Exploratory journeys through the thoughtscapes of ontology, philosophy of mind, neuroscience of consciousness, psychology, foundations of physics, phenomenology, hermeneutics, theology, and philosophy of life
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The Biggest Error Ever Made in the Name of Science
As recent events—culminating yesterday with the US election—dramatically show, we are at a major cultural inflection point in Western civilization; one that bears relevance to how we see the world and reality itself. The US election is by no means an isolated event: the European Union has been in upheaval since the Greek debt crisis; last summer's Brexit would have been unthinkable only ten years ago or so; Brazil has impeached and removed from office a just-re-elected president; and Germany continues to wrestle with its national values and identity as it deals with the refugee crisis. These are but a few examples. The important point is that these and other events reflect a deeper dynamics: a profound shift in the ethos of the Western mindset, with significant implications for the future of our mainstream worldview. It is this shift—and the opportunities and risks it carries with it—that I want to explore in this brief essay, for it potentially bears relevance to the deepest phi…
I’m excited to join Deepak Chopra and 30 other experts in Los Angeles, California for a 3-day symposium where consciousness and science meet. At Sages & Scientists we will explore life’s deepest mysteries and seek answers to its biggest questions in an effort to further understand ourselves, one another, and the universe. Join me as we discover new ways of understanding consciousness and delve deeper into the true meaning of human existence. I hope to see you there!
As the first, cold month of the year already draws to a close, I wanted to update you all on what is in the works for this year, as well as share a thought that seems relevant in the context of the current cultural ethos.
First of all, the thought: because I am a proponent of the philosophy of idealism—the notion that all reality is essentially mental—some people have concluded that I endorse the current cultural abomination often referred to as "post truth" or "alternative facts." Although the vast majority of you would never be so confused as to come to such a conclusion, I feel I must be crystal clear here:
Idealism does not entail, imply, or even suggest anything remotely similar to the notion that there aren't such things as facts. There are facts, alright; there are hard facts. We ignore them at our own peril.
All idealism does is to state that the essential nature of facts is mental. But mental facts can still be what I call "weakly objective" …
A new study on the neural correlates of the LSD experience has just being published, to great fanfare. Naturally, the mainstream media is all over it, because of the loaded history of psychedelics. The Guardian published an article and so did CNN, even with front-page visibility in its website. As many of my readers know, the same group that carried out this study has published other studies earlier, in which they've shown that psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) only reduces brain activity, instead of increasing it. See this earlier essay, as well as this one. Such results are counter-intuitive from a materialist perspective since, if brain activity indeed constituted experience, the mind-boggling psychedelic state should correlate with more brain activity, not less. So the key question of interest in this new study is this: Does brain activity increase or decrease when the subjects are under the influence of LSD?
Most people fear death. And amongst those, most do so because death seems to entail oblivion, the end of everything we are. In this brief essay, I want to help you follow your own direct experience to realize that, whatever death may be, it isn't the end of you; not even of a part of you. This realization, in my view, is fairly simple to achieve and I personally don't include it in my list of critical existential questions. But our mainstream cultural narrative has created a false monster here that distracts most people from the real questions. So let me try to make a contribution towards changing this distorted state of affairs. What follows requires no spiritual background, belief, knowledge or skill; indeed, it doesn't require anything other than sincerity and attentive introspection for about 15 minutes. It focuses solely on your direct experience of your own being, without addressing thought-oriented philosophical questions. For the latter, I recommend Part III of my…