Book review: Why Materialism is Baloney.

Rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Why Materialism is Baloney is a book about the philosophical hypothesis of analytical idealism.

Most of us have been brought up to believe that the world we inhabit is made up of matter. From snickers bars to the Milky Way, everything is made up of bits of material stuff that are in turn made up of bits of other stuff. This point of view is known as materialism.

Some of that material stuff has become arranged in such a way that it forms our brain. And within that brain, it arranges itself in such a way as to somehow form consciousness. Our sense of what it is like to be us.

But there are a lot of problems with this prevailing view. And today science (especially quantum mechanics) is struggling to support it.

Idealism, on the other hand, proposes that it is consciousness not matter that is the fundamental construct of, well of everything.
Scientifically speaking this is called an ontological primitive. The thing that comes first and cannot be further subdivided.

Moreover, our consciousness is non-local to our bodies and the function of our brains is simply a correlation of what that consciousness looks like to us. Consciousness makes our brain, not the other way around.

“The hypothesis I submit is that the function of the brain is to localize consciousness, pinning it to the space-time reference point implied by the physical body.” […] “When not subject to this localization and modulation mechanism, mind is unbound: it entails consciousness of all there is across space, time, and perhaps beyond. Therefore, by localizing mind, the brain also ‘filters out’ of consciousness anything that is not correlated with the body’s perspective.” 

This book covers a lot of territory. It dives deep into the topics of self, reality, and anomalous phenomenon, and it does so in an easily accessible and engaging way.
It systematically and logically unpacks the concepts of analytical idealism and demonstrates why they make more sense than our current way of looking at things.

It does so not in a woo-woo, new age, yoga-pants, crystals and kombucha tea way, but in a rigorous philosophical scientific (hence analytical idealism) way.

Without banging on too much about it ( I have already covered this topic here) I will say that this book has really been a game changer for me. It has helped me clarify my own thoughts and experiences and integrate them into what I believe is a more accurate and parsimonious understanding of the world.
Life, death (spoiler alert…death is not the end) and the whole magnificent shebang.

There is a metric shit-tonne more to life than the material stuff we perceive around us that we spend so much time obsessing about.

“In today’s culture we take the package for the content, the vehicle for the precious cargo. We attribute reality to physical phenomena while taking their *meanings* to be inconsequential fantasies. By extricating ‘reality’ from mind, materialism has sent the significance of nature into exile. With the pathetic grin of hubris stamped on our foolish faces, we carefully unwrap the package and then proceed to throw away its contents while proudly storing the empty box on the altar of our ontology.” 

Whilst not a topic for everyone, if you have a nagging feeling that there is something wrong with the way you see your life, I can recommend this book as a surgical tool to challenge the consensus reality and perhaps open you to new ways of thinking about this world.

For me, five stars. Easy.

If this all sounds a little hmmmm to you, have a read of this preview on Google Books to get a taster before committing to buying the book.


Photo by Marina Vitale

Ian Miller

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