The Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is a leading scientific theory of consciousness, which implies a kind of panpsychism. In this paper, I consider whether IIT is compatible with a particular kind of panpsychism known as Russellian panpsychism, which purports to avoid the main problems of both physicalism and dualism. I will first show that if IIT were compatible with Russellian panpsychism, it would contribute to solving Russellian panpsychism’s combination problem, which threatens to show that the (...) view does not avoid the main problems of physicalism and dualism after all. I then show that IIT and Russellian panpsychism are not compatible as they currently stand, because of a problem which I will call the coarse-graining problem. After I explain the coarse-graining problem, I offer two possible solutions, each involving a small modification of IIT. Given either of these modifications, IIT and Russellian panpsychism may be fully compatible after all and jointly enable significant progress on the mind-body problem. (shrink)
Panpsychism, the view that microphysical entities have phenomenal experiences that constitute the phenomenal experiences of macrophysical entities, seems to be committed to various sorts of mental combination: it seems that experiences, subjects, and phenomenal characters would have to mentally combine in order to yield experiences such as our own. The combination problem for panpsychism is that of explaining precisely how the required forms of mental combination occur. This paper argues that, given a few plausible assumptions, the panpsychistβs combination (...) problems are not different in kind from other combination problems that are problems for everyone: the problem of phenomenal unity, the problem of mental structure, and the problem of explaining how we can have experiences in new quality spaces. Understanding mental combination poses a significant challenge to understanding the mind, and it is a problem for everyone. (shrink)
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)
Neutral monism aims at solving the hard problem of consciousness by positing entities that are neither mental nor physical. Benovsky has recently argued for the slightly different account that, rather than being neutral, natural entities are both mental and physical by having different aspects, and then argued in favour of an anti-realist interpretation of those aspects. In this essay, operating under the assumption of dual-aspect monism, I argue to the contrary in favour of a realist interpretation of these aspects by (...) showing that the anti-realist interpretation collapses into neutral monism and that the realist interpretation is an interesting alternative. I close with a discussion of the realist interpretation of the aspects and its relation with panpsychism. (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 is an important collection in that it fleshes out the vague postulate of panpsychism with a detailed analysis of how it might be understood (if not exactly what it might mean). For the many skeptics who simply dismiss the very idea as ridiculous, there is much here to demonstrate that a good deal of serious thought has gone into this ancient proposal. There are many ways to interpret panpsychism, and they are well represented in this group of (...) philosophers, each speaking for a unique take on the subject or one of its variations– from cosmopsychism to panprotopsychism to panexperientialism to neutral monism, etc. The combination problem is fully interrogated, as is panpsychism associated with dualism, idealism, physicalism, theism, etc. Anyone reading this book is bound to gain some respect for the complexity of such subject matter and the compelling logic for approaching it. (shrink)
Margaret Cavendish (1623-73) held a number of surprising philosophical views. These included a materialist panpsychism, and some views in what we might call environmental ethics. Panpsychism, though certainly not unheard of, is still often a surprising view. Views in environmental ethics - even just views that involve a measure of environmental concern - are unusual to find in early modern European philosophy. Cavendish held both of these surprising views. One might suspect that panpsychism provides some reasons for (...) environmental concern. I argue, however, that Cavendish did not derive her environmental ethics from her panpsychism. If there is a connection, it is a developmental one, leading from the ethics to the panpsychism. The investigation of these issues also provides an occasion for thinking more generally about how Cavendish's views fit together, and whether she developed a systematic philosophy in the manner of several of her contemporaries. (shrink)
Physical processes manifest an objective order that science manages to discover. Commonly, it is considered that these processes obey the “laws of nature.” Bergson disputes this idea which ultimately constitutes a kind of Platonism. In contrast, he develops the idea that physical processes are a particular case of automatic behaviors. In this sense, they imply a motor memory immanent to matter, whose actions are triggered by some perceptions. This approach is obviously panpsychist. It gives matter a certain consciousness, even if (...) the latter is different in nature from our consciousness. In some respects, this approach is similar to contemporary panpsychism because it claims that the psychic is a fundamental characteristic of nature, causally active. But it is also original because it does not constitute a theory of the origin of mind in nature. (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)
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)
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
In this book, Jiri Benovsky takes a stand for a variant of panpsychism as being the best solution available to the mind-body problem. More exactly, he defends a view that can be labelled 'dual-aspect-pan-proto-psychism'. Panpsychism claims that mentality is ubiquitous to reality, and in combination with dual-aspect monism it claims that anything, from fundamental particles to rocks, trees, and human animals, has two aspects: a physical aspect and a mental aspect. In short, the view is that the nature (...) of reality is 'phental' (physical-mental). But this does not mean, according to the author, that rocks and photons think or have conscious experiences, in the sense in which human animals have experiences. This is where pan-proto-psychism enters the picture as being a better theoretical option, where the mental aspects of fundamental particles, rocks, and trees are not experiential. Many hard questions arise here. In this book, Benovsky focuses on the combination problem: in short, how do tiny mental aspects of fundamental particles combine to yield macro-phenomenal conscious experiences, such as your complex experience when you enjoy a great gastronomic meal? What makes the question even harder is that the combination problem is not just one problem, but rather a family of various combination issues and worries. Benovsky offers a general strategy to deal with these combination problems and focuses on one in particular – namely, the worry concerning the existence of subjects of experience. Indeed, if standard panpsychism were true, we would need an explanation of how tiny micro-subjects combine into a macro-subject like a human person. And if panprotopsychism is true, it has to explain how a subject of experience can arise from proto-micro-mental aspects of reality. Benovsky shows that understanding the nature of subjectivity in terms of the growingly familiar notion of mineness in combination with a reductionist/eliminativist view of the self, allows us to have a coherent picture, where this type of combination problem is avoided, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (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)
This essay examines A. N. Whitehead’s philosophy of organism as a basis for an ecological ethics. His views are compared with those of deep ecologists and several problems with his panpsychism are considered in connection with the notion of intrinsic value in nature. In spite of problems raised by critics, this essay concludes that Whitehead’s philosophy provides a world view that offers a corrective to the disastrous course set by views that regard nature as an inert mechanism.
The idea that there are ‘laws of nature’ is a widespread scientific opinion. On the one hand, I argue that this idea has the crucial function to explain the obvious similarities of physical processes. On the other hand, I show that this idea can be replaced by the hypothesis supporting that a minimal consciousness immanent to matter governs its processes. This latter hypothesis may seem surprising, but compared to that of laws, it is more empirical in the sense that it (...) is inspired by our conscious experience, in particular our experience of automatic actions. And it is deflationist, because it allows us to reject the existence of laws, which must be considered as Platonistic forms. This hypothesis has been supported by Peirce and Bergson. In this paper, I try to clarify and complete their views, and to draw the consequences for the study of consciousness. (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)
In this essay, I argue that A. N. Whitehead's novel concept of prehension only makes sense as a form of panpsychistic idealism. After making the case for this view, I critical evaluate Lewis Ford's interpretation of prehension from his compositional analysis of Whitehead's metaphysical works.
According to recent arguments for panpsychism, all (or most) physical properties are dispositional, dispositions require categorical grounds, and the only categorical properties we know are phenomenal properties. Therefore, phenomenal properties can be posited as the categorical grounds of all (or most) physical properties – in order to solve the mind–body problem and/or in order avoid noumenalism about the grounds of the physical world. One challenge to this case comes from dispositionalism, which agrees that all physical properties are dispositional, but (...) denies that dispositions require categorical grounds. In this paper, I propose that this challenge can be countered by the claim that the only (fundamentally) dispositional properties we know are phenomenal properties, in particular, phenomenal properties associated with agency, intention and/or motivation. Claims of this sort have been common in the history of philosophy, and have also been supported by a number of contemporary dispositionalists. I will defend a new and updated version of this claim, based on what I call the phenomenal powers view. Combined with other premises from the original case for panpsychism – which are not affected by the challenge from dispositionalism – it forms an argument that dispositionalism entails panpsychism. (shrink)