Thoughts and plans for 2017

Photo by Bernardo Kastrup,
hereby released into the public domain.

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" in my book Meaning in Absurdity, in the sense that they do not depend on our personal wishes or imagination. They are what they are, regardless of what we, as individual humans, think of them, whether we like them, or even whether we believe them at an egoic level. According to my formulation of idealism, what we call the "empirical world" is the image of mental processes outside and independent of our personal mentation. As such, everything that is the case in the empirical world is a hard fact that can be confirmed—or disconfirmed—by the scientific method. Idealism not only doesn't deny facts, it doesn't deny the value or importance of science either.

Indeed, my approach to idealism rests on judiciously done science. Science is the best method ever devised by humankind to find out what the facts are. Where science—and many scientists—come short is in trying to interpret the facts. Interpretation is a job for philosophers, who are, by and large, more aware of their underlying assumptions and sharper in their ontological reasoning than the science spokespeople I often criticize. My criticism of these people does not imply that I am against science, or against the notion that there are such things as facts. And for the record, I think the attempt to deny facts—ridiculous as it is—is the most dangerous and pernicious cultural phenomenon in recent history.

OK, enough said about it.

So what's up for 2017, as far as my philosophy work is concerned? As I have said before on social media, this year I'll be focusing on publishing a number of academic papers in mainstream science and philosophy journals. The articles already published can be found in the "papers" page of this website, also accessible via the top menu bar. I will continuously update that page as more articles become available.

Although the editors of the journals I am submitting these papers to do not know the big picture behind them, each paper represents a piece of a larger jigsaw puzzle. They are parts of an overall academic articulation of idealism, both from philosophical and scientific perspectives, which is my main goal for this year. Once all papers are published, my plan is to collect them in a book, adding an overarching story to connect them all together and reveal the broader picture underlying them. I hope to submit the final draft of this new book to my publisher in the course of this year, so the book will be available (early) in 2018.

The ambition here is to lay a rigorous foundation for my philosophy, up to the standards of academia. Do I think this is fundamentally important? No. In fact, I confess to feeling quite ambiguous about the project. Although academic peer-review is sometimes very helpful to sharpen and refine one's arguments, other times it reflects outright prejudice, myopia, and—if I may be brutally frank—plain stupidity. I have had both types of experience thus far. But not doing this project would be construed by some as a sign that idealism—or at least my formulation of it—cannot stand to honest academic scrutiny. This is plainly untrue, as I shall demonstrate this year. Once the project is done, my six earlier books will be shown to stand on solid philosophical and scientific ground.

In addition, I am also discussing with my publisher revised editions of those earlier books. Right now, my thinking is to produce whole new editions of Why Materialism Is Baloney and Rationalist Spirituality, which are primed for major updates. Not only do I think I can argue my case in these books more cogently, new science has come to light that helps shore up the argument. As for the other four titles, I will work at least on revised editions. The availability date for these revisions is unclear at this stage, since I haven't started working on them yet. But I hope to come to it this year.

As far as conferences and public appearances are concerned, I don't have any commitments thus far, except for my participation at the 12th Swiss Biennial on Science, Technics and Aesthetics. But that's actually in January 2018, so it doesn't count yet. My choice so far has been to focus on the academic work, and keep my very restricted possibilities to travel open for key opportunities that may come in the course of the year. If and when this happens, I will let you all know through my social media presence.

This is it for now. Stay tuned to the "papers" page of this website for new articles, as they become available in the course of this year.

Comments

  1. Great stuff! Any more plans to offer more videos?... I enjoy watching your talks, interviews and conference presentations and would love to see more. As far as i can tell I've watched everything you've done so far.

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    1. I hope to make one video for each paper published, explaining the main points of the paper. But it will take a little while...

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  2. I am still not entirely convinced that personal mentation has no saying in determining the objective reality. It might be a very small one, but there should be one nonetheless. Otherwise, the biggest concept of idealism, that consciousness precedes and determines reality, gets unwrapped. Frankly, this is the key in which I interpreted that chapter in "meaning in absurdity" where you explained the current worldstate starting from boundless creative intents.

    That the vast majority of mental causation falls under what we consider "unconscious" and that, practically, we have very little saying about the objective world does not mean that the personal mind is of a different nature than the "Mind at large". Might be obfuscated, very dim, confused and countered by the actions of other individual minds, but it has the same nature. And thus the same proprieties.

    Is... the Miracle of Fatima a fact? Or... are group hallucinations facts? On the mental continuum from individual dream to "common sense" reality, where do we draw the line on what are facts?

    Cheers,

    Your #1 fan, Adrian

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    1. Yes, I discuss this in both Meaning in Absurdity and Dreamed up Reality. I think the vast majority of what we call empirical reality, including the basic laws of physics, have a non-personal mental root. But layers on top of that may be -- probably are -- influenced by an amalgamation of subliminal personal beliefs and expectations. But even in this case, it's the amalgamation that determines empirical reality, not the whims and fantasies of a single person. So the compound momentum gathered here is still, in my view, weakly objective.

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    2. Where I do disagree with what you said is that idealism would unravel if there were no influence of personal, dissociated psyches in empirical reality. I think idealism would still work just fine in that case, even though I agree with you that -- as I wrote in at least two books -- there most likely is a compound personal component.

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  3. Bernardo, I’ll be looking forward to your academic papers and new book next year. What you are doing is most important. We need many more scientists (and philosophers) to experience that “idea gestalt” moment not unlike the one you mention in your Brief Peeks Beyond intro. Scientists will require these peer reviewed papers … in order to begin that leap.

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  4. Hi Bernado, I was reading your article http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2012/02/having-it-both-ways-in-materialism.html

    It was in 2012 so I knew you weren't going to read the comments, and I decided to post in your new articles.

    I'm agnostic on this issue. Hard problem of consciousness is certainly a huge problem with materialism.

    But I believe there's also a serious problem with dualism/soul. Certain thoughts like moving my arm I'll call mechanical thoughts. Other thoughts, like trying to calculate 1+1=2, thinking about whether i liked the movie, I'll call pure thoughts. Drugs/alcohol will obviously influence mechanical thoughts, whether materialism or dualism is correct. But if dualism is correct, why do they influence pure thoughts? You would expect pure thoughts to happen completely within the soul and be untouched by anything physical.

    Often dualists respond by saying brain is a filter of consciousness. So that means my soul is receiving information from my physical brain. But my soul must also be generating the thought/information, so this filter thing is basically saying

    || soul, generates thoughts

    -> brain, calculates everything like a computer

    -> soul, receives the filtered version of thoughts and experience it as subjective qualia

    I find this to be rather ad hoc. I would of expected the soul to control the brain and body like how a driver controls his car. Is there a more plausible explanation for this?

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  5. What new science is there that you mentioned in your post that further supports idealism? I'd be fascinated to take a look.

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    1. Take a look at the references of my recent papers as they are published (see "papers" in the top menu bar).

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  6. Bernardo, Huge fan of your work here. I just re-read Dreamed Up Reality and find the modeling in the final chapters so compelling and suggestive. In much of spiritual/psychological explorations I've done, there is emphasis placed on looking towards the formless rather than form as a source of truth. For example, there is an approach called The Three Principles, first articulated by a man named Syd Banks who had a sudden sharp insight into the nature of reality, much of which corresponds beautifully with idealism as you've articulated it and even the modeling in DUR. I am curious if you've ever run the model with human beings placing (increasingly?) greater weight to the Source plane. Reason I ask is I am curious what it will look like as people become more awakened to this underlying intelligence behind life and more attuned to its influence. I assume the manifestation plane would increasingly come to resemble the Source plan over time, but again, would be interesting to see how it played out. In a sense, it would be like modeling the impact of a broader dissemination of your work. Would love to see some images if you've done this - and if not, maybe consider it for your next edition!! Thank you again for your dedication to truth and your fearless mind. It's been enormously helpful to me.

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    1. Thanks Francesco! If you send me your email address via the contact form on this page (only for media inquiries, but I will make an exception in this case), I will send you the source code so you can run your own simulations, if you like :)

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    2. Hi Francesco,

      Thanks for mentioning Sydney Banks, whom I hadn't heard of before. I've been investigating his Three Principles and agree that there is a degree of similarity between them and Bernardo's Idealism. I've posted something about that in a thread at Skeptiko here:

      http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/bernardo-kastrups-latest-paper.3597/#post-107044

      since I don't want to clutter up this thread. If you're interested, you may care to check it out.

      Cheers,

      Michael Larkin

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    3. Thank you, Bernardo. I will send the email address but I'm not a software developer so I am not sure it will be much use to me!

      Michael, Wow! Fantastic article - I'm amazed at how well you grasped the 3Ps. Exploring that terrain has made a huge difference in my life. Feel free to reach out any time if you want to discuss further. You can find me at francescobarbera.com. All my best, Francesco

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  7. In due course, Bernardo, I hope you will be able to publish a few of the updated passages here for the perusal of those who already own your books. It will be interesting to see how you can make your arguments even more clear and cogent than you already have!

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  8. That's awesome Bernardo! I look forward to reading it. I'm a young student who's dreamed of becoming a neuroscientist since I was even younger, but always with the general assumption that experience is "locked inside my skull." However, after reading the book Why Science is Wrong about Almost Everything, and discovering you and Alex T., my entire worldview has changed. Sometimes I'm a little upset I don't have the naïveté of before I read Why Materialism is Baloney, because now whenever I read a neuroscience book I cringe over the amount of materialistic assumptions. However, you've proven to me that one person really can change the way people think. I'm so happy you're brave enough to undergo peer review, and, in my view, make philosophy relevant again. I hope to change people's minds like you have when I grow up :)

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    1. Thank you, Mikaela! You're generation if the future of neuroscience and neurophilosophy, so your words are encouraging to me.

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    2. I've actually been inspired to do a capstone on the mind-body problem at my school. I wanted to add non-duality/ monistic idealism as a part of my presentation, but people don't get it the way they easily grasp dualism. How do I discuss monistic idealism to high schoolers without them spending hours trying to grok it like I did? I've wanted to explain it to my science loving friends who fears death... or my physics teacher who told us "the easiest way to explain NDEs is to say that the brain misfired."

      (The most success I've had is showing people the work of Hoffman:

      https://www.quantamagazine.org/20160421-the-evolutionary-argument-against-reality/)

      Any input would be great! Thanks! :)

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  9. I'm on the brink of ordering Why Materialism is Baloney and Rationalist Spirituality but now you're saying they're both about to get revised? I've listened to many of your interviews and am really looking forward to get into your books. Do you have any recommendations which book to start with while I wait for these two?

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    1. The new editions will still take a long time to come, since I haven't even started working on them yet... 2 years maybe.
      Regarding where to start, an author usually thinks his latest book is best, which in my case is More Than Allegory ;-)

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  10. Bernardo. If a cohesive and easily digestable version of your idealism was spread to schools, and was accessible to kids; I have no doubt that we could prevent many suicides and a lot of self-sabotage.

    Your work was a piece of the puzzle I had been looking for my whole adult life, and I can't express with words how important I think it is for all of us to find our own way to bring people out of their materialist nightmare. Looking forward to reading more.

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    1. Thank you for the encouragement and kind words!

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