Reconsidering the Metaphysics of Science from the Inside Out

TitleReconsidering the Metaphysics of Science from the Inside Out
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2011
AuthorsSchooler J.W., Hunt T., Schooler J.T.
EditorWalach H, Schmidt S, Jonas WB
Book TitleNeuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality
Series TitleStudies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
ISBN Number978-94-007-2078-7

Material reductionism – the prevailing metaphysical view that reality can be understood entirely in terms of non-conscious physical stuff – is at odds with the existence of experience, the flow of time, and the privileged present. We propose an alternative scientifically-grounded metaphysical perspective that posits: (1) Consciousness represents a fundamental aspect of reality such that all material things enjoy some varying degree of consciousness (panpsychism); (2) nervous systems entail a nested hierarchy of distinct conscious observers; (3) both experience and the flow of time suggest the reality of a subjective realm of existence; (4) the flow of time suggests a process by which all observers collectively sample segments of continuous space/time at different rates, creating a composite of experienced moments of varying thickness; (5) the possibility that consciousness can influence the duration and selection of experienced moments affords a possible opportunity for genuine free will. Although speculative, these conjectures illustrate the type of alternative metaphysics that may be able to accommodate scientific observations without abandoning the self-evident facts that experience exists and time flows