Talk:Panpsychism

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This entire article is extremely bigoted. I believe you would be hard-pressed to find a reputable source backing your implication that there's some sort of a scientific consensus on the strong emergence-panpsychism debate. The reliance on weasel words is very telling. It is extremely obvious that this article was written by someone without even a basic understanding of what panpsychism entails. Crash course:
Panpsychism is largely a rejection of strong emergence. Proponents argue that there are no truly emergent properties in complex machines, as that would imply an uncaused cause. Panpsychism is compatible with weak emergence, as ants are clearly more instinct-driven than apes. Panpsychism's primary question is "Where do you draw the line? What is the lowliest object possessing some form of qualia?" and answers it with the assertion that there is no line, rather a continuum. It's generally believed by panpsychic proponents that just as an animal is a complex system of thousands of living organisms (i.e. cells), entire ecosystems, planets, solar systems, and, extrapolating, the universe, is a complex system, a collective hierarchy of sorts, of all matter in the universe.
If I don't get a rational response in a few days, I will take it upon myself to rewrite the article.
MykalOfDefiance (talk) 02:38, 12 November 2013 (UTC)

Out of curiosity how do you know that ants are more instinct driven than apes? Tielec01 (talk) 03:41, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Well, I guess I don't know with absolute certainty, but they certainly behave as if they're not self-aware, they're a very hive-minded collective kind of bug. Any definition of intelligence is at best nebulous, but I don't think it'd be a controversial position to think apes are generally smarter than ants. Regardless, both emergence and panpsychism share this weak emergence, so it's hardly a point of contention with my original point, but nevertheless an interesting diversion. I guess I could more effectively make my point by saying most people agree that there are degrees of sentience; there's no dichotomy of either fully self-aware a la humans or completely inanimate. But I guess I really don't know. lol MykalOfDefiance (talk) 05:39, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't understand your last point about the universe, are you claiming that the universe is sentient in the same way that a cell-based animal is? Tielec01 (talk) 06:26, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
I wouldn't say I'm claiming it's sentient, merely pointing out similarities it shares with cell-based organisms and hypothesizing such. A human isn't a single living creature, but a system of millions of living creatures working together. I've heard (not sure if it's true but I've heard it oft repeated) that every approximately seven years every cell that is in your body will have been replaced with a new one. The only thing that remains is the system. I believe this can be extrapolated to, say, bees, perhaps explaining hive-mind, further to ecosystems, to planets, and so on to the universe. I don't believe this with any certainty, but I don't see how it's irrational or scientifically invalid. Sorta tangential, but interestingly I googled about bee hive mind, and this is the first thing I found, with this wonderful quote:
"We will see that the 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) of bees in a honeybee swarm, just like the 1.5 kilograms (3 pounds) of neurons in a human brain, achieve their collective wisdom by organizing themselves in such a way that even though each individual has limited information and limited intelligence, the group as a whole makes first-rate collective." MykalOfDefiance (talk) 07:35, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
Things are made of their constituent parts - this seems like the most obvious statement ever. If this is your justification of sentience then almost anything can be called sentient: goats, a rock, FSM, flying teapots. What you are saying here seems so wrong it's not even wrong. Tielec01 (talk) 08:03, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
That's pretty much exactly what I'm saying. Take the mind-body problem, we're this hunk of electrically-charged meat, what's the source of this phenomena we all experience? There are three (paraphrased) common ways of answering this question:
Dualism: The phenomena is a completely different, unobservable, undetectable form of matter than my constituent parts.
Strong Emergence: The phenomena arises from the complexity of my constituent parts, irreducibly.
Panpsychism: The phenomena is made up of my constituent parts, therefore the phenomena is a property of my constituent parts.
I'm not saying this is absolutely the correct way of seeing things, but it's most definitely not an illogical view. There's no scientific consensus on emergence, and the external links at the bottom of this article don't treat this idea dismissively like the article does. MykalOfDefiance (talk) 08:13, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
I've got a feeling that this argument will descend into definitions of consciousness, qualia and arguments over the relative amounts of sentience that objects have. I'll leave the conversation with someone more concerned and talented with philosophy. Tielec01 (talk) 08:41, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
So consciousness is produced by the brain. OK, the brain is made of atoms. But it's the way that those atoms are made up into a thing called a brain which produces consciousness. It's a property of the brain - not of the atoms.
To put it another way, you can restructure those atoms any way you like but the only time we see consciousness is when they are made into a brain. We don't have any knowledge of conscious rocks although they are also made of atoms.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 11:28, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
I think animals without brains, e.g. jellyfish or starfish, show signs of some form of primitive consciousness, and that quote I shared up there about honeybees is pretty interesting and relevant too. Maybe you disagree, and that's okay, it's a pretty hotly debated area of philosophy, and I just want this article to reflect that. I didn't cherrypick those links, I googled "emergence vs. panpsychism" and picked the first few entries on the page. Even the external links at the bottom of this article don't denounce this idea so dismissively. MykalOfDefiance (talk) 20:06, 12 November 2013 (UTC)
So where are your concious rocks? Don't give me a link - give me an argument.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 06:47, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
On the ground? I don't think I understand what you're asking. To clarify, the consciousness a rock would have in panpsychism would be insignificant, practically incomparable to a human's. It's a system of weak emergence. It would perhaps be more accurate to label it something like "experience". MykalOfDefiance (talk) 12:31, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
So a rock would be aware of this experience?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 12:40, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I don't think you could hardly call it aware, that sorta necessitates self-awareness. The simplest way to put it is that there is something it is like to be a rock, probably a lot like "dreamless" sleep but infinitesimally different. But the rock may be part of a mountain, which is part of the Earth, which would be much more aware. The rock is a very minor subset. In theory. MykalOfDefiance (talk) 12:47, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
How would we test your rock for this state of "dreamless" sleep? is there any experiment we could carry out?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 12:53, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I would imagine we'd one day run tests to see if consciousness is truly a strongly emergent phenomena, irreducible to physical matter, something else entirely, almost like dualism. If it is, I would be wrong, and if not, this phenomena would necessarily be a fundamental part of matter. Either it is irreducible to matter or it isn't. I have no idea how these tests would be run, any answer to the hard question of consciousness, whether it be strong emergentism or panpsychism, is pretty unfalsifiable at present, and therefore purely conjecture. But implications abound, we've no idea on the origin of life, there's no clear line in the sand for what's alive and isn't, what's conscious and isn't, you are but a system of millions of living things, yet feel as one, a swarm of honeybees is a group of "individuals", functioning as a sort of superorganism, ditto for the great barrier reef! I'm not saying this is what it is, I'm saying RW looks foolish pretending it knows the answer to a currently unknowable question.
Though I suppose if there were found to be rigid rules for what IS and ISN'T conscious, if we found out what the phenomena really is and did have a clear line, panpsychism would be aptly falsified. I don't know how you'd falsify strong emergence though, as its entire claim is that it's irreducible to physical matter. MykalOfDefiance (talk) 13:03, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
So there is no evidence in favour of the dreaming rock hypothesis, no way to falsify it and no way to test it experimentally? Are we in agreement so far?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 19:51, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
I feel that there is evidence for it, in the implications I listed before. I will agree it is, at present, unfalsifiable, but my whole point is that emergence is too, and this article gives a very one-sided take, foolishly acting as if it knows an unknowable question. If panpsychism is woo, that's fine, but so is strong emergence, and this article should treat both ideas with equal weight.
Good. Unfalsifiable - check, so we start off by admitting that it can't possibly be science. I'm afraid I see none of this "evidence" of which you speak in your previous posts. Perhaps you could be more explicit about the evidence about dreaming rocks? What was it again?
Secondly, although this discussion is about panpsychism you keep trying to introduce criticisms of emergence. This is utterly irrelevant to whether or not panpsychism is valid. it is akin to creationists attempting to prove God exists by trying to find flaws in evolution. Please try to stay non-topic and not derail the discussion.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 21:22, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── But, Bob. he feels there is evidence for it. Surely his feels are valid? PowderSmokeAndLeather: Say something once, why say it again?.Moderator 21:36, 13 November 2013 (UTC)

Feel as a synonym for believe. But fine. I concede panpsychism is woo, let the article present it as such. New proposition: I take issue with emergence woo in this article being presented as scientific fact.
To make a creationist metaphor, this is an article about Shiva reading, "Shiva isn't real. Yahweh is the one true god." I, a Hindu, object to this, claiming they are equally (in)valid religions. You, a Christian, see no problem with the article and resist any effort to introduce scientific objectivity to it.
But this isn't a new proposition really, this is the point I've been making from the first sentence in this thread before you derailed the discussion.MykalOfDefiance (talk) 21:55, 13 November 2013 (UTC)
True, reductionism should also be mentioned alongside emergentism. The thing is, reductionism and emergentism have produced fruitful research. I have not seen any research programs based on panpsychism -- successful ones, at least. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 01:01, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks. That's much better than before. I must ask though, out of curiousity: What research programs are there in support of emergence or ontological reductionism? It seems to me that any view of ontological matters would be equally unfalsifiable, as we don't really even have a good definition for consciousness. Also, reductionism is kind of an umbrella term, panpsychism is actually a reductionist concept. Not trying to be snide or contrarian, I'm sincerely interested. MykalOfDefiance (talk) 03:22, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
Cognitive science as a whole was entirely based on emergentism in its early days. The computational theory of mind that formed the basis of early cognitive science claimed that it was unnecessary to look at the brain to model the mind. The mind was a computer -- not in the strict sense of the thing sitting on your desk, but something that performs computation in binary operations with discrete states. Old-school computationalism has come under attack especially from neuroscientists and neuroscience-oriented academics for, quite obviously, ignoring the role of the brain in consciousness. The reductionist neuroscientists have been trying to chip away at the old-school computationalist notion of multiple realizability, i.e., the idea that one kind of mental state can supervene on a number of different physical states. The battle between emergentism and reductionism has been at the heart of the cognitive sciences. Panpsychism has not played a comparable role, to make an understatement. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 05:50, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
That's very interesting, thank you. It is worth noting that reductionism and emergentism are both umbrella terms, panpsychism is just a subset of reductionism, and practically synonymous with neutral monism. MykalOfDefiance (talk) 06:40, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
But you still agree it's woo, right?--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 06:51, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
(ec)It is worth noting that. Though it is also worth noting that reductionism in this context is usually meant to imply a physicalist position, such as reductionist physicalism or eliminative materialism. Which goes to show how far off the map panpsychism is. Nebuchadnezzar (talk) 06:55, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
This will be my last post. Bob, the hard problem of consciousness is very likely the final fronteir of science. You may think you know the answer, but the entire scientific community thinks otherwise. Yet we know it's something; epistemologically speaking, it's the only thing anyone can be certain of. Indeed, if one of us, right here in this thread, were to explain the exact cause of qualia, it would be, presently, absolutely unfalsifiable, aka "woo", competely indistinguishable from the hundreds of necessarily wrong hypotheses. You're offering no enlightenment, doing no one any favors, lurking a highly abstract, purely conjectural philosophy thread and smugly shouting "That's woo! That's unfalsifiable!" We know Bob. We know. MykalOfDefiance (talk) 09:49, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
After I pressed you on the basis of your assumptions you were the one who concluded it was is "woo", not me. Read the thread. It's your conclusion. You wrote "I concede panpsychism is woo."
Your statement "...lurking a highly abstract, purely conjectural philosophy thread..." is baffling. I am one of the most active contributors. I'm not sure how that can be "lurking".
I am fully aware of the hard problem of consciousness. Although defining "consciousness" is about as difficult as defining "life", I happen to agree that it's not an absolute; that is to say that certain classes of being might have more of it (whatever it is) than others.
What I feel is self-evidently absurd is to extend the idea of consciousness to include inanimate objects and I note that you have failed to suggest any methodology by which this affirmation could be even theoretically tested.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 10:23, 14 November 2013 (UTC)
I know I said I was done, sorry, I'm not here to argue or anything, but I came across an article about scientific research into panpsychism, and just wanted to share. It's not just this website either: "Koch’s insights have been detailed in dozens of scientific articles and a series of books, including last year’s Consciousness: Confessions of a Romantic Reductionist."
Also: "WIRED: Getting back to the theory, is your version of panpsychism truly scientific rather than metaphysical? How can it be tested?
Koch: In principle, in all sorts of ways. One implication is that you can build two systems, each with the same input and output — but one, because of its internal structure, has integrated information. One system would be conscious, and the other not. It’s not the input-output behavior that makes a system conscious, but rather the internal wiring.
The theory also says you can have simple systems that are conscious, and complex systems that are not. The cerebellum should not give rise to consciousness because of the simplicity of its connections. Theoretically you could compute that, and see if that’s the case, though we can’t do that right now. There are millions of details we still don’t know. Human brain imaging is too crude. It doesn’t get you to the cellular level.
The more relevant question, to me as a scientist, is how can I disprove the theory today. That’s more difficult. Tononi’s group has built a device to perturb the brain and assess the extent to which severely brain-injured patients — think of Terri Schiavo — are truly unconscious, or whether they do feel pain and distress but are unable to communicate to their loved ones. And it may be possible that some other theories of consciousness would fit these facts."MykalOfDefiance (talk) 11:09, 19 November 2013 (UTC)
lol MykalOfDefiance (talk) 06:58, 16 January 2014 (UTC)
more every day MykalOfDefiance (talk) 20:19, 22 January 2014 (UTC)

Galen Strawson?[edit]

Does anyone know who this philosopher is? Is he a scientist? And does he speaks from an idealist or religious background?

What reasons can we give against those that say that "Well then if we are conscious, atoms are conscious and so on..." Or "Well then If consciousness evolved, it was there somewhereee..." Or "Well if evrything is physical, than mental events are physical, than there is the souuuul..." ???


And last thing of all, against all panpsychism, regarding consciousness or "soul", what is it made of? You can't think of it being made of things that are conscious, but of things, inanimate that aggregate in a way, which can be orderly, or chaotic, but surely doesn't seem conscious. Atoms aren't conscious. So no religious people or idealist cares or thinks about what something is made of, that's the trick! But that is not an opposition to to the fact that physical beings can evolve certain abstract and very specific properties (including personality, and a kind of free will), when those atoms combine.

I'm an atheist and I don't think there is a cosmic consciousness or god or anything like that, otherwise there would be no illnesses or evils in the world, and probably that freedom of thinking given to anything, would give birth to a world without laws of nature as we know them and science studies them; and i think, even thinking about consciousness as something unemergent or nonphysical, it would be impossible to think about what it is, and what it is made of, because everything as we know it is made, at the atomic levels, of something impersonal and unconscious: it is impossible for me to think otherwise; it seems to my mind absurd to confuse the thinking with the machine that does the thinking. And what is thinking made of? Stuff.

Gianga23 (talk) 15:23, 30 March 2014 (UTC)

Collapse is consciousness[edit]

This is a favorite philosophy of mine, so of course I must present my own arguments and comments, in dialectic tradition. Disclaimer: I freely admit my thoughts aren't scientific, because they are arrived at by reason alone. Sound reason? That's a hard thing to determine, and up to you to decide.

  1. Reality is not wholly measurable by science with humanity's current capabilities, there are very certainly things and phenomena in the universe we cannot presently know or observe. Ask any astronomer. Yet, when we discover things previously unknown, all evidence points to their existence prior.
  2. Just because a thing is unfalsifiable does not mean it is false, or impossible.
    1. Just because a thing is unfalsifiable does not mean it is true, or possible.
    2. I speculate a bias toward otherwise reasonable concepts that are unfalsifiable because that property is taboo within this site's culture. It is associated with those who believe what is convenient, not likely or true. I assert that science regularly poses questions deemed unfalsifiable, but they are taken more seriously than something with a new-age association because it's "science-y" and advocated by scientists. Irrational.
  3. Just because a thing is unfalsifiable does not mean it will always be so.
    1. This does not mean it will not always be so.
  4. Consciousness is a different concept than intelligence, the former does not imply the latter. Intelligence is only ordered behavior meeting certain, arbitrary and anthropocentric parameters. According to materialist lines of thought, whether a thing is conscious or not has no influence whatsoever on the way it operates.
  5. Since information cannot be created or destroyed, memory formation is implicit in physical matter, though they are not memories the way we conceive them. Changing the state of a particle is no different than changing the state of a turing machine in that it contextualizes future interactions, and this is in turn is no different from the way our memories augment our mental processes to determine a result - something we call a choice.
  6. My favorite point: Panpsychism is a shining example of Occam's Razor. Emergence is needlessly complex in its insistence on some "threshold" of consciousness, it is a more elegant theory to suggest all matter is innately conscious. A universe that cannot be observed under any condition is not real in any meaningful sense. The moon does not simply disappear when we aren't observing it, though, it proceeds according to a deterministic path. Reality is constructivist, a self-observing tautology. Einstein was very insightful to point out that physical notions like "velocity" are only meaningful in relation to other frames of reference, i.e. relativistic.

A unified theory of everything would imply all phenomena can be explained by a single force which is unconditionally obeyed, with no discrepancies. If this is possible, then all matter in the universe must be subject to the same physical law that describes a single atom. The atom would describe everything that allows the universe to operate as it does, with chaos theory explaining higher-order interactions, as in conway's game of life. The human mind, your mind, more specifically, the only consciousness you can verify with any certainty, presents a problem to this theory of everything if we assume that there is matter in the universe that is not conscious. It is aberrant.

I see consciousness as a physical meta-law that is immutable and unconditional, and I conclude that there is nothing special about the atoms in the human brain, or their configuration. We are not special. It is only human conceit that leads us to believe that organic life is the only conscious matter in the universe. It is a simple step to infer that the rest of the universe is conscious, also. We have stubbornly applied a cosmic No True Scotsman by trying to decide what is and isn't life rather than expanding our understanding of it. Panpsychism is the simpler explanation, but a reductionist approach is less certain, harder to comprehend and more frightening than a view which asserts that we are conscious by virtue of being like ourselves.

Ultimately, it is only my viewpoint. Maybe you will find value or meaning in it. Some or even many of the assumptions in my implmentation be wrong, but I think someday that this philosophy's essence will be vindicated by history. Not within my lifetime, unfortunately. --206.125.76.115 (talk) 01:34, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

Thank you for expressing yourself in a clear and respectful manner. I have a few objections. Scientific speculations are more respectable than their New Age counterparts simply because their foundations are stronger. Empiricism is at the very heart of all sciences; empirical evidence determines whether or not we accept a hypothesis and the boundaries of an established theory. That of course does not mean scientific speculations are right. I would steer clear of cutting-edge physics or any other branch of science for now, since it is not well-established. If you wish to make use of specific scientific concepts in your arguments, be sure to master them first. Memory and information can be created, though not destroyed according to quantum mechanics, and can be stored in a variety of ways. This is done by rearranging matter and energy. Think about writing book or taking a photograph. Your interpretation of special relativity is appealing at first sight, but is unfortunately wrong. Space and time are not absolute, in the sense that there exists no absolute frame of reference, one that is at rest with respect to all the others, but space-time as a single entity is. Nerd (talk) 01:57, 15 July 2016 (UTC)

Leibniz's Monads[edit]

Don't Leibniz's monads fit into Panpsychism? While the monads themselves may not be considered individually conscious, each one can be thought of as a wholly complete "thing", totally independent and not interacting with any of the other things, fully representing the consciousness of God, directed by his "per-established harmony". I'm no expert on Leibniz's philosophy, but i would think this represents a formalized Panpsychims, and should probably be mentioned in the article, in the "Development" section. Maybe someone with a better understanding could help me out here on the talk page before the article is expanded. Petey Plane (talk) 14:35, 30 January 2017 (UTC)

I think it is important to distinguish between modern naturalistic invocations of panpsychist philosophy of mind, and its traditional formulation in spirituality/teleology. The same can be said of other such concepts; for example there is a difference between physicalism as a metaphysical thesis on existence and physicalism as a philosophy of mind. I am not too familiar with Monadology, but it doesn't appear particularly naturalistic. That said, it is definitely worth referencing somewhere, especially as it has been interpreted as a form of panpsychism. Based on my reading it might be better classified as a specification for idealism. What do you think? Richardbrucebaxter (talk) 10:04, 4 February 2017 (UTC)
For sure, as to it being a form of idealism, or an idealist form of panpsychism, but I believe Leibniz thought of monads as being as "real" as any other physical object. Monadology may be more of a "fellow traveler" to panpsychism, or, maybe better, a reconciliation of panpsychism with a belief in a supreme being. Panpsychism in itself takes no position on the metaphysical, so the argument does eventually fall back to the philosophy of consciousness, and i think Leibniz would argue that God is the only thing that could be considered truly conscious. Petey Plane (talk) 16:33, 5 February 2017 (UTC)

Evidence of objects' sentience[edit]

All the little ways things have of annoying you - hiding when you are looking for them and reappearing exactly where you left them, computers putting the files you are saving into illogical places etc, various aspects of Murphy's Law etc.

And is this page long enough to be archived? Anna Livia (talk) 17:05, 21 March 2018 (UTC)