Intelligent Design Mind Naturalism Neuroscience

From Scientific American: “we may all be alters—dissociated personalities—of universal consciousness.”

Spread the love

From Bernardo Kastrup, Adam Crabtree, and Edward F. Kelly at Scientific American:

In 2015, doctors in Germany reported the extraordinary case of a woman who suffered from what has traditionally been called “multiple personality disorder” and today is known as “dissociative identity disorder” (DID). The woman exhibited a variety of dissociated personalities (“alters”), some of which claimed to be blind. Using EEGs, the doctors were able to ascertain that the brain activity normally associated with sight wasn’t present while a blind alter was in control of the woman’s body, even though her eyes were open. Remarkably, when a sighted alter assumed control, the usual brain activity returned.

In short, extreme dissociation has a literal, not merely imagined, effect—very helpful to know when treating the disorder, we must assume. From this, the authors reach a startling conclusion about consciousness in general: We live in a conscious universe.

We know empirically from DID that consciousness can give rise to many operationally distinct centers of concurrent experience, each with its own personality and sense of identity. Therefore, if something analogous to DID happens at a universal level, the one universal consciousness could, as a result, give rise to many alters with private inner lives like yours and ours. As such, we may all be alters—dissociated personalities—of universal consciousness.

Moreover, as we’ve seen earlier, there is something dissociative processes look like in the brain of a patient with DID [dissociative identity disorder]. So, if some form of universal-level DID happens, the alters of universal consciousness must also have an extrinsic appearance. We posit that this appearance is life itself: metabolizing organisms are simply what universal-level dissociative processes look like. More.

Paper.

Abstract: I propose an idealist ontology that makes sense of reality in a more parsimonious and empirically rigorous manner than mainstream physicalism, bottom-up panpsychism, and cosmopsychism. The proposed ontology also offers more explanatory power than these three alternatives, in that it does not fall prey to the hard problem of consciousness, the combination problem, or the decombination problem, respectively. It can be summarized as follows: there is only cosmic consciousness. We, as well as all other living organisms, are but dissociated alters of cosmic consciousness, surrounded by its thoughts. The inanimate world we see around us is the extrinsic appearance of these thoughts. The living organisms we share the world with are the extrinsic appearances of other dissociated alters. (public access)

No, really. The authors regard their view as “an unprecedentedly coherent and empirically grounded way of making sense of life, the universe and everything.” And this article appeared in Scientific American.

We can infer that the hard problem of consciousness is indeed hard when panpsychism is taken seriously in science publications. Scientific American is owned by Nature.

See also: A cautious defense of panpsychism (everything is conscious) as an alternative to naturalist despair of the whole field of consciousness

and

Post-modern science: The illusion of consciousness sees through itself

3 Replies to “From Scientific American: “we may all be alters—dissociated personalities—of universal consciousness.”

  1. 1
    BPS from AZ says:

    It’s not entirely clear, but your comments seem to suggest that you think the authors advocate panpsychism, which is not the case.

  2. 2
    News says:

    BPS from AZ, the authors write, “The obvious way around the combination problem is to posit that, although consciousness is indeed fundamental in nature, it isn’t fragmented like matter. The idea is to extend consciousness to the entire fabric of spacetime, as opposed to limiting it to the boundaries of individual subatomic particles. This view—called “cosmopsychism” in modern philosophy, although our preferred formulation of it boils down to what has classically been called “idealism”—is that there is only one, universal, consciousness. The physical universe as a whole is the extrinsic appearance of universal inner life, just as a living brain and body are the extrinsic appearance of a person’s inner life.”

    They can call what they formulate “idealism” if they want, the way I can call my cat a dog, but, as described, it is for practical purposes panpsychism.

  3. 3
    BPS from AZ says:

    Sorry I’m familiar with Kastrup’s thought and writings, and you’re apparently failing to grasp important distinctions. Panpsychism is actually kind of a rear-guard action intended to shore up a godless, mechanistic worldview just approaching the early stages of crumbling about the edges. This is definitely not at all where Bernardo K. is coming from. From my perspective, he’s actually far more friend than foe to all non-atheists, but no matter, his ideas are still pretty far afield from the standard Christian model (no disrespect intended). But that being the case, extended discussion would likely not prove useful or productive, either to the two of us or a majority of your regular readers.

    Kind regards and thanks for allowing me to express my contrarian views. Much appreciated!

Leave a Reply