CIIS Commencement Speech 5/22

Thank you, President Subbiondo. Thanks also to our Academic Vice President Judie Wexler, to our honorary degree recipients Angela Davis and Josef Brinckmann, and to all CIIS faculty and staff for the work you have done to make this day possible for me and for my fellow graduates. I am a philosopher, which is not to…

John Horgan’s article in “Scientific American” on Panpsychism

John Horgan published an essay in Scientific American a few days ago criticizing Tononi’s integrated information theory of consciousness. I don’t understand Integrated Information Theory well enough to defend it, but I applaud the effort to make progress toward a scientifically operationalizable definition of consciousness. But it seems to me that part of the problem…

Cosmic Pessimism: Response to a post by S.C. Hickman

The Visions of Eternity, by reason of narrowed perceptions, Are become weak Visions of Time & Space, fix’d into furrows of death. -William Blake Read the engaging and wide-ranging post here: The Cosmology of Nick Land: Bataille, Gnosticism, and Contemporary Physics I have noticed my own tendency to waver between a less extreme version of the cosmic pessimism Hickman describes…

45th Annual International Jean Gebser Society Conference: Architects of the Integral World @ CIIS Oct. 16-18th, 2015

45th Annual International Jean Gebser Society Conference: Architects of the Integral World IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PHILOSOPHY, COSMOLOGY, AND CONSCIOUSNESS PROGRAM, PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION DEPARTMENT, CALIFORNIA INSTITUTE OF INTEGRAL STUDIES SAN FRANCISCO, CA ~ OCTOBER 16th–18th, 2015 CALL FOR PAPERS In the winter of 1932, from a grammatical detail in the poetry of Rilke, Jean Gebser intuited an entire shift in the…

Soul-Making vs the Blind Brain Theory

Steven Craig Hickman recently posted a fascinating commentary on the fantasy writer R. Scott Bakker’s “Blind Brain Theory.”  I’ve offered several of my own commentaries in the past (see HERE). My general sense of unease seems to be shared by Hickman, who ponders towards the end of his post whether Bakker’s BBT might be more…

Consciousness Between Science and Philosophy (response to Steve Ramirez)

Almost three years ago, Steve Ramirez (neuroscience grad student at MIT) and I exchanged a few videos and blog posts about the scientific study of consciousness (see HERE for a run down). Ramirez began and ended our brief electronic debate convinced that I, like most other philosophers he’s encountered, have developed a profound misunderstanding of…

The Cosmic Body by Alan Watts

Let’s spend some time with Alan Watts. I recommend a decent dose of sour diesel just prior to pushing play. So then, is it true? Is the modern idea of consciousness–the so-called “me,” my “I,” the “ego”–a hallucination, a sort of muscle knot inside our forehead in sorry need of a meditative massage? Is our…