Only the physical is real. Or is it? Can empiricism include information from our consciousness as well as sensory data? In this excerpt from George Lowell Tollefson’s longer work, Unbridled Democracy, he explains why empiricism must incorporate the study of consciousness if it is to achieve its full potential.
George Lowell Tollefson, a former philosophy professor, lives in New Mexico and writes on the subject of philosophy.
THE universe is alive. Spirit permeates all of it and resides wholly in every part of it. For spirit is the ground of being. It is both unlimited and indivisible. This is what it means for it to be infinite, or not finite. That is why it must be both omnipresent and wholly present. Consciousness—not its content—is spirit.
HUMAN beings find it impossible to comprehend the death of a person (the extinguishment of a living spirit). But every experience of sentient life confirms it. This is the opposition between the unity of consciousness and the disunity of the senses.
CONSCIOUSNESS is self-limiting universal spirit. That is what human beings are, each and every one.
ALL people are sons of spirit. For all are self-limiting universal spirit. Spirit is one: one consciousness self-limited to many individual centers of consciousness, one infinite awareness limited to many material centers of finite awareness. Yet universal spirit, being one, remains unlimited in itself.
IF human awareness were to acknowledge itself as an expression of spirit, it would be subject to a different set of laws than those which appear to govern matter. But this cannot be known so long as a stubborn reason insists that a quantitative analysis of the content of consciousness reveals a greater miracle than consciousness.
SO much of what human beings do and know is spontaneous and beyond words. Yet a veil of reason is placed over everything. And the veil becomes reality.
SØREN Kierkegaard’s “leap of faith” demands an infinitely great leap over an infinitesimally small chasm, a chasm which lies between matter and spirit. The greatness of this leap is an overcoming of will in its dependence on rational understanding.
THERE is an ongoing intellectual tension which forms a nexus between the dynamic of spirit and human awareness. Science and philosophy must work within it. But they should always strive toward spirit.
NATURE in its fullness is a dynamic process which has no identifiable coordinates. As such, it is spirit. But the materially oriented human mind cannot grasp nature as spirit. For it must find a way to identify itself within it. In doing so, it converts an inherent dynamism, both of itself and of experience, into a static template, which is thrown over both. From this vantage point, it fills the world with coordinates relative to a material perspective. Thus the universe exists only as a construct of the mind. Nevertheless, this is not to say such a construct is false. Rather, it is a limitation placed on spirit for the sake of analysis.
EVERY person has a choice between contentment and happiness. The way of civilization is the way of contentment, safety, rules. The other way is full or risk but the reward, though difficult to achieve, is fulfillment.
THE joy a person expresses is linked to all things because her joy is the expression of spirit. And spirit is one.
A PERSON is not immortal because his life extends throughout the history of time. He is immortal in simply being. Therefore, the joy he expresses today is for all time and extends beyond time. For it is rooted in simple being.
FROM a material perspective, where all is division and opposition, compromise is necessary. But truth never need be compromised because it rests upon an indivisible unity of spirit. Material fact is no exception. For spirit is the ground of being. For this reason, . . .