Dr. Jack Hunter has blazed a new trail called paranthropology, but that’s just the start of his paradigm busting.
photo by: Skeptiko
Jack Hunter: It’s kind of like murky territory. I know that Gordon [White of Rune Soup], for example doesn’t like the idea of panpsychism and he, like you, was talking about panpsychism is kind of like a backdoor materialism again, at the end of the day.
Alex Tsakiris: I think it’s a crutch. I think it’s the last bastion of materialism holdouts… one foot on the dock, one foot in the boat, kind of thing…
Jack Hunter: It’s on the way towards animism but it’s not willing to go all the way. When we talk about panpsychism for example, we’re talking about some kind of, like a fundamental kind of consciousness, or a fundamental awareness that’s not consciousness as we understand it, it’s the basis of awareness. Whereas, when we’re coming from an animistic perspective, that other consciousness has just as much agency and intention in the world as we do, they just express themselves in different kinds of ways.
So, the consciousness of a rock isn’t necessarily just some kind of, like a flatline background consciousness, but actually it possesses its own agency and intention in the same way that we do, but it expresses its agency and intention in the world in a very different way, perhaps over, like vast, vast timescales or things like that.
Alex Tsakiris: This is fun because this is now an opportunity to take the conversation one step further because I’m listening to you and Gordon and all your cool thoughts on animism and I’m thinking, “But guys, you’ve missed the point. It’s on the way towards what?” Again, I mean, take these different wisdom traditions and I’ve always been interested in yoga and in the East and in particular Vedanta and non-dual kind of thinking. Hey man, all of those people, they’re saying, “Sure, spirits are here, spirits there, spirits everywhere.” On the way towards what? It’s about transcending that spiritual reality and getting to what’s next.
So, it does seem to me to be somewhat of an arbitrary stopping point to say, “Ah, we’ve got it. We’ve arrived. It’s animism.” No, it’s like this discussion you were having about, does animism subsume idealism, “No, of course not, because idealism is really closer to that non-dual, vedantic kind of thing that says… it all goes into one. The wave and the ocean are separate only because we imagine them to be separate.
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Alex Tsakiris: Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science and spirituality with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. I think we have the right guest to fill that promise today. Dr. Jack Hunter of Paranthropology fame is joining us. Jack, welcome to Skeptiko, welcome back, thanks for joining me.
Jack Hunter: Thanks for having me, it’s good to be back.
Alex Tsakiris: You were on a while back with this very ...