Robert Kuhn’s “A Landscape of Consciousness”

1 Jul, 2024 | Blog

Robert KuhnI am honoured to have been mentioned in Robert Kuhn’s review article on major theories of consciousness, titled A Landscape of Consciousness: Toward a Taxonomy of Explanations and Implications. Recently published in Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, the complete Open Access article is now available HERE online, with a print version coming out in August.

Robert Kuhn is a Corporate Strategist, Author, and the Television Producer of “Closer to Truth,” a not-for-profit organisation and series on Cosmos, Life, Consciousness, and Meaning.




“Theosophy’s eclectic soul and consciousness

Soul and consciousness are core doctrines of Theosophy, an occult amalgam of esoteric ideas from Western and Eastern religions, traditions and philosophies. Theosophy defines itself as “Wisdom-religion” or “Divine Wisdom,” and considers itself “The substratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies, taught and practiced by a few elect ever since man became a thinking being” (Theosophy, 2023).

Theosophy’s “soul” describes three of the seven principles that are said to compose human beings: animal soul (astral body, astral shape, and the animal or physical intelligence); human soul (“a compound in its highest form, of spiritual aspirations, volitions, and divine love; and in its lower aspect, of animal desires and terrestrial passions imparted to it by its associations with its vehicle, the seat of all these”); spiritual soul (“irrational in the sense that as a pure emanation of the Universal mind it can have no individual reason of its own on this plane of matter”) (Soul, 2023).

The Secret Doctrine, Theosophy’s primary text (written by its founder, Madame Blavatsky), speaks of consciousness as “the dark mystery of non-Being; unconscious, yet absolute Consciousness; unrealisable, yet the one self-existing reality.” The state of consciousness is described as “beyond limitation, and hence is beyond the cognizer, cognition and cognized.” It is the state attained in Nirvana, a state “in which all sense of individuality is merged in the whole” (Consciousness, Absolute, n.d.).

Theosophy approaches personal consciousness “as sentience or awareness of internal and external existence.” In this view, Theosophy’s consciousness “includes any kind of cognition, experience, feeling, or perception.” A special case of consciousness is “self-consciousness” or “self-awareness,” which is “the experience or perception of one’s own personality or individuality.” Theosophy’s consciousness is “a fundamental (not an emergent) property of the cosmos, which is present in everything including inorganic matter.” The implication of this universal ubiquity is that “consciousness is not necessarily a cognitive function as normally experienced by humans, but rather the more basic ability to perceive and respond to the environment in some form.” Thus, Theosophy regards each individual atom as “possessing a principle of consciousness in its most basic form. This does not mean that there is some process of thinking in the atom.” Rather, “’atomic consciousness’ could be its ability to ‘perceive’ or ‘identify’ atoms with which it has affinity, responding to them by forming molecules” (Consciousness, 2023).

In Theosophy’s telling, there are many levels of consciousness, “depending on the plane or body through which it manifests.” In addition, the difference between consciousness and self-consciousness is also important, “since the latter is said to be a special feature that is fully developed only in human beings, especially in connection to the physical plane” (Consciousness, 2023).

A contemporary Theosophy thinker is Edi Bilimoria, an engineer, classical musician and life-long student of perennial philosophy. He takes “Unfolding Consciousness” as his overarching framework “to show how the Universal Wisdom Tradition—the Perennial Philosophy—and the corroboration of some of its tenets by enlightened science of the quantum era, broadens and contextualises mainstream science beyond its existing metaphysical limitations.” He explores, “in the manner of the Universal Wisdom Tradition, the unfolding of Consciousness from its Unmanifest and Implicate realms, through Cosmos, and Man.” Mind and consciousness, he contends, cannot be wholly explained without in-depth understanding of “the subtle (i.e., non-physical) bodies of the human being on all levels” (Bilimoria, 2022; Bilimoria, n.d.).”


Robert Lawrence Kuhn

Robert Lawrence Kuhn is the creator, executive producer, writer, and host of Closer To Truth, the PBS/public television series on Cosmos, Life, Consciousness, and Meaning that presents leading scientists, philosophers, and creative thinkers discussing fundamental issues of existence.

Closer To Truth is a broadcast and digital media not-for-profit organisation and series presenting the world’s greatest thinkers exploring humanity’s deepest questions. On the air continuously since 2000, the weekly, half-hour television show airs on over 200 PBS and public TV stations. Closer To Truth is created, executive produced, hosted, and written by Robert Lawrence Kuhn, and co-created, produced, and directed by award-winning filmmaker Peter Getzels.