A collection of essays on subjects that range across the spectrum of physical sciences.
Hunt’s debut volume consists mainly of reprints from three years’ worth of his “Eco, Ego, Eros” column for the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper. It includes a foreword by Christof Koch, the chief scientific officer of the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Brain Science, who alerts readers right away to Hunt’s guiding idea of “panpsychism,” the “ancient teaching” that all living things possess some measure of consciousness, whether “it’s a human brain with roughly 100 billion nerve cells…or the nervous system of the tiny round worm C. elegans…with 302 nerve cells.” The concept of panpsychism extends its claims of consciousness even to stars and electrons—questioning the very idea of inanimate objects. Guided by his studies of Eastern traditions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, Hunt also ably assesses the technological advancements of cell phones and weapons of mass destruction alongside humanity’s long spiritual heritage. Much of his sharpest writing pushes back against excessive materialism, which he sees as a legacy of the ideas of philosopher Rene Descartes. “Today’s materialists,” he writes, “believe that all things can be explained…by explaining the relationships between fundamentally mindless particles.” In response, he stresses that the mind is very much a part of nature “from the top to the bottom.” These essays’ wit and eloquence is as formidable as their scientific understanding, which makes the essentially non-scientific observations all the more intriguing. Hunt’s confidence in the notion of “God as Source, the ground of being from which all of reality grows” will challenge traditionally faithful readers, just as his contention that electrons exercise rudimentary choices in each moment will challenge scientifically minded readers. His interviews with various spiritual and scientific writers and thinkers, including science professor Robert Kirshner of Harvard University, round out the collection.
A beautifully designed, thoroughly stimulating new paradigm of scientific spiritualism.