Philosophy Society Talk by Dr. Miri Albahari
19 August, 2016
SSCI161 (Social Sciences Building)
'Idealism and the Perennial Philosophy: How might the world be grounded in universal consciousness?'
‘The Perennial Philosophy’ is a term used by some to convey the most profound of so-called mystical insights, by which all concrete reality – ourselves and the world – is directly apprehended as grounded in, and deeply at one with, universal consciousness. It is thus a form of idealism, the position that concrete reality is somehow dependent upon mind-related criteria. It is deemed ‘perennial’ partly because the central ‘insight’ has allegedly recurred for 25 centuries from within the ambit of different religious traditions. Yet despite this recurring theme, there remains (to my knowledge) no serious investigation of the Perennial Philosophy as a stand-alone position in the Western Analytic or Continental philosophical traditions, including those labelled ‘Idealist’. With the current renaissance of Cosmopsychism, (the view, reminiscent of British Idealism, that the cosmos is a giant conscious subject) the time is ripe for the Perennial Philosophy to be put on the Western philosophical map as a serious metaphysical option. But first we must get clear about what is on offer; so making initial sense of the Perennial Philosophy is the goal of this paper. I outline its main tenets, briefly distinguishing it from Cosmopsychism and historical forms of British and German Idealism. Following this are two main sections. In the first, I attempt to explain what could be meant by universal consciousness. The second outlines a novel hypothesis for how ordinary concrete objects might conceivably be grounded in universal consciousness.