The Primacy of Consciousness

The Primacy of Consciousness

Ratings: 7.99/10 from 146 users.

The Primacy of ConsciousnessThe fundamental nature of reality is actually consciousness. In his documentary Peter Russell explores the reasons why consciousness may be the fundamental essence of the Universe. Many have made such claims from metaphysical perspectives, but the possibility has always been ignored by the scientific community. In this talk, he discusses the problems the materialist scientific world view has with consciousness and proposes an alternative world view which, rather than contradicting science, makes new sense of much of modern physics. He presents a reasoned argument that shows how they are pointing towards the one thing science has always avoided considering - the primary nature of consciousness.

This documentary basically seeks answers for these questions: What is consciousness? How could consciousness arise from matter? Paradigm shifts in science. The materialist meta paradigm. A new meta paradigm. Consciousness is in everything. Everything is in consciousness. Matter is a mental construct. Relativity and light's point of view. Light lies beyond space, time and matter. Photons and the quantum of action. Parallels between light and consciousness. Consciousness as the fundamental reality. The mystical experience of consciousness. Who am I? What is the self? The meeting of science and spirit.

More great documentaries

Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
M. Winther
6 years ago

But this is just plain old Idealist philosophy. There is nothing essentially new. Perhaps he has presented a new slant toward subjectivistic philosophy--that's all. The very same subjectivistic ideas have been preached during centuries but been refuted by science. Russell says that the outer world is totally unknown, like a black box that we cannot know anything about--the Kantian noumenon. Allegedly, the only thing we know is our conscious experiences. But this is false. Science knows very much about the "black box" that is matter. It can explain our sensory experiences as generated by atomic and molecular factors. So, for instance, our sense of heat is generated by molecular movements. Today we understand it very well, unlike in Kant's days. A blind physicist can determine the colour of an object by investigating its chemical and structural properties. Today we comprehend the causal factors in material objects that generate our sensory experiences. Contrary to what Immanuel Kant believed, they are not subjectively constructed from something totally unknown. Subjectivistic transcendental Idealism has long since been refuted.

It is surprising that philosophers can continue peddling dead ideas, and yet people are buying into it. So there must be something to it--there seems to be a longing for a spiritual conception of the world. We cannot rule out that a subjective comprehension of life, i.e. a religious worldview, is essential to human beings--for our well-being and for social cohesion, etc. So it probably has to do with our instinctual foundation. We are drawn to such conceptions like moths to the flame.

9 years ago

"The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go it you think it's real, cause that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down, and round and round, it has thrills and chills, and it's very brightly colored and it's very loud. And it's fun, for awhile. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question- 'is this real? or is this just a ride?' And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say 'hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever. Because, this is just a ride.' And we, kill those people. '...shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry, look at my bank account, and my family! This has to be real.' It's just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that, you ever notice that? And let the demons run amok... But it doesn't matter *because* it's just a ride. And we can change it anytime we want. It's only a choice, no effort, no work, no job, no savings of money- a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off...the eyes of love instead see all of us as one. Here's what we can do to change the world, right now, to a better ride: take all that money we spend on weapons and defense each year, and instead spend it feeding, clothing, and educating the poor of the world, which it would many times over, not one human being excluded, and *we can explore space*, together, both inner and outer, forever, in peace."

Bill Hicks got it :)

10 years ago

I would just love it if anyone of these comments calling the video bull**** could also provide /a single scientific counter-argument/. Calling something false and then supplying totally uncredible anecdotes, no matter how colorful or insulting your language may be, is /meaningless/. Anyone who can watch this video with critical thinking is going to read your comment with the same skepticism.

Back up your opinions and arguments. This is science, theories are best proven by counter-arguments continuously failing to invalidate them.

10 years ago

What are we supposed to do with this information in terms of how to operate in life? if everything is a delusion then what? if our experiences are not real, then what? Is my very own body that needs action and energy to move a delusion of my own mind?? Very interesting don't get me wrong. But how do I use this?

10 years ago

Metaphysics does not contradict science, modernist scum.

10 years ago

I would suggest this is difficult to argue. An honest critique on the notion of separation between science & spirituality; Putting forth the undeniable truth of interconnectedness of all things. This is the Corpus Callosum of Existentialism in an easy to digest format for all thinking observers. *****'s

10 years ago

So much bullshit and misinformation in this programme I can't even begin. Peter Russell does have some comedy value I must say, this middle aged guy has created a whole lecture about idea's that I had when I was about 14, haha.. good to be reminded how consciousness can change with time.

10 years ago

"c = the manifestation of the ratio of space and time" brilliant

10 years ago

At minute 4 Russell states that "consciousness is the only absolute certainty". This is false. Consciousness is something that the brain generates. Since this seems to be the basis for his entire argument we can stop watching right there.

Mad Hare
10 years ago

Meh. Kind of introduction to (idealist branch of) phenomenology, but wrapped up in trendy pseudo-scientific mysticism. Russel seems to be merely a sort of new age snake oil salesman.

The lecture is quite the ultimate anthropomorphizing of the universe. There's no proof or even reason why things like matter & bacteria should have consciousness or traces of it. Russel implies this with no real basis, evidence or even reasoning. Just because we and some other animals have it doesn't mean that other things should have it. That's a non sequitur.

Life as an algorithmic process does not waste energy on things it doesn't need. Just like not all living beings need nervous systems, not all living beings need a consciousness.

Basically he's taking a human feature (an evolutionary product shared also by some other animals but very prominent in humans) and elevating it to some mystical ultimate position in the universe. If tigers had made this lecture, they might have argued that everything in the universe must have at least the vaguest trace of stripes and sharp claws!

And now, if you object and say that he does give the Cartesian argument, that everything "in existence" must be in consciousness. Yes, but if we do not accept anything outside the consciousness, all that "argument building" he's supposedly making about the physical nature of the world contributes absolutely nothing. If, on the other hand, we accept the existence of physical reality, atoms, physical constants etc., we can then also accept the Neo-Darwinist explanation of life (algorithmic process) and consciousness (one evolutionary product among others).

And it doesn't help his case that there are some clear blunders, like debunked urban myths (Eskimo words for snow), disputed quotations etc. Just shows how badly he's done his research.

For a much better and sober contemporary account of the same topic, try Daniel C. Dennett's book Consciousness Explained (1991).

10 years ago

Many of the same conclusions I have come to by always looking for the simplest explanation of things regardless of how strange or unorthodox. Granted Peter draws those conclusions far more eloquently than I think I could have done. Bravo.

10 years ago

Rocks=mind. Mind=mind. All=mind. Beats me how any conscious physicist could have a problem with that. Great subject, so -- somebody give these people some cash so they can share their ideas without dragging us through sad theatres obliging us to stare at the same poorly lit screen as the audience co-suffering their Powerpointy eyestrain and claustrophobia? The development of technology has a purpose and if it isn't to save our senses from bumbly old lecture hall DIY efforts then why don't we pack it all back in its boxes and go live back in caves. Not asking here for some kind of History Channel jackass production values -- just a little respect for progress. But um somebody said .. any vulgar occupation with f o r m would have been antithetical to sincerity of ideas and content. Move on?

ps. the reason for all the smuggins audience chuckling (".. how do i know you're not a bunch of zombies who just happen to laugh in the right places?" ha) is that they are enjoying they imagine that special recognition deigned by religious sect leaders on their faithful --- confirmation of their cozily assumed ideologial 'superiority'. So in the interests of objective argument mightn't the makers have done better to leave them on the cutting room floor?

10 years ago

Very shrewd no non-sense and tightly wound demonstration. I loved the idea C as the constant ratio of manifestation of space time. Totally fits with Special Relativity even when looking at time dilation.
One thing was left aside though it seems: what about our consciousness of our own limbs and body? Are they too a product of the perception manufactured in our brain? if I close my eyes I can choose to focus my consciousness on any part of my body and 'feel' it. Am I perceiving those parts when they are actually something else? Weird thing is some people who are amputated claim they can still feel their limb...
Wish that aspect had been covered as well.
Really enjoyed the whole Show and the elegance of the proposed system.

Sourish Banerjee
11 years ago

is the audience a bunch of jokers? they are laughing at everything, as if Peter is cracking jokes on stage...

11 years ago

It seems that Mr. Russell has quite eloquently managed to put into words what I have been fumbling with for the past 40 years. BRAVO!

11 years ago

We are alive -- what does that mean? To so many of us it seems like something to be taken as an emotional experience rather than a coldly logical one. There's a disconnect there, because feelings can't be described; they can only be felt. There is no science that can explain emotion because only the emotion itself is perfectly descriptive of itself.

11 years ago

This was not an explanation of consciousness, but rather a new hiding spot for the god of the gaps (who recently lost his job as the initiator of the big bang).
So, before accepting this new mega shift, I'll just wait for the missing ingredient EVIDENCE, which never seems to show up in quests to make god real.

11 years ago

Extremely to the point and easy to understand documentary! Light, matter, space, time, and the conscious of action of photons to atoms to molecules to small organisms to fish to dogs to man. It all makes sense. A+

11 years ago

Peter Russell is a lot like Alan w Watts. Except Alan would always go in so many directions, where as Peter seems to stay focused on topic with slides and just flow like water easily esplaining what Alan Watts and all the people of Mind were trying to tell us.

BRAVO to this man. Him coming from a Physics upringing really helped to keep things tight and on track, while trying to explain things that are impossible to put into works.

There is nothing that this man has said that I disagree with when comparing them with Alan Watts and all the other figures Mr Russel references.


11 years ago

It is documentaries like this that add to the sum-total of human awareness.

11 years ago

dat was a great eye opener.i think 8 s d scientific explanation of GOD.I was once a believer of scince like the richard hawkings explanations but now i think hes d one who s completely DELUSIONAL.Now,i will never be again be confuse with the existence of God .this one nails it.

11 years ago

I'm getting to a point in my own consciousness where it seems that I am a very lowly NPC (for you role-players) in a grand video game conceived by a lesser person than myself....go figure. Maybe now the peons will stage an uprising and defeat the overlord....or maybe GOD (the video gamer) can just hit the reset button, and try again.

11 years ago

I haven't yet the time to watch the video, but clearly, this is about the unified field of pure consciousness, which is the foundation of quantum physics.

What people think is "reality" is really merely their perception of the images of reality...not reality itself. Reality itself is pure energy, pure consciousness...which is beyond the physical senses, which are the exclusive bases of intellectual perception. Reality itself cannot be perceived but only directly experienced. Reality itself is not a matter of perception through the senses but a matter of direct conscious experience...or, consciously BEING, yourself, the reality.

In the same way do you perceive the image of yourself in a mirror...while consciously experiencing, or being yourself the actual reality beyond the mirror. The problem of Man is thinking he is his image in the mirror, having lost awareness of the actual reality of who he really is beyond the mirror. In this delusion, he thinks the images of reality is actual reality itself.

So do many cling to the images of apparent movement, losing awareness of the infinite stillness within all apparent movement. They cling to sounds, without awareness of the reality of silence where all sounds arise and return. They cling to form, without awareness of space without which form cannot exist. They cling to the measurable, ever changing formal contents of consciousness, losing awareness of the immeasurable never-changing reality of pure consciousness.

The reality of the still, silent space of pure consciousness is the essential source where all apparent forms arise and return.

Still, ultimately, there is the Primacy of Spirit-Being...where pure consciousness arises and returns...

This discussion about pure consciousness is like talking about the reality of sunlight. Those who have uncovered eyes do not need the explanation nor proof. And those who are blindfolded-from-birth, not having the direct conscious experience of sunlight (though having so much purely intellectual knowledge of sunlight from reading books in Braille), can never reach the conscious experience by listening to explanations. They can only arrive at the direct conscious experience of choosing to remove their blindfolds, instead of arguing and debating about that which they have no experiential knowledge of. Ironically, the sun shines on all the blindfolded-from-birth who are all experiencing its light...they are simply not conscious of the experience!

The blindfold is attachment to, and consequently becoming confined and limited within, the intellectual mind, which can only perceive the formal contents of consciousness...not consciousness itself! So do I paraphrase the "Little Prince": Only with the heart can one "see" rightly...what is essential is invisible to the intellectual mind."

11 years ago

And Now, a prayer:

Dear Energy, I wish I was smart enough to even begin to grasp some of the concepts discussed in this doc.

Now, can someone please explain to me how a mind would transcend on the Energy Plank Scale without decaying, dispersing, radiating or fading?

William Alston
11 years ago

He gives several historical inaccuracies. For example, Kant being the first to say abou tthe thing in itself ( SO many said it before him!). He skips over important advances. For example, that electorns ARE PARTICLES. this guy should read a few physic books. The presentor is not dynamic. This was made quickly for an ignornat audience. The topic however is extremely important.

William Alston
11 years ago

There is proof of consciousness: writing! You are reading a string of ideas put together logically by somebody else. Thus observable proof of some thought there!

11 years ago

I love Documentaries on this subject. So very informative. Our detective as observers is simply happiness. Awareness is the first and final step for that.

11 years ago

clarity -spoiled ...
by the inane audience -as they giggled -invariably for no known reason.

11 years ago

If we have any consciousness or any godly light in us then why do we follow bad leaders like morons and are greedy and making wars and why are destroying the planet. Maybe we are just a virus due to our lack of consciousness but not conscious of it.

Christoffer Bubach
11 years ago

I feel like his theories fall through on several points, not sure I will be able to remember them all for this post. If I understand it correctly so far, he seems to think that consciousness is part of everything, but "hitch a ride" sort of inside us because our brains present such good senses and 3d-modeling of the world. How come only organic things show signs of consciousness, and why would it need all this brainpower if it didn't arise from it? Wouldn't a good server with some mics and webcams suddenly become self-aware just because of the consciousness inside "everything"?
Also in the beginning he claims that consciousness itself is not compatible with the current worldview, because it can't be explained and it can't be made of - or arise from - matter.
Says who? This is probably what sits worst with me. Just because something isn't explained doesn't prove that it can never be explained.

over the edge
12 years ago

i apologize for my lack of post. life gets in the way of a good time on occasion i will answer your question in depth later today or tomorrow as time permits.
cheers ote

12 years ago

Why are the people in the audience laughing at such an interesting presentation? Are they all idiots or am i missing something?

12 years ago

Some of the commentators seem to completely misunderstand the wholly engaging and widespread nature of consciousness. It is everything. Our bodies are conscious even if we are not. All the cells of your body are conscious of the actions that are inherent to each cell's purpose, hence if you are unconscious it is because your body is performing some needed functions: sleep, body repair and protection etc etc etc. To narrowly suggest that consciousness can be quantified is an utter display of IGNORANCE and to insist on that narrow view is ARROGANCE. Russell has done a extraordinary job of explaining very simple ideas that have confounded thinkers for centuries. Don't over think the mechanics of consciousness with an eye toward making it fit the preconceived paradigms of science. It is an undiscovered science.

12 years ago

This doc about consciousness and reality... was it even there to begin with?

12 years ago

Feels nice that somebody from the other side of the world is coming close to this understanding. Too boring for an Indian. His nice commentary about consciousness is clumped in 4 Sanskrit words Drik, Drishya Drishtaa vivek (distinguishing sight, seen object and seer). Seeker may read the last word in this - Sri Aurobindo.

12 years ago

@Sunday Morning Philosopher

Have you also noticed a general resistance to attempting the discovery journey and as a substitute an intellectual ascension or understanding of the process rather than the experience of the same?

There is also never a mention of the mirror or opposite pole of the conscious, the unconscious, a journey that should be made in a parallel effort. There is more present there then in the conscious observation. The play between the two opposites is a source of a different type of energy, transformative.

Sunday Morning Philosopher
12 years ago

For me It's more great how discussions around these matters always rise up to the point where we (as conscious entities) debate on what the path for what we know as the truth should be, as the below two opposing comments example...

Lisa O wrote: "He is truly brilliant and has a very clear way of explaining things."

Max: "Whenever I hear people use conscientiousness and quantum physics in the same sentence, discard it."

...whether Russel's presentation reflects reality or not, is not so important than whether we choose to "stamp" Russel's presentation as an official explanation of reality or not.

( the crazy part! :P )
Did we (as humans) have embarked on a journey to actually find "reality" and "truth"? Or are we shaping "reality" and "truth" along our journey?...

Whatever the truth is, at the end, what makes all of this so amazing is the journey itself.

12 years ago

Sorry Vlatko, and everyone, for the length of the last one.. Had a lotta things runnin' thru the 'ol brain.. More or less relieved now lol.

420 Vision
12 years ago

I likes sceience

12 years ago

why do i need to spell comoflage the way you think to be understood ?

12 years ago

why does the public commoflage thier ignorance by laughing ?

12 years ago

why does the audience commoflage thier ignorance by laughing ?

12 years ago

why does the public laugh to comoflage thier ignorance ?

no body
12 years ago

Minds (consciousness) create brains, not the other way around.

The brain is just a part of the body, what happens when the body dies? consciousness or mind doesn't die with it.
The mind just keeps going.
If brains created minds then logic would dictate, that the mind (consciousness) would also die with it. but this doesn't seem to be the case, past life experiences and other paranormal phenomenon is supportive of this idea.

12 years ago

i have been famous for discussing consciousness matters for longer than i can remember. it occured to me at one point that talking "about" these matters kept me out of the here and now where i could really be in fact conscious and do some good and really connect with issues at hand. 3 days of intensly being present and only doing the next approiate thing, helping a neighbor, brushing my teeth, cleaning up, etc., absorbed me so much that i lost my "self" in the ongoing flow of the present moment. the seamless unity of experiance was so pervasive and overwhelming that everything exsisted in, as and through a spectrum of consciousness-energy vibrating at various densities i.e. biology, emotion, thought and sound. it was this seperate sense of "me", thinking, worring and planning that kept this global experiance out of awareness. i had been the problem all along. struggling to be so "spiritual" and "scientific" for so many years had been a big ego trip. it is great to see this invisible substance called awareness being directed through training so much that some paralized stroke victums and some folks with emotional disorders have been taught to "rewire" their neurons and behaviours which is now referred to as neuroplasticity or or cortical re-mapping.

12 years ago

@ Achems I didnt see this Doc. Thanks for showing me I will watch it right now.

Achems Razor
12 years ago


I tend to agree, Don't know the definition of death, yes the end of the body consciousness, but the end of the primary force the "I"?
Death can only be visualized in the third person form, never the first, meaning you can see or hear of someone dead, but that's it.

See my blog on..."did cooking make us human" on TDF

12 years ago


the point is that reality is more than us, as individuals. this is obvious. 'it' preceded us, 'it' preceded the first cell, 'it' persists after our death.

yes, i assume my death will be much as yours. if not in manner, certainly in result.

it is only when we as grasping, entitled individuals as we often are, demand that this meta-event we name reality be contained within the vanishingly narrow span of our own conciousness and years that such distortions arise.

we are leaves. while the leaves die, the tree persists. while the tree dies, the forest persists, while the forest dies, the planet persists.

where it all ends, who knows. but it doesnt end with us, it is only very minutely about us. we are privileged to be a part of something greater. we are privileged to understand a little of what it means.

we are, very likely, amongst the more privileged species in the universe.

most of our problems arise from greed, at every level, including philosophical.

12 years ago

Many claim that Kundalini Yoga makes you understand the self and but till date nobody is able to explain the 'self'to the masses .it is more like the quote from movie Matrix 'unfortunately,no one can be told what The Matrix is you have to see it yourself to understand it'

Achems Razor
12 years ago

@Charles B:

Howdy Charles, will say the same thing to you, "how do you know?" because it is something you have read? Hmmm?? Beliefs?? circular logic, because the bible told me so!!??