Artificial Intelligence Intelligent Design Naturalism Panpsychism

At Mind Matters News: Panpsychism: If computers can have minds, why can’t the Sun?

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Rupert Sheldrake’s argument that the Sun is conscious cannot be dismissed out of hand by those who insist that computers can become conscious:

Recently, biologist Rupert Sheldrake asked at the Journal of Consciousness Studies, “Is the Sun conscious?” It’s the sort of question that people might have asked before the dawn of modern science (and the usual answer was yes).

Sheldrake is pretty controversial but he is likely right to note a “recent panpsychist turn in philosophy.” Prominent philosopher David Chalmers, who coined the term the “Hard Problem of consciousness,” has also said “We’re not going to reduce consciousness to something physical … it’s a primitive component of the universe.”

But Sheldrake might have added that there is a panpsychist turn in science as well. After all, a mainstream neuroscientist recently argued in a science publication last year that even viruses are intelligent And he’s hardly the only prominent panpsychist in science. Even New Scientist, long a bastion of materialism (naturalism), offers a sympathetic account of panpsychism.

But at what point do we distinguish between panpsychism and animism the ancient belief that everything has a spirit (which must, in many cases, be placated)?

News, “Panpsychism: If computers can have minds, why can’t the Sun?” at Mind Matters News (August 1)

Takehome: If the Hard AI people are right, animism — the belief that inanimate objects (whether the Sun or a computer) can have minds — has been unjustly dismissed.

You may also wish to read: Why panpsychism is starting to push out naturalism. A key goal of naturalism/materialism has been to explain human consciousness away as “nothing but a pack of neurons.” That can’t work. Panpsychism is not dualism. By including consciousness — including human consciousness — as a bedrock fact of nature, it avoids naturalism’s dead end.

15 Replies to “At Mind Matters News: Panpsychism: If computers can have minds, why can’t the Sun?

  1. 1
    AaronS1978 says:

    Well with IIT it might be possible to actually test this, and recent findings from neuroscience are showing consciousness has a field component vs being nonfunctional sprandel

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    Such claims are speculative at best. It would be helpful to have an operational definition of “mind” and a means of testing for its presence. The only one we are reasonably confident exists is the one associated with the human brain and the key observation here is no brain, no mind, which does rather suggest it has a physical basis. I suspect we will find AI develops a mind long before the Sun,

  3. 3
    AaronS1978 says:

    In your opinion the only one theory that we have with any level of confidence is without a brain there is no mind that is literally just your opinion…

    Others might share your opinion but that doesn’t make your opinion correct nor does it make it the expectation

    Look up electromagnetic fields of the mind for a high-level overview of what I might be talking about

    Honestly Sev
    I think we have all had this conversation with you about the mind and you blindly believe that there is no mind without a brain. Which this ideology has been now criticized quite thoroughly. It is led to terrible treatments for psychological disorders because it is a misunderstanding of what the mind is.

    This is based on a very limited amount of information that we have about the mind and the more information we gain about the mind the more amazing it becomes.

    I honestly would not be surprised if your limited viewpoint disappears with many other expectations about the subject.

    But I really don’t wanna go into this with you because we’ve had hundreds of posts where we’ve argued this with you, presented plenty of things that said otherwise, and you just say the same thing over and over again “no brain no mind”

    There’s a lot more to the mind than that and I will politely disagree with you

  4. 4

    Regaurding the “mind”, I figure it is merely another word for a “soul”, a “soul” being an entitiy with consiousness and intelligence.

    The late Dr Lynn Margulis, (who was the Symbiosis gurvi and the wife of Dr Carl Sagan before he dumped her for the young chick) pointed out that ALL living things have consiousness and intelligence.

    To us Creationists, she is saying something that we have always believed, namely that all living things have souls, or more correctly, are souls. Many of them (like God, the angels, and the fallen angels), don’t have bodies, others (like bugs, doggies, horsies, trees, bacterias, and us) do have bodies.

    Regarding the brain, I figure this. The brian is merely an organ through which the soul interfaces with the body. Thius it acts much like the relays, controllers, A to D converters, etc. in a refinery. They provide data to the soul (the opertor and computer processor) and receive instructions from it.

  5. 5
    relatd says:

    TLH at 4,

    Man has two parts, body and soul. There is no scientific information that defines how minds work. The non-God approach is to give blind, unguided chance as the explanation even though there is no factual reason to believe it is so.

  6. 6
    Querius says:

    For atheists and biologists to explain the self-evident existence of consciousness, they rely on an as-of-yet undiscovered but necessary emergent property of matter in Very Large (VL) or Very Complex (VC) entities that involve the terms “billions and billions” and “musta” for consciousness to be noticeably present.

    Good candidates for this consciousness property include quarks in the Standard Model, which are currently named Up, Down, Charm, Strange, Top, and Bottom.

    The physical rationale for consciousness is remarkably similar to that used for Darwinism (“billions and billions,” and “musta”) and is also the foundation for cosmic humanism.

    This is something to remember the next time you wipe your feet on a doormat without profusely apologizing to the doormat.


  7. 7
    chuckdarwin says:

    Since my doormat was intelligently designed to function as a thing where I can vigorously wipe off snow, or mud, or dog poo, or anything else I might step in, no apology is needed–my doormat is self-evidently aware of its purpose and accepts its role in the universe…..
    It even talks to me–it says “Welcome.”

  8. 8
    Querius says:

    Chuckdarwin @7,

    How do you know that your doormat was intelligently designed? Didn’t it simply evolve from a buildup of snow, mud, and dog poo strata?

    And the letters that have the appearance of intelligence, aren’t they simply the product of both differential erosion and your imagination–kinda like the image of Elvis Presley that someone found on a slice of toast?

    And what is the source of “design,” “intelligence,” and “self awareness” if not a fundamental property of matter? Maybe the “Charm” quark is also the fundamental building block of all self awareness.

    Thus, your long-suffering slave doormat isn’t happy at all and might have some nefarious intelligent designs for revenge on you! Better to apologize now!


  9. 9
    AaronS1978 says:

    It took evolution billions of years to create the most complicated structure in the known universe “the human brain” but failed to produce a door mat

  10. 10
    Seversky says:

    The Universe created the human brain which, in turn, created the doormat. So the Universe can be said to have created the doormat, it just took an indirect route to get there.

  11. 11
    Querius says:

    Did the universe also create the universe?


  12. 12
    AaronS1978 says:

    I waited for that logic, I left it open for a reason. First I said evolution, but you said universe. Interesting, because if you said evolution you would have made a god of gaps fallacy, just giving everyone another very clear example that evolution is philosophy not science, but you said the universe did it indirectly instead, so I guess you do believe in panpsychism because by your logic it created conscious beings to make the door mat, which it then requires consciousness to make a door mat. But if it requires consciousness to make a door mat, then it is logical to think it required consciousness to make us. Therefore the universe is conscious and now you have your disembodied consciousness without a brain you were looking for, it just happened to be the whole universe

  13. 13
    tgpeeler says:

    I guess a “materialist” view of the world needs to answer (at least) one question and that is: Is it a property of matter that it can create itself? If we want to get right down to it…

  14. 14
    Querius says:

    Tgpeeler @13,

    Oh, and you forgot to mention that with billions and billions of years, absolutely anything can happen. And however improbable it was, it musta happened since everything exists!


  15. 15
    tgpeeler says:

    Q, exactly 🙂

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