This is my third post on panpsychism, essentially my attempt to understand my own experiences in philosophic and theologic language. As indicated previously, I am enrolled in a two-year program of Christian contemplative practice (the Center for Action and Contemplation), wherein I intend to examine and compare my own spiritual stance with the models offered within that course.
In order to do so, I need also to be clear as to what my stance actually is. In my therapy workshops, a maxim I commonly presented was: “If you don’t know where you are , you cannot get to where you say you want to be.” A very important maxim! I am not interested in arguing my stance; it is simply a starting point for further exploration, hopefully one that deepens my spiritual journey in major ways.
What I am seeking is a felt experience, rather than an intellectual concept — a felt experience that encompasses:
- my understanding of human dynamics and consciousness (my medical background, especially my 25 years of being a therapist), including my own family of origin pain,
- my knowledge of modern physics (quantum mechanics and relativity),
- the profound mystical experiences I have had,
- the synchronicities that have guided me,
- the mechanisms and hubris underlying global warming, and
- all the other experiences that make up a human life.
A statement that is very meaningful to me is:
A science that does not incorporate spirituality is dehumanizing;
a spirituality that does not incorporate science is delusional.
In this post (and the next, the final one), I’m going to be reflecting on those aspects that have impacted me personally, but with some sidebars of how they all relate now. Thus, I will be skipping back and forth over my life.
In the first post, I indicated that there are four principal ontologies in philosophy (materialism, dualism, idealism, and panpsychism), and that I (as well as many other people) have major problems in accepting materialism, or more specific, scientific materialism (SM). Reflecting on these ontologies in the previous posts has been very helpful to me as I now relate them to my present life.
As a result of my reflections, I now have even less trust of scientific materialism (SM) than I had before I started these posts. SM has been incredibly powerful as the basis of our modern world (both its benefits and its flaws), but it currently stands in a position similar to the Ptolemic world prior to Copernicus — deeply flawed.
- it treats consciousness as an epiphenomenon, a useless fantasy, yet without consciousness, science could not exist (who or what would conceive of it?).
- it operates from the assumption that with enough information, consciousness will be explainable as part of the material world. Yet consciousness is not material, and you cannot get something from nothing.
- it utilizes but cannot explain quantum physics (let alone consciousness), expecially the nature of nonlocality, or even causality. These are fundamental to how science is not utilized.
- As long ago as the 18th century, David Hume (1711 – 1776) devasted the then current scientific community by demonstrating the fallacy of causation. This was modified by Emmanual Kant (1724 – 1804), but has not withstood the “craziness” of quantum physics (which fundamentally is acausal). (It is the nature of paradigm shifts that “flaws” show up, are tweaked, but more and more, the current paradigm breaks down, with huge paradigm wars, usually until the old guard dies off.)
Enough on that. SM is thus breaking down; and we are in for major changes, not yet clarified. If you the reader want more details, I suggest the writings of Christian deQuincey, especially his Radical Knowing: Understanding Consciousness Through Relationship (2005), listed in Media Within This Blog. All of his books are worth reading.
One of the earliest influences for me personally occurred in reading the science fiction novel Starmaker (Olaf Stapledon, 1934, also in Media above). I first read this in 1959 (age 16), having given up on the “Church” at age 14 because of the many painful aspects of my childhood (family alcoholism, suicide, sexual abuse within a church setting, amongst other issues). Through it, I came to envision God (Starmaker) as all-knowledgeable, yet lacking wisdom; Starmaker creates universes as a means of learning and acquiring wisdom. Thus I was God’s teacher — God learns from my earthly struggles, and regardless of whether my life is “successful” or a “failure,” I am still God’s teacher.
This gave meaning and purpose to my life, something I badly needed at age 16. In retrospect, this is a form of emanationist idealism, not panpsychism. God is both immanent (in this world) and transcendent (beyond this world), a form of panentheism (the theologic term for God being both).
At this point, I had the sense of God as a personal entity who was at least interested in the outcome of my life. Then I went to university for my first degree, a BSc with a major in physics and a minor in mathematics — a great grounding for understanding scientific materialism (yet, in limited ways, I was exposed to Spirit, and deeply impressed by those who manifest it). Overall, I was exposed to a mathematical understanding of both classical mechanics and quantum physics as well as relativity theory. I’m very out-of-date now, but the grounding was solid.
What I did not obtain was a good introduction to the underlying philosophical issues, such as the quandry of acausality. My recent PhD has given me much deeper insights here, but my being out-of-date with the mathematics now means that I have to rely on the interpretations of others more than I like.
What I can say now is that:
- I deeply question the foundations of scientific materialism, and
- panpsychism is far more solid in its integration of philosophy and physics.
Thus, I trust panpsychism much more. And as a therapist of 25 years, I am also aware of a deep knowing that panpsychism is more solidly grounded in the nature of reality than is SM.
In the next and final post, I go back to my 20s to note that during and after my first degree (age 16 – 21), I began to have mystical experiences, and later a number of major experiences of synchronicity. These as well are not compatible with scientific materialism.
To be continued.