I endorse a 12-word metaphysics.  Stoff ist Kraft ≈ being is energy.  Wesen ist Werden ≈ being is becoming.  Sein ist Sosein ≈ being is qualit[ativit]y.  Ansichsein ist Fürsichsein ≈ being is mind. – are plausible metaphysical principles and unprejudiced consideration of what we know about concrete reality obliges us to favor , i.e. panpsychism or panexperientialism, above all other positive substantive proposals. For [i] panpsychism is the most ontologically parsimonious view, given that the (...) existence of conscious experience is certain and that panpsychism doesn’t posit the existence of any kind of stuff other than conscious experience. [ii] A question also arises about why metaphysicians have posited the existence of something for which there is zero evidence: non-experiential concrete reality. The question is the more pressing because of the silence of physics: physics with its numbers and equations is perfectly silent on the question of the intrinsic non-structural nature of reality. (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)
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)
Some philosophers, like David Chalmers, have either shown their sympathy for, or explicitly endorsed, the following two principles: Panpsychism—roughly the thesis that the mind is ubiquitous throughout the universe—and Organizational Invariantism—the principle that holds that two systems with the same fine-grained functional organization will have qualitatively identical experiences. The purpose of this paper is to show the tension between the arguments that back up both principles. This tension should lead, or so I will argue, defenders of one of the (...) principles to give up on the other. (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.
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)
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)
This paper considers Galen Strawson's recent defence of panpsychism. Strawson's account has a number of attractive features: it proffers an unflappable commitment to the reality of conscious experience, adduces a relatively novel and constructive appeal to the explanatory gap, and presents a picture which is in certain respects consistent with Herbert Feigl's version of mind-brain identity theory, what I call twofold-access theory. Strawson is right that the experiential and physical are not irreconcilable, for at least some physical phenomena have (...) an intrinsic, experiential side. However, despite Strawson's suggestion to the contrary, Feigl distinguishes his view from panpsychism. In fact, twofold-access theory, as I construe it, does not so much imply a pan-psychism as a local- or neuropsychism: there are physical phenomena that are experiences, experiences only directly accessible to one when they are events in one's own brain and body. Strawson is also correct that there must be facts about the physical phenomena that constitute an experience that determine that it is the experiences it is -- or indeed any experience at all. Ultimately, however, Strawson fails to make the case that this relation of determination implies that physical ultimates are -- themselves -- subjects of experience. In fact, given what I call the Complex Subject Thesis, physical ultimates are the least likely candidates for being subjects of experience, for experience, I contend, is an embodied phenomenon. (shrink)
Pierre Bayle shows that, in order to avoid devastating objections, materialism should postulate that the property of thinking does not emerge from certain material combinations but is present in matter from the start and everywhere—a hypothesis recently revived and labelled “panpsychism”. There are reasons for entertaining the idea that Bayle actually considers this enhanced materialism to be tenable, as it might use the same line of defence that Bayle outlined for Stratonism. However, this would lead to a view similar (...) to Locke’s superaddition theory, and I contend that such cannot be Bayle’s position because he embraces the Cartesian principle that each substance has only one principal attribute. This makes untenable, in his eyes, any system that conjoins thought with matter in the same simple substance. By contrast, this makes clear which kinds of metaphysics and epistemology panpsychists need to adopt to defend their view. (shrink)
Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mind, or a mind-like quality. Contrary to the common view that panpsychism is a fringe or 'absurd' theory of mind, it in fact has a long and noble tradition within western philosophy. In the forms of animism and polytheism, panpsychism was the dominant view for most if not all of the pre-historical era. In the early years of western thought it was widely accepted though not often explicitly argued (...) for. The emergence of Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology subverted it for a number of centuries, but it made a comeback with early Renaissance naturalist philosophers of the sixteenth century. Though still a minority view, it grew steadily in support through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reaching a zenith in the late 1800s and early 1900s. With the advent of logical positivism and linguistic/analytic philosophy, panpsychism was once again driven down to a relatively low status. In the past few years, however, panpsychism has once more become the topic of serious philosophical inquiry. (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)
The journal of Cognitive Computation is defined in part by the notion that biologically inspired computational accounts are at the heart of cognitive processes in both natural and artificial systems. Many studies of various important aspects of cognition (memory, observational learning, decision making, reward prediction learning, attention control, etc.) have been made by modelling the various experimental results using ever-more sophisticated computer programs. In this manner progressive inroads have been made into gaining a better understanding of the many components of (...) cognition. Concomitantly in both science and science fiction the hope is periodically re-ignited that a manmade system can be engineered to be fully cognitive and conscious purely in virtue of its execution of an appropriate computer program. However, whilst the usefulness of the computational metaphor in many areas of psychology and neuroscience is clear, it has not gone unchallenged and in this article I will review a group of philosophical arguments that suggest either such unequivocal optimism in computationalism is misplaced—computation is neither necessary nor sufficient for cognition—or panpsychism (the belief that the physical universe is fundamentally composed of elements each of which is conscious) is true. I conclude by highlighting an alternative metaphor for cognitive processes based on communication and interaction. (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)
Many writers, both scientists and philosophers, when discussing the mind‐body problem, adopt what might be called the physicalist principle of the closedness of the physical world. They reject the possibility that the physical world is causally open to a realm of conscious experience that is not part of it.Among the upholders of such a view are those who may be called radical materialists or radical physicalists, who deny that there exists a realm of conscious experience. Also, there are the proponents (...) of various identity theories, who admit that there is such a realm, but claim that it may be in some sense identified with parts of the physical world.There are, however, other writers who accept the physicalist principle, but who nevertheless also accept that there exists a genuinely autonomous realm of conscious experience. Such writers often hold some form of panpsychism or epiphenomenalism, and in what follows these two views are briefly explained and critically discussed. (shrink)
For the last five years philosopher Galen Strawson has provoked a mixture of shock and scepticism with his carefully argued case that physicalism entails panpsychism. In this book Strawson provides the fullest and most careful statement of his position to date, throwing down the gauntlet to his critics — including Peter Carruthers, Frank Jackson, David Rosenthal and J.J.C. Smart — by inviting them to respond in print. The book concludes with Strawson's response to his commentators. Galen Strawson’s books include (...) Mental Reality, The Self? and Freedom and Belief. (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)
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)
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)
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.
Deferential Monadic Panpsychism is a view that accepts that physical science is capable of discovering the basic structure of reality. However, it denies that reality is fully and exhaustively de- scribed purely in terms of physical science. Consciousness is missing from the physical description and cannot be reduced to it. DMP explores the idea that the physically fundamental features of the world possess some intrinsic mental aspect. It thereby faces a se- vere problem of understanding how more complex mental (...) states emerge from the mental features of the fundamental features. Here I explore the idea that a new form of aggregative emergence, which I call 'combinatorial infusion', could shed light on this problem and bolster the prospects for this form of panpsychism. (shrink)
Panpsychism is the view that every concrete and unified thing has some form of phenomenal consciousness or experience. It is an age-old doctrine, which, to the surprise of many, has recently taken on new life. In philosophy of mind, it has been put forth as a simple and radical solution to the mind–body problem (Chalmers 1996, 2003;Strawson 2006; Nagel 1979, 2012). In metaphysics and philosophy of science, it has been put forth as a solution to the problem of accounting (...) for the intrinsic nature of the physical itself (Strawson 2006, Seager 2006). In this thesis, I show that panpsychism can also be defended on the basis of an argument from our (arguable) acquaintance with the nature of causation in agency. This argument has made frequent appearances throughout the history of philosophy, with philosophers such as Leibniz, Schopenhauer and James, and I construct and defend an updated version of it. Furthermore, I offer a solution to the combination problem: how can complex (human and animal-type) consciousness result from simple (fundamental particle-type) consciousness? This is generally regarded as the most serious problem facing contemporary panpsychism. I propose that mental combination can be construed as kind causal process culminating in a fusion, and show how this avoids the main difficulties with accounting for mental combination. (shrink)
This article uses causation to show that panpsychism and emergentism share far less than most philosophers suppose. It argues that panpsychism has features, among them its rationalism, that force what the article calls a strong account of causation. And that emergentism entails what the article calls a weak account of causation incompatible with any strong account. The article then ventures that panpsychism and emergentism form parts of two wide-ranging but incompatible metaphysical packages.
The generation problem is to explain how material configurations or processes can produce conscious experience. David Chalmers urges that this is what makes the problem of consciousness really difficult. He proposes to side-step the generation problem by proposing that consciousness is an absolutely fundamental feature of the world. I am inclined to agree that the generation problem is real and believe that taking consciousness to be fundamental is promising. But I take issue with Chalmers about what it is to be (...) a fundamental feature of the world. In fact, I argue that taking the idea seriously ought to lead to some form of panpsychism. Powerful objections have been advanced against panpsychism, but I attempt to outline a form of the doctrine which can evade them. In the end, I suspect that we will face a choice between panpsychism and rethinking the legitimacy of the generation problem itself. (shrink)
The argument presented in this paper is not a direct attack or defence of the Chinese Room Argument (CRA), but relates to the premise at its heart, that syntax is not sufficient for semantics, via the closely associated propositions that semantics is not intrinsic to syntax and that syntax is not intrinsic to physics. However, in contrast to the CRA’s critique of the link between syntax and semantics, this paper will explore the associated link between syntax and physics. The main (...) argument presented here is not significantly original – it is a simple reflection upon that originally given by Hilary Putnam (Putnam 1988) and criticised by David Chalmers and others: instead of seeking to justify Putnam’s claim that, “every open system implements every Finite State Automaton (FSA)”, and hence that psychological states of the brain cannot be functional states of a computer, I will seek to establish the weaker result that, over a finite time window every open system implements the trace of a particular FSA Q, as it executes program (p) on input (x). That this result leads to panpsychism is clear as, equating Q (p, x) to a specific Strong AI program that is claimed to instantiate phenomenal states as it executes, and following Putnam’s procedure, identical computational (and ex hypothesi phenomenal) states (ubiquitous little ‘pixies’) can be found in every open physical system. (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.
There is a famous passage in chapter six of James’ 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 James’ 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 naïve employment of the argument, as a critique leveled by physicalists against panpsychism, is counterproductive and even self-defeating. After examining the metaphysical shortcomings undermining James’ position , 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 Principle of Continuity is a major premise in what can be called the “Continuity-Argument for Panpsychism” : If we, as complex conscious organisms, are the evolutionary products of originally inorganic components and processes, and consciousness is a metaphysically irreducible feature, thenconsciousness must have already been a feature of these fundamental components, assuming there is continuity between the inorganic and the organic. This argument faces one serious objection, based on the possible vagueness of consciousness: If consciousness is a feature (...) of organisms which is gradually gained at some later phylogenetic stage the conclusion of CAP is false. In my paper I defend the assumption that consciousness cannot be vague with the goal of concluding that CAP is sound. (shrink)
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)
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 'composition problem'. 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)
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)
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)
In this article, I offer a critical evaluation of non-reductive physicalism as articulated and defended by Nancey Murphy. I argue that the examples given by Murphy do not illustrate robust emergence and the philosophical idea of downward causation. The thesis of multiple realizability is ontologically neutral, and so cannot support the idea of the causal efficacy of higher-level properties. Supervenience is incompatible with strong emergence. I also argue for the fruitful relationship between emergence theory and panpsychism pertaining to the (...) metaphysical issue of the origin and nature of mind. (shrink)