Pluralistic Panpsychism v. Monistic Idealism: another response to Kastrup (part 1 of 2)

Kastrup has responded to my post a few days ago. The topic? Panpsychism.

In any back and forth discussion like this, it is important to acknowledge that each of us has evidently written a great deal articulating our perspectives. Other than his brief essay on the threat of panpsychism, I have not read any of Kastrup’s work, nor do I believe he has read any of mine, aside from my even briefer response to him. So what we are going to be able to accomplish in these all too short responses to one another will, I’m afraid, be minimal. Certainly I do not expect to persuade him to give up his monistic idealism. My main motivation in responding is not to indisputably refute him, or to fully articulate my own pluralist ontology. Rather, I only hope to gesture toward the answers to the questions he raises by offering a somewhat more technical introduction to Whitehead’s panpsychism, by linking to longer essays on the subject, and other times by admitting I need to devote more thought to an issue. As a process philosopher, I seek wisdom with the understanding that I will never possess it. Truth is always in-the-making. Similarly, any relationship of knowing we attempt to enter into with Truth must remain open-ended. If reality itself is process, then we must remain always open to novelty and surprise in all our philosophizing, never claiming to have arrived at some final systematic grasp of it. Striving for systematicity is one thing: it helps us clarify our thinking and avoid contradiction; but let us never suppose our favored System has wrapped up and solved all metaphysical problems. Reality is too multifarious and creative for that. I suspect Kastrup has a drastically divergent methodological point of view, which I welcome him to share. I just thought I should be upfront about my own approach before responding to his specific criticisms. The above are among the most important premises I enter into the philosophical arena with.

Kastrup begins by admitting that yes, his definition of panpsychism comes largely from the work of Chalmers and Strawson. He faults me for misdirecting my criticisms at him when I should have been directing them at these two popular proponents of “panpsychism.” I must grant him this point. In fact, I have criticized Chalmers and Strawson in a post linked in my first response. I believe Kastrup is correct that when most scientists and philosophers hear the term “panpsychism,” they think of the variety articulated by these contemporary thinkers, rather than the process-relational variety articulated by Whitehead. This is unfortunate, since I don’t know of any other broadly “panpsychist” philosopher with such a well-developed metaphysical scheme (aside, perhaps, from Leibniz). But let’s not play name games here. There is no “correct” definition of panpsychism, there are only the various definitions particular philosophers construct to assist their positive or negative portrayals of a more or less vague school of thought. “Idealism” is no less vague because various a term.

So the task, then, is to carefully define exactly what Whitehead’s particular form of panpsychism entails. I’ve spent the last five or six years trying to do that on this blog and in several book length essays, most recently Physics of the World-Soul: The Relevance of Alfred North Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism to Contemporary Scientific Cosmology (2013) [PDF version here]. Kastrup is understandably left with many questions after my brief account of how, in the process-relational scheme, both plurality and unity can co-exist as ultimate metaphysical realities. So I’ll try again, this time with a bit more detail from Whitehead’s scheme. I’ll introduce three technical terms (Concrescence, Transition, and Prehension) that may at first sound even more baffling than what I’ve already said. But my intention here is to avoid the “vague handwaving” I was accused of by Kastrup and instead offer a technical account of the categorical structure of pluralistic panpsychism. Take what follows not as a definitive explanation for anything, but as an invitation to step deeper into Whitehead’s metaphysical imagination.

Whitehead differentiates the process of reality into two kinds (quotes from Process and Reality, 210):

1) Concrescence (=”the real internal constitution of a particular existent”; i.e., the individual final causes of the universe), and

2) Transition (=the perishing of a particular existent’s process, thereby “constituting that existent as an original element in the constitutions of other particular existences elicited by repetitions of process”; i.e., the transfer of inherited efficient causes through the universe).

The continuity of the universe (it’s wholeness and unity) is preserved by the process of Transition, while the withdrawal of individual occasions (their particularity and uniqueness) is preserved by the process of Concrescence. Unlike Transition, Concrescence is not simply prehensional. “Each actual occasion defines its own actual world from which it originates. No two occasions can have identical actual worlds.” Concrescence is the process by which any given actual occasion prehends the many occasions of its extensive continuum into some new definite form of unity (=achievement of subjective value) to be added to the ongoing advance of nature.

This differentiation between Concrescence and Transition allows Whitehead’s metaphysical scheme, despite its generally processual orientation, to remain nonetheless atomic. This comes through clearly enough in Process and Reality, where Whitehead writes: “the ultimate metaphysical truth is atomism” (35). He is lead to this conclusion largely as a result of the discoveries of quantum and relativity theories concerning the nature of time and energy. 20th century physics was forced to reject two ideas that had long provided its metaphysical first principles: 1) the idea of nature at an instant, and 2) the idea that the universe has a single continuous time flow. Whitehead’s is not a materialistic atomism, wherein reality is made up of bits of inert matter. His atoms are creatively emergent and interrelated actual occasions of experience.

On this point, Whitehead writes (35):

“There is a becoming of continuity, but no continuity of becoming. The actual occasions are the creatures which become, and they constitute a continuously extensive world. In other words, extensiveness becomes, but ‘becoming’ is not itself extensive.”

He concludes, as I quoted above, that atomic (or elsewhere referred to as “epochal”) discontinuity is an ultimate metaphysical truth. The continuously extensive world with its universal relationality he considers an accident, not a metaphysical necessity: “continuity is a special condition arising from the society of creatures which constitute our immediate epoch” (36). The creative advance of nature involves an inheritance of rhythmic pattern from one concrescent occasion to the next. Between occasional beats, intervals are opened up, leaving room for improvisation. If everything, every drop of experience, was just one puddle of unity, nothing new could ever disrupt the sea of sameness. Creative emergence is part of our universe, but I don’t see how monistic philosophies leave any room for it.

I need to further unpack Whitehead’s concept of Prehension. Prehension is meant to integrate both causal and perceptual relations. He invented the concept in an attempt to subvert the bifurcation of nature between mental images and material impacts, between nature as it appears before us (“the dream”) and nature as it is thought by scientific materialists to be the cause of appearance (“the conjecture”). Prehension is Whitehead’s aesthetic account of causation, an account that subverts the false dichotomy between appearance and reality (or mind and matter) typical of materialism and idealism alike. It is appearance all the way down, if you like; or, if you prefer, reality is made of its appearances to itself.

The prehensional basis of all relations between “particles of psyche”/”drops of experience”/”actual occasion” implies that detached, self-contained existence (i.e., simple location) is impossible, since every prehension grants the environment entrance into the nature of the prehending particle of psyche. This is not to say that particles of “mind dust” (to use yet another, this time Jamesian, metaphor) have prehension as a capacity; rather, in Whitehead’s scheme, a drop of experience or actual occasion is a momentary unification of multiple prehensions. Actual occasions do not have prehensions (as when substantial minds are said to have accidental perceptions); rather, they are prehensions.

Forgive me for introducing yet more technical terms, but on Whitehead’s reading, without a concept of “prehension,” materialist and idealist philosophers alike have privileged perception in the mode of “presentational immediacy” and ignored or at least sidelined the deeper and more ontologically relevant perceptual mode of “causal efficacy.” “Presentational immediacy” displays reality in a way amenable to representational analysis, showing only the more or less clear and distinct surfaces of the world as they are presented to a reflective subject here and now. It is the end product of a complex process of unconscious prehensive unification. Perception in the mode of “causal efficacy” unfolds behind the scenes of this Cartesian theater in the unrepresentable depths of reality, carrying vague emotional vectors from the past into the present.

Perception in the mode of presentational immediacy is punctual (hence its relative clarity and distinctness); perception in the mode of causal efficacy is transitional (hence its vagueness). Presentational immediacy allows for intentional consciousness, the subjective capacity for attentional directedness toward the eidos of objects; causal efficacy, in contrast, is prehensional, the pre-subjective because subject-generating capacity to inherit the affective influences of objects. The former mode requires that a mind remain at a distance from things, relating to their essence rather than sensing their causal presence, while the latter implies the internalization of things, the intimate assimilation of their past being into our present becoming.

In this novel metaphysical context, the tired dichotomy between appearance and reality is no longer relevant or all that interesting. Whitehead’s process-relational approach to metaphysics is what we’re left with after “the twilight of the idols,” after “the True World has become a fable” (Nietzsche). (For more on the Whitehead/Nietzsche link, read part 1 and part 2 of my comparison).

If the nature of reality is processual and relational, then a diplomatic approach to truth is the only adequate way to respond to it. With every encounter with other psyches, we make the truth anew. Reality doesn’t just sit there waiting for the most clear-headed intellect to uncover. Reality is participatory and co-created, not just by human minds, but by minds of all shapes and sizes. Better to refer to it as a pluralistic creality than monistic reality.

There’s certainly more to be said, and I hope Kastrup and I (and whoever else wants to join in) can continue to unpack all of this. As I said in my first response to him, I find this a far more enlightening and helpful debate than that between materialism and everything else. In part 2, I’ll try to tackle the issue of mystical experiences of absolute unity.


20 Comments Add yours

  1. S.C. Hickman says:

    I’ll assume you’ve read the work of David Skrbina and Peter Ellis?

    Yea, I can see your point on Whitehead. For him ‘God’ sustains each moment of becoming, but is not himself extensive to that becoming. And, of course, he doesn’t use the term ‘God’ to describe his form of occasionalism, but we can see behind the math the face in the shadows – so to speak.

    As for ‘materialism’ – I’ll assume you’re actually referring to one specific form: scientific naturalism or physicalism and its variations rather than the forms prevalent in quantum theory and modern cosmology along with the Lacan-Zizek-Johnston-Badiou-Meillassoux forms of transcendental materialism and speculative materialisms?

    1. I’m familiar with Skrbina but not Ellis. What’s he up to?

      Yes, when I refer to “materialism” I’m talking about what Whitehead referred to as “scientific materialism,” that ontology that the natural sciences presupposed prior to quantum and relativity theories. It includes the fallacies of simple location, vacuous actuality, and the bifurcation of nature, among other things. The New Materialisms are far more interesting, and I believe many of them verge on panpsychism.

      1. S.C. Hickman says:

        Yea, ultimately I think we need a new framework and vocabulary to situate what is happening in physics and the neurosciences. I believe that one of the issues it our metaphors, figures of intellect – speech, etc. We have this whole cart load of historical baggage in our linguistic usage that scrambles the signals to the point that it’s all noise rather than information that can be decoded for use in any original fashion.

      2. Agreed. This is why I’m fascinated by Whitehead’s philosophy of organism. There are a lot of novel ways of phrasing things, and a lot of neologisms, but he is attempting to free us of that historical baggage so we can re-construct a coherent cosmology given the results of 20th century physics and neurophysiology (which run so counter to the mechanistic picture that under-girded the Scientific Revolution and Enlightenement).

      3. S.C. Hickman says:

        Yea, in that sense Lacan-Badiou-Zizek-Johnston have taken in the immaterialism of modern physics and begun from a materialist perspective to oust the scientific naturalist view; it being their main enemy – physicalism. I think the only major difference is in one’s concepts of the actual mediational medium: is it Mind or something else? Both forms accept that there is a transcendence of the Subject from its material base: and the Subject as Substance need not imply that that subject is human, it implies the subject and subjectification within all materiality, even to the point that our linguistic signifiers themselves are material. So in this since the enemy is any form of substantive formalism that would ties things and beings to some notion of dead inorganic matter … there is no dead inorganic matter – as modern physics has repeatedly shown – there is nothing but forces all the way down. And, if you think about it the phenomenal universe that we can observe (the realm of appearance) is only 5% of the actual universe… the rest is an unknown know: dark energy and dark matter, which entail an even stranger weird materialism than most ever suspected.

      4. S.C. Hickman says:

        And, in fact I think that Zizek’s return to German Idealism is in itself to show that the old squabbles between Idealism/Materialism were problematical to begin with: that like a Mobius strip both of these perspectives onto mind and matter were two-side of one Mobius strip; or, as Zizek would say: a parallax view in which neither one nor the other held the truth, but both held in the parallax lens let the truth reveal itself in its antinomic irresolvable purity. There could never be a reconciliation between the two perspectives because they were the two sides of one coin. Transcendental Materialism is as it suggests: a dualism, but one of perspective not substance.

  2. Roy Smith says:

    Thank you for such a well reasoned response to Kastrup. I can see how your dialog with materialists might be challenging than with Kastrup. I am all that familiar with Whitehead, possibly because I find him a bit obscure and difficult from the start. However, I think I know something about Kastrup, and I can say that I find his monistic idealism rather easy to understand. Whether from my own ignorance or difficulty at deciphering Whitehead, Kastrup offers much more clarity than your response to him. Aside from a befuddlement of Whitehead jargon, it seems that I have to make assumptions for your case than for Kastrup, thus loosing the Occam’s razor test. Finally, if your defense seems more like an appeal to Whitehead’s authority, rather than an elucidation of your own point of view. By hiding behind Whitehead, we don’t really have your own point of view. I think that Kastrup honors Whitehead, but he doesn’t like the current ideas of panpsychism for the reasons he has stated. I am not sure how well you have clarified your own views of panpsychism.

    1. Kastrup does present his position in an easily digestible way. However, I do not know if the clarity and distinctness of ideas is necessarily a mark of their truth. If reality is, as I suspect, made up of a plurality of interpenetrating creative processes, then that aspect of it that is clear, distinct, and easily translatable into English can only be the surface.

      That said, I certainly understand your frustration with the Whiteheadian jargon I deployed here, but my point in laying it out was to show that there are other, more complex forms of panpsychism than the sort Kastrup easily dismissed.

      I recently posted a 20 minute talk I gave on my own form of ontological pluralism that you may find easier to digest. I also respond in the Q and A to someone who asked what I thought of non-dualist monism:

  3. Roy Smith says:

    After making my previous “first swag” remarks, I actually branched off to read your Physics of the World Soul, as well as Martel’s critique, followed by a reading of Kastrup’s rebuttal to both you and Martel. I should first remark that Martel’s critique gave me indigestion similar to what I experienced with your defense above. That is, I was required to make a lot of assumptions just to understand his arguments. When I finally read Kastrup’s rebuttals to both you and Martel, I understood why my own first impressions of Martel’s critique and your defense were so negative.
    Second, I found nothing in reference to your Physics of the World Soul to completely explain either Whitehead’s or your own position on panpsychism. Perhaps that definition is inferred in some way I am unable to decipher, or it’s evident in your book on sale through Amazon. I regret that I am not inclined to buy your book to find out (it may be a great book).
    Third, the precision and ease with which Kastrup rebutted both you and Martel leads me to question your own precision in characterizing Kastrup and your subsequent defense, which Kastrup had to wade through.
    Finally, I am all for polite dialog, the Socratic method of inquiry, even some amount of “hand-waving” where multiple ontological points of view are involved, but not at the sacrifice of precision and clarity.

    1. There is no need to buy the book, since it is available on my blog for free.

      My impression of Kastrup’s responses to me was that he had already pegged me as his straw man version of a panpsychist, and so didn’t deal directly with the alternative form of panpsychism I tried to introduce. I understand his lack of desire to deal with my alternative, since that would disrupt the narrative he has constructed about the “dangerous threat” of panpsychism to contemporary culture. It also seems he has mistaken my ontological pluralism for some form of cheap relativism where truth is whatever we want it to be.

      To reiterate my position, I don’t deny the possibility of reality ultimately resolving into some non-dual unity. I only argue that it ain’t necessarily so, that unity is always an achievement and not something we can take for granted as always already the case. I’d also question the political implications of rushing to assert unity too quickly. Kastrup responded to this criticism by calling me a relativist who is concerned not to hurt anyone’s feelings, but that totally misses my point. The fact that he believes politics has nothing to do with metaphysics only further convinces me of the potential dangers of his form of monism.

      In any event, I appreciate your taking the time to read and respond to my posts. If you have specific questions about what I’ve said or want me to try to clarify something, I’d be glad to give it a whirl.

      1. Roy Smith says:

        Hi Matthew,

        Thank you for your gracious response. I read some of your philosophy of ontological pluralism, and your follow-up video above was a generous contribution to summarize and encapsulate your views. I better understand where you are coming from with regard to Kastrup. You are basically projecting your ontological pluralist view when confronted with a Kastrup monistic idealist view of panpsychism.

        Matthew, I wish you great success in achieving your academic goals, because I think that your philosophy asserts the primacy of dialog between differing viewpoints. It’s a sustaining principle. I agree that we must have a safe space for dialog to occur, especially where differing viewpoints threaten to destroy our existential foundation. One can think of the environmental question and current conflicts in the middle east as an example where your philosophy might come in really handy. Ideally, ontological pluralism is something to hope for.

        Bernardo presents a contentious view of panpsychism that reduces the term to materialist proportions. Meanwhile, holding yourself a Whiteheadian view of panpsychism, Bernardo’s reduction seems inappropriately contentious and totalitarian within the framework of ontological pluralism. In principle, you appear to hold the moral high ground because ideally we should be able to come together and discuss an issue and possibly arrive at a mutually agreed upon definition of panpsychism before condemning the term outright.

        I see Bernardo’s contention as a reaction to an immediate concern within the consciousness debate. The purpose of his reduction is to make a pre-emptive strike against the tendency of reducing the current consciousness research to the materialist viewpoint. He is really pressing his case against the materialists, not the ontological pluralists. On a side note, however, he does not appear to care if he drags ontological pluralists into the argument, quite possibly because he sees them as relativistic fence-sitters whose apparent apathy on the issue might be perceived as encouraging the materialist viewpoint.

        I know this may be slightly off-topic, but would you actually be able to apply ontological pluralism directly, to say, the current conflict in the middle-east? Again, thanks much for your previous responses.

      2. I understand and agree with Kastrup’s criticisms of materialism. I just don’t see panpsychism as in any way encouraging the materialist viewpoint. I think the panpsychist point of view, with its emphasis on the sentience and agency of all beings, is most appropriate as an ontological response to the ecological crisis. The fact that the universe as a whole, along with each of its self-organizing parts, are ensouled is precisely what materialism has neglected. This neglect is in my opinion the underlying metaphysical cause of the ecological crisis. Our materialistic civilization has not respected the agency of other beings, or the way our agency as human beings depends upon the healthy functioning of those other beings, and so we have undermined the basis of our own existence as organisms.
        As for applying ontological pluralism to conflicts in the Middle East, I think a big part of what we in the West need to accept is that Islamic extremism is a direct reaction against our own capitalist extremism. The West tends to believe that “capitalist democracy” (a contradiction in terms if you ask me, but that’s what we call it) is all about “freedom” and that it imposes nothing. Well, there is a whole set of ontological assumptions that comes along with our system that is fundamentally at odds with the Islamic world. So one thing ontological pluralism would try to do is remind us that our system is not free of ontological assumptions but that it is in fact just as ideologically loaded as Islam or any other religious view of reality. As for how to co-exist, that is a political issue that is going to take major transformation in the heart of every human being. I have no easy answers, there.

  4. Roy Smith says:

    Thanks for the clear response. The political application of your ontology appears to follow along the lines of Noam Chomsky, with whom I agree.
    “New atheism,” on the other hand, adopts a form of scientism to justify a severe military hard line against what they perceive as non-scientific Islamic fundamentalism, while perceiving American interventionism and Zionism to be based more in scientifically approved principles of democracy. Bernardo Kastrup rejects scientism, so I am not sure how he would address the middle east conflict. Do you think his address would be totalitarian in nature?

    Matthew, there was a bit of criticism near the end of your class presentation of ontological pluralism that seemed to accuse your system of de-emphasizing the experience of ontological oneness. Let me say it this way, as is usually the case with non-dual ontologies such as advaita, buddhism, neoplatonism, etc., there is quite a bit of emphasis on the ontological experience of oneness, without which the system would be devoid of meaning. In other words, the effable is meaningless without the ineffable, advaita is meaningless without the experience of oneness through yoga, buddhism is meaningless without experiencing the ground of all being, neoplatonism is meaningless with return to the One, etc. What experiencial practice of oneness if any does your system of ontological pluralism have to recommend for itself, beyond merely rational pragmatic solutions to complex social interactions?

    1. I don’t know Kastrup’s thoughts about the messy geopolitical situation in the Middle East. I’d like to hear from him about it. In my opinion, his non-dual monism pretends to be above such political squabbles, as though such conflicts are merely the result of a deluded perception of reality. That sort of dismissive response to political conflict is not at all helpful, in my opinion. In fact, it makes things worse. But again, I would be curious to hear from him about these issues.

      As I said before, I do not deny the Unity of reality, I only deny that this Unity is somehow pre-established or eternally given. I think Unity/Oneness is an achievement and that things really could fail to hold together as a whole. There is contingency here, in other words. Wholeness is always at risk of falling to pieces. That is the nature of the universe as far as I can tell. Reality is not a neat and tidy place. Part of what is required to move toward greater oneness is a diplomatic outlook on life. In other words, we must always be willing and able to learn and grow from our relationships to others. So compassion and understanding are the most important aspects of an ontological pluralist’s practice. Without these, there is no chance of establishing Unity.

      A further point is that the sort of Ultimate Oneness you are talking about cannot, by definition, be “experienced.” “Experience,” as I understand it, requires an experiencer (a subject) and something that is experienced (an object). In other words, experience is an inherently polarized (not necessarily dualistic!) process. So strictly speaking, there just is no such thing as “experience of the One.” Oneness is not only ineffable but inexperienceable. Attaining Oneness would then be the extinguishing of all experience. Don’t you think?

  5. Roy Smith says:

    “Do you think?”

    No. What is experience?

    If I may borrow from Bernard Kastrup, the only thing we can know is our own subjective experience. Therefore, nothing exists outside of our subjective experience. Consequently, there is no objective reality “out there.” As soon as we assume an objective reality “out there,” we get caught up in the dichotomy of a subject/object split. That is the field of thought, or mind, which is a duality, or complementarity like wave/particle.
    If I may use a metaphor, a wave (or particle) is a perturbation on the surface of an ocean. When I speak of an “experience of oneness” I am speaking of an “ocean of pure consciousness” that interpenetrates all phenomena from subatomic particles to thoughts and emotions. That is Bernardo’s definition of consciousness, and one that I will use for the sake of comparison with yours.
    So, what does ontological pluralism have to say about viewpoints residing in pure consciousness? Very little it seems. Ontological pluralism would appear to be restricted to “realities” within an object/subject split universe; yet, it ignores interpenetrating realities within consciousness itself.
    Furthermore, your system presumes that unity is something we have to strive for, as though unity would fall apart if we didn’t make it happen. Really, though, does an ocean have to strive for unity? From the ocean’s point of view, ontological pluralism is a futile struggle within the bounds of a perceived subject/object split. It really doesn’t take consciousness itself into account. Do you think?

    1. The question as to the essence of experience is very complex. I tried to break it down in the original blog post above using Whitehead’s concepts.

      I have many problems with the solipsistic notion that “the only thing we can know is our own subjective experience.” It goes against a hundred years of phenomenological inquiry. The idea of “pure” consciousness is problematic phenomenologically, since to be conscious means to be conscious “of” something. This is called the intentional structure of consciousness by phenomenologists. Consciousness entails subjects and objects, there is no way around that without regressing into solipsism.

      You, like Kastrup, seem to erase the important difference between a duality and a polarity. I argue that experience entails a polarity between subjective and objective. Consciousness is the irresolvable tension between the two poles. Dissolve this tension, and conscious experience goes with it! What is left may be “pure,” but it is not conscious. It neither is nor is not. Non-dualism entails many paradoxes like this.

      1. Roy Smith says:

        “It goes against a hundred years of phenomenological inquiry. The idea of “pure” consciousness is problematic phenomenologically, since to be conscious means to be conscious “of” something. This is called the intentional structure of consciousness by phenomenologists.”

        I think that phenomenology is a work in process, so I think it would be premature to exclude any non-dual concept of consciousness from the dialog. Husserl, who developed the intentional structure criteria to which you refer, went on to write his General Introduction to Pure Phenomenology (1931) which defines phenomenology as a descriptive analysis of the essence of pure consciousness. A process he called epoche or bracketing was a part of his phenomenological method of inquiry into “pure consciousness.” While parallels with advaita are imprecise, Husserls pure phenomenology would appear to point to a “pure consciousness.”

  6. Roy Smith says:

    Thanks for the response Matthew. I should probably first apologize for having brought Bernardo into this. In no way do I wish or pretend to answer for him or represent his point view. That’s up to him.

    I think your rejection of the term “pure consciousness” may be a demonstration of how your system of ontological pluralism denies other points of view within consciousness itself. Should I have used the sanskrit term, chaitanya, instead? It’s commonly used in discussions of advaita vedanta and buddhism.

    Chaitanya, often referred to as “pure consciousness,” refers to a state of wakefulness with no object of thought or perception. If ontological pluralism is unable to accept the possibility of such a state, then it has failed the test of being competent to deal diplomatically with other points of view within consciousness itself.

    This youtube video from Max Velmans might assist you in moving from the traditional western view of consciousness to the non-dual point of view of advaita and buddhism: (you may just want to read the program notes to save time)

    By the way, I’m having a slight problem with your referring me to Whitehead’s conception of essence of experience while defending ontological pluralism. Essence of experience in process ontology appears to have strong correlation with essence of experience in the advaita and buddhist ontology I am referring to. However, there is no sense of ontological pluralism in either Whitehead’s process ontology, or William Jame’s pluralistic universe for that matter. On what basis do you pull process ontology and ontological pluralism together into your own system? Thanks.

  7. Reblogged this on The Ratliff Notepad and commented:
    Might it be better to say “truth is fluid and constantly flowing” rather than using “diplomatic”? (Diplomatic seems to imply that a compromise is necessary, when instead, compromise is infinite).

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