Panpsychism is a metaphysical concept that all matter is conscious. A softer form of panpsychism is the argument that all matter has the possibility of being conscious. As a metaphysical notion, it has been dismissed as useless to the modern cognitive sciences. The basic idea of panpsychism is analogous to pantheism, just replace "god" with "consciousness," so all matter, and by extension, the universe, is conscious. Weaker forms of panpsychism, though, tend to endorse the view that all matter has "mental properties" of some sort. There have been variations on this theme stretching back to ancient times — it is similar to ancient religions based on animism. Thomas Nagel formulated a modern argument for panpsychism, claiming that mental processes cannot be reduced to physical matter and that if physical properties of matter are discovered by inference from other physical properties, then the same must be true for mental properties. So matter must have some "mental component." The supposed inability of materialism to deal with qualia is another argument often made for panpsychism. The idea is also very popular in New Age circles, usually being tied into quantum consciousness, science woo, or some general spiritual woo. There are various formulations of the concept as well, ranging from weaker to stronger versions, usually involving how much "consciousness" different things have.
Psychologists and neuroscientists, as well as many philosophers of mind, tend to dismiss this idea as violating Occam's Razor, unfalsifiable, or committing the fallacy of division. Much research in cognitive science and related fields in recent years is based on an emergentist view of the mind, which holds that mental states may not totally reduce to physical matter but are an emergent property of matter. Qualia as some kind of "ineffable" or "unknowable" substance has also been roundly dismissed in these fields. In short, panpsychism may be a solution in search of a problem as it commits a category mistake similar to dualism by presuming consciousness is to be found as part of or a property of matter itself rather than as an abstract notion referring to certain patterns of interaction among matter. Thus, panpsychism tends to live mostly in pure philosophy and woo-related fields.
- Panpsychism entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Entry in the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Panpsychism on Philpapers
- Michael Blamauer, The Mental as Fundamental: New Perspectives on Panpsychism, reviewed by Sam Coleman, University of Hertfordshire.
- ↑ Nagel, Thomas (1979). Panpsychism. In Thomas Nagel (ed.), Mortal Questions. Cambridge University Press.
- ↑ James L. McClelland. Emergence in Cognitive Science. Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (2010) 751–770
- ↑ Michael Silberstein. Essay Review: Why Neutral Monism is Superior to Panpsychism. Mind & Matter Vol. 7(2), 2009, pp. 239-248
- ↑ James van Cleve. Mind -- Dust or Magic? Panpsychism versus Emergence. Philosophical Perspectives Vol. 4, Action Theory and Philosophy of Mind (1990), pp. 215-226