Rough Notes on Sheldrake’s “Trinity”

Mentioned Sheldrake’s “trinity” in passing at HTLGI last week. He did actually name the three, but I failed to capture … and I’m digging for earlier references.

“Is the Sun Conscious” is the same angle he used last week. Talk part-way down this page from 2015 – as a Christian theist / lay preacher he does of course use Trinitarian concepts in the Christian religious sense in other talks too – looking for the specific formulation he intended here. (When it comes to dualism vs monism – same joke – prefer 3 to 2 or 1. But no detail again. My own metaphysics is “3-aspect” monism. Even a dual-aspect monism can be seen as a trinity? I really don’t care what we call it, all that matters is how it works.)

Pan-psychist turn from materialist philosophers and neuro-scientists in the last decade. Strawson, Nagel & Koch notably … Whitehead was the most interesting early example – philosophy of organism “Science and the Modern World VI” (1925) self-organising systems with their own goals and purposes (unlike “machines”) -> process reality (1927/28) … see also Peter Sjöstedt-Hughes unexpected but promising. (And lots more from him on Panpsychism – as well as “popular” Kastrup and Goff.)

Future, conscious “possibility” vs past / “existing” bodily reality distinction. (This will prove a good first bifurcation – consciousness being about modelling and evaluating “possibility” is a strong thread of mine too – counterfactuals vs factuals etc).

As an atheist I struggle with his personal-being “god” talk, but no matter, lots of his speculations (like Newton’s) are interesting. (And I’m not atheist for bloody-minded reasons – my metaphysics just doesn’t see the need for any intentional “supernatural” agent – beyond those evolved in nature, with powers to go beyond the natural laws of nature. (Happy to use the word god in a Spinozan pantheist way – but not as a causal entity to “believe in”. Though as Rabbi Sacks pointed out any set of values we agree on collectively – eg UN Human Rights et al – is a religion by any other name. That which binds us as humans. No problem with that kind of religion, either – what we hold sacred / sacred-naturalism / natural-theology – just not a supernatural agent of a god.)

Electromagnetic patterns of activity – Hmmm? Don’t buy this physical mechanism. Cosmic objects … earth – moon – star – galaxy – universe. His caricature of the problems with science of cosmology entertaining as ever. Fred Hoyle’s “Black Cloud” as a parable.

Some variation on:

The Word <> The Spirit <> The Mind (of God)

But that’s not how he put it …. damn!

2 thoughts on “Rough Notes on Sheldrake’s “Trinity””

  1. Interesting topic, as a spin-off; there might be a short way from the recent trend of talking about “emergent agencies” as scientific realities, to aggregating upwards and bridging into theology. If a group is/has an “active agent”, a neighborhood the same, a city, a nation, the human species.. at some point the overall agency of everything/being is very close to the ancient idea of the Divine. Though not defined as “self-conscious” or “self-aware”, but it becomes close to a semantic difference.

  2. Yes. Again, this is the point of the systems-thinking / markov-blankets story of emergence. These naturally strongly emergent things (systems) have their own identity, agency & causation that can influence any other “system” in the whole – sub or super, up or down. Self-conscious / self-awareness is one property that emerges in higher / complex systems but basic sentience – awareness and response behaviour – occurs in any organic system.

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