It has been widely thought that consciousness has no causal efficacy in the physical world. However, this may be not the case. In this paper, we show that a conscious being can distinguish definite perceptions and their quantum superpositions, while a physical measuring system without consciousness cannot distinguish such nonorthogonal quantum states. The possible existence of this distinct quantum physical effect of consciousness may have interesting implications for the science of consciousness. In particular, it suggests that consciousness is not emergent (...) but a fundamental feature of the universe. This may provide a possible quantum basis for panpsychism. (shrink)
Galen Strawson (2006) thinks it is 'obviously' false that 'the terms of physics can fully capture the nature or essence of experience' (p. 4). He also describes this view as 'crazy' (p. 7). I think that he has been carried away by first impressions. It is certainly true that 'physicSalism', as he dubs this view, is strongly counterintuitive. But at the same time there are compelling arguments in its favour. I think that these arguments are sound and that the contrary (...) intuitions are misbegotten. In the first two sections of my remarks I would like to spend a little time defending physicSalism, or 'straightforward' physicalism, as I shall call it ('S' for 'straightforward', if you like). I realize that the main topic of Strawson's paper is panpsychism rather than his rejection of straightforward physicalism. But the latter is relevant as his arguments for panpsychism depend on his rejection of straightforward physicalism, in ways I shall explain below. (shrink)
Is the great god Pan reborn? For a while there, it seemed every intellectual movement began with the prefix ‘post’, implying non-totality, but now there are indications that ‘pan’ (all) is returning to provide another answer to one of the most basic of ontological questions: What is the relationship of mind to matter? In this important book with 17 different authors, panpsychism is given its due.
This article summarizes the principal arguments for panpsychism given by Charles Hartshorne by separating it from Whitehead's event metaphysics and Hartshorne's natural theology. It sorts out the plausible reasons for panpsychism given by Hartshorne from those less plausible. Among the plausible reasons are those based on analogical reasoning and the impossibility of explaining how mentality originated. Among the implausible ones are those that postulate a type of psychic causation between wholes and parts. The conclusion is that the plausible (...) reasons tip the balance in favor of the doctrine. (shrink)
Taking their motivation from the perceived failure of the reductive physicalist project concerning consciousness, panpsychists ascribe subjectivity to fundamental material entities in order to account for macro-consciousness. But there exists an unresolved tension within the mainstream panpsychist position, the seriousness of which has yet to be appreciated. I capture this tension as a dilemma, and offer advice to panpsychists on how to resolve it. The dilemma is as follows: Panpsychists take the micro-material realm to feature phenomenal properties, plus micro-subjects to (...) whom these properties belong. However, it is impossible to explain the generation of a macro-subject (like one of us) in terms of the assembly of micro-subjects, for, as I show, subjects cannot combine. Therefore the panpsychist explanatory project is derailed by the insistence that the world’s ultimate material constituents are subjects of experience. The panpsychist faces a choice of giving up her explanatory ambitions, or of giving up the claim that the ultimates are subjects. I argue that the latter option is preferable, leading to neutral monism, on which phenomenal qualities are irreducible but subjects are reducible. So panpsychists should be neutral monists. (shrink)
I shall be concerned in this paper with the consideration of panpsychism and of materialism in new forms as alternatives. Extended reference will be made to C. S. Peirce's view of perception as realistic in intention and yet not quite clear as to its mechanism and how it attains objective import. I shall say little about Whitehead as a representative of panpsychism as I have just finished a detailed criticism of his epistemological framework. I shall, however, make comments (...) on William James's radical empiricism as tied in with his view of perception as direct and immediate--roughly speaking, the alternative to Locke's representation of "unperceived things" --and bring in my own theory of sensations as guiding perceiving. Russell's neutral monism, connected historically with James's radical empiricism, will be touched on here in connection with his rejection of materialism. Phenomenalism and materialism exclude each other. Materialism, as an ontology, requires a realistic epistemology. I shall also make some comments on Dewey's biological experientialism. One can often best explain a perspective by means of contrasts. (shrink)
Consider (i) the humility thesis that we only know the causal natures of the external world and (ii) the thesis we are directly acquainted with the intrinsic natures of our phenomenal experiences. The conjunction of these two theses has motivated a version of panpsychism, which states that the intrinsic nature of all matter is phenomenal. Contemporary panpsychists, such as Lockwood (1991, 1993), Rosenberg (1999, 2004) and Maxwell (2002), have taken it upon themselves to flesh out a plausible story of (...) how this is so. Moreover, the story they tell involves the physical depending on the phenomenal. Now, most of us these days, including such contemporary panpsychists, acknowledge that our phenomenal experiences are, in some sense, representational. That is, when we introspect our phenomenal experiences, it seems like there are certain properties represented in these experiences. The aim of this paper is to use this well-conceded point that our phenomenal experiences are representational to cast doubt on contemporary panpsychism. (shrink)
In a paper titled "Dewey between Hegel and Darwin," Richard Rorty argued that while it is appropriate to describe John Dewey as a radical empiricist and panpsychist, it would be better if we allowed those aspects of his thought to atrophy and eventually disappear. This paper challenges that claim, arguing that properly understood, radical empiricism and panpsychism continue to have a role in a world newly fascinated by the way bodies, minds, experience and nature are all interwoven into a (...) complex organic network. (shrink)
We show that consciousness may violate the basic quantum principle, according to which the nonorthogonal quantum states can't be distinguished. This implies that the physical world is not causally closed without consciousness, and consciousness is a fundamental property of matter.
We make powerful motor cars by suitably assembling items that are not themselves powerful, but we do not do this by 'adding in the power' at the very end of the assembly line; nor, if it comes to that, do we add portions of power along the way. Powerful motor cars are nothing over and above complex arrangements or aggregations of items that are not themselves powerful. The example illustrates the way aggregations can have interesting properties that the items aggregated (...) lack. What can we say of a general kind about what can be made from what by nothing over and above aggregation? I think that this is the key issue that Galen Strawson (2006) puts so. (shrink)
David Skrbina opens this timely and intriguing text with a suitably puzzling line from the Diamond Sutra: ‘‘Mind that abides nowhere must come forth.’’, and he urges us to ‘‘de-emphasise the quest for the specifically human embodiment of mind’’ and follow Empedocles, progressing ‘‘with good will and unclouded attention’’ into the text which he has drawn together as editor. If we do, we are assured that it will ‘‘yield great things’’ (p. xi). This, I am pleased to say, is not (...) an exercise in hyperbole. (shrink)
This paper starts from the assumption that panpsychism is counterintuitive and metaphysically demanding. A number of philosophers, whilst not denying these negative aspects of the view, think that panpsychism has in its favour that it offers a good explanation of consciousness. In opposition to this, the paper argues that panpsychism cannot help us to explain consciousness, at least not the kind of consciousness we have pre-theoretical reason to believe in.
As some see it, an impasse has been reached on the mind- body problem between mainstream physicalism and mainstream dualism. So lately another view has been gaining popularity, a view that might be called the 'Russellian theory of mind' (RTM) since it is inspired by some ideas once put forth by Bertrand Russell. Most versions of RTM are panpsychist, but there is at least one version that rejects panpsychism and styles itself as physicalism, and neutral monism is also a (...) possibility. In this paper I will attempt to sort out these different versions with a view to determining which, if any, have a chance of breaking the perceived impasse. The unsurprising conclusion will be that there are a lot of challenges ahead for the RTM theorist. The surprising conclusion will be that it's not clear that pan- psychist RTM holds an advantage over the other versions in this regard. (shrink)
Strawson’s case in favor of panpsychism is at heart an updated version of a venerable form of argument I’ll call the ‘intrinsic nature’ argument. It is an extremely interesting argument which deploys all sorts of high caliber metaphysical weaponry (despite the ‘down home’ appeals to common sense which Strawson frequently makes). The argument is also subtle and intricate. So let’s spend some time trying to articulate its general form.
Although panpsychism has had a very long history, one that goes back to the very origin of western philosophy, its force has only recently been appreciated by analytic philosophers of mind. And even if many still reject the theory as utterly absurd, others have argued that it is the only genuine form of physicalism. This paper examines the case for panpsychism and argues that there are at least good prima facie reasons for taking it seriously. In a second (...) step, the paper discusses the main difficulty the theory has to face, the . This is the problem of explaining how the primitive experiences that are supposed to exist at the ultimate level of reality could give rise to the unified experience of a human being. What assumptions as to the nature of experience generate the composition problem? Is mental composition impossible in principle or do we simply lack at present any understanding of phenomenal parts and wholes? (shrink)
Panpsychism is the doctrine that mind is a fundamental feature of the world existing throughout the universe. One problem with panpsychism is that it is a purely theoretical concept so far. For progress towards an operationalization of the idea, this paper suggests to make use of an ontological difference involved in the mind-matter distinction. The mode in which mental phenomena exist is called presence. The mode in which matter and radiation exist is called reality Physical theory disregards presence (...) in both the form of mental presence and the form of the temporal present In contrast to mental presence the temporal present is objective in the perspective of the third person. This relative kind of objectivity waits to be utilized for a hypothesis of how the mental and the physical are interrelated In order to do so this paper translates the mind-matter distinction into the distinction between mental and physical time and addresses the problem that panpsychism tries to attack head-on in these temporal terms. There are in particular , two issues thus getting involved: discussions about a time observable and the quantum Zeno effect. (shrink)
There is a famous passage in chapter six of Jamesâ Principles of Psychology whose import, many believe, deals a devastating blow to the explanatory aspirations of panpsychism. In the present paper I take a close look at Jamesâ argument, as well as at the claim that it underlies a powerful critique of panpsychism. Apart from the fact that the argument was never aimed at panpsychism as such, I show that it rests on highly problematic assumptions which, if (...) followed to their logical consequences, are just as inedible to contemporary critics of panpsychism as they are to its present-day supporters. Hence, a naÃ¯ve employment of the argument, as a critique leveled by physicalists against panpsychism, is counterproductive and even self-defeating. After examining the metaphysical shortcomings undermining Jamesâ position (as well as the hasty refutations of panpsychism based on it), I conclude with some reflections on what needs to be done in order to obtain a better perspective regarding the explanatory prospects of panpsychism as an alternative approach to mainstream physicalism in the study of conscious phenomena. (shrink)
The essay examines the idea of ―biological space and time‖ found in Evan Thompson‘s Mind in Life and Gilles Deleuze‘s Difference and Repetition. Tracking down this ―new Transcendental Aesthetic‖ intersects new work done on panpsychism. Both Deleuze and Thompson can be fairly said to be biological panpsychists. That‘s what ―Mind in Life‖ means: mind and life are coextensive; life is a sufficient condition for mind. Deleuze is not just a biological panpsychist, however, so we‘ll have to confront full-fledged (...) class='Hi'>panpsychism. At the end of the essay we‘ll be able to pose the question whether or not we can supplement Thompson‘s ―Mind in Life‖ position with a ―Mind in Process‖ position and if so, what that supplement means both for his work and for panpsychism. (shrink)
This essay examines the speculative metaphysical doctrine of panpsychism, which some (though only a few) philosophers regard as a plausible solution to the problem of explaining the possibility of conscious experience. After a survey of some of the main arguments for and against panpsychism, the metaphysically realist background assumption of the doctrine is uncovered and questioned. A pragmatic reinterpretation of panpsychism, drawn from the work of William James,is then proposed. In order to be treated truly pragmatically, (...) class='Hi'>panpsychism—like any other metaphysical position—ought to be subjected to Jamesian pragmatic pluralism. Something like “panculturalism” follows as a result: both panpsychism and its metaphysical rivals are, in the end, cultural posits arising fromhuman practices of engaging with reality. (shrink)
Benedict de Spinoza, C.S. Peirce, and Gilles Deleuze delineate a trajectory through the history of ideas in the dialogue about the potentials and limitations of panpsychism, the view that world is fundamentally made up of mind. As a parallel trajectory to the panpsychism debate in contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology, this approach can inform and enrich the discussion of the role and scope of mind in the natural world. The philosophies of mind developed by Deleuze and (...) Peirce are Spinozistic in their natural monism but move beyond Spinoza to explain mind as a part of the natural world in semiotic terms. (shrink)
Some philosophers of mind have argued for considering consciousness as a further fundamental feature of reality in addition to its physical properties. Hence most of them are property dualists. But some of them are panpsychists. In the present paper it will be argued that being a real property dualist essentially entails being a panpsychist. Even if panpsychism deals rather elegantly with certain problems of the puzzle of consciousness, there’s no way around the composition problem. Adhering to the fundamentality claim (...) of the mind, it will be shown that only a radical revision of metaphysics will allow the panpsychist to avoid these troubles, and hence that a panpsychist must adopt Leibnizian idealism. (shrink)
Both Deleuze in DR and Thompson / Jonas can be fairly said to be biological panpsychists. That‘s pretty much what ―Mind in Life‖ means: mind and life are co-extensive: life = autopoiesis and cognition = sense-making. Thus Mind in Life = autopoietic sense-making = control of action of organism in environment. Sense-making here is three-fold: 1) sensibility as openness to environment; 2) signification as positive or negative valence of environmental features relative to the subjective norms of the organism; 3) direction (...) or orientation the organism adopts in response to 1 and 2. (―Sense of the river‖ is archaic in English, but ―sens unique‖ for ―one-way street‖ is perfectly clear in French.). (shrink)
Panpsychism is an eminently sensible view of the world and its relation to mind. If God is a metaphysician, and regardless of the actual truth or falsity of panpsychism, it is certain that he regards the theory as an honest and elegant competitor on the ﬁeld of ontologies. And if God didn’t create a panpsychist world, then there’s a fair chance that he wishes he had done so, or will do next time around. The difﬁculties panpsychism faces, (...) then, are not metaphysical ones. They are, instead, difﬁculties of understanding, and of acceptance by philosophers. The main difﬁculty of this sort the theory faces is that its ontology – with consciousness in some sense at the heart of all that exists1 – is deemed too bizarre, frankly, too humano-centric to be taken seriously. Why should anyone think that consciousness, widely held to be the preserve only of ourselves, plus the most recently evolved organisms, infuses the basement level of all existence? Such a thought seems to many – especially, to scientiﬁcally scrupled philosophers of mind – a narcissistic (or at best hopelessly anti-realist) folly, which doesn’t even deserve its day in court. Panpsychism.. (shrink)
I find myself in agreement with almost all of Galen's paper (Strawson, 2006) -- except, that is, for his three main claims. These I take to be: that he has provided a substantive and useful definition of 'physicalism'; that physicalism entails panpsychism; and that panpsychism is a necessary and viable doctrine. But I find much to applaud in the incidentals Galen brings in to defend these three claims, particularly his eloquent and uncompromising rejection of the idea of brute (...) emergence, as well as his dissatisfaction with standard forms of physicalism. I certainly find his paper far more on target than most of the stuff I read on this topic. (shrink)
Whitehead’s philosophy is of perennial scholarly interest as one of the relatively few really serious attempts at a systematic metaphysics. But unlike almost all major ‘philosophical systems’ it is not merely an historical curiosity, but retains contemporary supporters actively deploying Whitehead’s viewpoint in discussion of a variety of live philosophical problems. Furthermore, Whitehead’s metaphysics is the sole example of a comprehensive philosophical system which aims to take into account the radical transformation of science which occurred at the beginning of the (...) twentieth century with the development of relativity and quantum mechanics, developments with which Whitehead was, as a first rate mathematician, highly familiar. (shrink)
1 Non-reductive physicalists deny that there is any explanation of mentality in purely physical terms, but do not deny that the mental is entirely determined by and constituted out of underlying physical structures. There are important issues about the stability of such a view which teeters on the edge of explanatory reductionism on the one side and dualism on the other (see Kim 1998). 2 Save perhaps for eliminative materialism (see Churchland 1981 for a classic exposition). In fact, however, while.