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At Mind Matters News: Why physicalism is failing as the accepted approach to science

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The argument that everything in nature can be reduced to physics was killed by the philosophical Zombie, as Prudence Louise explains:

At Medium, Prudence Louise, a writer on philosophy and religion, explains that, in 1994, philosopher David Chalmers killed the Zombie in cold blood, igniting “a zombie apocalypse.” Sounds like an unusual role for a philosopher.

And the Zombie? : “The philosophical notion of a “zombie” basically refers to conceivable creatures which are physically indistinguishable from us but lack consciousness entirely (Chalmers 1996)” — Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy Louise asks us to picture that:

News, “Why physicalism is failing as the accepted approach to science” at Mind Matters News

Of the three alternatives [to physicalism] Louise lists, panpsychism seems to the one many scientists are gravitating to. Instead of “nothing is conscious,” they now think everything is conscious. Just recently, prominent biochemist James Shapiro titled a paper “All living cells are cognitive.” And prominent neuroscientist Antonio Damasio offered that viruses have some type of intelligence. Other well-known science achievers argue that electrons have a rudimentary mind.

In response to criticism from physicists Sabine Hossenfelder and Sean Carroll, philosopher Philip Goff points out that panpsychism is not in conflict with physics. It offers a simpler view of physics than dualism, with fewer gaps than materialism.

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.


Takehome: Physicalism which depends on a mechanistic view of the universe, was challenged by observer-dependent quantum mechanics. Then the Zombie started walking…

You may also wish to read: Theoretical physicist slams panpsychism Electrons cannot be conscious Sabine Hossenfelder’s view because they cannot change their behavior. Hossenfelder’s impatience is understandable but she underestimates the seriousness of the problem serious thinkers about consciousness confront. There is a reason that some scientists believe that the universe is conscious: It would be more logically coherent to say that you think the universe is conscious than to say that your own consciousness is an illusion. With the first idea, you may be wrong. With the second idea, you are not anything.

One Reply to “At Mind Matters News: Why physicalism is failing as the accepted approach to science

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Panpsychism, i.e. the belief that “the basic building blocks of the physical universe – perhaps fundamental particles – have incredibly simple forms of experience,,,”

    Panpsychism is the view that consciousness is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of the physical world. It is the view that the basic building blocks of the physical universe – perhaps fundamental particles – have incredibly simple forms of experience, and that the very sophisticated experience of the human or animal brain is rooted in, derived from, more rudimentary forms of experience at the level of basic physics.
    – Philip Goff

    Panpsychism, the belief that fundamental ‘physical’ particles are conscious, is refuted by the ‘simple’ fact that the fundamental physical particles of the universe don’t even exist until we consciously observe them.

    As the following Delayed Choice experiment, (that was done with atoms instead of photons), demonstrated, “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it.”,,, “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,”,,, “this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.”

    New Mind-blowing Experiment Confirms That Reality Doesn’t Exist If You Are Not Looking at It – June 3, 2015
    Excerpt: Some particles, such as photons or electrons, can behave both as particles and as waves. Here comes a question of what exactly makes a photon or an electron act either as a particle or a wave. This is what Wheeler’s experiment asks: at what point does an object ‘decide’?
    The results of the Australian scientists’ experiment, which were published in the journal Nature Physics, show that this choice is determined by the way the object is measured, which is in accordance with what quantum theory predicts.
    “It proves that measurement is everything. At the quantum level, reality does not exist if you are not looking at it,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Truscott in a press release.,,,
    “The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of the journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence,” he said.
    Thus, this experiment adds to the validity of the quantum theory and provides new evidence to the idea that reality doesn’t exist without an observer.
    http://themindunleashed.org/20.....at-it.html

    Likewise, the following violation of Leggett’s inequality stressed “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.”
    https://physicsworld.com/a/quantum-physics-says-goodbye-to-reality/

    In short, advances in quantum mechanics allow us to now frame the argument for God from consciousness like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality (Jerry Coyne). or is an intrinsic property of material reality, (panpsychism, Philip Goff)
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality (Jerry Coyne). or is an intrinsic property of material reality, (panpsychism, Philip Goff), then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Eight intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that demonstrate that consciousness must precede material reality:

    1. Double Slit experiment,
    2. Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries,
    3. as well as the recent confirmation of the Wigner’s friend thought experiment,
    4. Wheeler’s Delayed Choice,
    5. Leggett’s Inequalities,
    6. Quantum Zeno effect,
    7. Quantum Information theory and the experimental realization of the Maxwell demon thought experiment,
    8. and the recent closing of the Free Will loophole.

    Verse:

    Colossians 1:17
    He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

    Supplemental note:

    December 2019 – Although each of those (eight) experiments are very interesting in their own right as to proving that the Mind of God must precede material reality, my favorite evidences out of that group, for proving that the Mind of God must be behind the creation of the universe itself, is the Quantum Zeno effect and Quantum Information theory. This is because the Quantum Zeno effect and Quantum Information theory deal directly with entropy. And, entropy is, by a VERY wide margin, the most finely tuned of the initial conditions of the Big Bang. Finely tuned to an almost incomprehensible degree of precision, 1 part in 10 to the 10 to the 123rd power. As Roger Penrose himself stated that, “This now tells us how precise the Creator’s aim must have been: namely to an accuracy of one part in 10^10^123.”
    https://uncommondescent.com/big-bang/sabine-hossenfelder-physicists-theories-of-how-the-universe-began-arent-any-better-than-traditional-tales-of-creation/#comment-690210

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