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Can brain anatomy and function account for psychiatric conditions?

In this in-depth interview, Prof. dr. Sarah Durston discusses the limitations of trying to account for psychiatric conditions based solely on measurable brain anatomy and function. Her candid answers may surprise those who think that brain-reductionism rests on solid ground for at least the most common psychiatric conditions.

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Metaphysics underpins all of our thinking (The Return of Metaphysics)

To criticize metaphysics is itself inevitably to rely on certain metaphysical claims, thereby making metaphysics impervious. Metaphysical ideas underpin all our thinking, argues Prof. Robert Stern.

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A child’s sense of Self

This special video production explores a child’s pre-intellectual, felt sense of self and other, which reflect age-old intuitions rooted in nature. The video is an invitation to revisit rooms in the palace of our minds that we’ve left behind many, many years ago; rooms that contain forgotten treasures whose unspoiled authenticity is an antidote to many of modern life’s ills.

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The symbiotic ecology of the psychedelic realm

The many seemingly autonomous entities encountered in the psychedelic realm suggest that human consciousness is the result of psychic symbiosis, entailing both personal and transpersonal formative principles, argues Dr. Walden in this fascinating essay.

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There is no personal self

Today’s Essentia Readings episode challenges our currently held notion of self and how we typically define experience, as well as consciousness itself.  It argues that the concept of an isolated self is an illusion, and drawing from the Buddhist teachings, illustrates what constitutes consciousness, and how we actually experience—and relate to—ourselves, the world, and others.

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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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How to understand your mind, beyond thought

The unmediated experience of where the question “what am I?” arises in our mind is already its answer, writes Johannes Jörg; an answer that cannot be produced by thought alone. To understand our own minds, we must go beyond conceptual reasoning and explore our older, more primary mental faculties. By merely being aware of our often-ignored inner states, we can restore balance to our lives. This is because living systems are self-organizing: when dysregulation comes into awareness, it is already being regulated.

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How Idealism—and Schopenhauer—saved Tolstoy’s life

In the grip of the nihilistic ethos of late 19th-century materialism and Darwinism, Leo Tolstoy contemplated suicide. He would be saved only by finding confirmation, in Schopenhauer’s idealist philosophy, of his own earlier idealist intuitions. Idealism would go on to deeply transform Tolstoy’s life and work, reconnecting him to the simple but profound intuitions of meaning that pervade the lives of peasants. This easy-to-read essay recounts the existential difficulties of a world-famous individual who presaged both our cultural ethos today, and the transformative opportunities offered by modern idealism.

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Can we live without searching for ultimate truths? (The Return of Metaphysics)

It is second nature for human beings to look for ultimate truths and ground our lives on that search. But should we give up on ultimates altogether and, instead, live pragmatically on the basis of the best ‘literary story’ we can come up with? Dr. Danielsen Huckerby describes how philosopher Richard Rorty argued for just that.

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Physicist and inventor of the microprocessor, Federico Faggin, on life, the universe and everything

Physicist Federico Faggin is the inventor of both the microprocessor and silicon gate technology, and probably the world’s most well rounded idealist alive. This interview is an open, free-ranging but very accessible conversation with Mr. Faggin.

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The world as cognitive construct

Today’s article examines our decidedly limited mental representation of the world, and how it is fundamentally linked to the systems of meaning available to us, to our perceptual constructs. It lays out incredible data to show just how much and in how many ways our perception can be manipulated, and the role we often take in our own delusion.

Seeing

Videos

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The world in mind: Transcendental idealism in Husserl and Kant

Although the philosophies of Kant and Husserl are not logically inconsistent with a hypothetical world outside mind, both deny that there is any meaning or significance to such a theoretical abstraction. Therefore, both Kant and Husserl were true idealists, argues dr. van Mazijk.

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How hyper-dimensional spacetime may explain individual identity

How can one natural consciousness appear to be many? Prof. Bernard Carr proposes that multiple dimensions of time, which can also be associated with the notion of a ‘specious present,’ can resolve the problem both rigorously and in an intuitively satisfying manner.

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Consciousness, spacetime and the intelligence of nature

Closing the second day of the 2021 ‘The Science of Consciousness’ conference, dr. Jacob Jolij, dr. Esmee Gerken and Dr. Iain McGilchrist take questions and debate consciousness, spacetime and the intelligence of nature.

From the archives

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Playing in the field: The nature of children and consciousness

Through their play and the extraordinary inner experiences they report, children reveal a broader, non-local, decentered and shared self. Because children are less conditioned than adults, this may be a clue to the true nature and scope of self and reality, as well as the role of consciousness within it, argues Dr. Donna Thomas.

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The timeless mind: A thought experiment

Mind cannot be reduced to matter. Therefore, instead of looking for the origin of mind, we must understand reality in semiotic terms: as a universal set of signifiers and meanings. This is the argument put forward by Massimilano Sorrentino and Daniela Panighetti in this essay.

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A psychiatrist’s perspective on dissociation and complexity

Today’s article is a master class on dissociation, from the field of psychiatry. It breaks down the complexity of this phenomenon, and shows us that it is a much more common process in life than is generally thought. Furthermore, when observed in the realm of mind and then extrapolated beyond to consciousness as a whole, it allows for a better understanding of the fundamental premise at the heart of analytic idealism.

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