In “Re Jerry Coyne and buddy vs. Deepak Chopra: If rocks can be conscious, why can’t photons be?”, I noted that many people in science other than Chopra seem to have expressed points of view about the enduring mystery of consciousness that Coyne and his fellows would describe as “woo” – without attracting anything like the same “gnuhad” (new atheist jihad).
Is it because Chopra is rich and famous but those guys are only famous?
Naw. More likely, it’s because guys like Planck can somehow be ratcheted into the materialist camp or else the non-materialist aspects of their thinking could be discreetly ignored (passage of time, perhaps?). But Chopra cannot be processed in that way. He won’t let himself be. So he is the enemy.
One commenter notes,
Dr.Chopra has the right to say what scientists have been saying all along.Of course photons and rocks can’t have consciousness but why should a evolution biologist object to a statement which is bandied around as truth by his own tribe?
His own tribe—and 78% of evolutionary biologists are pure naturalist atheists—treats it as an unwelcome truth to be exorcised. That’s allowable because it cannot be avoided except for semantic contortions.
Chopra is a fool. But ‘can photons have consciousness?’ sounds like panpsychism, which – to be dead honest – is vastly more reasonable than the inanities Coyne spews out on a regular basis.
Panpsychism is indeed reasonable; the question is whether or not it is correct.
Incidentally it need not mean that everything possesses something like human awareness, only that intelligence may be a fundamental fact of nature (cf. the collective mind of a beehive or the temporary one of a slime mold, which are not instantiated in any individual).
One reason we make no progress in understanding these matters is that too much effort goes into denying them or explaining them away, to say nothing of demonizing those who don’t go along with that approach. As for Coyne, who could wish to trade places with him, given that in this area that is all he has got now? That, and getting others to go along with him.
Note: Leonard Mlodinow, Stephen Hawking’s co-author, also wrote a book with Chopra pictured above.
Also: Happy American Thanksgiving, and may the snow on your driveway melt away at the warmth of your smile. 🙂 – O’Leary for News