The Universe in Consciousness


  • Grega Rodman University of Ljubljana


Physicalism posits that consciousness is entirely a physical phenomenon governed by physical properties [1]. Certainly, physicalists affirm that the cosmos could encompass numerous entities which initially appear non-physical—entities of a biological, psychological, moral, social, or mathematical essence. Nonetheless, they maintain that ultimately, such entities are physical or at least possess a significant association with the physical realm. The primary issue within the mainstream physicalist framework revolves around the emergence of subjective experiences of qualities, such as perceiving the fragrance of a flower, sensing the texture of silk, or feeling the rhythm of music, from mere matter.

Since all physicalist theories encounter the same for now unsolved problem, perhaps they fall prey to the same wrong assumption, namely that consciousness is derived from matter. The thesis aims to analyze theory of the nature of reality known as Analytical Idealism as posited by Bernardo Kastrup [2].

Kastrup’s ontology can be summarised as follows: There is only universal phenomenal consciousness. All living beings, including ourselves, are dissociated parts of this universal consciousness, similar to how a person with Dissociative Identity Disorder experiences multiple separate centers of consciousness [3], known as 'alters.' We, along with all other living organisms, exist within the transpersonal phenomenal activity of universal consciousness, which extends beyond the dissociative boundaries of our individual alters. The inanimate world we observe is the 'external appearance'—the phenomenal image projected from beyond our dissociative boundary—of this activity. The living beings we coexist with are the external appearances of other alters.

In the first part of the thesis, an evaluation of his position will be conducted by examining existing criticisms of other forms of idealism and assessing how Kastrup's position addresses these critiques. Additionally, this section will evaluate how Kastrup's position aligns with neuroscience studies. The second part will explore potential changes in Cognitive Science research if Analytical Idealism were to be adopted. This will involve investigating how research methodologies might change under idealism, with a particular focus on how the assumption that consciousness derives from matter affects current methodologies. I will also seek to identify new possible approaches to neuroscience that do not rely on this assumption.


[1] D. Stoljar, “Physicalism,” Feb. 13, 2001. (accessed May 31, 2024).

[2] B. Kastrup, "The Universe in Consciousness," Journal of Consciousness Studies 25, no. 5-6, pp. 125–155, 2018

[3] E. F. Kelly et al., Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2009.