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At Mind Matters News: New theory of mind offers more information, less materialism

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First, let’s begin by noting a remarkable fact: Panpsychism seems to have triumphed in the area of theories of consciousness:

At Nautilus, evolutionary biologist Tam Hunt asks us to consider the “General Resonance Theory of consciousness,” which he has been developing with psychologist Jonathan Schooler — “a framework with a panpsychist foundation. It may, he thinks, “at least in theory, provide more complete answers to the full array of questions the hard problem of consciousness poses.”

He’s quite clear about the panpsychism (the view that everything in the universe participates in consciousness)…

Before we get to the Hunt–Schooler theory itself, first, let’s note that panpsychism seems to have triumphed in the area of theories of consciousness.. Christof Koch’s well-regarded theory of consciousness is also panpsychist. No one blinks.

News, “New theory of mind offers more information, less materialism” at Mind Matters News

Takehome: Are there materialist theories of consciousness out there any more? Yes. But it is unclear how many of them are taken seriously. Except in pop science mags.

You may also wish to read: How a materialist philosopher argued his way to panpsychism. Galen Strawson starts with the one fact of which we are most certain — our own consciousness. To Strawson, it makes more sense to say that consciousness is physical — and that electrons are conscious — than that consciousness is an illusion.

9 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: New theory of mind offers more information, less materialism

  1. 1
    polistra says:

    Panpsychism is logically unavoidable. There’s no logical place to draw a line. As we learn more about smart plants and smart cells, the boundary moves ever outward..

  2. 2
    doubter says:

    Rather disappointing. There’s nothing here even putting a dent in Chalmer’s Hard Problem. This new Hunt-Schooler “resonance” theory of consciousness is essentially just another albeit more sophisticated materialistic theory of mind. It boils down to these words from the article:

    ….the boundaries of a consciousness like ours depends on the velocity and frequency of the resonance chains connecting its parts.

    What do boundaries even mean in the context of a seemingly immaterial thing like consciousness? What we’re referring to is the boundary of the physical energy and information flows that provide the content of consciousness. It’s something like axiomatic that for any information (like perceptions or internally-generated thoughts) to become part of consciousness, in each moment that information needs to reach the physical geography generating that consciousness. This would be the brain, in the case of humans and other animals (though not exclusively the brain, as we’re learning).

    As with all the other materialist theories of mind, this still proposes that the activities of neurons in the brain somehow constitutes the essence of “immaterial” consciousness, of course making consciousness ultimately material itself.

    Totally ruled out of course is even the possibility of the many types of paranormal psychical phenomena such as the existence in veridical NDEs of a separate mobile center of consciousness that can verifiably leave the body temporarily and make observations that are later confirmed. As usual for materialists, conveniently and complacently throwing out reams of solid empirical evidence in order to hew to the materialist/naturalist reductionist paradigm.

    In this case, giving this theory the designation of “panpsychist” seems to me to be giving it a false label in order to give the (false) impression of having something new, somehow bridging the gap between materialist theories and theories proposing spirit in one form or another.

    This seems to me to be only a tiny step forward in consciousness research. It seems to be more related to the EM field type of theories of mind, which are also basically materialist and fundamentally wrong.

  3. 3
    Seversky says:

    It doesn’t sound to me either as if this hypothesis is much of a step forward but, given that Chalmers’ Hard Problem is clearly such a tough nut to crack, we can’t afford to rule anything out.

    The problem with NDE’s is that, while they appear to be genuine experiences, I think their veridicality is way overstated by their supporters. There are reams of data in the form of these accounts but does it amount to evidence of an afterlife?

    In that connection, the question arose before of, if Christians truly believe in an afterlife that is so much better than this one, why don’t they simply commit suicide and save themselves a lot of time and trouble. Please note that I am not recommending that they do it, I’m just asking the question.

    By coincidence, I found a trailer on YouTube for a recent Anglo-American movie called The Discovery which I hadn’t heard of before. The plot concerns a scientist who is able to measure some sort of energy field leaving bodies at the time of death. He concludes this is evidence of something like a spirit or soul leaving the body and moving to some form of other afterlife. When word of his discovery gets out, it triggers a massive wave of suicides which is what I would expect in the event of such a discovery. It reinforces the question of why, if people truly believe in an afterlife, they stay here.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky, as I stated in the other thread, there is a rather glaring hypocrisy in the ‘evidentiary standards’ of Darwinian atheists when it comes to them accepting the reality of Near Death Experiences compared to them wholeheartedly accepting the ‘extraordinary’ claims of Darwinian evolution.

    As brain surgeon and professor Dr. Michael Egnor explains in an article subtitled, “Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test”, “Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,”
    Indeed, Darwinists simply do not have one shred of empirical evidence that unguided Darwinian processes can create any meaningful information over and above what is already present in life, (and/or already present in computer programs),,,
    And whereas Darwinian atheists have not one shred of empirical evidence that unguided Darwinian processes are capable of creating any meaningful information over and above what is already present in life, (and/or as is already present in computer programs), on the other hand Christians can validate every major facet of their beliefs.
    For instance, advances in quantum biology have now validated the Christian’s belief that there is a transcendent component to our being, i.e. a soul, that is capable of living past the death of our material bodies,,,,
    Moreover, research in neuroscience has revealed that the immaterial mind, via its free will and intention, can have pronounced effects on the material brain, (i.e. brain plasticity).,,,
    Moreover, whereas atheists have no observational evidence that the Multiverses that they postulated to ‘explain. away’ the fine tuning of the universe are real, nor do Atheists have any evidence that the ‘parallel universes’ that they postulated to ‘explain away’ quantum wave collapse are real, Christians, on the other hand, can appeal directly to Special Relativity, General Relativity, and Quantum Mechanics, (i.e. our most precisely tested theories ever in the history of science), to support their belief that God really does uphold this universe in its continual existence, as well as to support their belief in the reality of a heavenly dimension and in the reality of a hellish dimension.”

    All in all, compared to the abject and sheer poverty in empirical evidence that Darwinian atheists have for validating their grandiose claims that unguided material processes can create meaningful, immaterial, information, Christians are literally ‘swimming in riches’ as far as empirical evidence is concerned in so far as validating their core beliefs.

    Shoot, Christianity, (which just so happens to be the worldview that gave us modern science in the first place), even provides us with a very plausible, empirically backed, solution, (via the Shroud of Turin), for the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything’:,,,
    So thus in conclusion, we find, as far as science itself is concerned, that Atheists simply have no empirical evidence whatsoever for any of their grandiose claims that all life, and all of life’s facets, (in all of its amazing, and stunning, diversity), arose via unguided Darwinian processes. ,,,
    Whereas on the other hand, and to repeat, Christians are literally ‘swimming in riches’ as far as empirical evidence is concerned in so far as validating their core beliefs.

    The comparison between the two worldviews of Christianity and Atheism, in terms of ‘evidentiary standards’, (as Dr. Egnor termed it), is not even close.

    1 Corinthians 2:9
    But as it is written: “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”

  5. 5
    Seversky says:


    As brain surgeon and professor Dr. Michael Egnor explains in an article subtitled, “Putting a Darwinist’s Evidentiary Standards to the Test”, “Tens of millions of people have had such experiences. That is tens of millions of more times than we have observed the origin of species , (or the origin of life, or the origin of a protein/gene, or of a molecular machine), which is never.,,,”

    As I’m sure Egnor knows full well, human beings have most likely had dreams throughout human history. That is a far larger body of data than that for NDEs but is anyone arguing that, because there are so many reports, all the experiences in dreams actually happened in real life as well? They are an interesting phenomenon and worth investigating but Egnor’s interpretation of them is just that, an interpretation, nothing more.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky compared NDEs to dreams. But in comparing NDEs to dreams, Seversky proves that he did not even bother to read the link that I provided which addressed precisely that point,

    i.e.,,, In the following study, materialistic researchers who had a bias against Near Death Experiences being real, set out to prove that Near Death Experiences were merely ‘false memories’. They tried to prove that they were merely false memories by setting up a clever questionnaire that could differentiate which memories a person had were real and which memories a person had were merely imaginary.

    Simply put, they did not expect the results that they got (and indeed they tried to ‘explain away’ their results with rather flimsy excuses for why the results didn’t match what they had expected to find): To quote the headline ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real”

    ‘Afterlife’ feels ‘even more real than real,’ researcher says – Wed April 10, 2013
    Excerpt: “If you use this questionnaire … if the memory is real, it’s richer, and if the memory is recent, it’s richer,” he said.
    The coma scientists weren’t expecting what the tests revealed.
    “To our surprise, NDEs were much richer than any imagined event or any real event of these coma survivors,” Laureys reported.
    The memories of these experiences beat all other memories, hands down, for their vivid sense of reality. “The difference was so vast,” he said with a sense of astonishment.
    Even if the patient had the experience a long time ago, its memory was as rich “as though it was yesterday,” Laureys said.

    Memories of Near Death Experiences (NDEs): More Real Than Reality? – Mar. 27, 2013
    Excerpt: University of Liège
    ,,,researchers,, have looked into the memories of NDE with the hypothesis that if the memories of NDE were pure products of the imagination, their phenomenological characteristics (e.g., sensorial, self referential, emotional, etc. details) should be closer to those of imagined memories. Conversely, if the NDE are experienced in a way similar to that of reality, their characteristics would be closer to the memories of real events.
    The researchers compared the responses provided by three groups of patients, each of which had survived (in a different manner) a coma, and a group of healthy volunteers. They studied the memories of NDE and the memories of real events and imagined events with the help of a questionnaire which evaluated the phenomenological characteristics of the memories. The results were surprising. From the perspective being studied, not only were the NDEs not similar to the memories of imagined events, but the phenomenological characteristics inherent to the memories of real events (e.g. memories of sensorial details) are even more numerous in the memories of NDE than in the memories of real events.

    And here are a few quotes from people who have had Near Death Experiences that drive this ‘more real than real’ aspect of Near Death Experiences home,

    A Doctor’s Near Death Experience Inspires a New Life – video
    Quote: “It’s not like a dream. It’s like the world we are living in is a dream and it’s kind of like waking up from that.”
    Dr. Magrisso
    – per NBC Chicago

    “More real than anything I’ve experienced since. When I came back of course I had 34 operations, and was in the hospital for 13 months. That was real but heaven is more real than that. The emotions and the feelings. The reality of being with people who had preceded me in death.”
    – Don Piper – “90 Minutes in Heaven,” 10 Years Later – video (2:54 minute mark)

    “I was in the spiritual dimension. And this spiritual dimension, this spiritual world, that’s the real world. And this spiritual man that I was seeing and perceiving, that was the real me. And I instantly knew it. The colors are brighter. The thoughts are more intense. The feelings have greater depth. They’re more real. In the spirit world instantly I knew that this is the real world.,,,”
    – The Near Death Experience of Mickey Robinson – video (testimony starts at 27:45 minute mark)

    Medical Miracles – Dr. Mary Neal’s Near Death Experience – video (More real than real quote at 37:49 minute mark)

    Dr. Eben Alexander Says It’s Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten – 10/24/2013
    Excerpt: To take the approach of, “Oh it had to be a hallucination of the brain” is just crazy. The simplistic idea that NDEs (Near Death Experiences) are a trick of a dying brain is similar to taking a piece of cardboard out of a pizza delivery box, rolling it down a hill and then claiming that it’s an identical event as rolling a beautiful Ferrari down a hill. They are not the same at all. The problem is the pure materialist scientists can be so closed-minded about it.

    Moreover, it is really not all that surprising that Seversky, a Darwinist, would ignore scientific evidence that contradicts his position and try to claim that NDEs are merely illusions. Time and time again, Darwinists claim that everything that they can’t explain within their Reductive Materialistic framework, (i.e. sense of self, free will, morality, meaning and purpose for life, beauty, etc.. etc..), must be an illusion.

    Basically, because of reductive materialism (and/or methodological naturalism), the atheistic materialist (who believes Darwinian evolution to be true) is forced to claim that he is merely a ‘neuronal illusion’ (Coyne, Dennett, etc..), who has the illusion of free will (Harris), who has unreliable, (i.e. illusory), beliefs about reality (Plantinga), who has illusory perceptions of reality (Hoffman), who, since he has no real time empirical evidence substantiating his grandiose claims, must make up illusory “just so stories” with the illusory, and impotent, ‘designer substitute’ of natural selection (Behe, Gould, Sternberg), so as to ‘explain away’ the appearance (i.e. the illusion) of design (Crick, Dawkins), and who also must make up illusory meanings and purposes for his life since the hopelessness of the nihilism inherent in his atheistic worldview is simply too much for him to bear (Weikart), and who must also hold morality to be subjective and illusory since he has rejected God (Craig, Kreeft). Who, since beauty cannot be grounded within his materialistic worldview, must also hold beauty itself to be illusory (Darwin).
    Bottom line, nothing is truly real in the atheist’s worldview, least of all, beauty, morality, meaning and purposes for life.,,,
    April 18, 2021 – Detailed Defense of each claim

    In short, Seversky’s worldview turns out to be a denial of everything that normal everyday people regard as being unquestionably real.

    Moreover, to add insult to injury, and as far as scientific evidence itself is concerned, Quantum Mechanics has now proven that it is Seversky’s belief in ‘realism’ that is false.

    As the following falsification of ‘realism’, (i.e. ‘realism is the belief that reality exists when we are not observing it), found, “Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it.

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: Many realizations of the thought experiment have indeed verified the violation of Bell’s inequality. These have ruled out all hidden-variables theories based on joint assumptions of realism, meaning that reality exists when we are not observing it; and locality, meaning that separated events cannot influence one another instantaneously. But a violation of Bell’s inequality does not tell specifically which assumption – realism, locality or both – is discordant with quantum mechanics.
    Markus Aspelmeyer, Anton Zeilinger and colleagues from the University of Vienna, however, have now shown that realism is more of a problem than locality in the quantum world. They devised an experiment that violates a different inequality proposed by physicist Anthony Leggett in 2003 that relies only on realism, and relaxes the reliance on locality. To do this, rather than taking measurements along just one plane of polarization, the Austrian team took measurements in additional, perpendicular planes to check for elliptical polarization.
    They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”

    Thus in conclusion, if God is not real, then nothing else can possibly be real for Seversky. Seversky simply has no anchor for reality to ground his atheistic worldview on and save his worldview from drifting off into, (as Poe semi-prophetically put it), ‘a dream within a dream’.

    A Dream Within a Dream
    Take this kiss upon the brow!
    And, in parting from you now,
    Thus much let me avow —
    You are not wrong, who deem
    That my days have been a dream;
    Yet if hope has flown away
    In a night, or in a day,
    In a vision, or in none,
    Is it therefore the less gone?
    All that we see or seem
    Is but a dream within a dream.

    I stand amid the roar
    Of a surf-tormented shore,
    And I hold within my hand
    Grains of the golden sand —
    How few! yet how they creep
    Through my fingers to the deep,
    While I weep — while I weep!
    O God! Can I not grasp
    Them with a tighter clasp?
    O God! can I not save
    One from the pitiless wave?
    Is all that we see or seem
    But a dream within a dream?


    2 Corinthians 10:5
    Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

  7. 7
    William J Murray says:

    Seversky said

    It reinforces the question of why, if people truly believe in an afterlife, they stay here.”

    I don’t think you’re seriously asking Christians why they don’t take their own life; for some, at least, it’s an unforgiveable sin. The afterlife they experience if they commit suicide won’t be a pleasant one in their perspective.

    Personally, I didn’t/don’t commit suicide because of the unique opportunity this kind of experience gives me. Generally speaking, we don’t come here for the rainbows and lollipops; we come here to have hard, difficult, painful experiences that serve as a kind of extreme contrast to what we have in what we call “the afterlife” (which is where we came here from.) You can’t fully appreciate what you have until you experience the not-having of it.

  8. 8
    chuckdarwin says:

    #7: William J Murray

    Personally, I’m here for the rainbows and lollipops. You can keep the rest…..

  9. 9
    Silver Asiatic says:


    Even your namesake wouldn’t agree with that. He took some big risks, engaged in difficult work and carried it out diligently.
    The struggle for virtue is the choice of the difficult good versus the easy bad.
    We’d have very little science at all if our inventors and innovators were just here for lollipops and rainbows.

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