Tag Archives: philosophy of science

Death to God!

In my last post I wrote about the disparity between the abundant lives most of us live in developed economies in the twenty-first century, and the anger and blame that sits within many of us. That attitude of rage is seen most often on social media. We may find ourselves surprised at how angry we become when reading or watching things online. Where does that anger come from? I argued that modern cultures, including liberal ideals and the human potential movement, have unconsciously created cultures of pessimism and judgmental condemnation. And I argued that this anger is, for the most part, unnecessary.

At the end of that article I promised to follow up with a post about anger at an even deeper level: the rage at God, the universe and all existence.

The essence of this deep rage is the rejection of the world and its people, the universe and all of existence. It is nihilistic. It seeks extinction of sentience. In other words, it is suicidal. Freud’s death wish holds true for many of us as individuals, and for the human collective.

At its deepest level this rage seeks to destroy God itself. We look around and see darkness painted thick upon the fabric of the cosmos: war, rape, suicide, and suffering in its multiple forms. No matter how much we are granted by kind fate, no matter how great we come to be, it is all taken away… by the hand of God.

Even as we struggle to live and thrive in the world, we may carry within us the polarity of the desire for self-preservation, and self-destruction.

You might say I don’t believe in God, so this doesn’t apply to me and the increasing masses of people in the world who no longer believe in God (or, at least, not in religious versions of God). But you would be wrong. As Carl Jung pointed out a long time ago, God is not just a belief. It is an archetype which sits at the heart of the human psyche. It is a motif which it central to the way we process reality, albeit often at a subtle level. This is why even atheists will curse God when something goes wrong, or thank God when an unexpected joy comes into their lives.

Nietzsche was wrong. The atheists are wrong. God is not dead. We just want that to be so, and we want the bastard to go out with a bang.

 

How science gets it wrong

Current mainstream dominant psychology and neuroscience is reductionist. It has all but rejected the concepts of the mind and consciousness, and along with them most ideas which are psychological and “psychic” in nature. The ideas of depth psychologists like Jung and Freud are rarely discussed. They have been thrown into the dust bin of history.

In modern cognitive science the mind is nothing but the expression of neuro-physiology. Within such a mechanical model, mental constructs can either be ignored or discussed merely as peripheral phenomena.

But as I have pointed out numerous times in my writings, the reductionist model of mind is faulted. I base this understanding on experience gleaned from several decades exploring consciousness at a first-person level. Conversely, many of today’s experts in the fields of psychology and even consciousness theory have spent little or no time opening these inner door-ways. This lack of experience  and understanding has greatly contributed to the misunderstandings that underpin mainstream mechanistic models of mind today.

Eventually the idea of consciousness will have to return to the fore in our models of mind, and with that we will have to reintroduce the mental world. Some of the ideas of traditional psychology will return, albeit with a more nuanced and scientifically literate integration with neuro-science. We will, for example, realise that although Freud’s essentially pneumatic model of mind was deeply faulted, it nonetheless contains many accurate understandings of the human psyche. Much of Jung’s work will have to be acknowledged, also. Archetypes do reside within the human psyche. They do form collective artefacts which influence human consciousness and behavior.

 

The turning away

A crucial aspect of our God rage is that many human beings, probably about a third of us, don’t want to be here (exact quantification is unnecessary). They reject the life that they have been given, the world and the cosmos. And they reject humanity. If my figure is right, we have over two billion people sharing psychic space who want to blow the place up. It is a highly volatile collective mental space.

Discovering the God rage within my own psyche was frightening. I unearthed it during inner child work, where I would relax deeply and allow myself to feel whatever emerged within my own mind. What I found was that what underpinned many of the “dramas” I had with other people and the world a was very, very, very deep anger. And fear. There was a terrifying sense of helpless despair within me. I just wanted everything to end, including myself. This came as some surprise, because I was not consciously aware of any suicidal tendencies within myself.

But there it was. And there it may still be. Despite doing much healing work, I have learned not to impose self-concepts on such things. It is better to relax and allow such energies to express themselves, if that is what the moment calls for. Having gone into such dark spaces, and having given that wound loving attention without judgment or desire to eliminate it, I now do not need to be afraid of it. That inner work has granted me courage to face whatever arises from the psyche.

 

The source of the God rage

The God rage is a mental remnant of both our personal biographies and of collective human history – and the history of all life on this planet. The God rage is primordial. Our psychic evolution through past eons and also through the relatively recent history of human civilization has been bloody and violent. It has been traumatic.

Trauma typically does not dissipate once the physical expression has passed. A child that has been abused by its parents typically retains that pain and suffering at some level, even if the kid grows up, matures, and hopefully manages to build a successful life and relationships. Further, if the individual does not process that trauma it will tend to be deposited onto the consciousness fields of their children, perhaps even before the offspring are born. When the traumatised person dies, his or her consciousness field typically does not dissipate either. It lingers. And along with that the psychic field remains.

A similar principle operates with human collective consciousness fields. Our history books may often substitute undesirable histories for the delusion of flattering narratives, but the consciousness constructs will tend to remain. Every war, genocide, invasion and colonisation remains extant at some level. Those narratives then tend to be reactivated in later generations.

We can tell big lies, but we cannot hide from big truths forever. We can employ misnomers like “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” “The Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” or “the settlement of Australia,” but you can’t lie to the universe. It knows.

We know, deep within ourselves.

Thus it is that at a mental level we hold the consciousness structures of the ancestors, and ultimately of the entire human race.

How this expresses itself varies from individual to individual. Our minds are like hierarchies of concepts and stories, each nestled into greater pools of consciousness which extend beyond the body and into space and timelessness.

This is why the destructive rage at God, the world and its people affects the way we live our lives even into the scientific era. Because our collective pain and anger is so great, we have to invest psychological energy into suppressing it. We have to generate strategies to deny our trauma, our anger. Most typically this generates depression. When anger, sadness sand fear are suppressed they become heavy weights which drag us down. We carry baggage – a lot more baggage that we would like to admit.

The God rage is one of the primary motifs which we humans must negotiate in our psycho-spiritual evolution. Until the problem is fully owned and integrated by us both as individuals and as a species, the God rage will continue to create chaos and suffering. And destruction.

After all this is stated, the question then becomes: what is to be done about the God rage? How can we heal this pain? That will be the subject of my next post.

Marcus

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Extinguishing Bruno’s Visions

bruno

Visionary experience is not unusual amongst scientists, and in the history of science. Giordano Bruno was a sixteenth century Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, and astrologer. At this time the Church was incredibly powerful, and was heavily intolerant of any challenges to its sun-and-God-centred map of the cosmos. Bruno was also a mystic who was deeply influenced by his visionary experiences. As reported in the television series Cosmos, Bruno had a powerful vision which shaped his decision to leave the Church and push for ecclesiastical reform. In the vision Bruno felt himself leaving his body, and flying out into the universe. There he felt he personally witnessed the limitless nature of the cosmos. What he experienced convinced him that Copernicus was right in positing the sun at the centre of the universe. The precise account of Bruno’s vision is difficult to track down, but Cosmos recounts it as follows.

I spread confident wings to space and soared toward the infinite, leaving far behind me what others strained to see from a distance. Here, there was no up. No down. No edge. No centre. I saw that the Sun was just another star. And the stars were other Suns, each escorted by other Earths like our own. The revelation of this immensity was like falling in love.

Thus Bruno became convinced that the God of the Church was far smaller than the extant God of all existence. He believed that the sun was just one of many stars, and speculated that many worlds might lie beyond the Earth and that they too might be inhabited. This got Bruno into a lot of trouble, and he was imprisoned for eight years as a heretic, before being cruelly burnt at the stake by the Inquisition. It is said that his tongue and pallet were pierced with iron stakes. Despite years of persecution, Bruno refused to renounce his beliefs, famously stating to his inquisitors, “Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it.”

COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY: More than three decades after Carl Sagan's groundbreaking and iconic series, "Cosmos: A Personal Voyage," it's time once again to set sail for the stars. Host and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson sets off on the Ship of the Imagination to discover Earth's Cosmic Address and its coordinates in space and time in the "Standing Up in the Milky Way" Series Premiere episode of COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY airing Sunday, March 9, 2014 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. (Photo by FOX via Getty Images)
Neil De Grasse Tyson recounts this tale in the first episode of the Cosmos series. What interests me most is de Grasse Tyson’s take on Bruno’s vision. He states that it was “…a lucky guess, and like all guesses it could have been wrong.” It is significant to note that the world’s most eminent scientist understands so little about the way the human mind functions in non-ordinary states of consciousness.

There are two factors which challenge the claim that what Bruno experienced was merely a lucky guess. The first factor is perfectly accepted in cognitive science, and it is the process of incubation. The brain will unconsciously process information on a subject matter even when we are not paying attention, when completely relaxed, or when focusing upon something unrelated. We receive immense amounts of data each moment, and we are unaware of most of it. The brain can go about processing this data, regardless of our conscious volition. The result can be personal insight, the synthesis of connected subject matters and creative inspiration. If we consider this incubation process, the relative accuracy of Bruno’s visionary experience may have been the result of his brain taking in all the data it had received, and converting it into the best map of the universe it knew how to construct. And given that Bruno was an obsessive reader of science, philosophy and theology, this vision would have been anything but a “guess.” It would have been a data-based intuition.

The second important cognitive function that challenges de Grasse Tyson’s “guess” statement concerns a factor that is not yet widely accepted in modern science: that consciousness is not confined to the brain and is in constant interplay with the world about us, and the very expanse of the universe itself. If we accept this, then Bruno’s mind was not delimited by his personal experience, including readings of science. What he “saw” in his visionary state may have been his mind engaging the intelligence of the cosmos itself. Such experiences are widely reported amongst mystics in many spiritual traditions and in transpersonal experience, although the nature of the knowledge they glean may not always be along the “scientific” lines that Bruno experienced. The history of science has many similar reports. Kekule envisaged the benzene ring in a dream, while Alfred Russel Wallace pieced together the essence of his model of biological evolution while in a fever-induced trance. Wallace did this at the very same time in history that Darwin was finalising his ideas about evolution. In fact, there are claims that Darwin plagiarised parts of his thesis from a long letter sent to him by Wallace, just months before Darwin published The Origin of Species.

It cannot be claimed that de Grasse Tyson is entirely contemptuous of the importance of first-person experience when conducting science. He describes himself as an “agnostic,” and rejects the label of “atheist.” Further, he uses the word “spiritual” in relating his emotive relationship to the cosmos. Yet he makes it clear that he is not referring to religious experience, but a sense of awe and connectivity.

Nonetheless, the famous scientist’s rejection of Bruno’s visionary capacities is perplexing. How is it possible that such a learned man as de Grasse Tyson, extensively educated and employed at the world’s finest universities (Harvard, Columbia, Princeton) can be so dismissive of the often unconscious nature of perception and creativity via non-ordinary states of consciousness? We could mention the self-limiting nature of the mechanistic paradigm in mainstream science. We might suggest the pressure that the series producers may have felt to please their “scientifically-literate” audience. Yet the answer may simply be that the world’s most eminent scientist has never experienced such states of awareness. After all, our “best” educational institutions also tend to be our most conservative. Science is taught and conducted with logical, detached and analytical ways of knowing.

The great irony is that the scientific revolution which Bruno helped bring about and ultimately died for has also disowned the very cognitive process which drove many of his insights. This rejection has created the split in the modern mind, where we disown our essential connection to nature and the cosmos, and to our inner worlds.
Perhaps we need another Bruno to rise like a phoenix from the flames of history and reignite our integrated intelligence.

Marcus

giordano-bruno-statue-on-fire

How Not To Simulate a Brain While Wasting A Billion Dollars

Take a look at this fascinating TED talk by Henry Markram. The talk is about six years old, and he outlines how we can build a mathematical simulation of the human brain by mapping all the neurons and their interconnections. Once we can do this we will be able to simulate consciousness, he says. It may also help us find answers to mental disease and mental degeneration.

Markram was involved in developing a simulation of part of a rat’s brain. Now he’s on to people. Not long after this talk Markram was given 1.3 billion dollars by the European Union to turn this dream to reality over a period of one decade, via the Human Brain Project.

The thing is, as you watch the talk with any critical capacity, it is easy to see that there are numerous guesses and unquestioned presuppositions posited about the way the brain functions, and about the nature of consciousness. The computer metaphor appears again and again and again, as if it is unquestionably true that the brain operates like a computer. If you get the founding principle wrong, there’s not much chance anything else is going to go right.

That mathematical description will yield the secrets of consciousness is about as valid as believing that positing a simple equation to describe two oranges tells us the nature of oranges. OR 1 + OR 2 = 2OR. All you really have is an abstract representation of a couple of pieces of fruit.

And little did go right in the Human Brain Project. In 2015 Markram was fired as the project head, after the entire project became a “brain wreck” a mere two years after it began. The whole story is testimony to how far into delusion both neuroscience and popular perceptions about the brain have descended. Fancy computer graphics reify the delusion.

It is a giant ego fall. We just don’t know very much about the brain, and very, very little about consciousness.

Maybe it’s time to start asking some new questions.

The Biology of Story…

Rick Tarnas shared this site today called the Biology of Story, and it looks good. Some great sound bites, and neat, potted summaries of key ideas, which is very useful in the modern age. I found the videos wouldn’t load on the site itself on my iPad – I had to go through to YouTube to watch them. Some very informative short videos featuring people like Rupert Sheldrake and Fritfof Capra. To be honest, I don’t know some of the names listed there, but I will check some out in the coming days.

There is an interesting three-minute video where Capra outlines why new paradigms take time to take hold. He points to professional, institutional and cognitive resistance.

The Shocking Truth About Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, as we all know, was a great scientist who meticulously laid bare the myth of a purposeful hand in evolution, instead revealing that blind chance and survival of the fittest are what lie behind the evolution of species. He was vehemently opposed to religious and spiritual thought, instead insisting upon the empirical investigation of nature as the only means to truly identify the way our world works. In short, the selfish gene hypothesis famously posited by Richard Dawkins has much to thank Darwin for, in establishing the ground rules upon which nature produces new variations in plant and animal life.

Yet according to research put forward by veteran psychologist David Loye, this representation of Darwin is only partially correct. Indeed it is dangerously misleading. It fails to mention the shocking truth that Darwin was no advocate of blind chance as the key factor underpinning natural selection. Although the beginnings of genetic theory were still half a century away in 1858 when The Origin of Species was published, Loye’s research suggests that Darwin would not have been particularly inclined towards Dawkin’s selfish gene hypothesis and neo-Darwinism in general. Conversely, Loye writes in his latest book The Integral Darwin: The Revolutionary Rest of the Story and the Theory of Evolution that Darwin’s work and thinking actually presaged the mid-twentieth century arrival of systems theory, self-organising process theory, and a more progressive, spiritually-inclined psychology.

The case for a softer Darwin
Some years ago Loye’s investigative mind took to purusing Dawin’s The Descent of Man, which was published over a decade after The Origin of Species. To his astonishment, the Princeton psychologist discovered that Darwin had only used the term “survival of the fittest” twice in the entire huge volume, and wrote only six times of “selfishness.” Conversely he wrote about “moral sensitivity” no less than ninety-two times and “love” ninety-five times.

Loye’s case for depicting Darwin as a far more eclectic and even spiritually-inclined individual is strong. The quotes he takes from Darwin’s own works and diaries cannot be simply dismissed as aberrations. For this we should certainly thank the author.

Consider the following, from the conclusion of The Descent of Man.

Important as the struggle for existence has been and even still is, yet as far as the highest part of man’s nature is concerned there are other agencies more important… For the moral qualities are advanced, either directly or indirectly, much more through the effects of habit, he reasoning powers, instruction, religion, &c, than through natural selection.

It is difficult to argue that Darwin here is talking about cultural evolution. Yes, that despised word amongst empiricists, “culture.”
Or reflect upon this gem which Loye quotes.

Admitting for a moment that virtuous tendencies are inherited, it appears probable, at least in such cases as chastity, temperance, humanity to animals, &c., that they become first impressed on the mental organisation through habit, instruction and example, continued during several generations in the same family, and in a quite subordinate degree, or not at all, by the individuals possessing such virtues having succeeded best in the struggle for life.

This quote appears to suggest that mental characteristics can be passed down from generation to generation. This is not much like the selfish gene at all. Indeed, here is a Darwin who believed that “love sympathy and self-command (can) become strengthened by habit.”
Further, Loye finds evidence in The Descent of Man that Darwin was favourably predisposed to spiritual reflection.

… A belief in all-pervading, spiritual agencies seems to be universal; and apparently follows from a considerable advance in man’s reason, and from a still greater advance in his faculties of imagination, curiosity and wonder.

Again, we see a Darwin at great odds with the dominant culture of modern science, one who saw the spiritual as an “advance” in consciousness. Loye’s research suggests that the mental realm was just as important to Darwin’s evolutionary model as was the physical. Later in the March of scientific “progress” all trace the mental was to be largely excluded from the modernist worldview. Darwin’s story suffered a similar fate, with reference to such ideas excluded from the popular narrative, a link that Loye highlights often.

How it came to pass
What intrigues Loye is how Darwin has come to be so badly misrepresented in modern science. Why is it that we have only been told of half the story? How for example, did we get from Darwin’s initial theory – which was moderated by deeper philosophical and arguably spiritual ideals – to the far end of today’s neoDarwinism. The latter is epitomised by philosopher and neo-Darwinist Daniel Dennet’s claiming that ALL things in the universe operate according to processes which strongly mirror the mechanistic laws of a rigid natural selection? The reason for this perversion, according to Loye, lies in the mindboggling power of paradigm blindness.

Today, Neo-Darwinism has come to dominate biology, and in turn neuroscience and psychology have become handmaidens to its reductionism – a development that Freud foresaw and feared in the first half of the twentieth century. Yet there is evidence that the hold of the mechanistic paradigm is loosening. Such developments as the missing heritability problem in genetics, neurplasticity, and the evidence for the non-local properties of consciousness pose a genuine challenge to the machine cosmos worldview.

Darwin was no Darwinist, and why it matters
Yet what of Loye’s case for Darwin’s thinking being a precursor to more recent systems and chaos theory? The correlations are also clear, though some may find the link overstated.

Loye sees a far more accurate, humane, sustainable and ultimately accurate depiction of life and cosmos in the systems theories epitomised by the work of such thinkers as thermodynamicist Ilya Prigogine, brain scientist Karl Probram, integral philosopher Ken Wilber, feminist writer Rianne Eisler, systems theorist Ervin Laszlo and psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Indeed, the first part of the book details how David Loye was invited to join Ervin Laslo’s General Evolution research group in Budapest. Ultmately Loye would develop the Darwin Project Group, with the express goal of bringing Darwin’s Lost Theory to the world.

It is not Loye’s intention to deny the role of natural selection on nature. Nor does he deny many of the aspects of Dawin’s theory which are consistent with Neo-Darwinism. Yet Loye is adamant that Darwin himself was no “Darwinist” in the popular conception of the term.
But does all this really matter? Is it really that important that Darwin’s conception of natural selection and of nature in general was far more eclectic than mainstream genetic theory today and that we have underplayed the diffrences?

Yes, it is important, says Loye. Very important. The selfish gene theory and mechanistic biology in general have created a very selective and deeply distorted view of the cosmos in which we live. Such delimited thinking simply ignores the data which does not fit its map of reality. It therefore does not represent the full human story. At a social and cultural level it has contributed to the the often disconnected and morally vapid culture of modern developed economies. This distorted map and culture, argues Loye, are what lie behind many of the great problems of the world, including disconnection from nature, environmental recklessness, rabid consumerism and much human conflict. He also sees power-hungry conservative interests as having taken the neo-Darwinnian discourse to justify their own selfish social agendas.Therefore, the reinstatement of the full story of Darwin would represent an important step in acknowledging where we have gone wrong. From that point we could begin the long task of finding a more accurate and empowering narrative to drive the human species into the future.

In the end, Loye’s research shows us that the stories we tell about our heroes – including those from science, philosophy and education – can be heavily distorted by the prevailing thinking of those gazing upon the past. Examples from the history of science abound. Socrates was no mere critical thinker, believing in the spiritually transformative power of knowledge. Newton started out as a theologian and remained mired in theology all his life (Darwin, too, excelled at university in Divinity Studies). Freud was sympathetic to research into ESP, but afraid to go public about it. These men were not the severe rationalists that are often depicted in modern tomes, each possessing ideas and ideals that were either mystical, religious, spiritual or Romantic in some sense.

If David Loye is right, Charles Darwin may one day be remembered as one of the men who healed the split in the modern mind between the scientific/rational, and the spiritual/intuitive. That would be some irony.

David Loye’s website is www.davidloye.com.
Marcus T Anthony, PhD is the author of ten books about human awakening, including Discover Your Soul Template. He is also a life coach and teacher of profound intuition. 

The Neuron With No Clothes

Our knowledge of the nature of the objects treated in physics consists solely of readings of pointers (on instrument dials) and other indicators. (Therefore) what knowledge have we of the nature of atoms that renders it at all incongruous that they should constitute a thinking object?(Thus) science has nothing to say as to the intrinsic nature of the atom. – Sir Arthur Eddington.

What do we really know about the intrinsic nature of consciousness and its essential role (if any) in the nature of cosmos? Probably a lot less than many would assume. There is no question that our knowledge of brains has expanded massively in the past century. But what does all this data about brains really tell us about consciousness? Not a great deal, I suspect. Yet mainstream psychology and neuroscience continues to ignore the obvious implications of the question: “Are brains and minds the same thing?”

Instead, these discourses tend to ignore the question, replacing it with an unquestioned presupposition: mind equals brain. Worse still, much of science still tends not even to bother with consciousness, intention, and the importance of the role of the perceiver. Ironically, the scientific detachment that was born of the awareness of the fallibility of first-person perception has typically led to the dismissal of the role of mind in nature, evolution and cosmos.

Galen Strawson in a well-known paper entitled “Realistic monism: why physicalism entails panpsychism” points out some of the logical inconsistencies in materialist science. Strawson is incredulous at the denial of personal experience which lies at the heart of the materialist worldview that still dominates much of science, especially biology, psychology and neuroscience. This, he states, is akin to the denial of “the existence of experience.”

At this we should stop and wonder. I think we should feel very sober, and a little afraid, at the power of human credulity, the capacity of human minds to be gripped by theory, by faith. For this particular denial is the strangest thing that has ever happened in the whole history of human thought, not just the whole history of philosophy. It falls, unfortunately, to philosophy, not religion, to reveal the deepest woo-woo of the human mind. I find this grievous, but, next to this denial, every known religious belief is only a little less sensible than the belief that grass is green.

Strawson is correct. What is it about first-person experience that science is so afraid of? What has created this absurd rejection of the “I”?

We could of course run through the history of science in the past several hundred years, talking about the necessity to challenge religious authority on matters of reason, and the subsequent discrediting of theology or mysticism in providing adequate explanations of most mundane things (it has to be admitted). We could also talk about the rise of more sophisticated ways of knowing such as calculation (e.g. Newton), classification (Darwin), analysis (Comte) and experimentalism (Hemholtz) by the mid nineteenth century. And we could acknowledge the massive impact and success of technologies which arose from that – the microscope, telescope, computer and so on – and how these in turn generated exponential increases in our capacity to “perceive”, collate and analyse data.

Out of all this a new culture, a new paradigm, a new way of looking at life and cosmos emerged. Materialism was a defining feature of this science. In this schema, things – including people, animals and minds – were at their very basis material objects, regardless of what properties or behaviours they exhibited at a macro-level.

All this has been widely discussed by philosophers of science, as have been the many challenges to such a reductionist approach to knowledge. Those challenges have always been around, of course, with perhaps the emergence of quantum physics early in the nineteenth century representing the most pronounced challenge. And yet even today materialism – and the denial of mind – remains strongly embedded in many of our sciences.

​Strawson’s paper argues that any rational take on the relationship between cosmos and mind has to admit at least a “micropsychism”, if not quite the idea of panpsychism (that consciousness is present in all things, to some degree). He states that “realistic physicalists… grant that experiential phenomena are real concrete phenomena… and that experiential phenomena are therefore physical phenomena.” He argues that everything concrete is physical and everything physical is comprised of physical ultimates. Conscious experience is part of that concrete reality. Therefore consciousness is an intrinsic aspect of cosmos.

Although I do not specifically define myself as a panpsychist, clearly the idea is quite compatible with the existence of the non-local mind. If there is at least a little bit of mind found in all things, it helps to explain how it is that minds can perceive of things that are not readily perceptible with the eyes, ears and other sensory organs. I believe the latter is now undeniable. I base that conclusion upon three sources: my own extensive experience with expanded and non-local mind; first-person insights gleaned from the world’s great wisdom traditions and recorded for posterity; and upon the scientific data which has been gleaned from psychic research for more than a century.

What lies at the heart of the debate is the mind-body problem. Even if one rejects the evidence for psychic phenomena and the extended mind, we still have the issue of how we get consciousness from brains. How does conscious experience arise from the firing of neurons? Implicit within the mechanistic paradigm is that consciousness IS the firing of neurons. Because if it isn’t, then what is it?

A key issue is how to explain why it is that our experience of mind is so utterly different from what we experience when we look at, say, a brain in a vat, or an fMRI scan of neuronal activity. Clearly there is something very qualitatively different between brains and consciousness. What exactly does that difference represent, and what is the relationship between these two things?

The question has not been adequately addressed in neuroscience. As Lawrnece Le Shan points out in his wonderful book “A New Science of the Paranormal,” there is an explanatory gap which lies at the heart of the mind-equals-brain model. We have sensory inputs, we have electrical signals and we got them neurons firing and then… wala! Thought, sensation, consciousness.

Such is one of several very, very big “miracles” that go unimaginably unexplained within modern science. The other two big, big problems which I can point to are how the cosmos arose out of the nothingness that lies at the moment before the Big Bang; while the third is the puzzle of biogenesis. How did life arise from lifeless matter? For the last query, reductionism arguably works for the bio-machinery of the organism, but fails miserably to account for the rise of consciousness.

And after all, the most wonderful and surprising aspect of life is consciousness, at least as it exists in multi-cellular organisms such as we human beings. An explanation for the emergence of life which fails to account for the origin of consciousness is a bit like an account of airplanes without bothering to mention that they tend to fly. Such “explanations” are ultimately merely descriptions.

Lawrence Le Shan points out an obvious double standard with a common criticism of psychic research. In the latter critique, it is incredulously stated that research into phenomena like ESP, telepathy, precognition and so on fail to provide an adequate explanation for how information might travel from one place or mind to another place or mind without some mechanical process to mediate that transfer (note: the idea of “travel” is highly problematic in regard to non-locality).

Yet as Le Shan indicates, this explanatory gap merely mirrors the explanatory gap in psychology and neuroscience regarding how we get consciousness from neurons. As yet there is no adequate explanation, and this remains more than a merely small problem. It begs the question of what the essential nature of consciousness actually is!

And still the discourse continues without so much as a pause for reflection, hailing His Majesty the Neuron With no Clothes. Perhaps it is about time that we finally admit that the emperor is totally buck naked – and duly tell him, such that in the long run we save him from further embarrassment, when he is informed that his game is up.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Marcus

Sheldrake & the Credibility Issue in Modern Science

I share a link here to an interesting podcast entitled “Beyond Physicalism,” which features Mark Vernon interviewing biologist Rupert Sheldrake. Sheldrake talks of a new “humility” in science. This emerges from some of the recent research which indicates that the file drawer effect in science is far more pronounced than previously thought, and that a great many of the experiments in science are not repeateable.

The file drawer effect is the tendency for researchers to publish only results that support their research agendas or personal biases.

Sheldrake claims that psychic science has led the way here, as they have had to deal with accusations of the file drawer effect for many years. Now it turns out that mainstream science itself has a widespread problem in this respect.

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Sheldrake mentions the “questionable research practices” which underpin the loss of confidence in science – scientists only publish 5-10% of their data. This means there is scope for tremendous distortion. One recent study by a pharmaceutical company attempted replication of 50 top papers in medical journals, and found that 45 were not replicable.

Sheldrake says that the problem is also present in psychology and chemistry, where many experiments experiments are not replicable.

Sheldrake mentions philosopher Mathew Colborn, who points out that psychology and science encourages us not to believe our own minds – there is a systematic attempt to distrust such experiences. We are training educated people not to trust their own experience, but instead trust scientific authority. Yet as we are now beginning to understand, the latter has a whole culture of distortion and denial, and many of its own experiments are not replicable.

Thus many ideas and beliefs common to mainstream sciences are actually grounded on unstable foundations, despite the fact that most laymen assume them to be solid.

http://www.sheldrake.org/audios/science-set-free-podcas

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

 

Marcus

Are You Ready For the Coming Consciousness Revolution?

As I write this I am sitting in a street-side cafe in Bangkok. It’s the Landmark Hotel cafe, actually. I wish I could say that I am staying at the Landmark, but alas I find myself resident at the less resplendent Belaire Hotel, just across bustling Sukhumvit Road.

It’s very busy around these parts. The area is a sea of noisy traffic – old buses, taxis, mini-vans and tuk-tuks idle past. On the narrow footpath just below me, people – mostly western tourists – stroll past, their relaxed pace a measure of their leisurely holiday-mindedness.

Bangkok is rather crazy, with no apparent order. Street vendors pop up like mushrooms every few metres, and I have to wonder whether anybody regulates anything around here. Certainly, I have seen no uniformed police or other officials during my time here.

It’s madness, and yet this great leviathan of a city has its own perfection. There’s a kind of serenity in the hustle and bustle of life in this politically-turbulent Buddhist country.

As I sit here, cooling my body and mind with an ice-coffee, I watch the show roll on by. And I am contemplating the nature of time, space and free-will. And there’s a reason why I am deep in such existential thoughts. For I just came from my hotel, where I was following the result of an international cricket game played between Australia and New Zealand. The game played was part of the World Cup of cricket, so it was a major sporting event for the two antipodean nations. But for me there was something else about the game that was far more profound.

The thing is, precisely one week ago I awoke early in the morning and had a premonition about the outcome of the game. I often have these kinds of premonitory visions, as I have previously stated in my writings. The premonition of the game wasn’t so much a dream or a mind-movie. It was more a flash of immediate knowing, where information is pumped into the brain – from who knows where. In such experiences the knowing is immediate. It often requires no verbal input or sequencing of events. It’s just arrives uninvited, like a mysterious stranger knocking at your door than just as suddenly vanishing into the night.

The content of the vision was very clear. It indicated that the upcoming Trans-Tasman game of cricket would be a very exciting game. Australia would come very, very close to winning. Indeed, at the last minute they would be on the verge of victory. But ultimately NZ would snatch victory.

image

Since many of my readers are North American, I won’t distract you with too many details of the game. As it turned out, today Australia batted first and posted a paltry 151 runs. In cricket terms, this is pathetic. Therefore when New Zealand began their innings (teams only bat once) I was feeling a little annoyed. It looked like my premonition was not going to unfold. The New Zealand batsmen raced away and were charging towards an easy victory, before they had a massive batting collapse. This meant that right at the last minute they were looking like losing. But I knew better. As the match reached its exciting crescendo I knew exactly who would win. NZ. And they did – by the narrowest of possible margins, one wicket.

I’ve had premonitory dreams and visions up to one month before sporting events. So it really does beg the question. Is the future already set? Is there really any such thing as free will? After all, players on a sporting field are making all kinds of choices. Some are well-considered, while others emerge from finely conditioned reflexes or pure inspiration. Yet if in the big picture the game is already won and lost before the first ball is kicked or hit, how can anyone really be making any choices at all? It’s a philosophical conundrum that would confound Confucius.

It gets juicier. The implications move well beyond the philosophical. What does the existence of premonitions tell us about the nature of time, space and consciousness itself?

Currently in psychology and neuroscience the dominant intellectual position is that there is no free will. This is based primarily upon one famous experiment. In the 1980s Benjamin Libet showed that our neurones fire a fraction of a second before we think we make a decision.

Despite this, and despite my experience with precognition, I believe that free will does exist. In fact, I believe that activating its full potential is central to human existence.

But there is nothing in mainstream science which accounts for human premonitions. Premonitions are considered “paranormal”, and not taken seriously. This is because they aren’t thought of as normal. Some have pointed out that this is circular reasoning.

So anecdotes and experimental evidence which pertain to seeing or sensing the future are rejected a priori, and often ridiculed. Yet millions of people continue to experience what they believe to be premonitions; and many also claim “paranormal” cognitive experiences related to ESP – intuitions that seemingly operate outside of localised space and time. I like to call this range of cognitive functions Integrated Intelligence, because I believe that they are a valid aspect of human mental life, and that they can enhance our mental capacities.

The scientific taboo against serious discussion of these matters is more than just a pity. It’s a cultural tragedy. For as we deepen our awareness and begin to fully understand that mind has non-local properties, it inevitably changes our worldview. Even more profoundly, it transcends our relationship with time and space. When we permit a full range of mental experiences to unfold, we begin to realise our deep connection to the world, to nature, and to other human beings.

Ironically, it is the philosophical and experiential refusal to allow such understandings that prevents so many of our academics and leaders from perceiving these things directly.

As I sit here, typing these words by a chaotic street in South-East Asia, there is a kind of deep tranquility which fills me as I simply allow what is happening around me, both in time and space, to be exactly what it is. This is the state of surrender that so many mystics have poeticised down through the ages. And therein lies our greatest capacity for free will.

And it’s a state that is not available to those who live within the delimited mechanistic representation of time and space which has come to dominate economically developed societies the world over.

I have no doubt that one day soon science will catch up with all of this. Although the precise pace and timing of the shift is unclear, I believe we are already in the initial stages of transition. The time will come when the evidence for Integrated Intelligence will outweigh the outmoded arguments of head-centric academics. Then slowly we will begin to correct this gargantuan cultural blind-spot which today has so deeply damaged the human psyche. Just think of how society will change, how people will occupy spaces in cities, town and in rural settings, once this deeper awareness filters into our hearts and souls. Science too, both as procedure and culture, will be forever different.

The transformations will be profound.

How such a future might look we cannot be certain. Perhaps, though, one can intuitively feel it.

What exactly are the limits to Integrated Intelligence? How might such an expansion of consciousness impact our lives, our societies, and our education systems? Our world? That is what I continue to explore with The Coming Consciousness Revolution project. I invite you to accompany me along the way, via these e-spaces which connect us all. If you would like to be a part of the project, please email me, marcus@marcustanthony.com, and I will keep you posted via my monthly newsletter. Or simply join me here as I blog regularly about related ideas, events and people. It promises to be a great adventure.

Marcus

A Great Wave Descends

I’ve been busy writing my new book The Coming Consciousness Revolution (edit: note it was previously called The Great Mind Shift). Below I’ve posted the introduction to the book (thus the title of this blog post), which covers some of the main themes, and tells you a little more about what is in the book. I’d be grateful for any feedback. Books don’t get written in an instant. They are a real work of art, and what you see below will probably change quite a lot before the book appears on the shelves. Any comments you make – positive or critical – will definitely be noted by me.

PS: If you wish to be kept up to date about research and developments regarding The Coming Consciousness Revolution (interviews, videos, the book project, important links to other works etc.) just email me at newsletter@marcustanthony.com, and I will send you updates every month or so.

Regards,

Marcus

The Great Mind Shift: The revolution is coming by MarcusTanthony

Mind and Futures in the Media This Week, # 2

the-new-mind Here’s a roundup of some Important and relevant news in the media this week, all related to mind and the future. This page may be updated with new links over the coming week. The link to last week’s Media report is here.

IT and Big Data

Mike Elgan, Forbes, “Tom Hanks’ Captain Phillips Says The High-Tech World Is A Shocking Delusion”.

Main Idea: The future will not be a simple high-tech one where all have access to big data, but one increasingly defined by the digital divide.

Marcus’ insight: The same is also true of intuitive knowledge, with high-tech distraction and verbal-linguistic cognitive overload retarding human capacity to access integrated intelligence. There will be opportunities there too. But will we become so lost in high-tech obsession that nobody acknowledges it?

“Any successful company interfacing with customers, shipping products, and training employees must shed the delusion that we live in a high-tech world. The reality is that we live in a technologically divided world. Advancing technology is increasingly defining our world by the gulf between people who have access to it, and people who don’t. This presents an opportunity: to bring access to technology’s benefits to those who can’t currently afford or understand it, finding ways to bridge the growing gap between technology haves and have-nots.”

Mindfulness and Meditation

Science 2.0, “Mindfulness Meditation Helps With Mild Anxiety And Depression, Finds Review”.

Significance: More empirical data which supports the idea that mindfulness and meditation promote wellbeing.

“A Johns Hopkins University of research suggests that about 30 minutes of meditation daily may improve symptoms of anxiety and depression, without medication.”

Gauri Rane, DNAIndia.com, “Lead with spirit”

Main Idea: Emotional and spiritual intelligence help leaders and executives to access their inner power and become better leaders says Marko Saravanja, chairman, Regenesys B-school.

Significance: A good summary of the value of spiritual and emotional intelligence for leaders. Also, Regenesys Business School India is teaching spiritual intelligence. Is there a demand for this kind of intelligence training?

“Managers/ leaders who are more evolved in terms of emotional and spiritual intelligence tend to be more authentic, happy and intuitive. Their locus of control is internal. They are better at building interpersonal relationships, managing teams and fostering trust, which is a prerequisite of any successful business relationship. Successful leaders exhibit qualities of empathy, compassion, and respect, which are all aspects of emotional intelligence.”

Books

David Loye, Darwin in Love (and related books)

Main Idea: Darwin is often misrepresented in the media and mainstream science. He had a far more “moral” and spiritual view of humanity and life than is often understood. This book has been around a year or two, but David Loye has drawing attention to its importance again this year.

Significance: Darwin in Love is suggestive of the way that paradigm blindness tends to place ideas and people in predefined categories and misrepresent them, telling only part of the full story.

“The long ignored, but rediscovered new story of the life and full theory of the Darwin who in The Descent of Man wrote only twice about “survival of the fittest”  but 95 times about the evolutionary drive of love. This is the  first book for Darwin’s New World View Ebook Series exploring the powerful, original, but long lost love and moral action-oriented completion for his theory and the much better future it opens to us.”

Blogs

Dean Radin:, deanradin.blogspot.com, “Electrocortical activity associated with subjective communication with the deceased”.

Main Idea: Summary and link to a recent paper by Arnaud Delorme, Julie Beischel, Leena Michel, Mark Boccuzzi, Dean Radin and Paul J. Mills, which assessed correlations between brain activity and impressions of communication with the dead. Significance: Suggests that the impression of communicating with the deceased may be a mental state distinct from ordinary thinking or imagination.