Mark Solms: Information, in neuroscience, is a crucial concept, and it’s very hard to think about quantum physics and the big questions that are unsolved that flow from it without the concept of information — which, I hasten to draw your attention to the fact, is not matter. I’m not a materialist for exactly that reason.
“What’s really interesting about [Massimo Pigliucci’s anti-panpsychism] comments is that even a decade or so ago, his was an utterly conventional view. Now he feels he must qualify it by saying “But that’s just one perspective and one way to look at it.” It seems that fewer researchers today expect the “Hard Problem of Consciousness” to suddenly yield to a new research finding — a situation that leaves many looking with interest and sympathy at a non-naturalist approach like panpsychism.”
Evo psych likely got started when psychologists wanted to get in on illuminating findings in evolution, like the Cambrian Explosion. Trouble is, there aren’t any prehumans around. And we don’t have a good reason to believe that early humans differed much from us in psychology.
Takehome: Of course we can “see ourselves” as an earthworm. But it doesn’t work in reverse. And Pamela Lyon sheds no light on that fact, apart from denigrating humans.
Panpsychism eliminates the crudities of Darwinism. For example, if consciousness is assumed to be a natural development in the most complex life forms, human consciousness would have happened, whether it improved survival or not. Darwinian controversies on the topic become pointless or anyway, much less significant. Perhaps that’s why a classical Darwinian, who needs to see human consciousness as a simple but controversial accident, views panpsychism with hostility.
The problem is, if we assume that “the mind is nothing more than the brain,” there may be nothing we can discover about how it works. Gleiser wishes we could prove that that’s wrong but he can’t.
Apart from simple laws governing neurons, we have no clue what laws the mind follows, though it does show complex nonlinear dynamics.
In his chapter of a new anthology, The Comprehensive Guide to Science and Faith: Exploring the Ultimate Questions About Life and the Cosmos (2021), neurosurgeon Michael Egnor looks at the growing evidence that the mind is not simply what the brain does and defends a dualist view.
Neuropsychologist Mark Solms and neurosurgeon Michael Egnor agreed that clinical experience supports a non-materialist view of the mind but that the establishment doesn’t.
Essentially, panpsychism offers a way for scientists to address human consciousness, as currently understood, without explaining it away as an illusion. It would allow us to say that if Zombie-Jane existed, she would be missing something critical that Jane has (and so does everything else, to some extent). Whether that makes panpsychism a better explanation of reality than idealism or dualism is a separate question. Like all points of view, they have their own issues but the Zombie isn’t one of them.
Egnor saw patients who didn’t have most of their frontal lobes who were completely conscious, “in fact, rather pleasant, bright people.”
Neuropsychologist Mark Solms: a lot of evidence, suggests that the source of consciousness in the brain is in fact in the brain stem, which is a much more ancient, much more primitive structure that we share, not only with all other primates and all other mammals, but in fact, with all vertebrates.
The problem with getting AI to understand causation, as opposed to mere correlation, has led to many spurious correlations in data driven papers.
In the real world, if we succeed in communicating with whales, it will be much like communicating successfully with dogs, cats, and horses. None of them are furry people. Whales are not blubbery people either. They won’t bring us closer to understanding what sets humans apart than dogs will.
One-celled intelligence aside, it’s unclear how Antonio Damasio’s ladder of consciousness, built on self-balancing and death avoidance, gets us the human mind.