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,
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
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.
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,
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
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
And the Japanese philosopher Watsuji (1996) writes: "My being conscious
of you is intetwined with your being conscious of me....in 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
Bernstein, J. S. (1992). Beyond the personal.
In Renos K. Papadopoulos (Ed.) Carl Gustav Jung: Critical Assessments, Vol.
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.