Materialism and Idealism: Making Sense of Consciousness


Mind and matter collide in this rich discussion of consciousness with Craig Weinberg and Stephen P. King. We focus on two contrasting perspectives on the “stuff” outside of and responsible for our minds. The first, materialism, says that everything is built from physical components like “strings” or “particles.” On the other hand we have idealism, the view that everything is made of mental experiences. Along the way, we ask:

Is it possible to collect scientific data on what it is like to be a bat?

What do Donald Trump’s hair and your TV’s circuits have in common?

Will the Earth keep spinning after the zombie apocalypse?

Our discussion culminates in thoughts on The Secret, the nature of time, and the existence of a god. So strap into your armchairs and join us for a trip of the imagination.

Download the podcast here.

For more general fodder, check out our earlier interview with Craig as well as Craig’s blogs, Multisense Realism and See Light. For help with the physics references, try Big Bang by Simon Singh or Decoding the Universe by Charles Seife. There are also many other great discussions of consciousness to be found–try Alok Jha’s roundtable on Science Weekly. Want to continue the discussion or request a follow-up? Let us know in a comment or on FacebookTwitter or Google Plus.

  • Otmar Pokorny

    What is it like to be a bat?

    In order to know what it is like to be a bat, one simply expands there own consciousness and merges it with the bat consciousness. American Indians have been said to do this with trees, and animals (shape-shifting). Following the description I have heard from an American Indian, I have done this with trees.