Panpsychism - a philosophy with a future

by slimboyfat 140 Replies latest social current

  • jp1692

    This thread has had a great deal of speculation as to whether or not things such as rocks or atoms or quarks could be aware on any level. In the OP, Slimboy fat framed the debate by stating that "Panpsychism is the idea that experience is a property of all matter."

    It has been put forth that this idea is a suggested solution to the problem of consciousness: "We don't know how consciousness arises so maybe it's an innate quality of everything!"

    That, to my mind at least, seems to be the philosophical equivalent of a "God of the Gaps" argument. It lacks a logical foundation and any rigor. It is not based on any direct evidence. It is not falsifiable. In short, it is a completely unscientific proposition.

    Notably absent has been any serious discussion as to how things, including "all matter," could possibly experience awareness. This is why I linked, (way back on page 2 of this thread), the statement from The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness.

    Whether you agree with the assessment and conclusions of the esteemed panel of scientists involved in this statement, you should carefully consider their methods.

    Part of their criteria of determining consciousness involved a thing having the appropriate apparatus to be aware and to experience that. This includes:

    • Sensory Input Device(s) - To experience awareness, an entity or thing must have some way to receive information (data) from its surroundings. For us, these are our eyes, ears, skin, etc. Bats have echolocation and some fish are believed to be able to sense magnetic fields. (See the NatGeo article: "Animal Superpowers" for more.)
    • Processing Apparatus - A thing must then have some kind of neural network or substrate--some kind of apparatus or equipment--to process the data input received. This generally results in a response of some kind.
    • Response - While we can't directly know what it's like to be a bat, we can definitely observe their responses to outside stimuli.

    Applying this methodology to non-living things does not even begin to suggest that inanimate matter experiences awareness.

    Sure, if I hit a rock with a hammer there will be a response. But this can all be explained by Newtonian physics. More subtle reactions on atomic are quantum levels are also explainable by physical, chemical and/or mechanical explanations, none of which involve any alleged "awareness," or data processing resulting in an inwardly motivated response from the item in question as opposed to a reaction caused by an outward force.

    That rock I see outside in my backyard isn't going to get up and move on its own. Never. Ever.

    A review of Newton's Three Laws is useful here methinks.

  • jp1692

    Oops, too late to edit:

    “More subtle reactions on atomic OR quantum levels ... “

  • Simon

    Most people watched Avatar and thought "great movie !" then went home.

    Some thought "this is REAL !!" and are still mental.

  • Fisherman
    That rock I see outside in my backyard isn't going to get up and move on its own. Never. Ever.

    Well... they say that some 13 billion years or so ago, those rocks are walking around today.

  • Ruby456

    jp of course I agree with the Cambridge panel's findings. But please don't forget why the declaration was made in the first place. The context of that declaration was to admit more living things as having consciousness than was previously admitted.

    slimboyfat brings another interesting idea to the table that is also worth considering "awareness". I would suggest that plants have awareness in the sense that slimboyfat outlines but in a yet more basic sense. For example plants have awareness of light sources and food sources and grow towards them. so this is awareness at a very very basic level. When rocks are broken down molecules can re combine into different chemical structures. However, this whole discussion would be enriched if we bring into play system complexities and emergence. In this type of theory lower level components do not explain higher order organisation and complexity as here the interactions themselves produce processes and new systems of complexity the outcome of which are not down to the individual components on their own. So one cannot go from lower level simplifications to higher order complexity without missing out most of the processes that enable functional capacities at each level. A paradigm shift that considers such "awareness" as crucial would address such issues as climate change and the need to preserve biodiversity hotspots and is yet in the making. Of course human consciousness and awareness comes into too - I mean if we want to continue flourishing that is.

  • slimboyfat
    That rock I see outside in my backyard isn't going to get up and move on its own. Never. Ever.

    No doubt true. But also not something a panpsychist would expect or believe either.

  • jp1692

    So then—if we are in agreement that there is no observable evidence that inanimate objects are aware and can receive, process and respond to outside stimulus, data or information—why entertain the notion?

  • Ruby456

    Jp I am surprised you are even still asking. The GB objects to speculation and debate regarding questions that are relevant to policy changes that are needed - I don,t expect you to question why there is ongoing need to address such issues. In fact humans don't only live in things for which there is observable evidence. We make our futures and the futures of our children based on debates and questions about our interpretations and for which there is no observable evidence forthcoming from science.

  • Ruby456

    jp I received your pm - I am unable to reply to pms. If you object to my replies to you on any thread you needn't read them in the first place. It is as easy as that. The way I see it you are trying to limit discussion to your particular pov while others here including myself wish to say it is not as clear cut as you would have us believe. This sort of intellectual imperialism is very limiting and not at all conducive to free and open discussion.

    Perhaps it is my ref to the GB that raised your objection - well there is intellectual imperialism from them too and that also is worth noting.

    otoh if slimboyfat wants me to stop posting on his thread I will gladly oblige.

  • jp1692

    Ruby, because you decided to post a public reply to a private message, I will respond to your post in kind.

    I do NOT object to your posting. I object to your personal comments directed to/at me.

    Agree or disagree with a view. I don't care. Attacking beliefs or ideas you feel are incorrect is fine, but it is both poor form and against forum guidelines to engage in personal attacks.

    As I have said to you privately on repeated occasions, and because you posted the above message on this thread, I will say to you again here:

    "I have repeatedly tried to engage you in meaningful dialogue and discussion ... you repeatedly ... respond with condescending, patronizing language. Please stop. Just ignore my posts."

    Please, in the future, do not direct any more posts to me on this or any other thread. Just don't.

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