Panpsychism, in the form of Integrated Information Theory (IIT), is a much more serious competitor to dualism and idealism than materialism could hope to be. Panpsychists are not trying to claim that consciousness is merely an illusion. They may be wrong but they aren’t ridiculous.
The shift toward emergentism will probably begin to affect debates over evolution. Evolution theories based on physicalism will likely face challenges from unexpected quarters.
Whether or not Strawson’s panpsychism offers a coherent view of evolution, it’s easy to see the attraction: a way of accommodating consciousness, the one thing of which we feel utterly certain, in a wholly material universe. Those who are content to make fun of panpsychism are probably underestimating that attraction.
It sounds as though some would like to hold onto the name of Darwinism while — in reality — adopting panpsychism. That would be consistent with other trends we’ve noted.
The main reason that interest in panpsychism is growing is probably the inability of materialism to provide a coherent account of consciousness.
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.
Kastrup, a philosopher and computer scientist, does not accept a Darwinian account of the evolution of consciousness and is is also sympathetic to the basic intuitions behind the idea that there is design in nature (intelligent design theory).
Panpsychists in science believe that nature is all there is but, they say, it includes consciousness as a fundamental fact of nature.
If consciousness is intrinsic to the nature of the universe, to say that consciousness evolved would be like saying that photons evolved: “The photon has the characteristics it does in order to maximize its chances of survival and passing on its genes.” Um, let’s go back to the top of the page, shall we? …
For a long while, Darwinians have been able to get away with claiming that human consciousness evolved to increase our chances of survival. The trouble is, that’s unlikely. The relationship between intelligence and survival is unclear. Or that it is some kind of a “spandrel,” an accidental byproduct of useful qualities. But that’s merely a statement of faith in Darwinism as the total explainer. It’s evening and the chickens are coming home.
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.
Wow. This will be interesting to watch. Remember when AI pioneer David Gelernter bid Darwin goodbye? So far as we know, nothing bad happened to Gelernter. If nothing awful happens to Kastrup, we might have more reasonable discussions in the future of what consciousness even is.
In 2012, Italian theoretical biologist Marcello Barbieri resigned as editor of the journal Biosemiotics because he felt that research in this area had become unscientific.
Can you imagine that years ago? But the fact is, materialists are out of ideas about consciousness and don’t know where to go.
So did Coyne not give Goff the right of reply? Apparently, he would need a beaker of antacid to read the guy’s book…