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
Welcomes (especially if we have new participants)
General overview of the session
Gather first reactions and open questions that might be answered in our discussion
Engage the reading from the vantage of Chapter 14 and Chapter 15
Round-up and preview of coming attractions (what’s up next time)