Results 1 to 11 of 11

Thread: Panpsychism: The idea that everything from spoons to stones is conscious is gaining academic credibility

  1. #1
    Administrator Aragorn's Avatar
    Join Date
    17th March 2015
    Location
    Middle-Earth
    Posts
    15,375
    Thanks
    69,074
    Thanked 64,555 Times in 15,370 Posts

    Thumbs Up Panpsychism: The idea that everything from spoons to stones is conscious is gaining academic credibility

    Not to put myself on a pedestal, but I've been saying this for years. But then again, I don't hold an academic title.

    Either way, it's another small step toward the unification of science and spirituality, so if it has the academia's blessings, then we're on the right track.








    Source: Quartz


    Consciousness permeates reality. Rather than being just a unique feature of human subjective experience, it’s the foundation of the universe, present in every particle and all physical matter.

    This sounds like easily-dismissible bunkum, but as traditional attempts to explain consciousness continue to fail, the “panpsychist” view is increasingly being taken seriously by credible philosophers, neuroscientists, and physicists, including figures such as neuroscientist Christof Koch and physicist Roger Penrose.

    “Why should we think common sense is a good guide to what the universe is like?” says Philip Goff, a philosophy professor at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. “Einstein tells us weird things about the nature of time that counters common sense; quantum mechanics runs counter to common sense. Our intuitive reaction isn’t necessarily a good guide to the nature of reality.”

    David Chalmers, a philosophy of mind professor at New York University, laid out the “hard problem of consciousness” in 1995, demonstrating that there was still no answer to the question of what causes consciousness. Traditionally, two dominant perspectives, materialism and dualism, have provided a framework for solving this problem. Both lead to seemingly intractable complications.

    The materialist viewpoint states that consciousness is derived entirely from physical matter. It’s unclear, though, exactly how this could work. “It’s very hard to get consciousness out of non-consciousness,” says Chalmers. “Physics is just structure. It can explain biology, but there’s a gap: Consciousness.” Dualism holds that consciousness is separate and distinct from physical matter—but that then raises the question of how consciousness interacts and has an effect on the physical world.

    Panpsychism offers an attractive alternative solution: Consciousness is a fundamental feature of physical matter; every single particle in existence has an “unimaginably simple” form of consciousness, says Goff. These particles then come together to form more complex forms of consciousness, such as humans’ subjective experiences. This isn’t meant to imply that particles have a coherent worldview or actively think, merely that there’s some inherent subjective experience of consciousness in even the tiniest particle.

    Panpsychism doesn’t necessarily imply that every inanimate object is conscious. “Panpsychists usually don’t take tables and other artifacts to be conscious as a whole,” writes Hedda Hassel Mørch, a philosophy researcher at New York University’s Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness, in an email. “Rather, the table could be understood as a collection of particles that each have their own very simple form of consciousness.”

    But, then again, panpsychism could very well imply that conscious tables exist: One interpretation of the theory holds that “any system is conscious,” says Chalmers. “Rocks will be conscious, spoons will be conscious, the Earth will be conscious. Any kind of aggregation gives you consciousness.”

    Interest in panpsychism has grown in part thanks to the increased academic focus on consciousness itself following on from Chalmers’ “hard problem” paper. Philosophers at NYU, home to one of the leading philosophy-of-mind departments, have made panpsychism a feature of serious study. There have been several credible academic books on the subject in recent years, and popular articles taking panpsychism seriously.

    One of the most popular and credible contemporary neuroscience theories on consciousness, Giulio Tononi’s Integrated Information Theory, further lends credence to panpsychism. Tononi argues that something will have a form of “consciousness” if the information contained within the structure is sufficiently “integrated,” or unified, and so the whole is more than the sum of its parts. Because it applies to all structures—not just the human brain—Integrated Information Theory shares the panpsychist view that physical matter has innate conscious experience.

    Goff, who has written an academic book on consciousness and is working on another that approaches the subject from a more popular-science perspective, notes that there were credible theories on the subject dating back to the 1920s. Thinkers including philosopher Bertrand Russell and physicist Arthur Eddington made a serious case for panpsychism, but the field lost momentum after World War II, when philosophy became largely focused on analytic philosophical questions of language and logic. Interest picked up again in the 2000s, thanks both to recognition of the “hard problem” and to increased adoption of the structural-realist approach in physics, explains Chalmers. This approach views physics as describing structure, and not the underlying nonstructural elements.

    “Physical science tells us a lot less about the nature of matter than we tend to assume,” says Goff. “Eddington”—the English scientist who experimentally confirmed Einstein’s theory of general relativity in the early 20th century—“argued there’s a gap in our picture of the universe. We know what matter does but not what it is. We can put consciousness into this gap.”

    In Eddington’s view, Goff writes in an email, it’s “”silly” to suppose that that underlying nature has nothing to do with consciousness and then to wonder where consciousness comes from.” Stephen Hawking has previously asked: “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” Goff adds: “The Russell-Eddington proposal is that it is consciousness that breathes fire into the equations.”

    The biggest problem caused by panpsychism is known as the “combination problem”: Precisely how do small particles of consciousness collectively form more complex consciousness? Consciousness may exist in all particles, but that doesn’t answer the question of how these tiny fragments of physical consciousness come together to create the more complex experience of human consciousness.

    Any theory that attempts to answer that question, would effectively determine which complex systems—from inanimate objects to plants to ants—count as conscious.

    An alternative panpsychist perspective holds that, rather than individual particles holding consciousness and coming together, the universe as a whole is conscious. This, says Goff, isn’t the same as believing the universe is a unified divine being; it’s more like seeing it as a “cosmic mess.” Nevertheless, it does reflect a perspective that the world is a top-down creation, where every individual thing is derived from the universe, rather than a bottom-up version where objects are built from the smallest particles. Goff believes quantum entanglement—the finding that certain particles behave as a single unified system even when they’re separated by such immense distances there can’t be a causal signal between them—suggests the universe functions as a fundamental whole rather than a collection of discrete parts.

    Such theories sound incredible, and perhaps they are. But then again, so is every other possible theory that explains consciousness. “The more I think about [any theory], the less plausible it becomes,” says Chalmers. “One starts as a materialist, then turns into a dualist, then a panpsychist, then an idealist,” he adds, echoing his paper on the subject. Idealism holds that conscious experience is the only thing that truly exists. From that perspective, panpsychism is quite moderate.

    Chalmers quotes his colleague, the philosopher John Perry, who says: “If you think about consciousness long enough, you either become a panpsychist or you go into administration.”


    Source: Quartz
    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

  2. The Following 12 Users Say Thank You to Aragorn For This Useful Post:

    Dreamtimer (28th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (28th January 2018), Elen (29th January 2018), Fred Steeves (28th January 2018), JATUS (31st January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), Lemual (5th February 2018), modwiz (28th January 2018), NotAPretender (29th January 2018), WantDisclosure (28th January 2018), Wind (29th January 2018), Woody (29th January 2018)

  3. #2
    Senior Member Fred Steeves's Avatar
    Join Date
    1st May 2016
    Location
    U.S.A.
    Posts
    1,100
    Thanks
    1,500
    Thanked 6,533 Times in 1,101 Posts
    Chuckle. Makes me feel better about regularly talking to things from tools, to tables, to houses.
    The unexamined life is not worth living.

    Socrates

  4. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to Fred Steeves For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (29th January 2018), Dreamtimer (28th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (29th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), sandy (29th January 2018), WantDisclosure (28th January 2018)

  5. #3
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    7th April 2015
    Location
    Patapsco Valley
    Posts
    10,896
    Thanks
    58,259
    Thanked 48,462 Times in 10,813 Posts
    Sometimes tools earn names. (and weapons)

    I talk to non-people all the time. I try to balance that with people.

  6. The Following 5 Users Say Thank You to Dreamtimer For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (29th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (29th January 2018), Fred Steeves (28th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018)

  7. #4
    Senior Member NotAPretender's Avatar
    Join Date
    3rd April 2017
    Posts
    6,033
    Thanks
    21,410
    Thanked 25,083 Times in 5,989 Posts
    "the finding that certain particles behave as a single unified system even when they’re separated by such immense distances there can’t be a causal signal between them—suggests the universe functions as a fundamental whole rather than a collection of discrete parts."

    I would question that assertion: Just because there is no 'obvious' causal relationship does not imply there isn't one...more likely it is that we just don't know what it is. Science does have difficulty acknowledging it doesn't know everything.

    It seems possible that that 'unknown' is what Jung described as 'synchronicity' or, in other words, A causal relationship that is not physical in nature. This is certainly interesting. The entire world is either going crazy or going sane. We could end up in bizarro world or that other anathemic place ... A New World Order...
    “If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.”

  8. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to NotAPretender For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (29th January 2018), Dreamtimer (29th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (29th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), Wind (29th January 2018)

  9. #5
    Senior Member Morocco modwiz's Avatar
    Join Date
    13th September 2013
    Location
    Outside of Addlepatia
    Posts
    6,011
    Thanks
    36,455
    Thanked 38,635 Times in 5,983 Posts
    Panpsychism is Animism by another name. The Ancients lived in this world for tens of thousands of years before The Law, with the sword, made this world view 'heretical' and punishable by death. The core of Gnostic cosmology is an Animist one.
    "To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize" -- Voltaire

    "Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."-- Eleanor Roosevelt

    "Misery loves company. Wisdom has to look for it." -- Anonymous

  10. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to modwiz For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (29th January 2018), Dreamtimer (29th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (29th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), NotAPretender (29th January 2018), Octopus Garden (5th February 2018), Wind (29th January 2018)

  11. #6
    Super Moderator Norway Elen's Avatar
    Join Date
    2nd July 2015
    Location
    Scotland
    Posts
    4,746
    Thanks
    66,450
    Thanked 21,887 Times in 4,747 Posts
    Quote Originally posted by modwiz View Post
    Panpsychism is Animism by another name. The Ancients lived in this world for tens of thousands of years before The Law, with the sword, made this world view 'heretical' and punishable by death. The core of Gnostic cosmology is an Animist one.
    Agreed Rad! Check out children interacting with their toys. It's the most natural thing to do.
    Whatever is true. Whatever is noble. Whatever is right. Whatever is lovely. Whatever is admirable. Anything of excellence and worthy of praise. Dwell on these things. Jesus Christ (I agree)

  12. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Elen For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (30th January 2018), Dreamtimer (29th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), modwiz (29th January 2018), NotAPretender (29th January 2018)

  13. #7
    Super Moderator United States Dreamtimer's Avatar
    Join Date
    7th April 2015
    Location
    Patapsco Valley
    Posts
    10,896
    Thanks
    58,259
    Thanked 48,462 Times in 10,813 Posts
    It was hardest for me to understand stones being alive. But it seems humans have long had an understanding of that.

    All is a form of energy. It makes sense to me that life can occur in ways that I can't perceive.

    The Law and the sword. So true.

  14. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Dreamtimer For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (30th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (29th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), modwiz (29th January 2018), NotAPretender (29th January 2018)

  15. #8
    Senior Member United States
    Join Date
    3rd May 2015
    Location
    Denver, Colorado
    Posts
    298
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 1,654 Times in 295 Posts
    Think about what happens in the human body with the development of the fetus. Crystals are known to develop in similar fashion too. That's consciousness at work. Consciousness is basic to the whole field of Being.

  16. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Gale Frierson For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (30th January 2018), Dreamtimer (30th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (29th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), modwiz (29th January 2018), NotAPretender (29th January 2018), sandy (5th February 2018), Wind (29th January 2018)

  17. #9
    Super Moderator Wind's Avatar
    Join Date
    17th January 2015
    Location
    Just here
    Posts
    2,354
    Thanks
    14,044
    Thanked 11,716 Times in 2,358 Posts
    Materialists got things wrong... Nature isn't just dead matter. Everything around is alive and conscious.


  18. The Following 8 Users Say Thank You to Wind For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (30th January 2018), Dreamtimer (30th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (30th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), Lemual (5th February 2018), modwiz (29th January 2018), NotAPretender (29th January 2018)

  19. #10
    Permanently Banned
    Join Date
    28th May 2017
    Location
    UK
    Posts
    277
    Thanks
    68
    Thanked 963 Times in 256 Posts
    Quote Originally posted by modwiz View Post
    Panpsychism is Animism by another name. The Ancients lived in this world for tens of thousands of years before The Law, with the sword, made this world view 'heretical' and punishable by death. The core of Gnostic cosmology is an Animist one.
    Thoroughly agreed [even with some chagrin at being late...]

  20. The Following 7 Users Say Thank You to DMt. For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (30th January 2018), Dreamtimer (30th January 2018), Dumpster Diver (29th January 2018), Elen (30th January 2018), Kathy (31st January 2018), modwiz (29th January 2018), NotAPretender (29th January 2018)

  21. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    24th November 2015
    Location
    Melbourne
    Posts
    108
    Thanks
    242
    Thanked 692 Times in 109 Posts
    I've bounced between Idealism and Panpsycism for a while now. I'm not conclusively convinced by either but I'm definitely convinced that pure materialism is wrong. I guess I'll leave a door open for dualism too but it doesn't seem as likely.

    Good to see Rupert Sheldrake again, haven't seen him in ages!
    Last edited by Lemual, 5th February 2018 at 06:10.

  22. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Lemual For This Useful Post:

    Aragorn (5th February 2018), Dreamtimer (5th February 2018), Elen (5th February 2018), Wind (5th February 2018)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •