The dawn of a post-materialist academic worldview
Since the ascendence of materialism in academia during the Enlightenment, no other theory of the essential nature of reality has truly been taken seriously in academic circles. Implicitly, to be an academic has, since then, presupposed a professional materialist stance—regardless of what one's private views might be.
Since the end of the 20th century, constitutive panpsychism and property dualism have garnered some modest momentum in academia. However, these ontologies are basically extensions of materialism: they add irreducible mental properties to what is essentially the same old objective substrate. Their modest level of success, instead of foreshadowing a significant shift in our worldview, in fact betrays the formidable inertia of the latter: although nobody has ever been able to articulate how physical quantities—such as mass, charge, momentum—could possibly explain the qualities of experience, in lieu of discarding the untenable concept of objective matter we've grudgingly resorted to applying bandages to it. The result is a Frankenstein monster whose sole appeal is to perpetuate a clumsy error: that of imagining an objective material world, outside and independent of mentation, to begin with. Future generations will look upon this embarrassing charade with merciless scorn.
Throughout the two or three centuries of materialist hegemony in academia, religious and spiritual movements have competed for the hearts and minds of ordinary people. New Age, non-dualism, Buddhism, and a host of other related worldviews have certainly achieved a degree of influence in our culture. However, their acknowledgment in academia is limited to some of their practical applications, such as e.g. helping to relieve stress. The metaphysics underlying these spiritual traditions, however, has achieved no recognition in academia, and often for good reasons: as much as their appeal to feeling, intuition and direct experience is legitimate when it comes to ordinary people, in academia different rules and standards apply.
I've bitten the bullet fully and made my case according to the exact same rulebook and value-system that underpins the case for materialism. The goal has been to win the duel using the weapons chosen by the opposition.
Having initially written six books meant for ordinary people, over the past three years I've focused on academia instead. My hope has been to legitimize and promote idealism—the view that objective matter doesn't actually exist, reality consisting purely of excitations of transpersonal consciousness—as a viable and coherent worldview, more tenable than materialism itself. I've subjected myself to the rules of the academic game, rigorously arguing on the basis of logic, parsimony, coherence and evidence. I've made no appeals to anything that could be construed as a handwaving excuse for lack of substance or rigor. I've bitten the bullet fully and made my case according to the exact same rulebook and value-system that underpins the case for materialism. The goal has been to win the duel using the weapons chosen by the opposition.
The result of this effort is The Idea of the World, a book that collects a number of academic papers I've published in leading peer-reviewed journals. Although the peer review process has often been critical—sometimes outright unfair—the force of my argument has prevailed. Besides these articles, the book is enhanced by many new chapters meant to weave the different papers together into a coherent, complete, accessible argument for idealism; an argument that, although targeted at academia, can be understood by any educated person with a bit of patience.
The Idea of the World is probably the first and only academically-legitimized, uncompromising articulation of idealism since Hegel.
Academia may be plagued by skewed metaphysical intuitions, but it has one thing going for it: as long as you play the game by their rules, if your case is strong it will not be dismissed. Because of this kind of honesty, and based on the strength of my case according to their own value-system, my effort has met with success in academia.
The Idea of the World is perhaps the first and only academically-legitimized, uncompromising articulation of idealism since Hegel. None of the truly non-materialist ontologies discussed today has—insofar as I am aware of—received comparable treatment in terms of rigor and completeness. Their proponents usually don't even bother to engage in the academic game of logic, coherence and evidence, limiting themselves to vague appeals to feeling and intuition. This, I believe, is precisely the reason why these non-materialist views continue to be consigned to the fringes of our culture. It is also the reason why vulgar and loud proponents of materialism—who, while lacking basic understanding of materialism itself, often feel childishly emboldened by the academic hegemony of the view they purport to endorse—ridicule the followers of non-materialist views.
But things may have begun to change: we now see a worldview thoroughly and bluntly antithetical to materialism being taken seriously in academia; a worldview legitimized by the very rules and values that materialism relies on. I say so not only because of the dozen peer-reviewed academic papers that underpin this worldview, but also for the fact that The Idea of the World has a very special companion volume.
This companion volume is a doctoral dissertation I am going to publicly defend at the end of April at Radboud University Nijmegen, The Netherlands' best classical university according to the most recent polls, and one of Europe's best. The dissertation itself has already been unanimously approved by an academic committee (you can freely download it here and here), only the formalisms of the defense still pending. If successful, this will be my second doctorate, 18 years—almost to the day—after my first one.
Materialism has hidden behind the argument that no alternative metaphysics has ever passed the stringent tests of coherence, rigor and empirical grounding reigning in academia. But this is no longer the case.
Materialism has hidden behind the argument that no alternative metaphysics has ever passed the stringent tests of coherence, rigor and empirical grounding reigning in academia. But this is no longer the case. So if committed materialists have ever dismissed your non-materialist views on the basis of this argument, you can now give them a copy of The Idea of the World, perhaps accompanied by a copy of my doctoral dissertation. Show them how out of date they are.
It is my hope that this book, and its accompanying doctoral thesis, will give you ammunition to advance your views on the basis of the same set of values, and according to the same rules of argument, which supposedly privilege materialism. Please use it liberally and help get the word out. We may be on the cusp of significant change; on the verge of consigning materialism to the waste bin of history (it isn't soon enough). However, in the era of social media, this change depends on you, individually. The Idea of the World is the weapon I offer you. It's up to you to shoot with it.