Is the universe made of minds?

Geoff Ward
6 min readFeb 8

‘The cosmos is nothing other than an interacting collection of minds’. So writes the author of a new book which champions a radical metaphysical theory of mind.

Deep thinker Peter Ells presents an alternative idealist solution, integrating quantum physics and affirming human free will and agency, to the perennial mind-body problem — how mental phenomena, consciousness and thought, can arise within complex physical systems such as the human being.

Western philosophical idealism has nothing to do with having a particular attitude in life (that of being idealistic), but is a metaphysical theory about the nature of reality. It maintains that what is ‘real’ to us is somehow confined to, or related to, the contents of our minds.

It has its roots in some of the great wisdom traditions of India and Ancient Greece, asserting that mind or consciousness is primordial, all-pervasive and the source from which everything arises. In various forms, it’s been a minority philosophical position for 300 years but, of course, that doesn’t mean it should be dismissed.

Indeed, as reductionist-physicalist attempts to explain consciousness appear less and less credible, idealism must come to be taken more seriously.

Hence Ells’ impressive book Mind, Quantum and Free Will: The birth of physics in the sensuous cosmos (Iff Books, December 2022), in which he states that physicalism is ‘untenable and beyond any credible hope of correction’, and that novel and under-explored metaphysical positions await investigation.

I feel Ells is on the right side of philosophic and scientific history with his erudite and commanding contribution to the epochal consciousness debate.

In the exhaustive case he makes for pan-idealism, he proposes that all fundamental constituents, or basic entities, of the universe are agents which perceive one another, and act freely according to their percepts, a percept being an impression of an object received through use of the senses.

Indeed, as I see it, reality can be divided into two parts, that which perceives, or is conscious, and…

Geoff Ward

Writer, poet, tutor and mentor in literature and creative writing (MA and BA Hons degrees in English literature), book editor, journalist and musician.