Cosmos Café [2020-04-21] - The Idea of the World 5 (Part V)

Recorded 21 April 2020

In our next-to-last session, we are going to take a closer look at Part V of Kastrup’s book, “Related Considerations”. It encompasses – as we have come to expect – three chapters (a preamble and two content articles) in which he attempts to answer two fundamental questions:

"(a) If physicalism is so clearly inferior to idealism, how has the former been able to dominate the mainstream cultural narrative for so long?

“(b) If idealism is true, then what difference does it make regarding how best to live our lives and relate to the world?” (IOTW, p. 200)

(What now follows is a quasi-summary of Chapter 13, the Preamble to Part V.)

Chapter 14 describes the historically strong psychological motivations for the acceptance of physicalism. As with any other worldview, physicalism, despite its reputation as objective and fact-based, is built on a number of assumptions and beliefs that work in its favor, if one chooses to accept them. Kastrup sees these primarily as ego-validating, and while this view tends to _deny _ meaning, these mechanisms actually work to _enhance _ it. Since it has come to be accepted by the so-called intellectual elites, it has gained in cultural significance beyond whatever merits it may have as a generalized worldview.

Chapter 15, by contrast, “addresses the implications of idealism with respect to the significance and purpose of life in the world” (IOTW, p. 201). According to Kastrup, idealism accepts meaning and in certain regards reflects what has been (at least religiously) traditionally referred to as the Mind of God. This is a complex understanding of reality, to be sure, since it addresses the notion of _telos _ in life in which one contemplates and understands Gods’ thoughts “from a perspective unavailable to ‘God’” himself (IOTW, p. 2019). Since it was published as a standalone article, it relies very heavily on empirical evidence to make its case, perhaps the strongest available for idealism.

It should be noted that Kastrup uses the words “meaning”, “significance”, and “purpose” in very similar ways, freely conflating their general usages. This is intentional, for his conclusion is “that the purpose of life is to unveil the sense and significance of the world” (IOTW, p. 202).

Reading / Watching / Listening

Kastrup, Bernardo (2019) The Idea of the World: A multi-disciplinary argument for the mental nature of reality [IOTW] , Winchester, UK/Washington, USA , iff Books, pp. 199-239.

Kastrup, IOTW, Ch 14, The physicalist worldview as neurotic ego-defense mechanism (online)

Kastrup, IOTW, Ch 15, Not its own meaning: a hermeneutic of the world (online)

Seed Question Complexes

  • How convincing do you find Kastrup’s case as presented in this part of the book? What do you consider to be the strong points of his argumentation? Which weaknesses, if any, can you identify?

  • Kastrup’s primary assertion in Chapter 14 is that physicalism is “partly motivated by the neurotic endeavor to project onto the world attributes that help one avoid confronting unacknowledged aspects of one’s inner life” (IOTW, p. 203). Do you consider this a sufficiently scientific approach in the context of his overall argument? Why, or why not? How qualified do you think Kastrup is in leveling this particular criticism?

  • How convincing do you find Kastrup’s citations of experiments indicating that the world may in fact be mental in nature? As with any experimental data, the interpretive approach is of great importance. Is his approach consistent with the other arguments presented in the book? What are the strengths (or weaknesses) of his interpretation?

  • Has your reading of this part of the text modified your understanding of what he was trying to achieve in Parts I through IV of the book. What further consequences has your reading had for your own understanding of reality?

Context, Backstory, and Related Topics

Suggested Agenda

  1. Welcomes (especially if we have new participants)

  2. General overview of the session

  3. Gather first reactions and open questions that might be answered in our discussion

  4. Engage the reading from the vantage of Chapter 14 and Chapter 15

  5. Round-up and preview of coming attractions (what’s up next time)


Best of luck in your conversation today, @achronon & friends. I have been following the action from afar, somewhat eavesdropping on your probing explorations without feeling I have much to say thus far. I did just receive a copy of the book—because why not?—and will likely take my time with it.

My sense is that as a group you’ve formed some general, as well as some more particular, critical (yet appreciative) responses to the text. I wonder: how would you summarize your collective reflections, after completing the book? It seems to me the participation of among individuals has been well distributed, and relatively coherent. I am curious what might crystallize having gone through the exercise of discussing the full text together.

Has anyone thought about writing something up that could be peer-reviewed (amongst yourselves), edited and published (I would offer an open-access feature/PDF in Metapsychosis) in order to expand the dialog with Kastrup’s work?


Sorry you can’t make it; hope you enjoy your read; and thanks for the offer. I’ll certainly bring it up this evening and see we can let the suggestion percolate … we have one more, final, session on 5 May … but it is certainly something to think about.

Most of all, though, thanks for the encouragement.


It’s been good listening, which I’ve treated somewhat like a podcast in that I am not watching you on screen but doing work with my hands (usually in the kitchen) while following the conversation as best I can, not having read the text and not being able to take very good written notes. However, I have enough background in philosophy to follow most of the ideas—I’ve also listened to a few of Bernardo’s lectures. His PhD defense was conceptually a trip; I enjoyed the supportive-yet-challenging, highly proficient parrying of the traditional scholastic format. He is like a virtuoso pianist of his own cognitive music. It is edifying listening, even if I would say things differently or make dissections where he does not (“mental nature of reality?”). I hope that I am passively growing brain cells—or learning something!

Deep bows and thanks for your efforts to think wider & deeper, with fellows and strangers alike.


And what do you know now that you didn’t know before this study group and what difference does knowing that make?

The above question might be of use, in order to focus attention around a group writing project. I would invite a more open kind of text than a traditional one but that is up to each person to figure out. This could become a safe to fail social experiment in creating group coherence.

The Drama Circle metaphor that emerged in the course of our conversation is a strange attractor for me-and perhaps for someone else?

A strange attractor. The Drama Circle. What happens if we turn a Drama Triangle with the rotating roles of villain, victim, hero and convert to a Drama circle?

Would would happen in a Drama Circle?

The Self System is becoming a pluralistic , Mandala with vibrating membranes, permeable boundaries, a functioning open/closure, an exquisite subtle semiotics, much like music.

I could imagine the effects on self and society would be vibratory, and move from center to periphery, and beyond…smooth and seemless…not chopped up into logical bits, 1s and 0s, but more like the motion of the ocean…humans are bags of water that walk…how could we model this?

Rupert Sheldrake offers some tantalizing ideas about the differences between analogue and digital. Are liquid computers a new trend? When the digital computers crash ( and they most certainly will) what will happen next?

As Kastrup gets weary of the role of Rescuer, what happens next? How can he and we go to another level?

What would you like to have happen? Is there an alternative to the exhausting us vs them battlefield metaphor?


I found a blackboard sketch Rudolf Steiner made during a public lecture. I don’t know what the lecture was about but the drawing suggests that ninety years ago this visionary thinker was working out meta-patterns that are still current in our own turbulent time. As we discussed the Drama Triangle and the Drama Circle I wonder if a new way of working with the social imagination is possible?What can community do when the Master/ Slave dynamic is deconstructed and a new kind of Human is awakening ? I find Steiner’s use of color quite effective. A picture, perhaps, is worth a thousand words.


A very evocative sketch. Kind of reminds me of the phrase “mountains walking” for some reason


" If technology is introduced from within or without a culture and if it gives ascendancy to one or another of our senses, the ratio among all of our senses is altered." McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy

What McLuhan conveys in 1962 about the split between oral-aural culture and print culture is amplified further by the triumph of the digitized over the analogue. Waves and thought-feels are more like the motion of the ocean than are the pixelated, efficiency of 1s and 0s, on or off. It seems that we are in the year 2020 in a great battle field of the senses, and the intensity of the disconnect of the detached visual sense from the other senses.

What I would like to conduct forward from our collected pasts into our bizarre present is the renewal of manuscript culture, which is different from print or digital. Manuscripts texts are illuminated with the hand-drawing, the sense of an empathic tactile-kinesthetic interplay that adds vibrations to the linearity of the script. William Blake cleared the doors of our perception this way. He reminds of the perceptual backgrounds, those intimate architectures, those hidden, common sensibilia.

This is still alive perhaps in the artists journal but is missing I think from most blogs and vlogs, where the abiotic-algorithmic dominates the biotic, synesthetic intelligences. We are split apart, ratios are distorted, no proportion kept, and our social intelligence interrupted.

Late last night, out of the silent, sleeping neighborhood, a man started howling. A lone wolf in the night. I woke up, stared at the shadows of light and dark on the ceiling, and felt the sounds of his bad trip pass through my sensorium. I imagined in my third eye a field of daffodils…and registered the affective yellow energies…ever mind-full of the famous poem by Wordsworth…as I drifted into the yellowness…I abstracted the quality of the yellow and let it free float in my sensorium and then the screen upon which the yellow flickered on and off became stretched out among many senses and ‘I’ moved between dimensions with the lucid perceptions…I felt the faraway sensations of a warm cello between the legs of a player…in love with textures, tones and chords produced by stretched cat gut…and this a technique that I learned from Steiner, a technique he called color breathing, a way to light up the interiors.

And the man’s howling stopped…and I drifted some more as shapes and sizes and the within and the without are re-negotiated…the sleeping Manhattan wrapped around me…I am the Night…I am the City…and with the City that never sleeps trans-individuals are snoring and tossing about…

Manuscript culture, I imagine, could weave the words and the colors of drawings as entangled as multiple minds that share a language are entangled…a vast hologram…like China…America…Europe…London…Paris…New York…

Our recent encounter, Judith, with your drawings and poetry catalyzed for me the deeper yearning for a different kind of communique from the field of all possibility.

We are bags of walking water…Rudolph Steiner seems to capture this in his quick sketch as he delivered his lecture to an intimate group of friends. A colorful waterfall on the right side…a bolt across the bottom suggesting a comet or an embryonic shape in a pouch…the interplay of triangle and circle and arrows pointed inward…A watery looking human. at the periphery… I wish we could do something like that in this new medium, this social media we are messing around with.

I have to figure out how to upload this drawing I have made but I don’t want to use the tech. I just want to send it directly, bypassing the medium, using the coordinated third eye, with the third ear, and the touch of the third hand.

This is sort of what I would like to develop out of the group written assignment that Marco proposed we perform. This some of what I know now that I didn’t know before the readings…and what difference does knowing this make? …to be continued.


Eye in the Hand

Heart Hologram2


How do communities generated by small world networks during a lock down foster creativity and innovation? Feedback between persons that happens within a few hours of posting will probably create more momentum. And those that respond most quickly to another post will probably more likely to form connections. So, thanks, Michael, for responding so promptly to my prompt. That means as much as the content of the message which is very colorful. And the speed with which you respond is a kind meta-message. Thanks for helping me to keep the communique ball rolling!


A Quote from Diane Musho Hamilton I just heard on a Podcast on Integral Live:“It’s Wonderful that Art Can’t Be Quarantined”


Happy Sunday, John. I just want to say that I like this idea…

I still pretty much only read physical books—or printed pages—no ebooks, and no very long pieces on a screen. I do also enjoy the interplay of image, word, and the tactile sensation of the page, which was after all our original love as children—picture books—until the dominance of the bare word via large blocks of text was imposed in the higher grades, when abstraction became prized over integration.

I believe you are right about this—though as a parent and elder caregiver and still-employed worker, who must also still respond to inner calls for creative solitude and the hunger pangs of unfinished projects—I often don’t feel I can keep up with threads that get too long too fast; my attention tends to goes where there seems to be some deepening movement in the relationship or unfolding of collaboration. I do the best I can and hope for the best and encourage others to participate to fill in the gaps.

But this is partly why I am interested in making artifacts that can contain and transmit in efficient form the collective in/out-sights generated through these conversations—because we can’t read everything, or expect even the most hardcore conversationalists to keep track of every topic. So, how can one receive the essential information that gets shared here? How can we bundle and transmit the choice pearls?

After all those hours of reading, thinking, discussion, drawing, sketching, dreaming—on any given topic—what can we pull together into a coherent whole? Here, I believe, is a compelling collective creative challenge. What’s left after the dust settles, and how do we communicate what it all means?


And the dust never settles…I believe, a collective creative challenge…and Marco and John believe…

and what kind of I believe is that when John or Marco say," I believe?"

I have tried to track the illusive, evasive ‘I’…

I believe is strong, weak, very strong, very weak…not that important…undecided…vague…

The level of belief is fraught with peril…the center will not hold…the public/private are not in neat categories but spill over into other categories…

Metaphor is the way to go here…and that is not something that I can do except in live events…

And I am getting tired…letting others fill in the gaps…go for it… I may want to take a long nap…I am not at all confident in what I believe…it is a cold wet day…and I hear lots of voices…many rooms and many voices…that is what I believe most strongly…although writing is a way it is not the way…

So I welcome others to find a method for organizing these threads and keep them going…in a compelling direction…good luck…and may the force go with you-

And may we know what we want…in the midst of great uncertainty…and find the necessary conditions…


Baptism Waters Of Renewal

John I would like to make a request that You & I Engage in a Zoom similar yet different from the one You & Doug did around these issues You bring forward.
The reason is I need to check-in with the Felt-Sense of what I am Receiving?
I am Reminded the Early Days of Being a New Father with a New Life in my Hands?

For this Pilgrim of Living at My Best is Art (Meta) & Particular(Feet,Body,Environment & Beyond).

I am Fully with U John, I just Love to Draw,Paint & Engage with the Acoustical which is grounded in the Magical and Need & Want to Grow Efficient Skillfulness as Best I Humbly Can.You John have been an Inspiration of that Aspiration.

I am asking for a Modeling Between Us,with our Differences to Bring a Difference that Makes a Difference for the Renewal of The “ART” of Conversations… LET IT BEGIN WITH US in this New Medium?


Okay…I am open to that Michael and accept your invitation. You can private message and let me know what is the best time for you and we can figure out what we want to have happen.

And a New Father…


There 's Intense mix of a Cloud of Many colors -Red,Green,Blue,Skin of shades in Flux,Yellow,Brown & Whiteness that bleeds into all the Colors. Tears of Joy & WTF(both -What The Fuck & What To Feel?)…SCARY & WHOLENESS OF HEART!


A friend of mine who lives over here told me the last time I saw him that “women are water” which I thought true in some deeply elemental way. I have been reading a Sioux myth called Sun Creation and did two drawings today, coincidentally mother’s day, that express a couple of parts of the myth.

the second one is illustrating this phrase about the first woman: “She walked on the lightning, but she also walked on a blood vein reaching from the moon to the earth”


What a wonderful display. I was inspired to send the first flower image to my mother with an inspired message that came from the heart. My mother at 89 taught me just about everything I know about art. Thanks Judith for your burst of color as I try to make sense of a civilization in collision. I heard a woman ask the question," Did any woman experience the Renaissance?" I could add to that provocative question, has any woman or man experienced yet a civilization? I think, as Gandhi once quipped, that civilization may be a good thing but it is not in our past but in our futures. Dream on, baby!