Overview of More Than Allegory

"The Light of Transcendence" photographic series, by Bernardo Kastrup.
This image is hereby released into the public domain.
   

"Over the years I have felt that the limitations of mainstream religion increasingly outweigh its potential benefits, but More Than Allegory sees into its heart, enabling us to consider religion with fresh perspective and redeeming it for our generation."
~ Rupert Spira

To mark the online availability of my new book More Than Allegory for pre-order (see links below), I am posting today the Overview chapter of the book. You can now pre-order it here:

Amazon USA
Amazon UK

Overview

This book is a three-part journey into the rabbit hole we call the nature of reality. Its ultimate destination is a plausible, living validation of transcendence. Each of its three parts is like a turn of a spiral, exploring recurring ideas through the prisms of religious myth, truth and belief, respectively. With each turn, the book seeks to convey a more nuanced and complete understanding of the many facets of transcendence. 
Part I will resonate especially with those who yearn for the richness that religious myths can bring into life, yet cannot get around the fact that these myths aren’t literally true. It tries to reach those whose souls are at war with their intellects. One of its goals is to restore the meaning of human life by helping the intellect give itself permission to accommodate the intuitions of the soul, without sacrificing reason or plausibility. Indeed, Part I puts forward the controversial notion that many religious myths are actually true; and not just allegorically so. It is the transcendent truth uniquely portrayed by these myths that our culture so desperately needs in order to understand the real. This transcendent truth, for not being amenable to words or equations, cannot be communicated through any other means—scientific or philosophical—but religious mythology. To make sense of all this, Part I attempts to articulate the nature of mythical truth in a manner that honors both religion and our skeptical rationality.  
Part II pursues the next turn of the spiral by first taking a step back: while we all seek truth—be it through religion, science or philosophy—we very seldom inquire into the meaning of truth. What does it mean to say that something is true or false? What hidden assumptions do we make about the underlying nature of reality when we talk of truth? Tackling these questions is the journey of Part II. In its search for answers it leverages our direct experience of world and self to inquire into the nature of time and space, the framework where truth is supposedly to be found. It then concludes that our own inner storytelling plays a surprising role in creating the seeming concreteness of things and the tangibility of history. Finally, it points to clear echoes of its conclusions in many of the world’s religious myths. 
Part III, as the final turn of spiral, is the pinnacle of this work. It brings all of the book’s core ideas together in the form of a modern, plausible religious myth. In laying out a complete cosmology for making sense of reality and restoring its transcendence, Part III highlights the critical role of belief in everything we take for granted. Indeed, it explains how deeply ingrained belief systems create the world we live in. Its narrative is based on the story of a modern explorer of consciousness who, during his participation in a secret scientific project, has a series of transcendent encounters. The metaphysics he brings back from these encounters integrates the themes of the book in one coherent framework. It also opens whole new horizons for the restoration of meaning and purpose to our daily lives. 
Naturally, the optimal sequence to read this book is that in which it is presented: from Part I to Part III. Indeed, the ideas discussed in Parts I and II are meant to enrich the reading of Part III. That said, if one prefers to go straight to the heart of the matter and enjoy a gripping story without analytical preludes, it is entirely possible to jump directly to Part III and then return to Parts I and II afterwards. 
In whichever order you choose to read it, you will notice that the three themes of this book—myth, truth and belief—flow into and interpenetrate each other at multiple levels and meta-levels throughout the text. Part I, for instance, examines mythology with a mindset characteristic of a quest for factual truth. Part II explores the nature of truth by appealing to our own felt intuitions, as we do when we pursue our beliefs. Finally, Part III elaborates upon the role of beliefs in the format of a myth. The goal is to illustrate, both explicitly and implicitly, through concepts and style, the intimate relationship that exists between myth, truth and belief. 
The three parts of this book are meant to echo and reinforce each other content-wise as well. Its central ideas return in all three, being explored from a different angle each time. This allows me to convey—often indirectly and implicitly—many more nuances than otherwise possible. For instance, the nature and role of myth is explored in Part I, but the contents of certain myths come back in Parts II and III, where they echo what is discussed there about truth and belief. 
The ebb and flow of the book’s trinity of themes ultimately circles around one of them: truth, the central motif of this work. All three parts revolve around it: Part I by exploring how myths can deliver truth, Part II by unveiling the nature of truth through dispelling unexamined beliefs, and Part III by appealing to belief in a myth in order to hint at truth. 
You will notice that what I mean by the words ‘myth,’ ‘truth’ and ‘belief’ is richer and more nuanced than the flattened denotations of everyday language. This may, and probably will, surprise you at first. Nonetheless, the attempt to push the boundaries of words and reveal a much bigger, deeper reality behind them is an essential aspect of this work. My intent is to help you see beyond the dull, superficial cultural dialogue reigning in society today. 
I hope you find many new vistas and avenues of inquiry in this book. I’ve poured much of myself into it; more than I think most authors would consider prudent. Whatever else it may or may not be, this work is most certainly a sincere, openhearted account of my own way to relate to life, the universe, truth and transcendence.

Copyright © 2015 by Bernardo Kastrup. All rights are reserved.

Comments

  1. This is a must-read for me. Can't wait!

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  2. Excellent. Like science itself, our true history may be quite different than we believe. Watch "Symbols of an Alien Sky (Full Documentary)" on YouTube
    https://youtu.be/t7EAlTcZFwY

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    Replies
    1. Thanks John. As for this documentary you linked, it violates so many laws of classical physics I don't know where to begin! It's physically impossible to the point of being ludicrous. It also misunderstands what Jung meant by archetypes and tries to reduce symbols to memories of past physical events, which is not what the word "symbol" means.

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    2. Bernardo, I'm surprised by your reaction. After all, you are proposing a theory that is at odds with physicalist interpretations of the world. I could say that it violates so many classical laws of physics that I don't know where to begin--it's "impossible to the point of being ludicrous", I might comment if I were a materialist.

      I looked up Jung's definition of archetypes, and according to wikipedia, they are: "universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct." The main difference between the implied definition in the video and Jung's that I can see is the matter of derivation. Jung sees certain archetypes as arising in the human collective unconscious; the video sees them as deriving from actual events in space. Subsequently, they became mythologised into various narratives about wars amongst the gods, etc., which have generated symbols of various kinds.

      The video definition is bound to conflict with the Jungian interpretation, because of the proposed difference in origins in these cases. Is there such a thing as the collective unconscious? I don't know, but what if at least some of the things that Jung ascribes to it have their origins in actual events occurring in space as observed from earth?

      I don't know, actually, that some of the things proposed are all that ridiculous. The main force involved in planetary motion within the solar system--please correct me if I'm wrong--is said to be gravity. It's incredibly weak in comparison to the force generated by electrical fields, which might include repulsion once planets get fairly close together, preventing them from colliding. If present-day planetary orbits are assumed to be governed by gravity (from which I assume we calculate their masses), then everything would seem to be bound to work out in a consistent way.

      However, have we ever actually directly measured the mass of any planet and do we know for sure that present calculations are correct? Do we know that the earth's volume is entirely filled, having a core of very hot/molten nickel/iron? I submit that we don't: we rather have a model of the earth, other planets, and the solar system, that is constructed according to present theory. To some extent that's consistent, but electric universe theory has already made predictions that have turned out to be true, much to the consternation of planetologists: they were expecting that the "dirty snowball" theory of comets would be confirmed. See the brief video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RXQJR5SSFk.


      I could go on about electric universe theory, but this is not the place. You might like to do some investigation yourself. All I would again say is that I'm surprised that such an apparently open-minded person as yourself would dismiss it out of hand.

      Michael Larkin

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    3. Michael,

      -- I am talking about the theory of planetary orbits in this documentary, not necessarily the broader "electric universe' theory, of which I know nothing. The planetary positions and orbits claimed in this documentary are ludicrous from a gravitational perspective and the perspective of Newton's laws of motion. If the explanation for this massive aberration are postulated electric fields, the author forgets to explain the origin and mechanism behind these postulated fields, or their absence today.

      -- Nothing I ever said violates classical physics; or Quantum Physics, for that matter. My ontology is an interpretative framework for physics, not an alternative physics. You are mixing up predictive models (the "laws") with the ontological interpretation of the underlying nature of such laws. The laws are empirical observations and it's foolish to deny them. I never did.

      -- The author of the documentary mixes up archetypes with memories of ancient events somehow inherited over generations. Archetypes, as per Jung, are primary psychic patterns, not memories of earlier events (episodic memories may, at best, dress the archetype with particular imagery at a cultural level, but the archetype is the underlying pattern, not the particular imagery). The author seems to fail to grasp this basic and fundamental point of Jung's psychology.

      -- Astronomical models based on current estimations of the mass, orbit, momentum, etc., of the solar system's bodies have been proven to be accurate to excruciating levels of detail. That's how we can fly spaceships to Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and now even Pluto, with incredible precision. Putting these estimates in question is naive.

      I don't want to deviate more from the theme of this essay, which has nothing to do with this -- in my view -- unfortunate documentary. So I will refrain from commenting further. I had been curious about the electric universe theory but, if it's associated with this, I feel completely discouraged.

      Cheers, Bernardo.

      --

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    4. Not to mention that this documentary makes a mockery of ancient symbolism, reducing it all to arbitrary claims about planetary positions. The ancient imagery this documentary claims to represent these ancient planetary configurations have myriad better explanations, many of which were offered by Jung himself, which this documentary refers to but totally fails to grasp. The whole thing, in my view, is despicable; arbitrary, selective in evidence, ignorant of mythology, psychology, and basic physics, etc. When I suggested the cover image for my book I failed to consider that it could be associated with this kind of idea. Otherwise, I might have suggested another. Sorry for ranting, but I feel strongly about this. I regret that some of you guys may interpret my attacks on materialism -- a metaphysics, an ontology -- to mean that I question the laws of physics or the value of empiricism.
      Cheers, Bernardo.

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    5. Bernardo, it's a pity you don't want to discuss this further, because I feel there's a lot more to say. Especially about your last sentence:

      "I regret that some of you guys may interpret my attacks on materialism -- a metaphysics, an ontology -- to mean that I question the laws of physics or the value of empiricism."

      I'm inclined to agree with your metaphysics, and also with the value of empirical observation. However, I *do* question the "laws" of physics adduced to explain empirical observations. Put simply, accuracy and consistency is no guarantee of the correctness of models providing such explanations.

      Ptolemaic astronomy was, within certain limits, both accurate and consistent. Matter of fact, in the beginning, it provided more empirical accuracy (for example, for navigational purposes) than the heliocentrism of Copernicus. Moreover, it wasn't until Bessel used parallax to determine the distance of 61 cygni in 1838 that heliocentricity was finally proved beyond a doubt (parallax based on the diameter of the earth's orbit can't exist unless the earth does in fact move round the sun).

      Gravity has never been empirically observed; no one has the faintest idea what it is; all the evidence for it is based on models--first the Newtonian (good enough to get us to the moon), and then the Einsteinian, good enough, for example, to predict the apparent displacement of stellar images around the sun during solar eclipses. Does that mean that space-time is *actually* curved? Not necessarily: it just means that a model based on the notion of space-time curvature works to a certain degree of accuracy. In due course, Einstein's ideas may be superseded by other ideas giving yet higher degrees of accuracy as confirmed by empirical measurement--which won't necessarily be correct either.

      If you don't question the laws of physics, then I really can't think why. The empirical evidence for celestial Birkeland currents (which are scalable) is quite convincing, and the patterns they can form are suggestive of a common origin for symbols produced by many ancient cultures all over the world. Alternatively, the origin of such symbols lies in the collective unconscious, which fortuitously resemble the known phenomena of Birkeland currents. Which explanation seems more parsimonious?

      That the currents may have been a result of the alignment/propinquity of planets is a possibility, though I don't suppose one can rule out their being the result of other celestial bodies/phenomena that were visible at earlier stages of human history. I feel strongly that you shouldn't disrespect proponents of EU theory; some of them are highly qualified in physics and/or cosmology; they are certainly much better informed than I am, and--dare I say it--even you.

      I've been trying to put together an essay for your forum which relies on some of the points I've been making here, though not in specific respect of EU theory; more in respect of evolutionary theory. I don't see the point of continuing with that now, however, because you seem so hostile to certain ways of thinking out of the box. As I've already intimated, that really surprises me. Never has my flabber been so ghasted, as they say :-(.

      Michael Larkin

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    6. Michael,

      The heliocentric model with Newtonian planetary motion doesn't contradict Ptolomaic astronomy within the range in which the latter is accurate, otherwise it would contradict observation.

      Einstein's relativity doesn't contradict Newtonian gravity within the range in which the latter is accurate, otherwise it would contradict observation.

      The stuff in this documentary contradicts every model we know today within the range in which they are known to be accurate, so it contradicts observation.

      Your question about parsimony has an absolutely clear, incontrovertible answer: origin in the collective unconscious is certainly infinitely more parsimonious than a completely arbitrary, highly choreographed dance of the entire solar system that defies everything we know about it, based on layer upon layer of gratuitous conjecture and fantasy.

      I am not disrespecting EU theory, for I know nothing about it. I fully disrespect the preposterous notions presented in this particular documentary, though, which are deserving of such disrespect. I do it on the basis of having watched the documentary itself and everything I know about basic physics and astronomy.

      I am totally open to out of the box thinking, as I think the body of my entire work attests to unambiguously. That said, I am hostile to lousy thinking that contradicts evidence and is based on arbitrary and wishful fantasies, selective consideration of data, misinterpretation of theory and data, etc. etc. etc.

      I don't mean to attack you personally or shoot at sacred cows. But this is point in which I have to put a stick on the ground and demarcate a very clear boundary within which I believe open-mindedness should be confined: it should not contradict established observation. I think it is important for people to understand this about me, whether this will make them like or dislike me.

      Cheers, Bernardo.

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    7. Hey Bernardo,

      People are obviously passionate about their pet theories and I believe you handled them with grace and tact (both seemingly in short supply these days). I've just 'discovered' you via Jeff Kripal whose work I have been studying for some time now.

      The dominant narrative of Materialism needs to be challenged from the inside to secure an opening for the intellect to gain a foothold in breaking the dogmas of the current ideology. You and Jeff seem to be part of the leading edge in this regard and I applaud your courage and perseverance as bucking the deadening status quo historically has been quite brutal!

      I look forward to your new book (and Jeff's as well). They should be a real one-two punch for busting up some worn out worldviews!

      Thanks,
      Michael Gregory

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    8. Thanks for the nice words, Michael Gregory, and I hope you enjoy the new book, as well as Jeff's wonderful introduction!

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    9. Bernardo, you say:

      "I don't mean to attack you personally or shoot at sacred cows. But this is point in which I have to put a stick on the ground and demarcate a very clear boundary within which I believe open-mindedness should be confined: it should not contradict established observation. I think it is important for people to understand this about me, whether this will make them like or dislike me."

      Bernardo, I don't dislike you or mean to attack you personally; I still like you and your notion of Idealism very much. The difference between us boils down to what each of us deems to be established observation.

      Bessel's observation of stellar parallax, for example, is incontrovertible. At one point in the earth's orbit, the angle between the earth and 61 cygni is X. Six months later, it is Y. That there is a difference between the two angles (enabling us to calculate the star's distance) establishes beyond a doubt that the earth moves round the sun. Otherwise, there would be no difference, i.e. no parallax.

      That's a case where empiricism is absolutely and incontrovertibly correct, at least from our perspective and using our means of perception. It relies on a common and universally observed fact: that when we move from A to B, the angle between us and some relatively fixed object changes. It is the basis of triangulation, which has been used from antiquity to measure distances.

      Gravity is a different kettle of fish. It's based on the universally experienced fact that we can, for example, only jump so far before we fall back to earth. No one is denying that's so. The big leap, if you'll forgive the pun, is to conclude that we fall to earth because its mass attracts our mass. This isn't an empirical observation: it's an inference to theory.

      Einstein's leap was to conjecture that space-time is curved in the region of massive objects. That necessarily has to reduce to Newtonian gravity over certain ranges: if it didn't, physics would be inconsistent and Einstein's *interpretation* of empirical fact would never have been accepted.

      The key is consistency. Every theory has to be consistent with what has so far been incontrovertibly established. The problem is, if anything along the way isn't incontrovertible, then the consistency has to be manufactured. That's what physicists are doing these days: manufacturing mathematical consistency (I've heard it said that they're indulging in "mythematics").

      As there are actually inconsistencies between relativity and quantum mechanics, they're currently beavering away trying to reconcile the two by manufacturing string theory, for example. They're also manufacturing improbable entities like black holes, dark matter/energy, and speculating about the Big Bang, citing dubious evidence such as Cosmic Background Radiation and cosmological red shift, both of which are questionable.

      My point is, you seem to have unquestioning faith in what could turn out to be only mythematically reconciled mumbo-jumbo. I realise that whilst you probably get my point, you simply don't agree with it. To convince you otherwise, I'd have to produce, for example, incontrovertible empirical evidence that gravity as both Newton and Einstein conceived of it doesn't actually exist.

      That sounds like a tall order, but maybe I can do it; I'm investigating a couple of avenues at the moment that might help. If and when I come up with something, I will post it to your forum.

      Michael Larkin

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  3. Bernardo,

    I too am very surprised by your reaction. Electric Universe theory is being validated on a regular basis. It is not physically impossible. Even National Geographic had a cover page on changing planetary orbits. Electric Universe theory has been on point as to its discussion of cometary analysis unlike the standard model of the "dirty snowball". I am not here to debate but the outright rejection of this model is not like you.

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    Replies
    1. Jack,
      I am talking about the particular claims about planetary orbits and positions in this documentary, not necessarily the broader "electric universe' theory, of which I know nothing. The planetary positions and orbits claimed in this documentary are ludicrous from a gravitational perspective and the perspective of Newton's laws of motion. If the explanation for this massive aberration are postulated electric fields, the author forgets to explain the origin and mechanism behind these postulated fields, or their absence today.
      I reject this based on the documentary, which I watched.
      Cheers, Bernardo.

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    2. Not to mention that this documentary makes a mockery of ancient symbolism, reducing it all to arbitrary claims about planetary positions. The ancient imagery this documentary claims to represent these ancient planetary configurations have myriad better explanations, many of which were offered by Jung himself, which this documentary refers to but totally fails to grasp. The whole thing, in my view, is despicable; arbitrary, selective in evidence, ignorant of mythology, psychology, and basic physics, etc. When I suggested the cover image for my book I failed to consider that it could be associated with this kind of idea. Otherwise, I might have suggested another. Sorry for ranting, but I feel strongly about this. I regret that some of you guys may interpret my attacks on materialism -- a metaphysics, an ontology -- to mean that I question the laws of physics or the value of empiricism.
      Cheers, Bernardo.

      Delete

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