In this talk, given at a seminar on 7th July 2020, Galileo Commission adviser Max Velmans suggests a different way to understand the many ways in which humans and other sentient beings are natural expressions of a reflexive, self-observing universe and the many ways in which this universe might be conscious. The talk introduces and summarizes the detailed analysis given in Velmans, M. (2021) “Is the Universe Conscious? Reflexive Monism and the Ground of Being”, in Kelly, E. and Marshall, P. (eds.) Consciousness Unbound. Rowman and Littlefield (in press). The presentation introduces ancient dualist and monist attempts to understand how consciousness, mind, self and soul relate to brain, body and the material world. It then contrasts modern dualist and materialist- reductionist visions of the universe with reflexive monism, the view that the universe is reflexive and self-observing. It explains ways in which the latter requires a paradigm shift in which consciousness and its material accompaniments are entirely natural consequences of what the universe is like, exempified by the dual-aspect monist nature of the human mind and that of other sentient beings. The presentation then introduces different ways to explore the ground of being, and makes connections with Eastern as well as Western philosophy.
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