Collective Consciousness and Idealist Philosophy


Descriptions of publications on collective consciousness, collective conscious experience, and idealist philosophy by Axel Randrup. The recognition of collective consciousness overcomes the problem of solipsism, which has been seen as an argument against idealist philosophy.


Paper on the Internet:

Idealist Philosophy: What is Real ?
With sections on collective consciousness and collective conscious experiences.
by Axel Randrup

Papers in professional journals:

An Alternative to Materialism
by Axel Randrup
Cybernetics & Human Knowing, Vol. 4 (4), 15-24, 1997

Collective and Egoless Consciousness
Significance for Philosophy of Science and the Mind-Body Problem
The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, Vol.18 (No.2) pp. 133-137, 1999.
by Axel Randrup

Abstract. Collective consciousness and egoless consciousness can be regarded as realistic alternatives or complements to individual consciousness. This contention is supported by evidence from the literature (psychological, philosophical, anthropological, spiritual, Buddhist) and by personal observations and interpretations. It contradicts the idea that a philosophy which regards reality as consisting only of conscious experiences must inevitably lead to solipsism (only my private, individual experiences exist)
In a previous paper (Randrup 1997, see above An Alternative to Materiali the author proposed a skepticist-idealist philosophy, claiming that reality consists entirely of conscious experiences. This proposal is seen as a more consistent and unified alternative to materialism. Science is regarded as a catalog of intersubjective, conscious experiences ("observations") recognized as scientific and structured by means of concepts and theories (also regarded as conscious experiences). Materialism is seen as possible and useful within a certain (large) domain, but inconsistent beyond that domain. This view is supported by examples of contradictions and problems met in materialist science (in cognitive neurophysiology, the evolutionary study of cognition, statistics, physics, second order cybernetics) and by the felt reality of intense nature experiences (Randrup, 1997a).
Philosophies of this type (idealism, phenomenalism, skepticism) have been known in the West in modern times since the work of the philosophers Berkeley and Hume in the 18th century and have often been met with the objection that they entail solipsism. I will argue that solipsism (individualism) is only one possible frame of reference for consciousness. Collective consciousness and egoless consciousness are seen as viable alternatives or complements.
In various non-Western cultures, such as African, Aboriginal Australian, American Indian, East Asian, and "preconquest" cultures, views and attitudes are encountered which emphasize the collective and relational features of human beings and their minds at least as much as the individual features; indeed it seems that modern Western individualism is an exceptional or unique phenomenon among the world's cultures, past and present.
Although individuality is so prominent in Western cultures and daily life, there are features of collectivity. "Objective" science seems to be an important example of this. In order to be recognized as scientific, an observation has to be confirmed by several scientists - become intersubjective. An intersubjective observation is often conceived as the same observation or experience distributed over different individual minds or consciousnesses and then unified by means of an "objective" materialist concept. It can, however, also be conceived (and experienced) to be unified from the beginning as one observation constituting a part of a collective consciousness.
The collective part of their consciousness will be associated with the brains of all the persons involved and not only with one brain (brains are here seen as heuristic structures in the scientific catalog mentioned in the introduction).

Collective Consciousness Across Time
Anthropology of Consciousness, vol.13 (1): 27-41, 2002
by Axel Randrup

The notion of collective conscious experience is here seen as an alternative or complement to the more familiar notion of individual conscious experience. Much evidence supports the concept of collective experience in the present. But what about time? Can a conscious experience which, when regarded as individual, is referred to the past be considered a collective experience extended in both past and present ? My answer is yes, and this answer is supported by evidence about conceptions of time and conscious experience in various cultures, including Western culture and science, and by evidence about the psychological Now. Egoless conscious experience is an alternative to both individual and collective experience; it is often connected with experience of timelessness, and is then unrestricted by time.
Key words: Conscious experience, collective and egoless, time , cultures

Meet the Reaearcher: Axel A. Randrup, Roskilde, Denmark.
A biography dealing mostly with the research of Axel Randrup on collective conscious experience, idealist philosophy, and spirituality.
The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology 35 (1) 65-69, 2003.

Animal Mind:
Approached by the Transpersonal Notion of Collective Conscious Experience
by Axel Randrup
The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies 23, 32-45, 2004.

The discussion of animal mind in this paper is based on an idealist philosophy contending that only conscious experience is real, and on the transpersonal notion of collective conscious experience. The latter has earlier been explained by me as experience referred to a group of humans as the subject, the We. Here it is contended that also a group of humans and animals can be seen as the subject of collective conscious experiences. I argue that the notion of collective conscious experience provides a possibility for studying the problems of animal mind and the related human problem of "other minds" in a more detailed and rational way.
Key words: Collective consciouness, animals, evolution, idealist philosophy, ethics.


From the section Conscious Experience with a Group of Humans as the Subject:

Sometimes two or more persons have the same experience. If, for instance two persons read a meter with digital display, it is assumed in scientific work, that they read exactly the same value, 7.6 for example. This is at least tacitly assumed in mainstream science....Based on the assumption of the individuality of human consciousness it is supposed that the same experience is repeated in different individual minds or consciousnesses.....
I think, however,that when we deal with the same observation made by a group of persons, it is equally possible to regard this as one collective experience with the whole group as the subject, the We. Logically both conceptions are equally possible.
Since many intersubjective observations, concepts, and theories exist in science, we may envisage that scientists, particularly people within one discipline, have a significant part of their consciousness in common, a collective consciousness.
The psychoanalyst Jung has written comprehensively about the collective unconscious. This might be regarded as something different from collective *conscious* experience, but the Jungian analyst Bernstein (1992) writes: "....the collective unconscious which clearly implies a collective conscious." And Bernstein (2000) has reported examples of directly felt collective conscious experiences.
In various foreign cultures transpersonal (collective and relational)features of humans and their minds are emphasized as least as much as individual features. I think this yields significant evidence and shall relate a few examples of this evidence.
I have had some contact with Japanese psychiatry and shall quote psychiatrist Okuyama (1993) who has practiced both in Japan and in the United States:
"The self cannot be considered separate from the relationship field nor having as clear a boundary, as Western people imagine.... one of the conditions to be an adult is the ability to feel somebody else's or the group's feelings."
And the Japanese philosopher Watsuji (1996) writes: "My being conscious of you is intetwined with your being conscious of the relation of Being-between the consciousness of the participants are mutually permeated through one another's."
These views are difficult or rather impossible to understand on the background of a strictly individual concept of conscious experience.If on the other hand transpersonal, collective consciousness is conceived as described above, this will openopportunities for understanding these foreign views and thus be helpful in cross-cultural studies.
Experiences with the Internet have given rise to new thoughts about interaction and collectivity also in the West.....Suler (1999) who created the word "cyberpsychology" has published comprehensive studies of experiences in connection with use of the Internet. Among other results he reports: "As they read on their screen the e-mail, newsgroup, or chat message written by an internet comrade, some people feel as if their mind is merged or blended with that of the other."

From the section Conscious Experience with a Group of Humans and Animals as the Subject

If I am in my sitting room with a dog and hear a noise outside, the dog will also react. I think, that, that in this case some part of my sensory experience experience and the alerting effect felt can be associated wth the dog too without entering any logical contradiction or observational impossibility.



Bernstein, J. S. (1992). Beyond the personal.
In Renos K. Papadopoulos (Ed.) Carl Gustav Jung: Critical Assessments, Vol. 4 (pp.22-37).
London: Routledge.

Bernstein, J. S. (2000). On the borderland.
IONS (Noetic Sciences Review) 53, 8-13, 44-46.

Suler, J (1999). Cyberspace as psychological space. In J. Suler (Ed.) The psychology of cyberspace.

Watsuji, T. (1996). Watsuji Tetsuro's rinrigaku: Ethics in Japan.
Albany: SUNY Press.