabeth Mayer in Extraordinary Knowing?

I get the feeling that no one ( except Elizabeth) is really talking about what they really want to talk about. Meta-theories must be in the service something besides more meta-theories. How we go meta is a very real concern and an important skill to develop. Our factory model educations have not prepared any of us for what happens next.

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While I couldn’t agree more that “championing” may not be the most effective way of dealing with the differences between Eastern and Western paths of development that have very deep-seated and often unknown effects on what we think, say, and do. Sometimes it’s helpful to be aware of the presuppositions that we’ve come to unknowingly and unwittingly accept as truths. To paraphrase Gregory Bateson, at least part of our task is deciding which difference make a difference and which don’t. I like to think that writers such as Kingsley and Kastrup are providing us with opportunities to question some of our own (personal) presuppositions … provided one is ready, willing, and able to wade through and engage screenfuls and pages of words. As John is wont to point out, there may not be a growing number of such people … but maybe there is to all our surprise. We’ll see, perhaps.

Of course, I’m glad that you’re glad and while the asynchrounous aspects of the discussion are nevera problem online, the synchronous ones always are, so don’t forget to emphasize that these still need to be sorted. To me, the more cosmonauts the better, even if I am aware that none of us has more than the allotted 24 hours each day, and that we don’t all have them at the same time. I think finding the largest possible cross-section of the time-Venn diagrams of those interested would do the discussion a lot of good.

Thanks.

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This part of your post was staring at me from the screen, and I had another thought.

It is my conviction that neither Kingsley (though I am only guessing as I was not around for the CCafé engagement of him) nor Kastrup would disagree with you. From what I have read of Kastrup (which I’ll admit is most of what he’s written in book form), I would say he would in fact agree with that statement: matter matters, but perhaps not as absolutely as we have been led to believe (as I think he might add) What’s at issue is not “matter” (and materialism) per sé, but rather our understanding of what it really is and what that might (really) mean.

Is that essentially and existentially important to our function on this “plane of existence”? I’d say probably not, but, at the same time, I do believe it is helpful for anyone who is concerned with more than the superficialities of life to have a clearer idea of what they truly believe, and why, when it comes to such notions. From my vantage point, our beliefs tell us what to feel and our feelings tell us what to think and our thoughts tell us what to do … generally speaking. What we do has an impact on the world around us – our immediate and wider environment – and it’s starting to matter to every single one of us what that impact is.

As stated above, my primary motivation for wanting to engage Kastrup is a kind of sanity check. But my secondary motivation is that I gain a better of understanding of myself and my relationship to reality. Along with that – it’s more than tertiary – is that anyone who is willing to get on board with this quest will get at least that much out of it for themselves.

Like I said, just a thought.

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I can say I think a lot about this topic but haven’t read Kastrup. If a structured discussion develops specifically about the book I’d scare up a copy and participate. If the discussion proceeds without the book as central I’d participate in that as well.

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" It is possible to get out of a place, it is not possible to get out of a scenario." -Buckminster Fuller

A question I have is how many persons do we need to show up consistently to hold a collaboration together? If there is a core that does a zoom call others can follow up with a view of the archive of the call. The forum provided here, which is off camera, is a good place to add new information or develop ideas that may not have occurred to those on the zoom call. Participation can be interrupted, of course, but that is not a problem unless too few start showing up who have done the homework. I don’t think we have reached any conclusions, yet, but it takes about four to six persons to make some collaborative deep dives to happen. The Cafe has been a weekly forum but that is highly proactive. Individuals have to come up with an idea and try to recruit others within a few days to make a weekly event happen. This has not always been fruitful as the motivation among groups of asynchronous communiques often miss the mark. If those who show have a good idea of what they want to learn that is a great help. The attention that a study group requires to tackle a big book is even harder to muster. We have had some notable success but attention is difficult to sustain with so much to get distracted by. The Axial Age project, for example, had a good start and was well planned but fizzled out. I prefer not to start what we can’t finish. Of course, that is not in anyone’s control. Each of us may have an influence.

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Not completely fizzled out I hope, but perhaps in carbon-freeze while Han Solo’s friends figure how best to take down the ugly galactic slumlord… :upside_down_face:

Sigh. Autumn, my birth season, used to be my favorite for that and many reasons. Now it just seems to remind me how steeped I am in the rapacious demands of modern, rational, matter-driven concerns.

Tired limbs continuing to tread
I must bear some blame
Excursions into deep ends
With gentler means inadequately sought
Yet I refuse to drown.

Happy New Year all!
The struggling straggler

an(other) Allan Holdsworth CD I bought arrived today and...

The liner notes contain an arresting quotation from James P. Carse (of Finite and Infinite Games fame):

The rules of the finite game may not change; the rules of an infinite game must change. Finite players play within boundaries. Infinite players play with the boundaries. The finite player aims for eternal life. The infinite player aims for eternal birth.
Infinite play is inherently paradoxical, just as finite play is inherently contradictory. Because it is the purpose of infinite players to continue the play, they do not play for themselves. The contradiction of finite play is that the players desire to bring play to an end for themselves. The paradox of infinite play is that the players desire to continue the play in others. The paradox is precisely that they play only when others go on with the game.
Infinite players play best when they become least necessary to the continuation of play. It is for this reason they play as mortals.
The joyfulness of infinite play, its laughter, lies in learning to start something we cannot finish.

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Thanks for your post, Benjamin, and thanks for your interest.

As @johnnydavis54 noted elsewhere in this thread, and as experience has shown, we probably need around half-a-dozen interested parties to discuss the book as a whole. We’re not there yet. And as I pointed out at the start of this thread, ideally there would be a combination of written threads like this one combined with actual meet-ups online with space for subsequent commentary and discussion. Some folks don’t mind typing in longer contributions, others do; some folks like to say what they have to say out loud. Giving all participants their fair share of opportunities is anything but an easy task. Of course, anyone who can’t make a meet-up always has the opportunity to review the recording of the session and comment appropriately.

Having said all that, though I’m anxious to start, I’m not especially in a hurry. FYI the Café sessions we’ve had in the past have taken place primarily on Tuesdays at 2:00pm Eastern Time. Is that timeslot amenable to your own schedule? One of the reasons we’ve settled on that time (which is not cast in concrete) is that I’m located physically in Germany and am six hours ahead of Eastern time, so it’s evening for me. For this project, I would be willing to be more flexible, within limits of course. Just feeling out possibilities.

Again, thanks for chiming in.

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Nope, John, no decision yet, we’re still waiting to see who all is interested. We haven’t reached the half-a-dozen-give-or-take threshold yet. If we don’t (within some reasonable timeframe), I’ll have to rethink my approach.

While the internet opens up a number of new possibilities for wider spread interaction (potentially globally), the desire for actual face time turns it into a quasi-local medium. Time – good ol’ rational clock time – creates the global paradox, well, at least as soon and far as human beings are concerned.

Personally, I’d like to wait out at least the week before shifting to deciding mode.

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I’m in no hurry, Ed, and I am eager that the Kastrup study happens. But I think we need to renew our commitments. These are a few lessons I have learned from the Cafe and other venues.

The zoom calls help to clarify intentions, enabling communications with facial expressions, tones and gestures, creating a different kind of discourse event, an event that can amplify and dampen affects and honor the important non-verbal. For this zoom call to occur within a semi-permeable protective psychic membrane, we need to give attention to each speaker evenly, aware of the public nature of these calls. We are here for a purpose beyond just shooting the breeze. Speech and gesture are primary, in much of our social learning, for they carry affects and knowings that are more subtle than can be delivered in a text.

Writing in the forum can supplement but not replace the online zoom calls. Workshops, presentations, sharing of visuals, can happen in zoom calls, which is not what happens in the more traditional podcast, which is audio only. The written portion on this forum relies upon the auditory digital, and can give us a chance to add footnotes, comments, etc.

So, we have ample means to give expression to multiple dimensions, writing, reading, speech, gesture, drawing, song, we can catch lots of rhythms and hopefully translate adequately from a mix of styles. Research creation is available in ways unheard of before. The simple TV mindset that was spawned in the 60s has given way to the Internet Age which we are just starting to figure out. We are givers and receivers of vast amounts of information. Refining our communications can become incredibly important as communications are non-local, and in some ways, more ephemeral than ever.

I recall that the street vendors in Lower East Side, where I live, were once a source of complaint for the shop keepers who claimed they had to pay rent and taxes. They lobbied the City to ban the street vendors. And they succeeded. What happened next? The shop keepers lost customers and their income went down by about 20%. It appears that people liked the options of buying on the street and visiting the shops. Lots of differences make more of a difference! Customers like variety.

I think of those who appear on a zoom call are like the street vendors, closer to what is happening perhaps than a politician ensconced in City Hall, or the steady, neat environment favored by shop keepers. The action is fast on the street. It is rough and raw.

So, it is with that metaphor that I leave this conversation open to what happens next. Some of us are shy, some of us courageous, some of us in between. None of this is easy to figure out, registering noise from signal. Embodying knowledge, inviting integration is a big challenge and is ultimately a labor of love.

The Earth, as Bucky Fuller reminds us, is not a place that we can get up and leave. The Earth is a scenario and that scenario is as tangled and crooked as the loud and crowded streets of lower Manhattan.

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“A genuine spiritual path does not avoid difficulties or mistakes but leads us to the art of making mistakes wakefully, bringing them to the transformative power of our heart.” ~ Jack Kornfield

Incomplete Circle Brings to Mind,Heart,Body & the Intensity to Live at the Edge of :

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Thank you Ed for facilitating this effort. The journey through this work will be fruitful, yes, as has been all of our efforts. I make no commitments for participation in any recorded Zoom meetings. I will be mulling over each essay/chapter as it comes within view and expect we will come together to make great things happen, as usual. If any background work is needed (video-processing, Zoom set-up, etc.) I’ll be there.

Bernardo Kastrup has a certain wisdom that attracts me. Like John, I felt attracted to watching some of his video interviews last year (mainly on Thinking Allowed) and remember precise moments of deep, profound thinking occuring while listening -n- weeding in my grandmother’s overgrown yard. So vivid! He was talking about the depth of our consciousness…something about mental disorders and unconscious processes and … I had to pause from weeding to contemplate whatever he was waxing on about, granny’s golden, spray-painted, cheap angel statue was staring back at me like she understood too. I would like to figure out what he was talking about just to relive that moment.

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Just reading (or, I suppose, listening to) him makes sense, but unlike your granny’s statue, I’m not sure I understand him (yet). That’s why I thought bouncing one’s own first- (or even second-) run comprehension past the comprehensions of others could help move everyone toward understanding. If we play this right, we can all take in what he’s saying (chapter by chapter, part by part) and help each other digest. I’m pretty sure that what he’s pointing towards, like Gebser, is a bit bigger (or deeper or more intense) than what it first sounds like that a mutual effort – even partial, sporadic, uneven, a- and synchronous – could be helpful for everyone who participates, regardless of how they participate.

The backroom essentials I appreciate greatly. All the upfront-out-there stuff is really the easy part. Glad to hear you’re resonating with the effort.

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It looks as if I’ve found a Cosmos Cafe suggestions that hasn’t quite begun yet, so yes, I’d endeavour to link in if it’s at a time that suits for South Australia. Thanks.

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Hi Di,

Lovely hearing from you again.

No, we haven’t begun yet, and are still thinking about timings for the meet-ups. How many hours are you ahead of NY? And, what would be a quasi-reasonable timeframe range we might think about? Being in Germany, we’ve been meeting up Tuesdays at 2:00pm NY time just to accommodate my schedule, but I said I’d be willing to possibly adjust to allow a wider range of participants.

Cheers.

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Hi, Ed ( is that right?)

It gets tricky when the crew are from Europe as well as eastern USA. I’ve been doing things that are a 7pm in USA and mid morning here on the next day. ( Always makes me laugh that we are ahead of the US. ). That goes 2 hours earlier here when we go off daylight saving and US goes on - somewhere round earlier April. I’m more alert in our mornings but that’s also when I get my best writing done.

Not helpful, I realise, but nice to see your post and the various responses. I have a commitment for Wednesday morning so even a shift of the hour wouldn’t help.

I’ll hang about and see how it turns around anyway.

Di

Di Shearer
618 8536 3937

044 8536 835

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