To judge from the favorable treatment panpsychism has been receiving recently in science literature, it appears so:
Leading neuroscientist Christof Koch, for example, explained last month in MIT Reader:
But who else, besides myself, has experiences? Because you are so similar to me, I abduce that you do. The same logic applies to other people. Apart from the occasional solitary solipsist this is uncontroversial. But how widespread is consciousness in the cosmos at large? How far consciousness extends its dominion within the tree of life becomes more difficult to abduce as species become more alien to us.
One line of argument takes the principles of integrated information theory (IIT) to their logical conclusion. Some level of experience can be found in all organisms, it says, including perhaps in Paramecium and other single-cell life forms. Indeed, according to IIT, which aims to precisely define both the quality and the quantity of any one conscious experience, experience may not even be restricted to biological entities but might extend to non-evolved physical systems previously assumed to be mindless — a pleasing and parsimonious conclusion about the makeup of the universe.CHRISTOF KOCH, “IS CONSCIOUSNESS EVERYWHERE?” AT THE MIT PRESS READER (MARCH 15, 2021)
That’s MIT Reader, you understand, not Levitation News and Views. And Koch is Chief Scientist of both the MindScope Program at the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Tiny Blue Dot Foundation, which is dedicated to “Measuring Consciousness: From Theory To Practice.” He is not alone in his sympathies. A recent article in New Scientist makes that clear.
It seems to have come down to a choice between “nothing is conscious” and “everything is conscious.” But materialism becomes incoherent when it requires us to believe that we only imagine we are conscious — that’s a basic error in logic.News, “Why would a neuroscientist choose panpsychism over materialism?” at Mind Matters News
Will the materialists hit back or have they already left or converted?
You may also wish to read:
At Nautilus: Electrons do have a “rudimentary mind” Panpsychists in science believe that nature is all there is but, they say, it includes consciousness as a fundamental fact of nature.
Why is science growing comfortable with panpsychism (“everything is conscious”)? At one time, the idea that “everything is conscious” was the stuff of jokes. Not any more, it seems.
10 Replies to “Is science drifting from simple materialism to panpsychism?”
If we are unsure what it means when we say that we are conscious, does it mean anything to say that everything is conscious?
Mainstream science is just starting out on its path towards mental reality theory. Panpsychism is the next step from materialism after being forced out of it by the results of quantum experiments revealing consciousness to be fundamental.
But, as Seversky points out, it’s difficult for any of it to have much meaning or value until a significant, meaningful lexicon is developed, and that lexicon is used to make statements that can be understood within a coherent conceptual model. At some point they will realize a theoretical world external of mind is just useless, unnecessary detritus, left over from pre-quantum worldviews.
It’s obvious that MRT is where all of this is headed.
The existence of universals (the concept of a triangle) is proof of the existence of a reality external to the human mind. Universals are not limited to the mind, but instead, the mind points to them as external non-subjective realities with independent existence.
The concept of a triangle doesn’t exist outside of mind; all concepts occur in mind. There’s a difference between “mind” and an individual’s mental structure.
Need to identify and explain what you’re talking about, like the differences between an individual and universal mind, before we get to saying where and how things exist wrt “mind.”
Actually there is no such thing as a triangle in the material world. Lots of things that appear to be triangles. But no actual examples. There are no continuums in the material world.
It does not mean that we should then assume that triangles and continuums are useless. On the contrary, assuming they are real has led to the modern world. We just live in a discontinuous world.
Human beings understand what the concept of a triangle is and the mathematics that underlie it. If all humans went extinct, the concept would perdure – if humans came back into existence again, they’d understand the same triangle. So, the concept of triangle is not the creation of the human mind.
It is an immaterial concept. We apply that to material things so see they are “like triangles” but nothing material can be the universal triangle (or even perfectly reflect the abstract structure). So, the concept is an existent thing. Universal, non-subjective, external to human minds, immaterial.
The human mind points to this object which is outside of itself – thus, an external reality exists.
I don’t think it’s correct to say that “we assume our reasoning power is trustworthy and correct” since it is impossible to assume that it is untrustworthy and incorrect.
We accept, not assume, that our rationality is correct and trustworthy.
We accept that reality exists because we encounter it rationally.
An illusion presupposes the existence of reality. So, by our reasoning power, we cannot assert that “everything is an illusion” since that’s a contradiction (making an affirmation of truth denies illusion).
Truth relates to “what is real”.
A triangle demonstrates a truth to our reason, thus the triangle is real.
“External of human mind” doesn’t mean “external of mind.” If there is no mind whatsoever, there is no concept of a triangle, because that is where all concepts exist.
Also, if we can directly apprehend the concept of a triangle in our mind, it doesn’t make sense to say it exists “outside of that person’s mind.” I’m not sure “outside of” has any meaning wrt the immaterial and abstract. It represents a materialist perspective.
This is largely due to the loose language regarding these things that cross over from one perspective to another without being aware of it.
Nothing is not one of the choices. The two logical choices are “only me” and “everything”. I know for sure that I’m conscious. Other creatures who exhibit the signs of dreaming are likely to be conscious, because dreaming is the only visible indicator of an internal awareness that can stand back and observe the inner being.
Beyond that, it sort of seems likely that all living things are conscious and non-living things aren’t. But “sort of seems likely” isn’t logical or determinative.
There’s no way to prove that any single thing, animate or inanimate, is NOT conscious, so Me and Everything are the choices.
True. We can speak of “the mind of God”.
In that act of apprehension, the mind is grasping the concept. Either the mind created (originated) the concept, or it did not. But the individual did not originate or create the concept of triangle. Thus, it must have its origin outside of, external to, the individual’s mind. I don’t see why that would not make sense.
As above “outside of” is equivalent to “external to” – that is, it does not have its origin in, and has not been generated by, the individual’s own mind. It is “outside of that” immaterial sphere and was created elsewhere.
I agree. The concept of a triangle exists in the mind of God (or “universal consciousness”) and as such is absolutely, objectively real regardless of any subjective capacity to apprehend it.
It is my view, however, that everything exists in the mind of God, so I have a different view of what “individual minds” represent.