Such a misunderstanding would be, well, understandable if nature weren’t putting evidence to the contrary right in front of our eyes—literally—every day: every time we look into the mirror, we see an appearance. But we know that ‘behind’ that appearance, in some sense, lies the thing-in-itself: our conscious inner life, our moods, thoughts, emotions, fantasies, aspirations, hopes, dreams, fears and desires. When we see tears flowing down our faces as we look into the mirror, we know that the tears are but the external appearance of the concrete inner reality of sorrow and despair. We know that material tears on a contorted material face aren’t all there is to the story, but merely the way a felt inner reality presents itself to external observation. And since our tears, faces and the rest of our bodies are made of the same atoms and force fields that constitute the rest of the observable universe, it is only reasonable to infer—as Schopenhauer did—that the rest of the universe, too, is but the external appearance of a deeper reality; perhaps a reality of inner feelings analogous to our own.
But instead, our paradigmatic thinking assumes that there is an arbitrary discontinuity in nature: in human beings, there is an inner mental reality of which matter is an appearance, alright; but when it comes to the inanimate universe—and perhaps most other living creatures as well—matter is the thing-in-itself. For us, in the early 21st century, there is nothing ‘behind’ the appearances; there is nothing that appears in the form of appearances, just hollow, phantasm-like appearances themselves, without inner essence. This is analogous to going to the cinema and acknowledging the existence of the images on the screen, while denying the reality of the projector by virtue of which the images exist. Erupting volcanoes, thunderstorms, exploding supernovas: we think of all these images as flat, hollow, without intrinsic meaning; they aren’t representations of a deeper reality, but mere phantasms without essence, zombies floating in thin air.
Perhaps future generations will dedicate entire fields of study in psychology, sociology, anthropology and the like, to trying to figure out how we could have gone so wrong; how we could be so blind, for so long, to the blatant incoherence of our own thinking. But for now, different action is called for: subjectively biased as even science and philosophy may have become—for they are the quintessential embodiment of the paradigm—reason and evidence should ultimately prevail, as they have in previous times. What we need is a constant, tireless, ever renewed articulation of the available reasoning and evidence, till they slowly start to percolate through the paradigmatic shield of our collective thinking. And once a critical mass of reason and evidence has come through, our understanding of the essence of ourselves and nature at large will undergo remarkable change; change that will bring us closer to truth and each other. This, in essence, is what Essentia Foundation tries to achieve.
But what will this new worldview look like? What are reason and evidence pointing to? As we hope to make clear over time with the material we will be publishing, there is a strong sense in which the precise opposite of what we think today is much more plausible: instead of matter being primary and mind secondary, we will find that mind—not your or my individual mind alone, but an extended form of mind underlying all nature, of which we are microscopic segments—is primary, matter being just an appearance of essentially mental processes. We will find that, when regarded from a particular perspective, mentation—the thing-in-itself—simply presents itself in the form we colloquially call ‘matter.’ Indeed, there is now robust, compelling scientific and philosophical evidence for this; evidence known in small specialist groups, but hardly made accessible to a wider public. Essentia Foundation will seek to eliminate this communication gap.