I present an argument for panpsychism: the thesis that everything is conscious, or at least that fundamental physical entities are conscious. The argument takes a Hegelian dialectical form. Panpsychism emerges as a synthesis of the thesis of materalism and the antithesis of dualism. In particular, the key premises of the causal argument for materialism and the conceivability argument for dualism are all accommodated by a certain version of panpsychism. This synthesis has its own antithesis in turn: panprotopsychism, (...) the thesis that fundamental physical entities are protoconscious, also accommodates the key premises. Panpsychism and panprotopsychism are synthesized under Russellian monism, and then face an antithesis, the combination problem. The question of whether there is a new synthesis remains open. (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)
A contemporary form of panpsychism says that phenomenality is prevalent because all physical ultimates instantiate phenomenal or protophenomenal properties. According to priority cosmopsychism, an alternative to panpsychism that we propose in this chapter, phenomenality is prevalent because the whole cosmos instantiates phenomenal or protophenomenal properties. It says, moreover, that the consciousness of the cosmos is ontologically prior to the consciousness of ordinary individuals like us. Since priority cosmopsychism is a highly speculative view our aim in this chapter remains (...) modest and limited. Instead of providing a full defense of priority cosmopsychism, we try to show only the theoretical advantage of the view over panpsychism. Tis, however, by no means entails that we develop the view in logical space merely for its own sake. We offer instead a blueprint for a new alternative to panpsychism and explain how such a view avoids some of the most persistent problems for panpsychism while maintaining several of its strengths. (shrink)
In _Panpsychism in the West_, the first comprehensive study of the subject, David Skrbina argues for the importance of panpsychism -- the theory that mind exists, in some form, in all living and nonliving things -- in consideration of the nature of consciousness and mind. Despite the recent advances in our knowledge of the brain and the increasing intricacy and sophistication of philosophical discussion, the nature of mind remains an enigma. Panpsychism, with its conception of mind as a (...) general phenomenon of nature, uniquely links being and mind. More than a theory of mind, it is a meta-theory -- a statement about theories of mind rather than a theory in itself. Panpsychism can parallel almost every current theory of mind; it simply holds that, no matter how one conceives of mind, such mind applies to all things. In addition, panpsychism is one of the most ancient and enduring concepts of philosophy, beginning with its pre-historical forms, animism and polytheism. Its adherents in the West have included important thinkers from the very beginning of Greek philosophy through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the present. Skrbina argues that panpsychism is long overdue for detailed treatment, and with this book he proposes to add impetus to the discussion of panpsychism in serious philosophical inquiries. After a brief discussion of general issues surrounding philosophy of mind, he traces the panpsychist views of specific philosophers, from the ancient Greeks and early Renaissance naturalist philosophers through the likes of William James, Josiah Royce, and Charles Sanders Peirce -- always with a strong emphasis on the original texts. In his concluding chapter, "A Panpsychist World View," Skrbina assesses panpsychist arguments and puts them in a larger context. By demonstrating that there is panpsychist thinking in many major philosophers, Skrbina offers a radical challenge to the modern worldview, based as it is on a mechanistic cosmos of dead, insensate matter. _Panpsychism in the West _will be the standard work on this topic for years to come. (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.
Much of contemporary philosophy of mind is marked by a dissatisfaction with the two main positions in the field, standard materialism and standard dualism, and hence with the search for alternatives. My concern in this paper is with two such alternatives. The first, which I will call non-standard materialism, is a position I have defended in a number of places, and which may take various forms. The second, panpsychism, has been defended and explored by a number of recent writers. (...) My main goals are: (a) to explain the differences between these positions; and (b) to suggest that non-standard materialism is more plausible than panpsychism. (shrink)
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)
The most pressing worry for panpsychism is arguably the combination problem, the problem of intelligibly explaining how the experiences of microphysical entities combine to form the experiences of macrophysical entities such as ourselves. This chapter argues that the combination problem is similar in kind to other problems of mental combination that are problems for everyone: the problem of phenomenal unity, the problem of mental structure, and the problem of new quality spaces. The ubiquity of combination problems suggests the ignorance (...) hypothesis, the hypothesis that we are ignorant of certain key facts about mental combination, which allows the panpsychist to avoid certain objections based on the combination problem. (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)
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 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.
Russellian panpsychism puts basic conscious properties at the bottom level and then grounds lowestlevel physical entities in them. This paper offers arguments against the view. The explanatory gap cuts both ways, making it as hard to get the physical out of consciousness as to get consciousness out of the physical. Russellian panpsychism can't explain how basic conscious properties yield high-level consciousness. Other non-physicalist views can evade the causal argument for physicalism at least as well as Russellian panpsychism. (...) Simplicity and beauty don't supply reasons for Russellian panpsychism. (shrink)
Some philosophical theories of consciousness imply consciousness in things we would never intuitively think are conscious—most notably, panpsychism implies that consciousness is pervasive, even outside complex brains. Is this a reductio ab absurdum for such theories, or does it show that we should reject our original intuitions? To understand the stakes of this question as clearly as possible, we analyse the structured pattern of intuitions that panpsychism conflicts with. We consider a variety of ways that the tension between (...) this intuition and panpsychism could be resolved, ranging from complete rejection of the theory to complete dismissal of the intuition, but argue in favour of more nuanced approaches which try to reconcile the two. (shrink)
In recent literature, panpsychism has been defended by appeal to two main arguments: first, an argument from philosophy of mind, according to which panpsychism is the only view which successfully integrates consciousness into the physical world (Strawson 2006; Chalmers 2013); second, an argument from categorical properties, according to which panpsychism offers the only positive account of the categorical or intrinsic nature of physical reality (Seager 2006; Adams 2007; Alter and Nagasawa 2012). Historically, however, panpsychism has also (...) been defended by appeal to a third argument based on considerations about the nature and observability of causation. This argument has not been much discussed in recent times. Here is a concise version from William James: "… the concrete perceptual flux, taken just as it comes, offers in our own activity-situations perfectly comprehensible instances of causal agency … If we took these experiences as the type of what actual causation is, we should have to ascribe to cases of causation outside of our life, to physical cases also, an inwardly experiential nature. In other words, we should have to espouse a so-called “pan-psychic” philosophy" (James 1911: 218). James here suggests that we have direct experience of causation in our own agency. He thereby directly contradicts David Hume, who famously denied that we have any experience of causation. James goes on to claim that if this experience is representative of causation in general, it follows that all causation is mental, and that panpsychism is true. This kind of argument for panpsychism can be called the argument from (experience of) causation. This chapter offers, first, a history of this argument and arguments closely related to it, and second, an analysis of the argument – is it valid, are its premises in any way defensible, and how does it relate to the other, more popular arguments for panpsychism from philosophy of mind and categorical properties? (shrink)
In contemporary philosophy of mind, the conceivability argument against physicalism is often used to support a form of dualism, which takes consciousness to be ontologically fundamental and distinct from physical matter. Recently, some proponents of the conceivability argument have also shown interest in panpsychism, which is the view that mentality is ubiquitous in the natural world. This paper examines the extent to which panpsychism can be sustained if the conceivability argument is taken seriously. I argue that panpsychism’s (...) ubiquity claim permits a strong reading or a weak reading. This presents a dilemma. On the one hand, the strong reading, which is typically characterised as a form of monism, is undermined by the conceivability argument. On the other hand, the weak reading, while compatible with the conceivability argument, turns out just to be a special case of dualism. I also show that the related position of panprotopsychism cannot provide a tenable monist position because it too cannot withstand the challenge of the conceivability argument. Therefore, if the conceivability argument is taken seriously, then we are committed to a dualist metaphysics, regardless of whether or not we accept the ubiquity claim. (shrink)
Panpsychism, an increasingly popular competitor to physicalism as a theory of mind, faces a famous difficulty, the ‘combination problem’. This is the difficulty of understanding the composition of a conscious mind by parts which are themselves taken to be phenomenally qualitied. I examine the combination problem, and I attempt to solve it. There are a few distinct difficulties under the banner of ‘the combination problem’, and not all of them need worry panpsychists. After homing in on the genuine worries, (...) I identify some disputable assumptions that underlie them. Doing away with these assumptions allows us to make a start on a working conception of phenomenal combination. (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)
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)
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)
It is not surprising that in a time of intensified ecological awareness a new appreciation of nature and the inanimate world arises. Two examples are panpsychism and deep incarnation. Consciousness studies flourish and are related to nature, the animal world and inorganic nature. A metaphysics of consciousness emerges, of which panpsychism is a good example. Panpsychism or panconsciousness or speculative realism endows all matter with a form of consciousness, energy and experience. The consciousness question is increasingly linked (...) to the quantum world, which offers some option in bridging mind and reality, consciousness and matter. In this regard Kauffman's notion of 'triad' is referred to as well as the implied idea of cosmic mind. This is related to the notion of 'deep incarnation' as introduced by Gregersen. Some analogical links are made between panpsychism and deep incarnation. (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.
There are many possible forms of panpsychism. In this paper, I discuss a type of panpsychism in which the complex mental states of higher-level entities emerge from a system, or organization, of fundamental entities which possess extremely simple forms of mentality. I argue that this sort of panpsychism is surprisingly plausible, especially in light of the notorious difficulties raised by consciousness. Emergentist panpsychism faces a distinctive challenge, however. In so far as panpsychism embraces emergentism of (...) the mental, a purely physicalist emergence seems to be metaphysically more economical. I will argue that a basic analysis of emergence throws this claim into doubt. (shrink)
Panpsychism has become a highly attractive position in the philosophy of mind. On panpsychism, both the physical and the mental are inseparable and fundamental features of reality. Panentheism has also become immensely popular in the philosophy of religion. Panentheism strives for a higher reconciliation of an atheistic pantheism, on which the universe itself is causa sui, and the ontological dualism of necessarily existing, eternal creator and contingent, finite creation. Historically and systematically, panpsychism and panentheism often went together (...) as essential parts of an all-embracing metaphysical theory of Being. The present collection of essays analyses the relation between panpsychism and panentheism and provides critical reflections on the significance of panpsychistic and panentheistic thinking for recent debates in philosophy and theology. (shrink)
This chapter suggests how certain problematic claims of pantheism might be made more intelligible. It shows, first, that some pantheistic God-talk is comparable to talk involving mass terms; treating “God” as a mass term affords us a way of understanding, for example, how parts can seemingly be identified with the wholes of which they are the parts, as per the claim that “God is everything and everything is God”. This chapter then goes on to describe a contemporary variant of (...) class='Hi'>panpsychism, a variant speculatively predicated on the affinity between intentional states and causal dispositions. This allows for a conception of the world as God’s brain, cashed out in terms of a “panintentionalism” that admits of various organizational possibilities for causal dispositional states, comparable to the organization of intentional states in human brains. (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.
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)
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)
The article explains my third argument for panpsychism, based on disolving all properties, including dispositional physical properties like mass, energy, and force, into phenomenal properties. I thus reject a dual-property version of panpsychism. I seek to show, contrary to Paul Churchland, that the general panpsychist hypothesis has some explanatory value, and makes a cosmology consisting in comparative psychology possible. The mental life even of so-called physical particles in physics is hypothesized to help explain their behavior.
According to recent arguments for panpsychism, all 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 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 met by the claim that the only dispositional properties we know are phenomenal properties, in particular, phenomenal properties associated with agency, intention and/or motivation. Versions of this claim 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 it. 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)
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)
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)