The Intrinsic Perspective is about consilience: bridging the sciences and humanities by essayistic forays into everything from artificial intelligence to neuroscience to culture. I started in 2021 and have been awarded a Substack featured publication badge every year since.


Why become a paying subscriber?

You receive:

  1. Access to the full content. A bit under 50% of posts are locked, although this may vary week to week.

  2. The Intrinsic Podcast is locked except for paying subscribers (each is an hour-long conversations between myself and someone I really want to talk to, like writers or scientists).

  3. Perks such as open threads, ask-me-anythings, ability to comment on certain posts, future competitions, etc.

Subscriptions are $7 a month, or $70 a year. In addition to getting the full content, you’ll join a community that shares your values of intellectual investigation and interdisciplinary thought. Also, you might want to support a class of thinkers outside of academia who are still doing original research and writing. Regardless of your reasons, if you’ve enjoyed my work, I hope you consider becoming one of the people without whom it would be impossible.

Who are you?

A weird mix. I’m an author and scientist who grew up in his mother’s independent bookstore. I’m known for my debut novel The Revelations, as well as a couple scientific hypotheses, like causal emergence and the Overfitted Brain Hypothesis. I received my PhD in neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, working with Giulio Tononi on developing aspects of Integrated Information Theory, the first well-formalized scientific theory of consciousness. I was previously a Forbes 30 Under 30 in science, I’ve been a visiting scholar at the Institute for Advanced study in Princeton, as well as a New York City Emerging Writer’s Fellow. I recently left my professorship to write on Substack full-time. I live on Cape Cod in Massachusetts.

What’s all this unique art?

TIP has a resident artist, illustrator Alexander Naughton, who reads drafts of pieces and reacts to them artistically. They are his creation alone, and I’m always blown away by the results. Alexander Naughton is open for commissions, and does everything from magazine covers to album art.


Comments are encouraged. I do try and read them all and respond if I feel my response contributes. I often “like” comments, but please do not interpret my liking a comment as an endorsement of that comment’s full content. I might just find a part of it interesting or worth consideration. And if I don’t “like” your comment, that doesn’t mean I don’t like it! I may have missed it, or read it but forgotten to click, or thought I’d be seen as taking sides on some issue significantly beyond the scope of the post. When commenting, try to maintain a civilized discussion—imagine this is a salon, or intellectually diverse dinner party, and you are trying to not make enemies of half the people around you. Keep in mind that people from across the political spectrum read TIP. So avoid politics unless the post bears directly on political subjects. Continued violations of this, or insults or provocations or open hostility, or even just comments I judge to be attempts to cause unnecessary drama, like constantly injecting politics into everything, will all lead to a ban. Very occasionally, there might merely be a warning instead. Bans will be mass-reversed every couple months to give second chances. If you feel a ban is in error or unfair, please DM me on Twitter.

Helping out

Occasionally I write an essay that could have been an official academic article. If you are interested in transforming anything I write into a more standard academic form and uploading it to arXiv or submitting it to journals with me as a co-author, please let me know (my contact info is below). Unfortunately, to actually make this offer useful to me in terms of time, there is a high bar: you must be a career academic, like a graduate student, postdoctoral researcher, or professor, and you must have at least one previous academic publication in the same (or highly related) field.


Are available in some cases, like if you are a student with an email associated with an educational institution (link here). They are also group discounts via the “group” tab of the regular sign up. If you have a specific group that would like to work out a deal with a discount for your members, please get in contact with me.

Contact info

Feel free to reply to the Substack emails themselves, I do read replies and often respond if I have the time. Alternatively, if you have a proposal or want to get in touch, email me at

Subscribe to The Intrinsic Perspective

Bridging the two cultures of science and the humanities


Erik Hoel 

Writer and scientist