And how do you know when some are closer to this center than others? What let’s you know that?
Where is the body in these world views? And where is the body when we dream? And what kind of body is that? Is it material? physical? semiotic? liminal?
I find the notion that it is produced only by matter to be hugely uninformed. Of course, some persons may delete from a theory a performative element, I find this to be really odd way of relating to the idea of a world. If the Self, is a necessary illusion, as many materialists claim, what kind of illusion is that, if it is necessery?
I have a trouble with eminatative materialism. It strikes me as absurd. Other kinds of materialism are okay with me. Could a human skeleton have evolved without gravity? I don’t see how. Our bilateral symmetry and bipedalism are in relation to many kinds of earth dynamics. I don’t think we need to deny this.
Where is the boundary? What happens when something happens outside of our boundary conditions, which defy the laws? Anomalous experience can’t any longer be swept under the rug by the dominant, incomplete physicalist paradigm. These contradictions seem to be front and center to Kastrup’s project and he works within the paradigm, to make a break with it. Many of us, including Kastrup, may already be operating beyond it.
Betti’s book arrived today, but Steiner’s won’t get here till maybe Friday. I want to read at least the relevant Steiner lecture before tackling Betti’s book. Nevertheless, based just on what I heard in the clip, let me add a few comments to the discussion:
For me, one of the most fascinating and mysterious facts of human existence is that we know stuff and we know that we know stuff. But how do we know? Essentially, we all get input from our senses, and we (somehow) make sense of that. As we grow older and gain more experience in our various environments (social, political, cultural, etc.) we revise, build upon, alter, refine, and reprocess that input in ever more subtle and complex ways. We all do the same thing, but we certainly don’t all come to the same conclusions and results. There’s obviously a lot of similarities and overlaps from one person, even one culture, etc., to another, because there are a whole lot of things almost all of us agree on, such as there other folks like us, there are even other folks who are not, we make hammers and saws and screwdrivers to make tables and chairs and some are this color, others that, but we also know there are for a wide variety of reasons subtle differences in even those agreed upon “things” from one person/culture to another. We all more or less experience the same things, but obviously we don’t all have the same experience of them.
How do we know that what we know is right? It’s obvious, or perhaps we cannot know that at all. Someone comes along and proposes a “compass” to help us orient ourselves among the various … let’s call them “classes” of … worldviews that in the course of time seem reasonable to reduce the issue to. It’s not a truth in and of itself, it’s just another tool. Tools, however, can be very helpful. Why was the tool constructed of these particular 12 views? No reason I can determine than it seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, and for the moment, I’m thinking it’s still a pretty good idea now. It’s a tool. For any worldview listed on it, I’m guessing we can find close to as many flavors of that worldview as there are people who subscribe to it. How do any of them know if they’re “right”? Well, they don’t, regardless of how emphatically they assert they do. And therein lies the (or, perhaps better, a) rub.
What struck me about the approach was that the guy who kicked it off, Rudolf Steiner, who, as Prof. McDermott pointed out at the beginning of the clip, was a man of exceedingly strong opinions and who rarely hesitated to hold back on declarative assertions in any number of area. Still, it was this same Rudolf Steiner who in this case categorically declared you had to engage them all, not just the one you liked. In other words, the truth could not be found here or there, but rather here as well as there as well as there, all the way around the compass, and then, but only then, might you have an idea of where the Truth may lie.
Integration … integrality … whatever you want to call it – a notion that plays a highly significant role in many of the activities and threads on this site – can never be achieved in just one way or another. The very notion indicates not only “more than one”, but almost by definition, “all”. It’s always about “the whole”, and just how do we know when we’ve taken in/encountered/experienced/embraced/… “the whole”? I don’t know.
It seems Steiner’s, as well as Betti’s, aim, as the presenters in the clip noted, was to avoid relativism and exclusivism. Both are anathema to truth (or Truth, if you so prefer). One way to, if not avoid, but at least be sensitive to their effects would be to present a framework of orientation which includes the admonishment that in their own ways all of the points are “right”.
That’s quite a challenge. And, I don’t know if I’m up to it. Oddly enough, some pretty smart and insightful individuals – Goethe, Steiner, Gebser, Wilber, Betti, and more – seem to believe we all are. OK, I guess I’m game to try, but not necessarily for their sakes, but for all of ours.
As Jaime aptly points out,
John also cogently asked,
For the moment, I think the best we can do is take Steiner’s challenge and our own self-imposed task seriously and engage Bernardo’s worldview as best we can, our collective reading being an attempt to gain strength in numbers. Perhaps in the process, we can start gathering indications of what might point toward answers to John’s questions … or perhaps we learn to ask even better, or other, questions. Who knows?
A recent discussion between Kastrup and Tom Jump, an atheist who tries to deconstrue Kastrup’s arguments. I think it is a quite good summary that elucidates what the so called ‘hard problem of consciousness’ is about. In particular I find Bernardo’s complexity argument (at about 9:20) of the giant pressure valves system replacing a computer interesting.
I’ve been pondering how to present some of my work here, since a lot of what I have written is for an astrological audience. Maybe that’s okay here, but I’m not sure. This is taken from my posting on Bernardo’s forum last year, and it even starts with a quote from IOTW. I would like to know, though, how I might best present this sort of thing, so your feedback is welcome. I have numerous studies that are in varying degrees of completion and formats. Looking forward to Tuesday’s CCafe.
Stan Grof, writ large in the cosmos
“When we contemplate the large-scale structure and dynamics of the cosmos, we must be contemplating the extrinsic appearance of universal conscious inner life.”
Bernardo Kastrup. The Idea of the World (p. 53).
Idealism in various forms has long provided a philosophical basis for archetypal astrology. Might a philosophically grounded astrology someday return the favor?
Astrology has been a source of fascination for my whole adult life, often driven by various philosophical conundrums I’ve encountered in studying the subject. Bernardo’s above statement on the cosmos resonates strongly with astrological thinking; in fact, there is an ancient principle that I believe is stated similarly: “The observable motions of the planets are expressions of events taking place in the cosmic soul.” The more familiar maxim “as above, so below” brings this down to the human scale.
What if we could find supporting evidence for these statements in the form of symbolic parallels between human lives? A kindred births study uses astrological principles to identify cohorts of births, whose biographies I study to find a strong parallel with the life story of the subject of the study. Each cohort consists of all persons with Wikipedia pages who were born within a five-day span.
An example study
This time last year I was in an online course taught by Stan Grof and Rick Tarnas: Archetypal Astrology and Depth Psychology. Grof, a psychiatrist originally from Prague, is a legend in many circles for his pioneering work with LSD in psychedelic therapy and as co-founder of transpersonal psychology. Grof developed a “cartography of the psyche” based on his clinical work with psychedelics. Grof and Tarnas were colleagues at Esalen for years, where they used astrology in their therapies as a very effective timing tool and source of insights.
As for my own astrology, I look for event-figures : coinciding planetary aspects that recur over the course of decades and centuries. They must coincide within 3 or 4 days, and the rarer, the better. Grof’s rarest event-figure at birth has three recurrences at an average interval of 32 years apart. This led me to two kindred births with the same figure.
The first is M.C. Escher, the Dutch graphic artist, born in 1898, 33 years before Grof. Escher’s lithographs and woodcuts feature mathematical objects, explorations of infinity, reflections, and other puzzling perceptions. His art is a powerful metaphor for Grof’s cartography of the psyche. This is how I came to think of Grof as the Escher of inner space. It shows in his use of visual arts in therapy to describe that space. Perhaps they both speak the same language, of a truer dimensionality of what is invisible to us.
Looking back 31 years for the previous recurrence of the same event-figure, we find Augustus Owsley Stanley, born in 1867, a Kentucky Governor and U.S. Senator. As it turns out, he was also the grandfather of Augustus Owsley Stanley III.
Seeing this distinguished name made me laugh out loud. Owsley Stanley III was the first private individual to manufacture mass quantities of LSD. He was the sound man for the Grateful Dead; he kept all of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters well supplied with active ingredient. They called him “Bear”.
The unusual purity of Owsley acid surely endeared it to both therapeutic and recreational users at Esalen, while it lasted. Can’t you just imagine being at Esalen in the ’70s, with Dr. Grof as your therapist-guide, and with some Owsley acid onboard, having a profound journey, listening to a Grateful Dead album, getting lost in the M.C. Escher posters on the wall? Hmmm…
The indirection of finding the grandfather who leads us to his namesake is interesting. This is a curious thing that I am still contemplating; this phenomenon does not seem like it’s in a physical world so much as in a symbolic one. This case is one of a growing collection of kindred birth studies of prominent people. Most of these are interesting enough to share; I plan to follow up with a more in-depth piece.
Ongoing research on kindred births
As I stated earlier, a kindred births study identifies cohorts of births whose bios we are reading to find a strong parallel with the life story of the subject of the study. I have no compelling explanation for my impressive success in finding such parallels; however, my method is quite transparent and amenable to analysis. I believe my findings can to some extent speak for themselves, not that they are self-evident, but they do not require any knowledge of planetary symbolism. They only assume the ability to discern metaphorical resonances between human life stories. This capability can be further refined with experience.
In what ways could this type of study interest students of Idealism? For one thing, if Idealism were unfounded, archetypal astrology would have no philosophical basis. To a physicalist, astrology seems absurd. When I identify human phenomena, namely kindred births, as symbolic correlates of astronomical phenomena, I am indeed doing astrology. I am also presenting physical evidence (timing of planetary recurrences) to advance the idea of kindred births as a demonstration of the Idealist principles of archetypal astrology.
As talked on our chat, here is a link to the conversation with Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler about new technologies and where Peter starting at 1:28:47 gets into his revelatory experience with 5-MeO-DMT . Peter talks just about “DMT”, but in the beginning he mentions it was “Bufo” which means the secretion of Bufo Alvarius a.k.a Colorado River Toad where the psychoactive compound is 5-Me0-DMT that is known as the “God molecule”. This compound was first synthesised in laboratory in the 30’s and only after was identified in nature in some plants in this specific toad species and has been found endogenously in the human organism.https://youtu.be/xtjFGe-Wf_M?t=5318
Here’s a response I posted this morning to Bernardo’s forum on a thread called “There is no such thing as consciousness” which is in good company because there are a lot of threads about stuff like that. Anyhooo… just a bit of truth-telling (I can be a blurter):
What are the qualifications for being a physicalist? It doesn’t require much.
One must be willing to accept boundaries that define reality, so that anything outside those walls does not deserve to exist, so therefore, it does not exist. Apparently, this is a low bar to cross, even the default state, for the vast majority. Their loss, it seems to me.
Surely, this cannot be my loss? Only the losing of my own sense of “this is how people ought to be able to think, but obviously cannot, or will not.” That sense has become, for me, a sense of how very different people are, and how very limited people can be in their beliefs. But then gradually it becomes a sense that I am some kind of mutation, along with a motley crew of fellow mutants.
Eventually, this becomes a political thing, at which point the higher sensibilities I value in the first place are indeed being lost. This is when I want to scream “To the barricades!” But of course, that doesn’t happen, so maybe I’m a refugee, after all. Seeking refuge.
This ties in very well, I think, with some of the points we raised in our discussion (for me, now) last night. But I don’t think this applies only to physicalists. What you have rather succinctly described is what is understand by “fundamentalism” or what I Steiner and Betti would describe as “exclusivism”. It is not only a religious phenomenon, though that is where we most often encounter the notion, rather it pervades all aspects of our existence. Gebser points out quite specifically that all fanaticism – and that is, at bottom, what all “fundamentalism” (for me) or exclusivism is – is rooted in the Magic structure of consciousness … but not necessarily its efficient form. It’s an indication for me just how deep such beliefs sit.
A person who takes the five senses only literally has difficulties with things that cannot be ascertained by those five senses. Asking them to believe in consciousness may be akin to asking them to believe in unicorns, or better, asking an 18th century European to believe there such things as black swans. No one had ever seen one, so they didn’t … in fact, couldn’t … exist. Then they were discovered by Europeans and now their was a problem, because deep-seated beliefs had to be modified, and old habits die hardest.
Modern day fundamentalists, especially of a non-religious type, have taken that lesson to heart. We know that further search may reveal something that changes how we think about things, and, in a sense, this is the argument that physicalists do use quite often: no, right now we don’t know how to explain the epiphenomenon of consciousness, but we could (and perhaps they believe, will) one day find the evidence they are looking for.
Bernardo is, I think, correct in emphasizing the philosophical qualifications of parsimony, consistency, and coherency, for he is arguing his case in a philosophical court. That the mere demonstration of these characteristics is still not enough to win opponents over has something to do with how we’re made up. After all, Thomas Kuhn has made us cogently aware of how things go down with scientific “revolutions”, and they have little to do with who has the “best” arguments. There is a whole slough of other factors that determine how and when paradigms shift, to keep with Kuhn’s terminology.
As a side note, perhaps, there were times when re-reading Part I when I had the feeling that perhaps Bernardo himself was slipping into that fundamentalism himself. He’s not immune to overstating his case, and when he does, red flags go up for me. Given the particular environment he has chosen to make this case, i.e. the scholarly and academic community, this simply may be impossible to avoid. However, as the old Kabbalists put it, “You become what you hate,” so one need ever be aware of how passionate one is about what one believes.
As to the parsimony argument I will soon express with an essay (a section on my upcoming book) the strong disagreement with this fetish scientists and philosophers call “Occam’s razor”. Will post it once finished and if someone interested.
Ed, I think that is on target, fundamentalism takes a lot of forms. I wanted to express something that may need the form of a poem. But I think it shows the other side of the kind of aggressive posture that Bernardo adopts sometimes. Being aggressive is sort of built into the role of the underdog, while the dominant mentality can just maintain course, for the most part.
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