Is the universe conscious? 

Can you disprove the fact that the universe is conscious?

[“Universe” is defined as “all existing matter and space considered as a whole”.

There are conscious beings within this universe.

They are part of the universe.

Therefore, the universe is conscious (with its consciousness manifesting in specific places such as the brain of a conscious being).]


LW. No. You are essentially asking whether or not we can disprove the existence of a pantheistic god.

We can not disprove that possibility. However; we can take a look at the logic that underlies your supposition.

“Universe” is defined as “all existing matter and space considered as a whole”.


There are conscious beings within this universe.


Therefore, the universe is conscious (with its consciousness manifesting in specific places such as the brain of a conscious being).

At best a poorly worded deduction, at worst it’s blatantly wrong. If you meant to say “certain clumps of molecules found within the universe have attained consciousness” then yes, that logically follows.

But if you are claiming that, based off the existence of a few conscious beings within the universe the attribute of “conscious being” can be applied to the entire universe then your logic has a tragic flaw.

The attributes of the super-class are not based off the merits of a few of its members. It works vice versa.

If you want to structure a logical proof on how we are all made of matter and empty space because we are members of a universe made of matter and empty space…

Well, that’d be fine.

M. It is not a question of logic – deductive or inductive – but of intuition (which, of course, you can dispute). If there is a single being in the universe that is intelligent, it proves that the universe is intelligent. I agree with this statement.

LW. He asked if you can “disprove” the fact that the universe is conscious. Proving and disproving require logic. Even if the topic is one that we would normally approach via intuition, belief, or spiritualism—if you want to “prove” or “disprove” something then you need to use logic and observation. So this question is, in fact, a question of logic.

M. In metaphysics (or spirituality) logic is subservient to intellectual intuition, as mind is subservient to consciousness – the final arbiter or principle. I grant you are right as from empirical truth and the scientific method, but I am basing myself on non-dual traditions (Advaita Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, and Taoism). If you are not interested in this perspective, that is quite alright.

LW. I am not disinterested in your perspective! Quite the opposite. I love to learn about concepts and perspectives that are foreign to me.

I am simply wondering whether it is appropriate to approach a question such as “can you prove?” from those perspectives. I will not pretend to be at all familiar with Advaita Vedanta, Mahayana Buddhism, or Taoism. But am I correct in assuming that these are belief constructs/value systems/world views that hold to the principle that nothing can be proven? Or, at least, that reality is determined by perspective, belief, and inherent knowledge (intuition)?

In which case the word “prove” lacks most of the meaning that is ascribed to it by science and reason. Thus you cannot really address a question that seeks a “proof”—other than dismissing it entirely.

Am I misunderstanding the nature of non-dual traditions here?

M. Metaphysical statements are not like scientific postulates to be proved using logic among other things; they can neither be proved or disproved, so in that sense you are right, but they are not just ‘belief systems’, nor are they contrary to reason as you imply. And, yes, intuition (a gratuitous faculty) plays an essential role. The philosophies or ‘world views’ I mentioned are not taught by way of empirical observations, etc., and the logic employed along with these; rather, analogies, illustrative stories, paradoxes, hyperboles, and ellipsis are the main vehicles. For example: ‘He who pursues knowledge increases day by day; he who pursues the Tao diminishes day by day’. ‘The world is illusion. Brahman is real. The world is Brahman’ (Shankara).

The existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers wrote: ‘Unlike science, which inquires into objects which are in the world, philosophy sets out to penetrate into the unity of all things by going back into their fundamental origin. Consequently, the object of philosophy can permit nothing outside itself by means of which it might be “understood”. Other objects are logically dependent on it, but it itself depends on nothing. Thoughts and statements about such an “object” are necessarily self-reflective; while we explain everything by reference to this object, we must explain it by itself; it is self-explanatory, its own point of reference.’

You might also look into ‘phenomenology’.