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Computer scientists don’t truly understand this

Bernardo Kastrup argues why the idea of conscious AI, though we cannot refute it categorically, is silly. This has a lot to do with the fact that most computer scientists are power users of computers but they’ve never built a computer themselves. If they had, they would be familiar with the nuts and bolts, and they would understand that the idea of microscopic transistors becoming conscious is not that different than proposing that a sufficiently complex sewage system—consisting of water pipes and valves—would become conscious.

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If you dream of a triangle, where does the triangle exist?

When we dream of a triangle, we experience a geometric shape with the measurable characteristics—angles and lengths—of a triangle. But the neural correlates of this dream in the physical brain are not triangular. So if all that exists is physicality, where in the physical world is the dream triangle? In this essay, Arthur Haswell not only elaborates rigorously on this thought experiment, but also anticipates and addresses various possible objections. The conclusion, he claims, is that the experiment demonstrates that there is more to reality than what we colloquially call ‘the physical.’

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Imagination is closer to truth than you think

Natalia Vorontsova talks to Dr Tom Cheetham about active imagination, consciousness and life-changing experiences in the context of the philosophy and theology of Henry Corbin, Ibn Arabi and Surhawardi. Tom offers a unique perspective on post-materialist science, having come full circle from scientific materialism through Jungian psychology and Sufi mysticism to the realization that science is not an obstacle to accessing the transcendent. It’s a thought-provoking conversation about the nature of reality and what it means to be human.

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All matter is a cognitive ‘hallucination,’ even the brain itself

Neuroscience has conceded that the same cognitive structures that generate dreams also generate our experience of waking reality. It’s just that, unlike in the former case, in the latter the ‘hallucination’ is modulated by external factors. Be that as it may, the implication is still that all we colloquially refer to as ‘matter’ is a cognitive construct of our minds. However, as Aditya Prasad highlights, despite such acknowledgment most neuroscientists still surreptitiously seem to assume that the chunk of matter we call a ‘brain’ is special: unlike all other matter, which is ‘hallucinated,’ the brain is the thing that generates the hallucinations. But for the account to remain consistent, we must understand that the brain, too, as a material object, is part of the hallucination. The implications of this consistency, Mr. Prasad argues, are ineffable.

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Quantum fields are consciousness: A groundbreaking new theory by the inventor of the microprocessor

A new groundbreaking theory on consciousness proposes that qualia — for instance, the scent of a rose — reside in quantum fields. Federico Faggin is one of the greatest luminaries of high technology alive today. A physicist by education, he is the inventor of the microprocessor and the MOS silicon gate technology, both of which underlie the modern world’s entire information technology. With the knowledge and experience of a lifetime in cutting-edge fields, Federico now turns his attention to consciousness and the nature of reality, sharing with us his profound insights on the classical and quantum worlds, artificial intelligence, life and the human mind. In this discussion, he elaborates on an idealist model of reality, produced after years of careful thought and direct experience, according to which nature’s most fundamental level is that of consciousness as a quantum phenomenon, while the classical physical world consists merely of evocative symbols of a deeper reality.

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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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The ‘Fall of Man’ as the Freudian original loss

The biblical story of the Fall of Man is a symbolic representation of our universal experience of primordial loss, the Freudian pure lack, or “das Ding,” argues Dr. Sachs. The fall into the phenomenal world of perceptual experience appears from this psychoanalytical perspective as the “I” development of the human being.  The subsequent expulsion from paradise and the loss of the immediate presence of God are the trauma of this fundamental loss.

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Superpowers may be real and science needs to study them

What if the humanities would open their horizon to more metaphysical possibilities? Prof. Kripal has written a book about a future in which the humanities study the full human. In these superhumanities, the weird, the psi—in short, the impossible—is taken seriously metaphysically: anomalous phenomena are not only regarded as subjective truths, but also as objective claims about reality.

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Thoughts are more real than objects (The Return of Idealism)

Idealism is often regarded as a philosophy entailing that the world exists just in our heads, which is obviously false. Rising philosophical star Dr. Jeremy Dunham argues that this view of idealism is a misconception. Idealism is a much more realist worldview than we think, and more realist than its alternatives, as it does not deny the existence of the most real things there are: thoughts.

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Mind is not what it seems: On the mental foundation of the world

In this short and direct essay, A. A. Adedire argues a key philosophical point: those who object to idealism based on the assumption that the order and regularity of nature is incompatible with mind are mistaking mind for the personal self. The latter, he points out, is merely a narrative created by mind, which mind then wrongly identifies itself with. What truly defines mind—the only constant behind all experience—is the very awareness of experience. The constancy of this awareness, Adedire argues, is entirely consistent with the orderly nature of the world, as well as its continuity, and can therefore constitute the very foundation of the world.

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Imagination is closer to truth than you think

Natalia Vorontsova talks to Dr Tom Cheetham about active imagination, consciousness and life-changing experiences in the context of the philosophy and theology of Henry Corbin, Ibn Arabi and Surhawardi. Tom offers a unique perspective on post-materialist science, having come full circle from scientific materialism through Jungian psychology and Sufi mysticism to the realization that science is not an obstacle to accessing the transcendent. It’s a thought-provoking conversation about the nature of reality and what it means to be human.

Seeing

Videos

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A subjective world can still be real (The Return of Idealism)

Philosophers since Descartes have questioned whether our experience reflects a reality outside of our minds. In this essay, Prof. Franks argues that the basic insight of Kant’s approach—perspectivism—harmonizes better with our ordinary experience of the world, and with Einstein’s relativistic physics, than Berkeley’s immaterialist view.

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Going beyond Einstein: Linking time and consciousness

Here is day 2 of Essentia’s Time and Mind conference, our scientific discussion of the profound mystery of the passage of time and how it relates to consciousness. Many physicists maintain that the passage of time is purely a feature of mind, beyond physics itself, while others argue that it points to some new physical paradigm, perhaps associated with the marriage of relativity theory and quantum theory. Certainly, the status of time in any final theory of physics remains unclear. What is clear, however, is that a theory that encompasses time and mind will have to go beyond Einstein’s Block Universe.

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Meta-survival: on the incoherence of localized, countable subjectivity

Through a careful series of thought-experiments, and starting from mainstream assumptions regarding the relationship between mind and brain, Ola Nilsson shows that the notion of multiple, individual, local subjects of experience is incoherent. Consciousness, therefore, cannot fundamentally be a localized, countable process.

From the archives

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Reality is the tapestry of perception (The Return of Idealism)

The materialist worldview robs reality of its colour, temperature, smell, leaving us with a picture that is radically at odds with our common sense understanding of the world. Helen Yetter-Chappell proposes an alternative: reality is made of experiences, woven together into an experiential tapestry that persists even when we aren’t looking.

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What happens to consciousness when clocks stop?

Hans Busstra sat down with Bernard Carr and Bernardo Kastrup to discuss all presentations given at our ‘Time and Mind’ conference and elaborate further on their own ideas. For instance, both Carr and Kastrup agree that, if you take an idealist perspective, you need multiple time dimensions to account for the decomposition problem: the mechanism by which consciousness with a big ‘C’ resolves itself into consciousness with a small ‘c’.

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Bertrand Russell’s failure to refute Idealism (The Return of Idealism)

While history suggests that the founder of analytical philosophy, Bertrand Russell, won the fight against the idealists led by F.H. Bradley, Yale philosopher Prof. Michael Della Rocca argues that Russell failed to even address Bradley’s central argument. Ignoring Bradley’s timeless message puts in serious jeopardy not only our basic understanding of ethics, but also the ultimate nature of reality itself.

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