Kant, Berkeley, too obscure to be mentioned here

I don’t know if it’s a good sign to feel nostalgic about one’s life two years ago, but reading the piece linked to below about “bio-centrism” really reminded me of my state of mind then, when I was intent on proving the non-existence of time as a discreet property of the universe. The conclusion I eventually I reached was that time is a frame of perception, like space. The thing is, though, this was essentially Kant’s conclusion before mine. The author of the article, Robert Lanza, also offers this answer, but of all the names he brings up in support of his theory, Kant’s name is rather conspicuously missing (as is Bishop Berkeley, for that matter).

The problem is there’s an unstable oscillation at the center of the theory. Because while the contention that space and time are frames of conscious perception rather than discreet phenomena seems very plausible to me, that’s not the same as claiming that they don’t exist. Space and time are definitely phenomena of conscious perception; trying to then claim that don’t “really” exist seems to be an illegitimate attempt to reclaim a standard of objective material existence or non-existence outside of the purvew of subjective perception. If something exists as a perception, and perceptions are all, by what standard can one claim that it doesn’t really exist? In fact, by this logic the reality of space and time should be more firmly established than almost anything else. Just like one’s field of vision: objects can come and go from it, but the boundaries of the field of vision are more constant than anything within it.

The term “bio-centrism” also seems slightly misleading: my brother’s (or whoever’s) labelling of it as “the new idealism” is much more appropriate. Again, the prefix “bio-” evokes biology, a field in which materialism may be losing its sway but which is still predicated on a basic belief in the objective externality of the phenomena it is studying, not the idealism that Lanza is trumpeting. The term “bio-centrism” had me anticipating a theory based not on demolishing all the certitudes of chemistry and physics but simply on a claim for the autonomy of living things from their material physical properties. Because it’s true that living things at some level don’t seem to be reducible to their physical properties: they behave differently than other material things. For instrumental purposes this seems like a more useful starting point than vague idealist talk about the subjective construction of the universe by the perceiver, although I’m certainly not opposed to that on a philosophical level.

One Response to “Kant, Berkeley, too obscure to be mentioned here”

  1. shonk Says:

    The term “bio-centrism� also seems slightly misleading: my brother’s (or whoever’s) labelling of it as “the new idealism� is much more appropriate.

    Yeah, that’s my term. It seemed like a more accurate description than the article’s title.

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