Bernardo Kastrup's exploratory journeys through the thoughtscapes of philosophy of mind, ontology, neuroscience of consciousness, psychology and foundations of physics
Very nice, Bernardo. Is this all the video, or is there more somewhere?
Hey Michael, thanks! There is a lot more in that talk. The full video is here:http://youtu.be/VhJx-4n5xeACheers, Bernardo.
Sorry about my tardy reply, Bernardo. I've been tied up in doing my modest bit to help Alex Tsakaris launch the new Skeptiko forum. It seems to have taken off, and I've posted a thread having the title of your new book there which features the whole of your video as well as the podcast in which you were interviewed by Sandie Sedgbeer (see here: http://awakeningzone.com/Episode.aspx?EpisodeID=2069)The Skeptiko thread is here:http://www.skeptiko.com/forum/threads/why-materialism-is-baloney.209/In the new forum, threads can be allocated a categorisation of "Mod+", designed to eliminate what Alex deems "stuck on stupid" arguments, i.e. arguments that *assume* mind = brain. I have given the thread Mod+ status and would like to invite you to take part if you feel so inclined and have the time.
Nicely done talk.The question that arises with in me is: What is all of that supposed to mean, aren't we just playing conceptual games?
Thanks. And most likely yes, we're all playing conceptual games, materialism being the silliest of them all. Notice, however, that these conceptual games have enormous and very real consequences for human life: for instance, because of the lunatic concepts of materialism, we believe that consciousness ends upon death and that life is ultimately pointless.Playing conceptual games is the life of the intellect and the basis of civilization. We can chose to leave the intellect behind, remove ourselves from our cultural context, and try to experience reality/truth directly if we can (this would be the Zen or Advaita paths, for instance). Or we must bite the bullet and try to play the conceptual games a little better, for there certainly is plenty of room for improvement, given the lamentable state of our philosophy today.
I am not entirely sure - what you say makes sense, certainly - but I can't help it ignores that we have already given concepts far too much credit in the first place. Only because of that can a lunatic concept like materialism lead to any consequence. We are confusing reality and conception in subtle, but important ways - a pretty severe delusion.I am extremely prone to doing that myself, but damn it, it just doesn't lead (me) anywhere, nor does it fulfill me. It's insane.The thing is, is there really much genuine insight to be gained by doing this kind of metaphysical speculation, or does it merely amount to trying to understand the inconceivable?The very terms "mind" or "subjective experience" as philosophical terms seems to be a gargantuan and confusing abstraction, how can we think clearly when the basic terms are unclear?Wouldn't it be more wise to accept that and use language as the limited tool it really is? - we don't have to *completely* leave the intellect behind at all. If we don't want to create unneccesary confusion, we just have to accept it's limitations.I know that's not necessarily a little thing given the current state of humanity. But we want to be free, no?
You wrote: "We are confusing reality and conception in subtle, but important ways - a pretty severe delusion."I agree. My ideal world would be one where everyone lives their lives driven by the immediacy of present experience, including me. But, if we face the facts, we quickly see that all of our civilization is entirely based on concepts: schools, governments, businesses, entertainment, the lot. It starts early, with language, which is a mode of thinking and relating to reality before it's a means of communication (as per Noam Chomski's theory). So, given the world and the civilization we have, I consider it completely unrealistic to hope for my ideal scenario any time in the foreseeable future. So the option that presents itself to me is this: either I throw my arms up and focus on my own personal 'enlightenment,' or I try to contribute a less lunatic conceptual formulation of reality; something a little closer to the truth and a little less detrimental to psychic health.You wrote: "The thing is, is there really much genuine insight to be gained by doing this kind of metaphysical speculation, or does it merely amount to trying to understand the inconceivable?"I'd say yes to both questions; they aren't mutually exclusive. There is genuine insight to be gained by trying to understand the inconceivable. The end goal cannot be reached because it's inconceivable, but that doesn't mean that we can't approach it while trying.You wrote: "The very terms "mind" or "subjective experience" as philosophical terms seems to be a gargantuan and confusing abstraction"We wouldn't need the words "mind" or "experience" if it weren't for materialism. "Mind" or "experience" is simply what is. We don't need words for that which is everything. The problem is that materialists invented a whole universe outside mind and experience. So they created a confusing need for words here.Regarding your last paragraph, I thought that was what I was attempting to do... :-)
"I agree. My ideal world would be one where everyone lives their lives driven by the immediacy of present experience, including me. But,..."*sniff sniff* Smells like the beginning of a rationalization ;)...
What's the alternative? :)
...I don't know...Is an alternative even needed?Why not stop hurrying and get in touch with the simplicity of life, the child in us?
Yes... I'd like to be able to do that, really. As a matter of fact, I'm trying. But I suspect that a big part of me will never be able to stop asking the big questions. And then I wonder how many other people are out there who are like me in this regard? Many, I suspect. I'm not saying this is good or bad, just that it is simply so. And if it is so, as one of them, I might as well try to increase "our" level of comfort, satisfaction and fulfilment by biting the bullet and trying to formulate more reasonable "answers."
Maybe the "big questions" are actually... nothing?I tend to be, or feel like one of those people. But it's just causing me suffering.Let's look: What are we going to find there? Satisfaction? Fulfillment? Bliss? Peace?No. But isn't that what we want?Isn't that the big question: What fulfills my soul?Isn't that big part of me and you who can't stop asking these questions NOTHING? Isn't it just a huge pile of obsession and narcissism?I am not going to resign myself to that. There's gotta be something more.
As a long-term Zen practitioner, I would respectfully disagree that Zen is about "leaving the intellect behind" and "removing ourselves from our cultural context". I wonder if such things would even be possible! Zen practice involves seeing through concepts, but at the same time, it respects the value of concepts and the intellect.
Maybe I didn't phrased it optimally. But Zen is largely an attempt to, during meditation, transcend thought (i.e. the intellect) and the 'conceptual tiling' we live in. And, insofar as our whole civilization an culture are based and driven by 'intellectual tilings,' Zen does try to transcend that too, doesn't it? Naturally, one always returns to the ego state, and so do Zen practitioners.The contrast I was trying to make is between this attempt to see through concepts, on the one hand, and the intellectual attempt to work the concepts in a better, more accurate, and more parsimonious way, on the other hand. It's the contrast between Zen/Advaita and Philosophy, which I think exists and is very palpable. Yet, of course, Zen/Advaita and Philosophy are not mutually-exclusive.
Yes, makes sense. Of course Zen is in a way directly opposite to the philosophical approach. Still, I think Zen practice also leads to sharpening of concepts and intellect, because it clarifies the mind. In that sense, meditation can be very useful for philosophers too :)
Worry not, anonymous, I'm already there, and have been for years... ;-))
This was great! Thanks for sharing it :) I enjoy the way it relates to one of my favorite little Gendlinian essays:http://www.focusing.org/primacy.htmlAgain, thank you :)
Great that you enjoyed it. :)
Hi BernardoThanks for great speculations! You are spot on about the image and the process.Love how you use the term "image" to describe the fact that all we normally experience of a process is only the "outcome" of it. This metaphor is great to use when speculating on the idea of the individual self. From my perspective our identity (who am I?) (who/what is it that is conscious?)(What is the self?) is a really fun speculation. Our normal experience that "I" correlates to a personal self is an image of the process of believing ideas that does not hold water on closer inspection. From my perspective if we truly would like to know, from first-hand experience, that the "I" is not a personal self, we have to be able to step back in our mind and see the very process of "personal selfing" itself. If we would be able to see the process of selfing (how the false ideas appear in the mind and how we identify with them) we would start to see that the one who is conscious of this process can not be a personal self, we would be able to see that the personal self is a construct made up from believed in images. (The term "self-image" is no doubt appropriate.) LOLAnd then the question arises in the mind: Who is it that is aware of seeing this process? Contemplating this questions would lead to the fact that it can not be an image that is aware of the process of selfing. A thought can not be conscious of a thought, an image can not be conscious of an image, a process can not be conscious of a process. Only consciousness can be conscious. Hence it becomes obvious that what we truly mean with the term "I" is consciousness. It also becomes obvious that you are right on the money when you in your statement that the brain is only an image and hence the brain can not be conscious. And if it is not conscious it has nothing to with "I". So one could safely remove the brain both from the skull and from the on going mind-brain dialogues. It does not effect anything. LOLThe very best,Niclas Thörn
Thanks Niclas! I do talk about our sense of 'I', and the illusion of personal identity, in pages 197-199 of "Why Materialism Is Baloney." My conclusions are fully inline with yours. Cheers, B.
Hi BernardoThanks! "Why Materialism Is Baloney" is the greatest title ever LOL. I wish our swedish publisher would allow titles such as this for our books LOL. By the way, have you considered making a film based on your thoughts? You have a unique talent in communicating your ideas in a clear, concise and vivid way, perfectly suited for the "moving images" format. I think a film based on your thoughts would find an audience. We have produced two films for the scandinavian market on the topic of "the science of consciouness" and there is definitely a growing interest...Best,Niclas
Hi Niclas,I just looked at your website. Very nice! Yes, someone has suggested this to me before (the guy who made the short clips on my YouTube channel). What he said was so in-line with what you are saying now that I might even consider the possibility that it may be true. :)I'm open to the idea. If you prefer, you can contact me via the private contact form:http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2011/05/contact.htmlCheers, Bernardo.