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LATEST DIALOGUES The threat of panpsychism: a warning

Kastrup-dragon
I feel increasingly concerned about what I believe to be a mounting and extremely dangerous cultural threat looming on the horizon: panpsychism, the notion that all matter has consciousness, as opposed to being in consciousness. At a historical nexus when new data and more critical thinking are finally rendering materialism logically and empirically inviable, panpsychism comes in as a tortuous but seductive bandaid. It threatens to extend the delusion of a universe outside consciousness for yet another century. In this essay, I’d like to try and raise the alarm about it.

The meaning of the term panpsychism

Before we begin, let’s clarify what I mean by panpsychism. As discussed in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the term ‘panpsychism’ has so many possible interpretations as to render it at best ambiguous and at worst useless. So more must be said. What I specifically mean here are two particular interpretations of the term that I believe are gaining momentum in both academia and the culture at large:

Panpsychism Interpretation 1: consciousness is just one more irreducible property of matter at a subatomic level, just like mass, charge, spin and momentum are also fundamental properties of subatomic particles. In other words, all matter has consciousness at a fundamental level. Matter, however, remains the broader and more primary matrix of reality.

Panpsychism Interpretation 2: consciousness is the intrinsic nature of matter, not just one more of its properties. However, consciousness is still considered fundamentally fragmented in exactly the same way matter is. In other words, distinct bits of matter – that is, subatomic particles – represent distinct bits of consciousness. According to this view, a single isolated electron has its own very simple form of consciousness: there is something it is like to be an isolated electron. More complex arrangements of matter, like a human brain, allegedly aggregate these bits of consciousness together to give rise to richer, integrated inner lives of the kind you and I experience.

The difference between Interpretations 1 and 2 is subtle. While Interpretation 1 takes consciousness to be just one more irreducible property of matter – the substance of matter still existing outside consciousness – Interpretation 2 takes consciousness to be matter’s intrinsic nature. According to interpretation 2, measurable properties like mass and charge are just the extrinsic – external – aspects of this intrinsic nature. That said, Interpretation 2, just like Interpretation 1, also entails that the structure of matter impinges on and determines the structure of consciousness: the subatomic, fragmented building-blocks of matter still allegedly correspond to fragmented building-blocks of subjectivity.

A more technical discussion of these interpretations can be found in this paper by philosopher David Chalmers.

The motivations for the rise of panpsychism

Our mainstream cultural view is that of philosophical materialism: the notion that the real world consists of matter and energy fields allegedly outside, and independent of, consciousness. Supposedly, it is particular arrangements of matter in this objective world, in the form of biological brains and their respective metabolic activity, that somehow generate consciousness.

A key problem with materialism, however, is that it has been unable to explain, even in principle, how arrangements of matter can possibly generate subjective experience. This is known in neuroscience and philosophy of mind as the ‘hard problem of consciousness,’ which one of my readers cogently discussed in an earlier essay. The problem is so disconcerting that some materialist philosophers even try to absurdly deny the very existence of consciousness, the sole carrier of reality anyone can ever know. I discussed this appalling philosophical abomination in an earlier essay and, more extensively, in my new book Brief Peeks Beyond.

Now, as also discussed in Brief Peeks Beyond, the inherent contradictions and in-your-face absurdities of materialism are rendering it untenable in the present historical nexus. In other words, reason and observations are pushing materialism to the breaking point. This is a unique opportunity for our culture to finally recognize and revise its delusional way of looking upon reality and our own nature, the implications of which, as discussed in this essay, could be enormous.

But here is where panpsychism raises its head as the greatest threat on the horizon: it provides an easy escape route for the materialist. It magically ‘solves’ the hard problem of consciousness simply by declaring consciousness to be either an irreducible property, or the intrinsic nature, of matter. This way, it maintains our present delusion that matter – either in substance (Interpretation 1) or in structure (Interpretation 2) – is the primary aspect of reality. It threatens to usurp from us the unique opportunity we have today to face and correct our delusional worldview. It threatens to deflate all momentum currently building up towards a more truthful ontology. If the interpretations of panpsychism discussed above end up sticking, we will be in for another century of madness. May this essay help raise the alarm against this danger.

Why panpsychism isn’t Idealism or Nondualism

The body of my work is a defense of what in the West is called the philosophy of Idealism. In the East, essentially the same view is entailed by the philosophies of Nondualism. According to this view, all reality consists in excitations of consciousness, there being no need to infer a material world fundamentally outside consciousness. As such, reality is akin to vibrations of a ‘membrane’ of pure consciousness, an idea indirectly corroborated by M-theory. The intricate patterns and regularities of these vibrations are the universe around us. Yet, in the same way that there is nothing to a vibrating membrane but the membrane itself, there is nothing to the universe but consciousness itself. The universe is a behavior of consciousness, not an ontological entity outside and independent of consciousness. I recently summarized this view in a brief essay that can be found here.

However – and to my horror – my ideas sometimes get conflated with the interpretations of panpsychism discussed above. So before I discuss my argument against panpsychism, I want first to make clear how the latter differs from Idealism/Nondualism.

Interpretation 1 of panpsychism squarely frames consciousness as subordinate to matter. Even while granting consciousness the status of an irreducible property, it does so by saying that it is a property of matter. In other words, matter still allegedly exists as a substance outside consciousness, which simply happens to have consciousness. My formulation of Idealism, on the other hand, is very different: it states that matter appears in consciousness as a particular modality of excitations of consciousness. We call these excitations our sense perceptions. Matter does not exist outside or independent of consciousness and, as such, it can’t have consciousness. Nothing can have consciousness because consciousness is all there is. Consciousness isn’t a property of matter, but matter an excitation of consciousness. Do you see the gargantuan difference here?

Interpretation 2 of panpsychism imposes onto consciousness the boundaries, divisions and structure we discern in matter. From an Idealist/Nondualist perspective, it’s like discerning the different brush strokes that make up a painting and then concluding that the painter is composed of brush strokes! If, as I argue in my formulation of Idealism, reality are the patterns of excitation of consciousness, like ripples are patterns of excitation of water, what Interpretation 2 does is to look for the structure of the ripples and then attribute that to the water itself. Imagine discerning concentric rings of ripples when a stone is dropped in a pond, and then proceeding to say that the water is made up of concentric rings! How logical is that? You see, the pattern of ripples is the structure of the behavior of water, not of water itself. Similarly, the structure we discern in empirical reality – subatomic particles, forces, etc. – is the structure of the behavior of consciousness, not of consciousness itself. It is the structure of the painting painted by consciousness, not of the painter.

Because of this misattribution, Interpretation 2 entails that consciousness is fundamentally fragmented, atomized, and that the complex inner life of human beings is built bottom-up, through an entirely unexplained aggregation of separate bits of consciousness. This is contrary to the key notion of Idealism/Nondualism that consciousness is unitary and essentially undivided. In my work, I call this unitary consciousness ‘mind-at-large’ (in honor of Aldous Huxley, who first used the term in the 1950’s). Many in Nondualism call it ‘Infinite Consciousness,’ or ‘Cosmic Consciousness,’ or ‘Brahman,’ etc. In all cases, the idea is that consciousness is fundamentally one. As I discuss in Brief Peeks Beyond, the appearance of individual, separate psyches arises from a process of dissociation of mind-at-large, analogous to how people with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) exhibit multiple, disjoint personalities that are often unaware of each other. This way, separate personal psyches are illusions arising from top-down dissociations of mind-at-large, as opposed to the bottom-up aggregations of ‘bits of consciousness’ entailed by panpsychism. This difference between panpsychism and Idealism/Nondualism is critical: the former proposes fragmentation as the fundamental reality, while the latter proposes unity, fragmentation being just an illusion arising from dissociative processes.

Both interpretations of panpsychism imply that every inanimate object has its own subjective inner life. In other words, they imply that there is something it is like to be your home thermostat, or a chair, or a rock. This is not implied by Idealism/Nondualism, which state that all objects are in consciousness, not that all objects are conscious. I discussed this difference in this essay and, more extensively, in Brief Peeks Beyond.

Idealism/Nondualism are not panpsychism. Indeed, in many ways these are even opposite worldviews.

Why panpsychism doesn’t make sense

As I wrote in my earlier book Why Materialism Is Baloney,

The problem with panpsychism is, of course, that there is precisely zero evidence that any inanimate object is conscious. To resolve an abstract, theoretical problem of the materialist metaphysics one is forced to project onto the whole of nature a property – namely, consciousness – which observation only allows to be inferred for a tiny subset of it – namely, living beings. This is, in a way, an attempt to make nature conform to theory, as opposed to making theory conform to nature.

You may claim that it is impossible to assess whether an inanimate object, like a thermostat, is really conscious or not. This is true: we cannot even know for sure whether other people are really conscious, since it is impossible for us to gain access to the inner life of someone or something else. For all you know, everyone else is just a kind of sophisticated biological robot, completely unconscious, but manifesting all the right conscious-like behaviors out of complex calculations.

Still, the point here is not what can be known for sure, but what inferences can be justified on the basis of observation. That’s all we can hope to accomplish when developing a worldview. And we can infer that other people are conscious. After all, we observe in other people, and even in animals, behaviors that are entirely analogous to our own: they scream in pain, behave illogically when in love, sigh deeply when lost in thoughts, etc. We explain our own manifestations of these behaviors based on the firsthand knowledge that we are conscious: you know that you scream because you actually feel pain. So it is reasonable to infer that other people, who are physically analogous to you in every way, manifest those same behaviors for the same reason that you do – namely, that they are also conscious. Were it not to be so, we would need two different explanations for the same types of behavior in entirely analogous organisms, which is not the simplest alternative.

Therefore, there is indeed good empirical justification for the inference that other people and animals, and perhaps even all life forms, are conscious. But there is no empirical justification to infer that inanimate objects, which manifest no external behaviors that anyone could possibly relate to one’s own inner experience, are conscious in any way or to any degree whatsoever. As such, the only possible reason to believe in panpsychism is to make materialism work. (Pages 19-20)

The panpsychist implication that all inanimate objects – as well as all combinations and permutations of objects and parts of objects – have their own separate inner life is:

  1. Unsupported by evidence. I can only prove to myself that I, as a living being, have a private inner life. To the extent that other living beings display behavior analogous to mine and share the essential feature of metabolism that characterizes me, I feel comfortable enough inferring that they, too, have private inner lives. But I cannot make the same inference about an inanimate object: it neither displays conscious behavior nor does it have metabolism.
  2. Unfalsifiable. There is no conceivable way to disprove that there is something it is like to be a chair or an isolated neuron, since the only way to check it is to be a chair or an isolated neuron, which I am not.
  3. Unnecessary. It simply isn’t needed to make sense of reality. There is no phenomenon that goes without explanation by denying that chairs have an inner life of their own;
  4. Inflationary. It implies an exponential explosion of dissociated streams of inner life in the universe.

Something that is unsupported by evidence, unfalsifiable, unnecessary and inflationary might as well be discarded in an ontology. Therein lies my argument against the two interpretations of panpsychism discussed here.

It is true that Idealism/Nondualism imply that the universe as a whole has subjective inner life; in other words, that there is something it is like to be the whole universe. This is discussed in more detail here. But attributing inner life to parts of the whole – unless one can infer dissociation from the observation of behaviors and metabolic activity – is a mistake of categories. It attributes to a part, without empirical or logical grounding, a holistic characteristic that can only be inferred for the whole.

Panpsychism, according to the two interpretations of the term discussed in this essay, is fundamentally different from Idealism/Nondualism. Moreover, it doesn’t stand to logical and empirical scrutiny as Idealism/Nondualism do. It doesn’t even stand to subjective introspection: spiritual traditions in both East and West have always insisted that consciousness is, at bottom, one. Indeed, these traditions directly contradict the notion that consciousness is fundamentally fragmented and scattered. That panpsychism today often passes for a more scientifically-consistent form of Idealism/Nondualism is a dangerous confusion that, if left unchecked, threatens to perpetuate our delusion. Most worryingly of all, this confusion seems to be common even in Nondualism circles.

(A follow-up essay has been published here.)

The article was originally published here.  The above was Updated June 1 with a revised version from the author.

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Bernardo Kastrup has a Ph.D. in computer engineering with specializations in artificial intelligence and reconfigurable computing. He has worked as a scientist in some of the world's foremost research laboratories, including the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) and the Philips Research Laboratories (where the "Casimir Effect" of Quantum Field Theory was discovered). Bernardo has authored many scientific papers and philosophy books. His three most recent books are: More Than Allegory, Brief Peeks Beyond and Why Materialism Is Baloney. He has also been an entrepreneur and founder of a successful high-tech start-up. Next to a managerial position in the high-tech industry, Bernardo maintains a philosophy blog, a video interview series, and continues to develop his ideas about the nature of reality. He has lived and worked in four different countries across continents, currently residing in the Netherlands.
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24 Responses to “The threat of panpsychism: a warning”

  1. May 31, 2015 at 7:06 pm, Georgi said:

    Thankyou for this article – it’s the first time I have heard of Panpsychism. Yet in contemplating these issues over recent months, it does seem that as all matter, and all experience is in constant transformation, in such a way that energy and experience are inseparable. As such, aren’t we looking a core and-and scenario, not either-or?
    I have a difficulty applying hierarchical thinking both to matter and consciousness. Couldn’t both be an effect of That which is the source of each?
    Perhaps the need is for a more refined definition of what me mean by “consciousness”. Does the word consciousness need to be what we classically call “conscious”? Or is the source of both consciousness and matter indeed That dark continuum which unconditionally allows the emergence of both as interwoven effects?

    • June 01, 2015 at 8:44 pm, Bernardo Kastrup said:

      Not sure I understand what you mean, but will try to comment. I define consciousness/mind as that whose excitations are experiences. When consciousness moves — i.e. is excited — there is experience. When consciousness is at rest, there is only the potential for experience. The whole of reality are simply the patterns of excitation of consciousness; it’s movements. Now, notice that, for exactly the same reason that there is nothing to a vibrating guitar string but the string itself, there is nothing to experience but consciousness itself. Therefore, there is only consciousness, whether in movement or at rest. ‘Form is emptiness, emptiness is form,’ says the Heart Sutra. Reality is ’emptiness dancing,’ says Adyashanti. What we call living beings, in my view, are merely dissociated alters of one consciousness, which is all there is. As such, there is no real hierarchy in the sense implied by bottom-up panpsychism, just an illusion of separation created by a process of dissociation.

      • June 02, 2015 at 3:04 pm, Georgi said:

        “The same reason that there is nothing to a vibrating guitar string but the string itself, there is nothing to experience but consciousness itself.”

        Thank you. I recognize this logic. Yet it uses experience as a definitive factor of consciousness. In this case – that the sound of the string proves the string. Yet the sound doesn’t define the full potential of the string, it is an effect of the string. Also, the sound is not arising directly because of the string, but actually as a result of the space between each vibration when the string is touched, and through the emanation of the sound itself.

        If consciousness is the string, (perhaps the 0.00000001 % of substantial happening in the universe), then its form is defined by a greater space, the same space that allows experience to arise within it.

        Just another was to look at it, but this metaphor means that the word “consciousness” refers to a form of perception connected with creation, not the absolute that is here, within and also beyond creation.

        When we move like this, the duality of matter and consciousness collapses. Perhaps this is what you refer to when you speak of emptiness of form – but in this sense, also consciousness is inherently empty.

        Does that make more sense or does it get more confusing?

        • June 03, 2015 at 8:40 am, Bernardo Kastrup said:

          You may be pushing the string metaphor a little farther than I intended. 🙂 Ultimately, all we can know is experience, isn’t it? But because experience implies in an experincER, we can speak of consciousness as that which vibrates, experience itself being the vibrations of consciousness. As such, consciousness is indeed both creator and perceiver of creation, since all there is are its vibrations. But I don’t think it makes any sense to speak of the ‘space where consciousness vibrates’ as something different than consciousness itself. This is unnecessary and literalizes the metaphor. Consciousness itself is the ‘space’ where all creation unfolds. It isn’t contained in anything else, but contains all.

          • June 03, 2015 at 9:01 am, Georgi said:

            From one perspective, there is an error in the logic that ultimately, all we can know is experience.” This means that experience is a condition of knowing, or consciousness. We can also know the effects or imprints of non-experience or unconsciousness.
            When we “jump” (of fall) beyond even the vibration of pure consciousness, indeed there is no experience. Yet when we are back, there is an effect in the realm of experience. This is even an effect on consciousness. There is an imprint on memory. This simple act of surrender beyond the “I” of consciousness can effect all layers of form.
            These imprints left by the unknowable, imperceivable, non-experiencable (even our language resists it) are powerful and positive.
            Increasingly it can become clear that allowing a deeper consolidation in “That” which is not attached to consciousness or awareness, liberates both consciousness and awareness.
            In a way (in relation to the original, beautiful article), that space beyond, behind and through consciousness (and thus experience), is the one unconditional continuum at the source of consciousness, matter, experience, feelings. It gives the liberation that allows a new mastery of form.
            The subtle difference between identification with consciousness and no identification with any experience (no matter how subtle – meaning, even with the experience of pure consciousness), can make a big difference in freedom in form.
            Just a perspective to share! 🙂

          • June 03, 2015 at 1:04 pm, Bernardo Kastrup said:

            Hi Georgi,
            I’d say it’s the other way around: knowing (in the sense of self-reflective knowledge) is a condition of experience. Whatever there might exist that is fundamentally outside your (direct or indirect) experience, by definition you cannot know it. This is what the meaning of the words imply; it isn’t even a metaphysical question.
            If you admit the category ‘unconsciousness’ you end up with the exact same problem as the category ‘matter’: how does unconscious mental contents become conscious? What is the ontological difference and relationship between the two? Nobody can answer it because it has no answer. As I wrote before, my position is that unconsciousness is an illusion: it’s merely obfuscated consciousness. See this: https://www.scienceandnonduality.com/the-true-nature-of-the-unconscious/.
            Also, if you know something from memory, then that knowing is an experience the moment it is recalled. If it isn’t, you can’t ‘remember’ it. If what you call ‘imperceivable’ can leave a memory trace that you experience, then by definition it isn’t really imperceivable. I am not sure what precisely you mean by ‘consciousness’ and ‘awareness’ but, if I define consciousness as that whose excitations are experiences, I’d reject that there is anything outside, separate, or independent of consciousness. The body my work explains and defends this position. I invite you to peruse it.
            Cheers, Bernardo.

          • August 02, 2015 at 5:44 pm, Georgi said:

            Hello Bernardo,
            We can know the imperceivable by witnessing it’s effect on experience. Of course, what we are knowing is still experience, that has been effected by something which is outside the normal patterns of action and reaction.
            To give a really simple example. On awakening from deep sleep, there is often an effect of where we have been. Sometimes this is a tremendous loosening of the grip of time and space (form), sometimes we can awaken and with the feeling impression that we have arrived from some intimate, core home, sometimes we can awaken with a clarity and determination about actions that need to be taken. None of what has taken place in deep sleep is open to experience – it is unconscious – yet an imprint is left on experience.
            Another example is more from waking life. That moment when we really don’t have a clue where to search or reach next – that moment of surrender to some source even beyond our own consciousness – and the arising of inspiration out of that. From one perspective, these are not moments of consciousness, but openings in which consciousness itself surrenders (sometimes for a micro-second) to a source beyond it’s own light.
            It will always be an ongoing debate. We heard a beautiful metaphor at SAND Italy from Prof. Mauro Bergonzi. He said that searching for the source of consciousness with consciousness is like looking for the darkness with a flashlight. Wherever you shine the light, you don’t find darkness, so in the end you decide that darkness doesn’t exist. But sooner or later, the batteries will go out on the torch, and the deeper layer will become clear.
            Sorry for the delayed response, and with much respect for you and your perspective.

  2. June 01, 2015 at 8:21 pm, John Sharman said:

    You start by saying “I feel increasingly concerned about what I believe to be a mounting and extremely dangerous cultural threat”. But if consciousness is all there is, and the idea of a separate self having its own separate consciousness is an illusion, then who is threatened or endangered?

    • June 01, 2015 at 8:39 pm, Bernardo Kastrup said:

      The sanity of our culture, which can be more or less conducive to the realization of the truth. See here: http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2014/03/why-did-i-write-this-book.html.
      Yes, ultimately nothing is ever lost. But that doesn’t mean that this little game we’re playing is meaningless. Although consciousness is never threatened, it has within itself the potential for peace, insight and fulfillment on the one hand, or anxiety, delusion and despair on the other. All these things are potentialities of consciousness. I know which ones I prefer and wish for others.

      • June 02, 2015 at 8:46 am, John Sharman said:

        Sure, there is peace on the one hand, anxiety on the other, “good” opposed to “evil”, black opposed to white… one is meaningless without the other. At the level of dualism, all polarities are embraced. Can it ever be otherwise?

        It seems there is often an assumption that consciousness is somehow evolving towards something greater, something at a higher level. For example, you write that panpsychism “threatens to extend the delusion of a universe outside consciousness for yet another century”, which seems to indicate an underlying assumption that we are, or ought to be, moving into a time when there will no longer be the delusion of a universe outside consciousness.

        I would also wish for a world awakened to what might be called the higher potentialities of consciousness. But how would that world look? Could it be free of any apparent manifestation at the dualistic level? If not, there would still be all those polarities. In any case, there can surely be no way of knowing whether consciousness is heading in any particular direction.

        • June 02, 2015 at 8:51 am, Bernardo Kastrup said:

          John, for me this is fairly simple. We will always have a cultural narrative about the nature of reality. The question is how well this narrative reflects the truth as far as we can know it. Right now, it doesn’t; it’s a narrative marred in delusion, unnecessary postulates, inflationary inferences, circular reasoning, the lot. I am trying to help that shift to something more logical, more parsimonious, more empirically honest and true to experience. I believe this shift will provide a cultural milieu more conducive to peace, psychic and physical health at individual and planetary level, and generally a better life for us all.

          • June 03, 2015 at 12:26 am, John Sharman said:

            Thanks for your responses, Bernardo, and good luck with your mission. There are many of us who would hope for such a shift.

          • June 03, 2015 at 8:11 am, Bernardo Kastrup said:

            Thanks John!

  3. June 02, 2015 at 1:16 am, David said:

    The above article was updated to match a revised version posted on the authors blog.

  4. June 02, 2015 at 7:09 pm, Eric said:

    Thank you for your article. I can assert that I was – prior to reading your article – one of these people in the ‘nondualist’ circle which believed panpsychism to be the official position to support consciousness-derived empirical findings. I even wrote a lenghty paper in University on the subject matter. Now I see the subtle yet profound difference thanks to your article!

    • June 03, 2015 at 8:10 am, Bernardo Kastrup said:

      I’m happy to hear it has been helpful, Eric! Many thanks for letting me know, it’s appreciated.

  5. June 03, 2015 at 1:23 pm, Meg said:

    I think it is an interesting article – but don’t believe it is a threat. It has been played with… But great to outline as above

  6. June 03, 2015 at 2:15 pm, Will said:

    I agree with the article, but “extremely dangerous”? It sounds like it was written by fox news. What about “The only thing to fear is fear itself”, “Turn inside and see what world needs saving”, etc etc.

    I feel this sort of language just adds to the general anxiety of the world. As if I felt I didn’t have enough things to worry about, now I’ve got to worry about new agers and their extremely dangerous panpsychism!

    They might have some kooky ideas, but they’re not harming anyone and at least they’re vaguely on the right track. They’ll get over their ideas eventually, I don’t see them being a particularly threatening group of people.

  7. June 03, 2015 at 4:04 pm, mruglypig said:

    I am only familiar with these ideas on fairly superficial level, but I see panpsychism as a big step forward in dismantling the dominant materialistic paradigm because it allows people to conceptualize consciousness as a fundamental quality of being rather than a meaningless accident of brain chemistry.

  8. June 03, 2015 at 11:09 pm, Kaslo said:

    Read some Rupert Sheldrake, this is not a threat. I’m unfollowing this site. http://www.sheldrake.org/files/pdfs/explore-Materialism.2013.pdf

  9. June 04, 2015 at 1:53 am, ben said:

    Metzinger is going after consciousness directly. Good stuff. https://mitpress.mit.edu/index.php?q=books/being-no-one

  10. June 04, 2015 at 8:22 pm, Allen Howell said:

    Interesting article, yet the author makes a contradiction with himself. While he suggests that the very basis of panpsychism leads to a proliferation of discrete consciousness(es) that stand contrary to Idealism/Nondualism, he does not address the problem of individual human consciousnesses also leading to the same proliferation. If 6.5 billion humans can have discrete separate consciousnesses, and trillions of other “animated” life forms from higher mammals on down to single-cell organisms … with simpler and simpler forms of consciousness, that amounts to quite a proliferation. At the same time all animate organisms are composed of inanimate materials (water, carbon, iron, potassium, phosphates, calcium, etc). Where does Kastrup draw the line? Could it not be “turtles all the way down” with our belief in the illusion of a separate self and discrete consciousness being the real problem? How can anyone definitively say that inanimate objects don’t also have consciousness even if only at an incredibly simple level, if there is in fact no separation?

  11. June 18, 2015 at 9:12 pm, Jonathan Weisskoff said:

    Thank you, Bernard, for this enlightening article. I would like to ask why it is that in your proofs, you attacked the notion that every atom has a sense of experience and consciousness of its own. While I understand your wanting to attack the idea that each atom’s consciousness is *fundamentally separate* from another atom’s consciousness and I agree with your critique of this fundamental separateness, it is still possible to say that each atom is conscious, yet its consciousness is derived from a deeper consciousness than its own, which is what you might call “universal mind,” just as each person is conscious, yet their consciousness is derived from a deeper level of consciousness that we call universal mind. So, what I’m asking is that your proofs that you bring to disprove the notion of panpsychism focus on the wrong point–they attack the notion that each atom is conscious, which very well may be a true notion, instead of attacking the notion that consciousness is fundamentally divided.

  12. July 09, 2016 at 7:59 am, Bill Meacham said:

    It seems a bit disingenuous for Kastrup to claim that panpsychism is unsupported by evidence, unfalsifiable, and unnecessary. His idealism is equally unsupported by evidence, unfalsifiable and unnecessary. Both idealism and panpsychism are metaphysical theories. As such, they attempt to explain the same evidence, neither are falsifiable, and neither can be derived from unassailable premises. See my “Matter, Mind and Metaphysics” at http://www.bmeacham.com/blog/?p=951.

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