Jung, psychologist and idealist philosopher

Born in Switzerland, Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961), along with Sigmund Freud, became the most well known psychiatrist of the twentieth century and possibly of all time.

In his little book ‘Decoding Jung’s metaphysics’, philosopher Bernardo Kastrup analyses Jung’s metaphysics. In other words: What is beyond what we think of as the physical world? Or in Kastrup’s words: A metaphysics of nature entails a certain view about what nature is in and of itself, as opposed to how it behaves (which is the study of science).

According to Kastrup, Jung hid his thoughts about this in his writing, because he was first and foremost a scientist. But Kastrup makes it obvious that Jung was also very much an idealist philosopher, which means that he thought that mind is primary in nature. In Jung’s view, the psyche holds the body rather than the other way around.

Famous principles in Jung’s work are archetypes, the collective unconscious and synchronicity, all principles that fit the idealist view very nicely. Jung considers the unconscious integral to the psyche. Sometimes, experiences in the unconscious can potentially cross the boundary and enter ego-consciousness. That is clearly an idealist position: There is only one mind (mind-at-large) and egos are localisations of this mind-at large or collective unconscious (or for the Dutch reader: Fragmenten uit het Schemerland). Content of this collective unconscious could potentially enter the ego-mind. Jung refers to these experiences as ‘psychoid’.

Jung describes archetypes as unconscious, but nonetheless active-living dispositions, ideas in the Platonic sense, that perform and continually influence our thoughts and feelings and actions. These ideas have effects which have an organizing influence on the contents of consciousness.

For instance, the inner life and behavior of a mother towards her child is largely determined by the so-called ‘mother archetype’, a mode of being and acting that is inherited by every woman and constellated by the presence of the child. These behaviours are thus not learned, but inborn. They correspond to the primordial templates of the collective unconscious (the larger mind) as they assert themselves by impinging on ego-consciousness.

The archetypes cannot be apprehended in and of themselves. All we can assess is the organising effects on our ego-consciousness. This is once again an idealist perspective. All we know, and can ever know for certain, is what we directly perceive. We cannot observe archetypes directly. All we have is the images, dreams and visions they help create. An archetype is a tendency that ‘tends’ to express itself in a certain way, Kastrup writes.

Each archetype can manifest itself to a variety of images, feelings and spontaneous behavioural patterns, all of which symbolize – or point to – a message. Our deeper dreams, visions, passions and impulsive actions thus have a meaning and can be interpreted, if only we pay attention to them. Taken together, the archetypal manifestations in our lives – in both dream and waking states – form a symbolic narrative meant to show to ego-consciousness what is going on in the unconscious. It is up to the Jung-analyst to unravel the meaning of these narratives.

Synchronicity is described by Jung as the simultaneous occurrence of a certain physic state with one or more external events which appear as meaningful parallels to the momentary subjective state. As an example, Jung famously reported an incident he witnessed during a therapy session. The female patient he was seeing related a dream in which she was given a golden scarab, an important archetypal symbol of rebirth. As she was recounting the dream, an insect began knocking on the window. Jung let it in and found it was a rose chafer beetle, an insect that looks very much like a scarab.

How can these strong links occur between the mind and physical world when there is only causality? According to Kastrup, who decoded Jung’s work, Jung believed in a non-local, organising foundation of nature. If the ego-mind and the physical world both arise from this deeper (mental) foundation, then these meaningful coincidences start to make a whole lot more sense. This is once again an idealistic proposition.

And so, the inescapable conclusion is that Jung was an idealist who thought that nature is in and of itself consciousness.

More on Kastrup’s writing can be found on his website.

Review ‘The Grand Biocentric Design’

In 2017 I read the most important book of my lifetime: Biocentrism (2009) by renowned scientists Robert Lanza and Bob Berman. It deserves to have an impact at least as great as Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason in the 17th century. And the main message is very similar: space and time are tools of the animal mind. Only how the authors reach their conclusions is different. Kant by brilliant philosophical reasoning. Lanza by backing up these insights by evidence from modern physics and astronomy.

In this third entry in the Biocentrism series (after Biocentrism and Beyond Biocentrism), Lanza wisely added a physicist to his writing team: Matej Pavšič. Also, there is no longer a reference from Deepak Chopra on the cover like there was on the previous books. This ‘name-dropping’ was understandable from the publisher’s position: Chopra can definitely add to the commercial success of any book that challenges the materialistic paradigm. But the science minded crowd is already extremely skeptical of any reference made to consciousness in relation to physics. So, the authors will have to be as credible as they can be to persuade the ones that may be persuaded.

I was already convinced by the first book. Not because of the credentials of the authors – that are extremely impressive – but because of the arguments presented. In the years after reading the mind blowing revelations of the first Biocentrism book, I tried to find counter arguments, but never found them. At least not arguments that cannot be easily refuted (which in this book, the authors do in one of the appendixes). Lanza and his co-authors successfully make their scientific perspective totally compatible with the findings of quantum mechanics and other unsolved mysteries of science.

The core of biocentrism is that consciousness is equivalent to reality itself. It is absolutely fundamental and cannot be reduced. If we accept this fact, everything falls into place. Quantum mechanics reveals that the physical world arises not from interactions, but the awareness of interactions. The mind computes the where and the when objects appear in relation to the observer. An observer with a functioning brain and memory is therefore crucial for the universe to be there. These authors make the case completely obvious.

The first two books were an exploration of how science in the past hundred years has been steadily moving towards this paradigm shattering realization. That conscious life and the cosmos are one and the same and cannot be separated. In the third book Lanza and his co-authors go further to explain how the mind manages the impressive feat of creating reality. The subject matter is complex, but through lucid writing the authors manage to make these ideas understandable for a wide audience.

Also some previously unexplored scientific topics are looked at through biocentric glasses, like Libet’s famous free will experiments that get a completely different interpretation than the usual ‘we are our brains’. They also offer fascinating insights on topics like animal consciousness and dreams. It is really great stuff.

Towards the end, Lanza and co give the readers a good sense of how this new perspective may impact science and what spectacular possibilities it offers for future science. Time travel is just one of them. Lanza and his co-authors did it again. They further improved my understanding of this ’mental thing’ that we’re all a part of. But no matter how much one reads about it or meditates on it, it remains mind-bending stuff. If you want to learn why the exploration of the universe must start within ourselves, this is your definitive guide.

⟿ Jeppe Kleyngeld, January 2021

Thinking, Fast & Slow; Dialogues on Reality (1)

By J.H. Kash

I was on my way to Vegas for a conference on quantum mechanics and the nature of reality with the famous Dr. Lanza. He was driving our fire red convertible as we discussed the difference between mind and brain.

“If the mind is not the brain, then what is it?” I asked.
“The mind is that which experiences. That which perceives. By definition, that means it cannot perceive itself”, he answered.
“But here’s the problem”, I objected. “How can it do anything if it is not physical? You say it’s some sort of super turbine creating reality as we know it.”
“Right. So if it is an engine, but it’s not made of anything, then how can it function? And this is not just me asking, but anyone being skeptical of the mind being anything other than the brain.”
He took a sip of his coffee.
“You ask good questions, Kash. You see, the mind is part of the non-local domain, that is powered by zero point energy. That is energy so powerful a teaspoonful could easily blow Nevada to smithereens. This mind field also possesses phenomenality. Because of this energy, of which we cannot even comprehend how powerful it is, it can create worlds without breaking a sweat. Including our world.”
“You’re a fucking lunatic”, I said. “I love it.”

“So how do you look at this mind-at-large concept?” I continued. “That what we experience is merely a fragment of the potential mind that encapsulates the cosmos?”
“It makes perfect sense. If the brain localises the consciousness to the body, it means it only uses a insignificantly small piece of the mind power that exists.”
“Many people who’ve had near-death experiences say they experienced this mind-at-large. When their consciousness was temporarily detached from their brain, due to say… cardiac arrest, they all of a sudden understood… quantum mechanics.”
“That’s very possible. The brain slows our thought processes way down to accommodate our experience on earth. Would we be in a different dimension, our conscious experience could be entirely different. Perhaps unbounded, completely free from filters.”
“Imagine that.”
“We can’t. Our slow brains normally prevent us from experiencing that.”
“Let’s drop some acid then.”
He laughed. “Yeah, let’s.”

Fragment from what might one day become a novel called ObserverWorld. Right now it merely exists in the ocean of possibilities we call the quantum realm. But it might be in the future manifested by a number of conscious agents, including me, Lanza and you dear readers.

What causes wave function collapse in quantum mechanics?

Quora Question: What is wave function collapse in the context of quantum mechanics, and how does (or doesn’t) it relate to consciousness?

My answer: I notice that a lot of physicists and others are still having problems with the ‘Consciousness Causes Collapse’ interpretation because they approach it from the old paradigm.

Old worldview
The universe a large billiard ball machine. Everything is made of particles and life and consciousness are both the result of pure randomness, physical processes and evolution. There is no proof for anything ‘magical’ going on.

From this perspective, consciousness – as merely a brain function – can have no effect on the physical world. The very idea is ludicrous.

However, is this the best worldview we have? I think not.

New worldview
Conscious life and the entire physical universe originate from a non-local mind field and is a unified whole. We are all part of an information matrix. Reality, therefore, is a process that involves your consciousness (which is really not your consciousness, but part of a larger cosmic mind). Therefore, the conscious mind transforms all quantum possibilities into a manifest outcome.

Strange loop: who collapses the conscious observer?

This new worldview, which is beautifully described in Robert Lanza’s Biocentrism, has a number of radical implications for how we view the universe:
– The physical world and conscious observer are intertwined and cannot be separated. There is no outside world that exists independent of mind.
– Non-living matter exists only in probability state when not being observed.
– Space and time are tools of the mind and have no independent, objective existence.
– The brain does not generate consciousness, but acts as reducing valve, keeping experience restricted to our local experience ensuring our fitness for survival.

There are many reasons to believe this worldview is much better suited to explain nature in its totality. Quantum mechanics is one of these reasons, because whatever the observer seems to do, impacts the experimental results. This goes so far that a decision an experimenter makes in the present, can impact the behavior of a particle in the past (delayed choice experiments).

There is still a lot of resistance against this worldview, because it is so radically different than what our current scientific culture dictates. However, there are some physicists reevaluating their thinking. Like Scott M. Tyson. In his book The Unobservable Universe: A Paradox-Free Framework for Understanding the Universe, he writes: “you simply cannot remove the observer from reality. It can’t be done and it is pointless to resist.”

Read more answers about the relation between quantum mechanics and consciousness in my posts on Quora.