From a philosophical and scientific point of view, there is arguably no phenomenon as fiendishly intractable as the origin and nature of consciousness. Consciousness and associated notions of qualia, top-down causation, free will, etc., have been largely neglected by the (reductionist) scientific community for many decades as epi-phenomena or illusions—‘side effects’ of brain physiology and neurochemistry with no impact on the material world. In this seminar, I demonstrate concordant perspectives on consciousness between the Kabbalah (Jewish mystical tradition) and modern formulations of quantum and Bohmian mechanics. I submit that the Kabbalah supports an ontology of consciousness that is panpsychist in nature and informed by the tenets of panentheism. A model is developed based on esoteric and mainstream Jewish teachings that understands consciousness to be holographically and hierarchically organized, relativistic, and capable of downward causation. Time permitting, implications of Kabbalistic panpsychism for female intuition, free will, prophecy and the future of human consciousness will be explored and the epistemological value of such exercises considered.
Dr. Hyman Schipper is a professor of neurology and medicine (Geriatrics) at McGill University, a clinical neurologist at the Jewish General Hospital in Montreal and the director of a neuroscience laboratory in the hospital’s affiliated Lady Davis Institute. His research focuses on degenerative diseases affecting the brain and mind and he is the author of over 200 peer-reviewed papers on these and related topics. Prof. Schipper has long been interested in the interface between contemporary science and the Jewish mystical tradition (Kabbalah). His research in this area was initially published in Yeshiva University’s Torah u-Madda Journal (2012-13) and more recently in Unified Field Mechanics II (RL Amoroso et al. eds., World Scientific 2018); Bar-Ilan University’s DAAT: Journal of Jewish Philosophy & Kabbalah (2019); the Essentia Foundation (2020); Kabbalistic Panpsychism: The Enigma of Consciousness in Jewish Mystical Thought (John Hunt Publishing, 2021), and Chabad.org (2022).