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How Idealism saved Leo Tolstoy’s life

Listening | Literature | 2023-04-23

RUSSIA - CIRCA 1910: Postcard printed in Russia shows Count Leo Tolstoy in Yasnaya Poliana with paintings by Ilya Repin, circa 1910

Today’s article sheds light on the personal journey of one of the world’s most renowned authors, and the impact of idealism on his development and growth. It shows us what joins humanity together in its suffering, but also what joins it in the potential for collective healing. The power is within all of us, quietly showing us the way. This is the latest episode of the Essentia Readings podcast.

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Essentia Foundation communicates, in an accessible but rigorous manner, the latest results in science and philosophy that point to the mental nature of reality. We are committed to strict, academic-level curation of the material we publish.

Recently published

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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.

From the archives

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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.

Reading

Essays

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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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The amazing parallels between the Kabbalah and physics

In this interview, Natalia Vorontsova discusses consciousness and science from the perspective of Kabbalistic Panpsychism with Prof. Dr. Hyman Schipper. The parallels between quantum physics and the ancient Kabbalah are astonishing. Having studied the Kabbalah for many years, Dr Schipper also explains how this knowledge is applicable to many areas of thought and how it has impacted his life. It’s a frank and heart-warming conversation.

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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.

Seeing

Videos

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Does quantum mechanics beckon the end of naturalism? (The Return of Idealism)

Naturalism, the idea that there are no gods, is the leading theory of our time. However, in this instalment of our The Return of Idealism series, in partnership with the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI), Bruce Gordon argues that quantum mechanics not only beckons the end of naturalism, but also points towards the existence of a transcendent mind. Essentia Foundation’s position is, nonetheless, that idealism is entirely compatible with naturalism.

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Wittgenstein on the practical significance of the physicalism vs idealism debate (The Return of Idealism)

Physical realists and idealists argue about whether physical objects exist, whether they have standalone reality, or are just part of a world of ideas. But can they, at root, help us solve some other important philosophical questions? In this instalment of our ‘The Return of Idealism’ series, in partnership with the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI), Prof. David R. Cerbone argues that Wittgenstein can help us return to more practical questions. Wittgenstein’s position is, indeed, that the metaphysical debate between physical realists and idealists is of little practical significance. We at Essentia Foundation strongly disagree with this: we believe that different metaphysical views have profound significance for how we experience the meaning of life, our relationship with the world, expectations about death, and have direct bearing on even very practical considerations such as how to further develop medicine and exploit phenomena such as neuroplasticity and the placebo effect. Nonetheless, we believe Wittgentein’s thoughts are worth considering, if only to make clear the degree to which they miss the point. This essay was first published by the IAI on 29 February 2024.

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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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