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Beyond scientism: Re-humanizing the mind (The Return of Idealism)

Non-reductionism, the idea that mental states are not reducible to physical states, is the new orthodoxy in analytic philosophy of mind. However, in this instalment of our idealism series, in partnership with the Institute of Art and Ideas, Dr. Giuseppina D’Oro argues that analytic philosophy’s conception of psychology as a natural science is beholden to the dubious ideology of scientism, therefore not acknowledging the autonomy of the mental.

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The Fall into the phenomenal: How idealism can help the Creation story converge with deep scientific truth

Taking a clue from Christian theologian and philosopher Origen of Alexandria, Androu Arsanious argues that the biblical Fall is the story of humanity’s mistaking of the Kantian phenomena (the world as represented in perception) for the Kantian noumena (the world as it is in itself); that is, the story of our mistaking appearances for reality. Understanding this allows us to complete the Augustinian project of reconciling the stories of religion, which describe what is beyond the world in terms of the world, with the stories of science, which describe the world in terms of what is beyond the world, such as mathematical abstractions. This is a fascinating essay.

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Time & Mind: Finding a theory that closes the gap (2023 work conference, day one)

This video contains all the presentations and debates originally broadcast live during Essentia Foundation’s 2023 work conference, on the topic of time and mind. Speakers include Prof. Bernard Carr, Prof. Lee Smolin, Prof. George Ellis, and Prof. Jonathan Schooler.

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Metabolism is what the ‘unconscious’ mind looks like

Dr. Sachs discusses the dynamics of our deepest, seemingly ‘unconscious’ mental processes, and shows remarkable correspondences between them and metabolic processes such as protein synthesis and folding. He suggests, along firm idealist lines, that our body’s metabolism is simply a metaphor, the extrinsic appearance of our inner, ‘unconscious’ mental processes. In other words, metabolism may be what the deepest layers of our own mind look like, when displayed on the screen of perception. This is an involved essay and not the easiest of reads, but it is well worth the effort.

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Understanding collective self-consciousness in Hegelian pragmatism (The Return of Idealism)

Hegel is usually thought of as defending an obscure metaphysics that claims reality is the manifestation of a collective mind, or Geist. But, as Prof. Terry Pinkard argues, Hegel has a lot in common with the more ‘down-to-earth’ movement of pragmatism.

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Do we really live in a fundamentally physical universe? Are we essentially material beings? Essentia Foundation is a new force in the cultural dialogue about the nature of reality. Find out more about us.

Reading

Essays

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Reconciling the dancing polarities

In an essay meant to give us food for meditation during the holiday period, as we take account of the year now behind us and the—tragic and otherwise—events that marked the year, our Founder and Chairman speaks to the importance of maintaining, in a mature fashion, the dynamic balance between the often extreme polarities that characterize human society.

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UAPs, NDEs, and foundations of physics: it all makes sense under Idealism

Only a form of objective idealism can account for UAPs, NDEs, and the latest discoveries in foundations of physics and the neuroscience of consciousness, while remaining consistent with the whole of science and rational inquiry. Learn more in this discussion between Hans Busstra and Bernardo Kastrup.

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Self-cultivation, individuation, and the mind-body problem

If the fundamental layer of reality is understood to dissolve the seeming metaphysical differences between mind and matter, psyche and soul, then bodily practice becomes a direct means for psychological and spiritual development. Such development, in turn, conveys the direct experience of the unity between mind and matter, psyche and body, self and world. This is the central point of this short essay by anthropologist, Jungian analyst, and martial artist Mark Rossbach.

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Light or Darkness? Suhrawardī’s philosophy of illumination

Is the conflict between good and evil—light and darkness—ultimately a false dichotomy? Could nature be best described as a hierarchy of illumination instead? This brief essay is an introduction to the illuminationist thought of Persian philosopher and theologian Suhrawardī. It will hopefully make you curious about the work of this great thinker, and motivate you to study his legacy further.

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Does the Renaissance have roots in Islamic philosophy?

Natalia Vorontsova interviews Prof. Peter Adamson about the importance of Islamic philosophy for Western thought. Although little known in the West, philosophers such as Ibn Sīnā (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes) played an absolutely crucial role in preserving, building on, and transmitting to the West the wisdom of Aristotle, Plato, and the Neoplatonists during the Middle Ages. Similarly, Suhrawardī’s Philosophy of Illumination and Ibn Arabī’s doctrine of the Unity of Being continue to influence Western thought to this day. If we want to understand the history of European philosophy, we cannot ignore these influential scholars and sages.

Seeing

Videos

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Announcing ‘Time and Mind,’ a FREE online conference!

Reserve the dates on your calendars, for on November 30th and December 1st, 2023, Essentia Foundation’s ‘Time and Mind’ online conference will take place, live and free to watch for all. It will be hosted by Prof. Bernard Carr and feature luminaries such as Lee Smolin, Paul Davies, George Ellis, and many others. No registration is required!

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Freedom and Will as fundamental: Utpaladeva and Schopenhauer compared

Two philosophers, separated by time and geography, arrive at surprisingly similar conclusions regarding the nature of self and reality: universal consciousness driven by will and imagination. Dr. Pfändtner takes us on a delightful and edifying journey of comparative philosophy.

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God’s dark side: A review of Jung’s ‘Answer to Job’

As part of our book club on YouTube, Hans Busstra has made a book review of ‘Answer to Job’ by Carl Gustav Jung. Regarded by Jung as his most important work, Answer to Job is a tour de force in which classical Christian doctrine is turned upside down: Jung argued that the incarnation of Christ was not to redeem humanity for its sins against God, but to redeem God for his sin against Job.

From the archives

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The birth of Idealism in the West (The Return of Idealism)

Parmenides’s cryptic claim that thought and being are the same has echoed throughout Western philosophy. Prof. Tom Rockmore argues that in making this claim, Parmenides set the foundations for the struggle between idealism and realism, and suggests that unlike many interpretations, Parmenidean idealism ultimately supports the view that we cannot know a mind-independent reality.

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Higher dimensions of consciousness

Our brains do not produce consciousness, they ‘filter’ it and consciousness is related to the higher dimensions in string theory. In this thought-provoking conversation, distinguished Professor of mathematics and astronomy Bernard Carr explains his theory of consciousness and psi-phenomena.

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Gödel’s Incompleteness and the Realm of Wildlife

Humans relate to nature through the intermediation of abstract linguistic concepts that aren’t themselves part of nature. Animals, on the other hand, relate to nature through actions—gestures, secretions, sounds, etc.—that evoke meaning in a manner directly grounded in the elements of nature. The potential power of this more direct approach has been illustrated by Kurt Gödel, who used elements of mathematics—natural numbers and arithmetic operations—to model mathematics itself and investigate its nature, thereby unlocking great insight. This is analogous to how animals relate to their world. Could Gödel’s insight help us transcend the artificial boundaries created by our abstract concepts and, thereby, better understand reality?

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