Analytic Idealism: A consciousness-only ontology

Dissertation, Radboud University Nijmegen (2019)
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Abstract

This thesis articulates an analytic version of the ontology of idealism, according to which universal phenomenal consciousness is all there ultimately is, everything else in nature being reducible to patterns of excitation of this consciousness. The thesis’ key challenge is to explain how the seemingly distinct conscious inner lives of different subjects—such as you and me—can arise within this fundamentally unitary phenomenal field. Along the way, a variety of other challenges are addressed, such as: how we can reconcile idealism with the fact that we all inhabit a common external world; why this world unfolds independently of our personal volition or imagination; why there are such tight correlations between measured patterns of brain activity and reports of experience; etc. The core idea of this thesis can be summarized thus: we, as well as all other living organisms, are dissociated alters of universal phenomenal consciousness, analogously to how a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) manifests multiple disjoint centers of subjectivity also called ‘alters.’ We, and all other living organisms, are surrounded by the transpersonal phenomenal activity of universal consciousness, which unfolds beyond the dissociative boundary of our respective alter. The inanimate world we perceive around us is the extrinsic appearance—i.e. the phenomenal image imprinted from across our dissociative boundary—of this activity. The living organisms we share the world with are the extrinsic appearances of other alters.

Author's Profile

Bernardo Kastrup
Radboud University (PhD)

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