Consciousness is all there is to reality. There is no WORLD Jun 15, 2020 20:34:11 GMT
Post by Kitanai on Jun 15, 2020 20:34:11 GMT
Essentially I'm advocating for the metaphysical position of monist idealism. I believe that consciousness and its contents are all there is to reality, and that physicalism, the assumption of a physical world independent of consciousness is unnecessary and wrong.
When faced with the question of what exists, the only assertion I can confidently make is that my own consciousness exists. This is because I have direct, immediate knowledge of my own conscious experiences.
From here, I can assert that others probably have conscious experiences as well. This is impossible to prove, but it's only a small leap in logic, since it's simply postulating another case of a thing which I already know to exist (my own personal consciousness).
Most of us in western society go on to make a third assertion: that an objective world, independent of consciousness, also exists, and further, that this world is the cause of consciousness. In my view, both of these assumptions are unprovable and unnecessary.
Hence, idealism is more parsimonious than physicalism because it requires less assumptions, and further, it does not suffer from the problem of attempting to explain how physical processes can create subjective experiences (the "hard problem" of consciousness).
I think there are two reasons we take the existence of a physical world for granted:
- Our experiences of the world seem to be objective and autonomous, existing independently of our own volition, so they must have an independent existence
- The physical concepts we use to explain our experiences are very accurate, and so they must represent the reality of our experiences
I think that both of these assertions can easily be accounted for from an idealist's perspective.
With regards to assertion 1, the unstated assumption is that all conscious beings are discrete, independent entities. But this is arguably begging the question, since only under physicalism would we assume that each brain is its own entity with an independent existence, rather than simply excitations in a unified field of consciousness, like any other sort of sensory perception. Further, even under physicalism, it has been proven that the universe has non-local properties (such as with quantum entanglement), so it may not be correct even under our current physics to claim that two objects which are spatially separate must be fundamentally separate.
Instead, we could conceive of each conscious entity as being dissociated alters of a broader mind. This is simply taking a phenomenon we already know to exist, and applying it in a new way, rather than positing a new category of existence. Namely, I'm talking about the phenomenon of dissociative identity disorder. As brain scans attest, people suffering from this condition experience a real fragmentation of the subject, where different alters display different personalities, different thought patterns, and most importantly, an inability to access the other alter's conscious experiences of the world. Another way to think about this is the metaphor of whirlpools in a stream. The stream represents broader mind, and the whirlpools represent individual alters of that mind.
Regarding the second assertion, I would argue that physics is simply the consequence of our experiences following regular, predictable patterns. All of our physical concepts are derived from, and reducible to, subjective experiences. Concepts such as mass, energy, or information are used to predict and "explain" certain qualities of our experiences, but they are always derived from experience. After all, to make a measurement is simply to quantify one aspect of sensory experience in terms of another. I would argue that ultimately these concepts are simply abstractions.
Another, related thing I would like to point out. Physics seems to suggest that at its most fundamental level, the universe is not composed of mass or energy, but information (information theory). Information is fundamentally just differentiation, a "1" and a "0", which also happens to be the only necessary prerequisite for experience. So even our deepest understanding of physics seems to line up with a conception of idealism.