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Limitless life

Seeing | Philosophy

Prof. dr. Jan van der Greef discusses his intellectual journey from childhood polio to life sciences, entrepreneurship, art, and finally to a non-dual relationship with nature at large. Watch his presentation during Essentia Foundation’s 2020 online work conference. You can download images from Limitless Life here. Prof. van de Greef’s artistic statement is also available here.

Prof. van der Greef is internationally known as an innovative scientist, entrepreneur in life sciences and passionate nature photographer. Nature has been the source of inspiration for his pioneering scientific achievements in novel analytical technology and systems biology, revealing the interconnectedness of life. His research at the University of Leiden as professor in Analytical Biosciences has resulted in more than 400 publications and 30 PhD thesis projects. He has been co-founder of several life science companies. His latest research focusses on the novel discovery of light emission from living creatures, including humans. He received prestigious awards such as the Scheele award from the Swedish Academy for Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2005, became doctor honoris causa at Ghent University in 2000, and received several honorary professorships, among others from the Chinese Academy of Sciences. His research was recognized among the top-ten innovations in China in 2012. Prof. van der Greef is a director of Essential Foundation.

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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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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.

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.

Reading

Essays

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Metaphysics is inescapable: Even Wittgenstein was a metaphysician (The Return of Metaphysics)

In distancing himself from the Big Questions, such as the nature of reality and the meaning of life, Ludwig Wittgenstein ends up applying a generally-defined form of metaphysics as an antidote to unclear thinking.

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Situating Analytic Idealism within Nietzsche’s critique of realism: A world-historical view

Modern analytic idealism may offer a path to resolving the historical tension between realism (the notion that we can know something about the world out there, as it is in itself) and a Nietzschean relativism that confines all knowledge to merely personal subjectivity, writes Prof. Grego. 

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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.

|

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.

Seeing

Videos

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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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