Talk: Did the Universe Design Itself?

comments 2

Here’s a talk I gave at the Ian Ramsey Centre at Oxford Uni recently:

I’ve somewhat neglected this blog recently…but having come to the end of very busy period should be able to do more updates in the near future…


The Author

I am a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University, UK. My research focuses on how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview.


  1. Lee Roetcisoender says


    I am in agreement and sympathetic to your views on panpsychism as the best explanation of consciousness as well as the best explanation of materialism; because as a grounding tenet, a version of panpsychism explains ourselves and our material universe for all of the reasons you cite. Nevertheless, your hypothesis of cosmo-panpsychism and fine tuning of that conscious universe is fundamentally flawed because it is predicated upon Russellian monism. No form of type monism, however creative, will resolve the hard problem of consciousness for all of the obvious reasons, namely the complexity involved and the rationality that goes with it which ultimately coalesces into one form of absurdity or another.

    The most parsimonious explanation of things lies within strict monism, even though the very notion of strict monism is repulsive to the identity of self. Whatever that “one thing” is of strict monism, it is separate from appearance and opinion as so poignantly articulated by Parmenides over twenty-five hundred years ago. Whatever that “one thing” is, it is separate from any qualities or properties that one might assign to it, and it is separate from any opinion one might have of it. It is what it is. One does not have to agree and one does not have to like how it feels, because whatever that “one thing” is, it is not about us.

    Even though strict monism may be the most parsimonious explanation of things, as a path of inquiry, it is avoided like the plague because it always leads one the what I call “the infamous God deference”. The topic of God rose its ugly head in your lecture, as well as in the question and answer segment of the video. The question of whether God exists is an inappropriate question and it needs to be eliminated from our vocabulary The question needs to be reframed in the correct context, and that context is whether a God “ought” to exist. The answer to that question would appropriately be: Properly understood, God ought to exist. And therein lies the conundrum, understanding. Ironic as it sounds, we inherently know what that “one thing” is of strict monism because we experience it everyday through the objective experience of consciousness. That’s right, you read that correctly; consciousness is not a subjective first person experience, consciousness is an objective first person experience of some “thing” that is radically indeterminate, and the sooner we move away from the construct of consciousness being a subjective experience the sooner we will resolve the hard problem of consciousness and get on with discovery.

    The irony Philip, is that you unknowingly addressed that some “thing” of strict monism in your lecture when discussing the Planck Epoch, “the point of origin for value considerations for the fine tuning of the universe” as you put it. The Planck Epoch is not the point where value considerations for the fine tuning of the universe were deployed, the entire big bang, including the Planck Epoch is an expression of that “one thing”, and that “one thing” is value and power, coextensive as one, character indeterminate and unified. Because character is indeterminate, the reality of power and value as coextensive is separate from appearance and opinion, there is nothing we can say about it. In strict monism, there is the appearance, and then there is the reality. The appearance, whatever that appearance may be, would be the expression of the reality.

    One is compelled to consider: If our universe is merely the expression of value and power which is indeterminate, then all forms of consciousness, be it energy or mass, including the indeterminateness of inner and outer space would experience and express value and power within the confines of their individual characters being determinate. Micro-panpsychism could then be used to explain the novelty of expression we observe within our universe without being stymied by the combination problem. In the model of a value centric universe, there is no need for the laws of physics to govern complex relationships because all forms of consciousness are expressions of value and power. Consciousness then becomes the form through which value and power is both experienced and expressed. Consciousness is the appearance, consciousness is not the reality. To borrow Bernardo Kastrup’s acronym (TWE) for a different articulation, in a strict monism, there is only That Which Expresses, and That Which Expresses is value and power, coextensive as one, character indeterminate and unified.

    When it comes to phenomenon of consciousness, power is radically indeterminate because power is the cause of all determinations. Even though value and power are coextensive as one, power is the wild card of consciousness. And it is because of the indeterminate nature of power expressed through the form of consciousness that consciousness is perceived to be a a subjective experience, where indeed consciousness is a direct, objective first person experience of both value and power coextensive as one.

  2. Lee Roetcisoender says

    To add clarity to the last paragraph of my previous comment, I will add this last statement: Value stands alone at the center of power, is the substance of what tends, and has at once a nature of its own and tendency from that nature toward change. That is the very definition of motion and form; motion and form that is responsible for the novelty of expression we observe within our phenomenal world, including our own objective experience of consciousness expressed as power realized and actualized. Power realized and actualized simply means: because of the awareness of power, power can then be both experienced and expressed. For the very act of reasoning itself is an expression of power, an expression of power where value stands alone at the center of the cognitive reasoning process.

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