"Non-dual Consciousness as Metaphysical Ground"
Several philosophers have recently regarded panmicropsychism as a natural successor to both materialism and dualism, overcoming problems endemic to each. But it generates a ‘combination problem’, such as that of how conscious perspectival micro-subjects belonging to (sub)atomic entities can meaningfully combine to create conscious perspectival macro-subjects such as ourselves. This has in turn pushed some philosophers to defend versions of pancosmopsychism, the view that the cosmos is itself a conscious perspectival subject whose universal mind grounds our own. But now there arises the decombination problem: how a single cosmic subject can coherently ground the multiple perspectives of subjects such as ourselves. I briefly review the dialectic from materialism and dualism through to cosmopsychism, suggesting that problems in the latter usually stem from the assumption that the cosmos is a perspectival subject. Renouncing this assumption may yield the notion of an aperspectival universal ‘non-dual’ consciousness that grounds all being: unstructured by subject, object or any differentia. Such a mode of consciousness is not merely the target of theoretical speculation, but has been reportedly experienced directly by those who are claimed to have transcended the individual perspective. Could non-dual consciousness as ground of all being offer a way forward in the dialectic – avoiding the alleged problems of its predecessors? I argue that it could, but at the expense of incurring an age-old ‘Parmenidean’ problem, which we can call the Problem of the One and the Many. For it would seem that a completely undifferentiated consciousness cannot coherently ground differentiated phenomena without the ground itself becoming implicitly differentiated. I will offer what may be a promising solution that is inspired by the Advaita Vedanta tradition.