This is a segment where we are featuring the work of one of our professional affiliates, Lorna Green. See here for a collection of her published works on our website.
Consciousness, This New Principle
This New Copernican Revolution, The Consciousness Universe
1. And so, a new Copernican Revolution, and what it means for the Earth.
And so, let’s try it all the other way around.
I propose in the spirit of Copernicus that we need to shift our unifying principle for everything from matter to Consciousness. And to make Consciousness our most basic term and fundamental principle. Only in this way can we solve mind/brain dualism, and the problem of Consciousness. And so, I am proposing a new Copernican revolution among our basic terms.
Science is trying to make science the judge of Consciousness, but in fact, Consciousness is the judge of science, and calls all of our explanatory principles into question. The near-death experience is really the key to the deeper mysteries of the Universe.
My thesis in a nutshell: Consciousness is “first and fundamental” in the Universe. It is there from the very “Beginning,” everything has it, and all of the true causalities, and the explanatory terms for the Universe are in it. They belong to Consciousness, and not matter.
And so, to answer the question of Roger Penrose: What then is matter, physical reality? All matter is an expression of Consciousness, even the least little bit of matter contains Consciousness, and is in fact an expression of Consciousness. All energy contains Consciousness, this idea alone will change our world forever. And so, to answer Roger’s question: What is physical reality? Physical reality is an expression of Consciousness.
And so: A New Universe: Awake aware creative intelligent, Enspirited throughout.
A New Earth: Not matter and mechanics, not board feet, not commodities and resources, awake, aware, living, vital conscious beings, like Ourselves full of Mystery and full of Magic.
The trees, the animals, as conscious as we are, not our Consciousness, but Consciousness, nevertheless. And the stars? Not just burning lumps of matter, but magnificent spiritual beings in physical expression, the reason we all love them so much. And the more we can see our likeness to every other being the harder it will to be to do them all in.
And we Ourselves, also conscious beings in physical expression.
And so, panpsychism. There are two forms of panpsychism. In the weak version, Consciousness is in everything, but it is still produced by matter. In the strong form, Consciousness is in fact not just in everything, but the active principle everywhere. All the true causalities belong to Consciousness. But I would go even further than this and claim that Consciousness precedes every form of matter. That it is the ultimate organizing principle of the Universe, and of all realities.
The material world is an expression of Consciousness. Every being on the planet has Consciousness, they are all living conscious spiritual beings, like our self. The Earth is a continuum of many forms of Consciousness, of which our own is one, interconnected, interrelated, intersubjective, open and open-ended, Oneness and One. Let the barriers we have placed between the Earth and ourselves go down.
And so, a new scientific image of nature. Nature consists of interacting systems of Consciousness. Consciousness within Consciousness within Consciousness, all the way down, at all levels and depths. And then what? Beneath matter and within matter is Consciousness.
And so, here is a single and simple term, this is a bold brave and beautiful new principle, Consciousness. This is a new unifying principle, an animating principle. Consciousness is the missing piece of the puzzle, and the true explanatory principle for everything. I predict that every intractable human problem, in science and in civilization will go down like a line of dominos before it.
In a nutshell, the Universe, the Earth, and we Ourselves, are not simply mechanics, matter and mechanism, but Enspirited throughout.
There is an Asymmetry in the modern world, matter and mechanism/Consciousness, and the whole world has come down on the wrong side of it. Matter and mechanism cannot explain Consciousness, but Consciousness can accommodate, contain and explain matter and mechanism, in a higher, wider and richer truth of things, a whole new synthesis.
The scientific image of nature is to the Truth of the Universe, as Euclidean geometry is to non-Euclidean geometry, a partial version of things, a partial truth, being made into the whole truth.
Present day science has missed it, and has failed to find the road to reality, because it has taken “the hard stuff,” the dense matter all around us, to be what is “really Real,” and built a civilization on this deep conviction. But in truth, how could this hard stuff, passing in and out of existence, be anything Real?
Matter, in truth, is an Appearance of something much more Real, Consciousness. Consciousness is not some helpless, wispy, “ghost in the machine,” but the very organizing principle of matter, the basic organizing principle of all realities. By analogy it resembles a machine that human beings have made, every machine we make is an embodiment of an idea, every high rise that goes up embodies an idea.
Ideas are not some ephemeral little things, birds in the aviary, or tracks in a cloud chamber. Their realities underpin the whole of our existence. We live our lives in the shadows of ideas, and as William James put it: The mind stabilizes the unstable brain. Ideas are organizing principles of the whole, of our lives, of our world, and I daresay, of the Universe itself.
Simone Weil, standing in a forest of birch trees: Imagine feeling all this “for mere matter.” Well, because it isn’t mere matter, we are in the presence of living conscious spiritual beings like ourselves, that open into Magic, and Mystery, and beyond both, into what the Native People called the Great Mystery.
The shamans of ancient Mexico say that all that keeps us in “the rational illusion” is our incessant talk, and when not talking, the inner dialogue. And they say: Get your head into magic and keep it there.
2. Where Did Science Miss It and Why?
Where did science miss it? Where did science fail to find the road to reality?
We missed it with Descartes, with Descartes concept of matter, as something devoid of mind, or Consciousness. What Descartes did, was to take our ordinary sense of Reality, that we are minds in bodies perceiving things, and elevate it to the status of a basic metaphysics, and world view: There are two kinds of things in the Universe, two basic “Substances,” Matter and Mind, on the Earth, human beings alone have Mind, everything else is Matter.
Science proceeds on the bases of the negligible, on what it can leave out of its theories. What Descartes did was to dismiss, as negligible, the very animating principle of the Universe, and of matter, no wonder science has missed it, has failed to find the road to reality. I am simply restoring to the Earth, nature, and matter, this animating principle, Consciousness. And so, we replace the hither to useful, but ultimately false, metaphysics of Descartes, with a new, and hopefully true metaphysics. There are not two principles, there is only one, Consciousness.
And in fact, science has missed it from the very beginning, because it has misunderstood what the senses are giving us as “real.” Heraclitus: Eyes and ears are poor witnesses for those that do not understand their language. Jesus: Seeing, they see not; hearing, they hear not.
The senses give us “things,” the hard stuff. But the senses are “lovely liars.” The trees, the animals, automata (Hobbes)? Cleverly wired machines (Descartes)? They are conscious spiritual beings like ourselves, and so with this new way of looking at things, we extend the domain of perception in new ways, and with it, a new Universe picture.
You cannot know me, by weighing and measuring my physical body, and every other being is constructed exactly as we are, a living conscious spiritual being like ourselves, in physical expression. The belief that matter, the hard stuff, is what is “really real” is the greatest of all illusions, and the source of every other illusion as well.
There is no matter in Descartes sense of it, or Aristotle and Plato’s sense of it, something devoid of Consciousness, and therefore to be held in contempt. All matter, even the least little bit of matter, contains Consciousness, and is an expression of Consciousness.
And so, we rewrite Plato’s theory of Forms, and the Form/Matter distinction of Aristotle, and St. Thomas Aquinas. This new principle Consciousness, will enable us to lay the groundwork for a new understanding of the Earth, that we may honor and respect her reality. And to begin to get both the Earth and ourselves right.
Science has missed it, because it has taken “the hard stuff,” the matter all around us, to be what is really real, whereas in fact, matter is an appearance of something more real, Consciousness, an expression of Consciousness. And so, a young physicist in a panel discussion at the Perimeter Institute: We gather data, and we make theories, but we have no assurance that we are seeing what is really there. Consciousness is what is really there, and it never shows up under the scalpel. What is essential about every being is Consciousness.
The weighable and measurable aspects of Reality are actually its most surface and superficial aspects. Science has been taking these aspects to be essential, but they are actually an Appearance of something much more real, Consciousness. Matter is really a thin veneer over something more real, Consciousness. And this is the reason that from the very dawn of science, we have missed the truth of the Universe.
3. And so, a new Universe Picture: Consciousness as the new Paradigm.
Here are two very different Universe pictures. The Cartesian Universe consists of things, interacting mechanistically, pushed and pulled about by the purely physical forces, automata, cleverly wired machines, that function blind.
I am proposing a new paradigm, and a new Universe picture, the Consciousness Universe. This Universe is organized into Selves, and you cannot get Selves from things, they have to be there from the start. The Universe consists of Selves, with a sense of self, and subjectivity, bedrock in the chain of causalities, in Ourselves, organized and focused about an “I,” what religion has always referred to as our spirit. We are aware, awake, intelligent throughout, creative and Enspirited throughout. We function according to intent, plan and purpose, and what Aristotle calls, “final causality—that for the sake of which.”
And with Self, comes causalities not even in present day Science, self-development, self-expression, self-fulfillment.
Many physicists believe that within the Universe is one simple idea. I propose that it is the idea of self. Let there be infinite selves, each one dear to itself, of all kinds and descriptions, small and great, each intent on its own developments and self-fulfillment, in a way that is compatible with the same intent in everything else.
I am proposing that this Universe has a place for Ideas, Ideas are a causality, organizing principles of Consciousness, of our lives, of our world. Are they also there in the Universe, organizing principles of any and all Consciousness? Both Einstein and Gödel thought so, as did the great idealists, Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel.
Love is also a causality, the well spring of action, and that at which we aim, the very Source of All and Everything.
Subjectivity is the ultimate causality, bedrock in the chain of causality. It is the deepest mystery of the entire Universe, knowable only in ourselves through direct experience, but with something like it in every other being as well.
And in this new Universe picture, intent plan and purpose, final causality is everywhere.
And so, Tom Berry: The laws of the Universe are subjectivity, differentiation, and communion.
The great idealists had the term Ideas but without the field properties of Consciousness. Science has the field properties of energy but without the intelligence of ideas. This new view I am proposing is their reconciliation. And there are more than ideas or energy, because Consciousness is more.
And so, I replace the great mathematical vision of nature, a view open mainly to scientists, with a mystical view, open to all.
And now, what follows? What does this new term Consciousness really mean? It means a new way to see know and understand the Reality in which all find ourselves. And I am going on to work it out with new ways to comprehend the Earth, the Universe, Ourselves and Spirit.
This new term is the fundamental term for every form of reality, and every discipline. And so, I begin with a rewrite of modern science itself.
And so, stay tuned!