Exploring the Works of Bernardo Kastrup
Written by Professor Lance Butler.
I promised you more Bernardo Kastrup in my last blog, and here he is:
His books are many – and they are mostly wonderfully slim as well as pithy. They all beat the same drum one way or another.
In chronological order:
2011 Rationalist Spirituality
2011 Dreamed Up Reality
2011 Meaning in Absurdity
2014 Why Materialism is Baloney
2015 Brief Peeks Beyond
2016 More Than Allegory
2019 The Idea of the World
2020 Decoding Schopenhauer’s Metaphysics
2021 Decoding Jung’s Metaphysics
2021 Science Ideated
You’ll agree that this is quite a lot of books, especially for a man who operates rather a long way from any ivory tower and has many other things on his plate.
The background to this is simple. As any academic can tell you, the key to gaining a reputation in a field is to delimit the field and then explore it in detail. One drum banged well and often will get you somewhere with your ideas, and with your readers. This is the answer to those critics who complain that researchers and thinkers in academia know more and more about less and less. Bernardo knows more and more about a field that is as big as the universe but which that needs a lot of explaining. And here, bit by bit in these books, from various directions, come the explanations.
It isn’t all easy going, but there are enough clear expositions in the oeuvre for the whole to become comprehensible pretty quickly. And Bernardo’s big virtue is the consistency with which he presents his main ideas. Once you know where he is trying to go each subsequent chapter or book becomes easier.
And then of course you can get a (free) summary of his ideas by logging on to the Essentia Foundation website where you can watch him giving a course of lectures on his thinking. You have to be prepared to focus hard when his more unusual arguments pop up, but the overall thesis isn’t that hard to follow. Here are some of his main ideas in the form of short quotations and summaries.
Materialism is a metaphysics (it claims certainty about the make-up of the universe)
Materialism is pure abstraction (that is, just an idea)
Materialism is a massive cultural consensus
This consensus leaves out experience and the experiencer
Consciousness is the only thing of which we are certain
The universe has a universal conscious inner life
The universe cannot have produced consciousness from matter
Consciousness must be primordial (whether ‘matter’ is or not)
We are ‘dissociated alters’ of the universal consciousness
‘Reality’ is the conscious experience of all the alters
The dimension of ‘depth’ needs to be retrieved from the work of Jung
Science cannot tell us what things are ‘in themselves’
Science offer analogies and models not ‘explanations’
There must be an acausal ordering of the universe (see quantum mechanics)
There is another ordering principle available (synchronicity)
The very substance of reality is pure thought
Consciousness is a unity and cannot be split up ontologically
The physical world is as essentially experiential as the psyche
We are like ripples or whirlpools in a unified stream
The stream is made of a single substance
The substance of the stream is love
We bathe in the stream; we are bathing in love.
Quite a lot of all this is very hard to argue against. I think we should, at least, start from here and see where it takes us. And as one immediate benefit there’s this: the millions of NDEs now reported, the endless well-known phenomena of Psi and mediumship, the many inexplicable things that do certainly happen and which cannot be accommodated at all by scientific materialism, can be accommodated in the Kastrupian paradigm.
That’s a very good start.
In B Kastrup’s prize-winning essay for the Bigelowinstitute.com, around about the second paragraph of the introduction he writes (in italics!) :- “It is the body that is in consciousness not consciousness in the body. After all, you have never become acquainted with this thing you call your body outside your own consciousness, have you?”
I’d have thought consciousness being in the body is responsible for being unable to view yourself. If consciousness were outside you could “look in”!
I’m really hoping someone could take on the challenge to phrase it differently in a way I could understand! My husband seems to, but has given up trying with me (charming!). He has zero interest in these matters, but hasn’t experienced anything parapsychological, whereas I have, after the death of our son from cancer five years ago. It seems that afterwards the experiencer is either hallucinating and it’s all in the mind or the experience is something real and out there. But which is it? We are on a never-ending search which is fun and interesting, but mind boggling and incomprehensible except to the brainy, sadly!!