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Panpsychism: Is Science Saying That Matter Is Conscious?

Anonymous-50446

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I don't say it's not possible, it's a nice read but pff, but the arguments are really every weak.

It's full of non-sequiturs and some outright leaps of faith. E.g. simpler is not always better although the article states that it is. Even the title stating 'it's probably true' is misleading, all the writer really shows is that we don't know. No-one is really claiming otherwise.

'Don't know' does not equal 'probably true'!

Even Einstein, quoted in this article said "Everything Should Be Made as Simple as Possible, But Not Simpler" (although no-one is certain he said that...)
 

eburacum

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All interactions between matter and energy are a kind of information processing, so much so that the universe could be considered a kind of huge computer; and minds are a kind of computer, so they've got that much right; apart from that it's just an analogy.

If matter and the universe have consciousness, then it's not a very conscious form of consciousness.
 

Graylien

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I don't find the central argument of that piece convincing.

Kettles are made from fundamental particles, but it doesn't follow that fundamental particles possess an essential 'kettleness'.

Just because some things in the universe are conscious why should it follow that all things are conscious?

Of course it's interesting to speculate whether we would recognise if the Universe as a whole (or a grain of sand) possesses consciousness.

But I'm not sure that discussion can ever transcend armchair philosophy and become science.
 

EnolaGaia

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I don't find the central argument of that piece convincing. ...
I don't even believe there's a coherent trail of argumentation discernible in this article at all ...

The author doesn't seem to have any focused notion of what 'consciousness' may denote to begin with, and the exposition lurches away to reference constructs such as 'experience' and 'inner life' - none of which are agreed to be synonymous with 'consciousness'.

Furthermore, there's more than a little stink coming off the conflict between the author's aspirations to transcend the hard sciences' perspective and his naive association of 'consciousness' with the material. According to him physicists are wrongly wedded to a purely materialistic worldview and need to embrace 'consciousness', but it's perfectly OK for them to address this phenomenon on the very same terms as the worldview that's wrong and needs to be surmounted. :huh:
 

EnolaGaia

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An update ... This article in Scientific American poses an interesting spin on panpsychism - i.e., that individual psyches are to the universal consciousness as distinct 'personalities' are to individual consciousness in the context of Dissociative Identity Disorder (formerly 'Multiple Personality Disorder').

Could Multiple Personality Disorder Explain Life, the Universe and Everything?
A new paper argues that the condition now known as “Dissociative Identity Disorder” might help us understand the fundamental nature of reality

In 2015, doctors in Germany reported the extraordinary case of a woman who suffered from what has traditionally been called “multiple personality disorder” and today is known as “dissociative identity disorder” (DID). The woman exhibited a variety of dissociated personalities (“alters”), some of which claimed to be blind. Using EEGs, the doctors were able to ascertain that the brain activity normally associated with sight wasn’t present while a blind alter was in control of the woman’s body, even though her eyes were open. Remarkably, when a sighted alter assumed control, the usual brain activity returned.

This was a compelling demonstration of the literally blinding power of extreme forms of dissociation, a condition in which the psyche gives rise to multiple, operationally separate centers of consciousness, each with its own private inner life. ...

Although we may be at a loss to explain precisely how this creative process occurs (because it unfolds almost totally beyond the reach of self-reflective introspection) the clinical evidence nevertheless forces us to acknowledge something is happening that has important implications for our views about what is and is not possible in nature.

Now, a newly published paper by one of us posits that dissociation can offer a solution to a critical problem in our current understanding of the nature of reality. This requires some background, so bear with us. ...
FULL STORY: https://blogs.scientificamerican.co...der-explain-life-the-universe-and-everything/
 

EnolaGaia

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Here's the abstract of the paper cited in the MPD / DID / Panpsychism article cited above ...

The Universe in Consciousness

Author: Kastrup, B.

Source: Journal of Consciousness Studies, Volume 25, Numbers 5-6, 2018, pp. 125-155(31)


I propose an idealist ontology that makes sense of reality in a more parsimonious and empirically rigorous manner than mainstream physicalism, bottom-up panpsychism, and cosmopsychism. The proposed ontology also offers more explanatory power than these three alternatives, in that it does not fall prey to the hard problem of consciousness, the combination problem, or the decombination problem, respectively. It can be summarized as follows: there is only cosmic consciousness. We, as well as all other living organisms, are but dissociated alters of cosmic consciousness, surrounded by its thoughts. The inanimate world we see around us is the extrinsic appearance of these thoughts. The living organisms we share the world with are the extrinsic appearances of other dissociated alters.
SOURCE: https://www.ingentaconnect.com/contentone/imp/jcs/2018/00000025/f0020005/art00006


 

Ermintruder

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The fascinating concept of panpsychism continues to receive some serious consideration (it would seem).

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-idea-that-everything-from-spoons-to-stones-is-conscious-is-gaining-academic-credibility

Olivia [email protected] said:
The Idea That Everything From Spoons to Stones is Conscious is Gaining Academic Credibility
“If you think about consciousness long enough, you either become a panpsychist or you go into administration.”

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.
 

Timble2

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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.
It sounds a lot like the concept of Dust, in Philip Pullman's "His Dark Materials" novels. Philosophy imitating fiction, or maybe philosophy is a kind of fiction.
 
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