Sunday, September 30, 2018

Twilight of the Idols and the Cosmic Mind

"The concept of the “beyond”, the “true world” invented in order to devaluate the only world there is - in order to retain no goal, no reason, no task for our earthly reality! "     Nietzsche, Ecce Homo

In Twilight of the Idols and other works, one of the key critical targets of Friedrich Nietzsche is the dichotomy often posited by philosophers between a “true” world and the supposedly illusory or deficient apparent world that is felt, sensed and experienced. Nietzsche argues that the disparagement of the apparent world in favour of the “true” world is unjustified, unproductive and unhealthy. The “true” worlds upon which he aims he sights  include the barren atomistic world of materialist science, the spiritual world existing beyond the body posited by various religions, and the world of abstract ideation of idealist philosophies of the day.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Cosmopsychism and evolution

Thomas Nagel’s book Mind and Cosmos has been widely criticised for, amongst other things, suggesting that Neo-Darwinism is insufficient to explain the diversity of life forms and their attributes, including humans endowed with consciousness, reason and values. Nevertheless,  I think the book contains some interesting speculations on consciousness, the implications of panpsychism for a naturalistic world view and the possibility of teleological principles influencing the course of events in the universe.

Following some of the paths which Nagel’s work opens up, the aim of this post is to offer some speculations on the implications of the form of panpsychism known as cosmopsychism for views about the evolution of life. Cosmospychism is the view that the universe is a conscious subject, from which human consciousness is derived or grounded. For the purposes of this post I will be assuming that cosmopsychism is plausible ( meaning that it is has a rational basis and is not wildly improbable).

Friday, February 16, 2018

Evolution, Subjectivity and Purpose

[edit December 2018: This post is based on a recently published paper in Cosmos and History.]

'I think there is a bomb lodged in the foundations of science that may be about to go off. It is a bomb that Charles Darwin inadvertently set ticking, William James exposed for all to see - and which 20th century thought has done its best to try and bury.'

So wrote organic chemist and author Graham-Cairns Smith nearly twenty years ago. The bomb which he was referring to is William James'  evolutionary argument for the causal efficacy of consciousness (hereafter, ‘the evolutionary argument’). Although no bomb has gone off since Cairns-Smith's words, the issues the evolutionary argument present for scientific materialism remain.

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Hope, Panpsychism and Utopia

Two of the principal concerns of German philosopher Ernst Bloch (1885 - 1997) were the concepts of hope and utopia. Bloch argued that a future utopia, whilst not a certainty, was a distinct possibility. Integral to this argument was the view there was a dynamic subjectivity  inherent in the natural world.