On the Plausibility of Idealism: Refuting Criticisms

Open access

Abstract

Several alternatives vie today for recognition as the most plausible ontology, from physicalism to panpsychism. By and large, these ontologies entail that physical structures circumscribe consciousness by bearing phenomenal properties within their physical boundaries. The ontology of idealism, on the other hand, entails that all physical structures are circumscribed by consciousness in that they exist solely as phenomenality in the first place. Unlike the other alternatives, however, idealism is often considered implausible today, particularly by analytic philosophers. A reason for this is the strong intuition that an objective world transcending phenomenality is a self-evident fact. Other arguments—such as the dependency of phenomenal experience on brain function, the evidence for the existence of the universe before the origin of conscious life, etc.—are also often cited. In this essay, I will argue that these objections against the plausibility of idealism are false. As such, this essay seeks to show that idealism is an entirely plausible ontology.

Black, Donald and Grant, Jon. 2014. The Essential Companion to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Fifth Edition. Washington: American Psychiatric Publishing.

Boswell, James. 1820. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL. D., Volume 1. London: J. Davis, Military Chronicle and Military Classics Office.

Braude, Stephen. 1995. First Person Plural: Multiple Personality and the Philosophy of Mind. New York: Routledge.

Chalmers, David. 2003. Consciousness and its place in nature. In Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Mind, ed. by Stephen Stich and Ted Warfield. Malden: Blackwell.

Eagleman, David. 2011. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. New York: Canongate.

Griffin, David. 1998. Unsnarling the World-Knot. Eugene: Wipf & Stock.

Jung, Carl. 1991. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, 2nd Edition. London: Routledge.

Kastrup, Bernardo. 2014. Why Materialism Is Baloney: How True Skeptics Know There Is No Death and Fathom Answers to life, the Universe, and Everything. Winchester: Iff Books.

Kastrup, Bernardo. 2015. Brief Peeks Beyond: Critical Essays on Metaphysics, Neuroscience, Free Will, Skepticism and Culture. Winchester: Iff Books.

Kelly, Edward et al. 2009. Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield.

Kihlstrom, John and Cork, Randall. 2007. Anesthesia. In The Blackwell Companion to Consciousness, ed. by Max Velmans and Susan Schneider. Oxford: Blackwell.

Koch, Christof. 2004. The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach. Englewood: Roberts & Company Publishers.

Krioukov, Dmitri et al. 2012. Network Cosmology. Scientific Reports 2

Libet, Benjamin. 1985. Unconscious cerebral initiative and the role of conscious will in voluntary action. The Behavioral and Brain Sciences 8: 529–566.

Lynch, John and Kilmartin, Christopher. 2013. Overcoming Masculine Depression: The Pain Behind the Mask. New York: Routledge.

Nagasawa, Yujin and Wager, Khai. 2016. Panpsychism and priority cosmopsychism. In Panpsychism, ed. by Godehard Brüntrup and Ludwig Jaskolla. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Neal, Richard. 2008. The Path to Addiction: And Other Troubles We Are Born to Know. Bloomington: AuthorHouse.

Retz. 2007. Tripping without drugs: experience with hyperventilation (ID 14651). Erowid.org: <www.erowid.org/exp/14651>

Rhinewine, Joseph and Williams, Oliver. 2007. Holotropic breathwork: the potential role of a prolonged, voluntary hyperventilation procedure as an adjunct to psychotherapy. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 13: 771–776.

Rosenberg, Gregg. 2004. A Place for Consciousness. New York: Oxford University Press.

Schaffer, Jonathan. 2010. Monism: the priority of the whole. Philosophical Review 119: 31–76.

Schlumpf, Yolanda et al. 2014. Dissociative part-dependent resting-state activity in dissociative identity disorder: a controlled fMRI perfusion study. PloS ONE 9.

Schooler, Jonathan. 2002. Re-representing consciousness: dissociations between experience and meta-consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Science 6: 339–344.

Shani, Itay. 2015. Cosmopsychism: a holistic approach to the metaphysics of experience. Philosophical Papers 44: 389–437.

Siegel, Ethan. 2016. Ask Ethan: Is the universe itself alive? Forbes, 23 January: <http://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2016/01/23/ask-ethan-isthe-universe-itself-alive>

Skrbina, David. 2007. Panpsychism in the West. Cambridge: MIT Press.

Strasburger, Hans and Waldvogel, Bruno. 2015. Sight and blindness in the same person: gating in the visual system. PsyCh Journal 4: 178–185.

Strawson, Galen et al. 2006. Consciousness and its Place in Nature. Exeter: Imprint Academic.

Tononi, Giulio. 2004. An information integration theory of consciousness. BMC Neuroscience 5: 42.

Tsuchiya, Naotsugu et al. 2015. No-report paradigms: extracting the true neural correlates of consciousness. Trends in Cognitive Science 19: 757–770.

Vandenbroucke, Annelinde et al. 2014. Seeing without knowing: neural signatures of perceptual inference in the absence of report. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience 26: 955–969.

Whinnery, James and Whinnery, Angela. 1990. Acceleration-induced loss of consciousness: a review of 500 episodes. Archives of Neurology 47: 764–776.

Windt, Jennifer, Nielsen, Tore, and Thompson, Evan. 2016. Does consciousness disappear in dreamless sleep? Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20: 871–882.