• Weeknd
    18
    Panpsychism is the philosophical view held by many pantheists that consciousness, mind, or soul is a universal feature of all things. — Wikipedia

    I find this a really interesting position, albeit there exist no proof or even hints pointing towards such a reality, like most problems revolving around consciousness and in the realm of metaphysics.

    But anyways, it does seem like a logical conclusion once you acknowledge that qualia simply has to be fundamental and cannot be an emergent phenomenon.

    If we call this a 'soul' (for the lack of a better term), the experiencer, then it follows that it has be something that is atomic or indivisible, the physicalility of a qualia-experiencing "thing" being divisible seems inconceivable to me.

    If its splittable then what part of it is "me"? "both parts" cannot be true since one would be having subjective experience from two different agents, which could be spatially separated, which is unphysical.

    But in physics, space-time is continuous (as far as we can tell), so is energy , there is no minimum possible quantity for energy (photon energy can be made arbitrarily low). All of this pointing towards infinitesimal divisibility of fundamental entities.

    So what really is our soul, if you assume the panpsychist view?
  • Hoo
    415
    As I see it, concepts exist systematically. So the "soul" can only be an object among objects, deriving its nature from the system of objects as a whole, or its relationships. The "experiencer" is also another object in a system of objects. It's describable as an "essential fiction." What is this "I" beyond a way of unifying experiences and tying this unity to a body, also in the system of objects? Don't get me wrong. I also live in the commonsense world of people, places, and things.

    My hunch/thesis is that no single thing is "really" anything at all. Or we can say that there are limits to the utility of thinking in that direction.
  • Wayfarer
    10.4k
    The problem with panpsychism is that it 'objectifies' mind as some kind of essence or ethereal substance, which can be understood or viewed from the outside, so to speak - a 'that'. But mind is never a 'that', a substance or even an attribute. It is a radically mistaken idea which will lead you further and further along the garden path.
  • Hoo
    415

    I feel like he's getting at something like the Being of beings. "There is a there there." Or (Parmenides) "[It] is."
  • saw038
    69
    If I assume the panpsychist view, then my idea of soul is simply the notion of consciousness itself which we can never accurately define.

    This does not contradict physics whatsoever. If all of the universe was born from the Big Bang, then so was consciousness; it was implanted within the original fabric of the universe and therefore since it arose within us and many other animals, it shows that consciousness is pervasive.

    It is not limited to us alone and that is what the soul truly is: the nothing that we are all connected but somehow hold something unique that we have to share because we are just ever expanding an ever expanding universal whole.
  • tom
    1.5k
    But anyways, it does seem like a logical conclusion once you acknowledge that qualia simply has to be fundamental and cannot be an emergent phenomenon.Weeknd

    Why do qualia have to be "fundamental", particularly as the human brain is the only object in the universe known to possess them?

    Your claim that qualia cannot be emergent does not seem to tally with the observation that they can be affected by tampering with the physical substrate from which they emerge.
  • Michael
    9.3k
    Well, if we accept the free will theorem, and if free will requires consciousness, then it seems that panpsychism is consistent with the laws of physics.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Well, if we accept the free will theorem, and if free will requires consciousness, then it seems that panpsychism is consistent with the laws of physics.Michael

    You mean despite the fact that the Free Will Theorem demonstrates that free will does not require consciousness?
  • Michael
    9.3k
    It doesn't say anything about consciousness. It simply tries to show that if we have free will then elementary particles must also have free will.
  • tom
    1.5k
    If particles possess freedom, then consciousness is not required, or even possible in that case.
  • Michael
    9.3k
    How do you derive that conclusion? You must already be assuming that particles aren't conscious.
  • tom
    1.5k
    You don't need to assume a relativistic spin 1 particle does not possess consciousness.
  • Michael
    9.3k
    Then how do you derive the conclusion "consciousness is not required to possess freedom" from the premise "particles possess freedom". As it stands it's an invalid inference. The only additional premise that would make this a valid argument is "particles aren't conscious".
  • tom
    1.5k


    What do you think a relativistic spin 1 particle might be conscious of?
  • Michael
    9.3k
    You're avoiding. How do you derive the conclusion "consciousness is not required to possess freedom" from the premise "particles possess freedom"?
  • tom
    1.5k
    If relativistic spin 1 particles possess freedom, then consciousness is not required for freedom. It is that simple.

    Now, what do you think photons are conscious of?
  • Michael
    9.3k
    If relativistic spin 1 particles possess freedom, then consciousness is not required for freedom. It is that simple.tom

    No, it's not. It's an invalid inference. "Consciousness is not required for freedom" cannot be derived from "particles possess freedom". You can't derive a conclusion from a single premise unless that conclusion is contained in the premise (which it evidently isn't in this case). You need as an additional premise "particles are not conscious".
  • tom
    1.5k
    What do you think photons are conscious of?
  • Michael
    9.3k
    I don't think they're conscious of anything. I'm not supporting panpsychism. I'm explaining how panpsychism can be considered consistent with the laws of physics and attacking your claim that the free will theorem shows that free will does not require consciousness.
  • tom
    1.5k

    There's me hoping that you were going to argue that particles must be emotional because the Free Will theorem did not claim they were *not* emotional and that an extra premise was needed.

    I'm glad however, that you agree that relativistic particles - i.e. entities that cannot experience anything including the passage of time - cannot possess mental states.

    So, according to the laws of physics, photons cannot possess consciousness, though they (if humans do) may possess a modicum of freedom.

    But of course, panpsychism could only apply to matter particles...
  • Michael
    9.3k
    So, according to the laws of physics, photons cannot possess consciousness, though they (if humans do) may possess a modicum of freedom.tom

    What law(s) prohibit(s) photons from possessing consciousness?
  • tom
    1.5k
    All of them. Relativity deserves special mention though, as I have repeatedly mentioned.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    All of them.tom

    Then it should be very easy for you to write a valid deduction that demonstrates that. Yet despite repeated requests, you have not done that.

    I assume you are aware that 'Well then show me how P could be true!' is not a deduction of not-P. If it were, Goldbach's conjecture and most other unsolved conjectures of mathematics would be solved.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Then it should be very easy for you to write a valid deduction that demonstrates that. Yet despite repeated requests, you have not done that.

    I assume you are aware that 'Well then show me how P could be true!' is not a deduction of not-P. If it were, Goldbach's conjecture and most other unsolved conjectures of mathematics would be solved.
    andrewk

    You define what a mental state is, and I'll show you why the photon cannot possess it. Deal?
  • Janus
    9.6k


    How could you know that something could not be possessed by something else if you don't know what the "something" is?
  • tom
    1.5k
    I didn't say I don't know what it it is, I'm just not interested in arguing about what it is.

    Anyway, despite the accusations to the contrary, I have already explained why the photon cannot experience anything. I have also stated that this explanation does not extend to particles with mass. Thus panpsychism can be recovered if you are that desperate.

    However, I am curious about the implications of indistinguishability on the assumption that massive particles possess consciousness.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I have already explained why the photon cannot experience anything.tom
    Not in this thread you haven't - despite repeated requests that you do so. If you've explained it somewhere else, a link would be helpful.
  • bert1
    580
    Hi Weeknd

    I'm a panpsychist and you raise some interesting points in your OP. However I'm not clear from your OP how exactly panpsychism seems in contradiction with the laws of physics. Please could you spell it out? I tried to put it in my own words (the bit about indivisibility of consciousness) from your OP but couldn't.

    So what really is our soul, if you assume the panpsychist view?Weeknd

    From my panpsychist point of view it is reality-as-continuum (as opposed to reality as plurality of discrete bits) that is the experiencer.
  • tom
    1.5k
    From my panpsychist point of view it is reality-as-continuum (as opposed to reality as plurality of discrete bits) that is the experiencer.bert1

    What does "reality-as-contunuum" mean?
  • bert1
    580
    What does "reality-as-contunuum" mean?tom

    Intuitively, space is the nearest physical concept I have. I'm not sure but perhaps quantum field or some other concept like that would do just as well or better. I'm happy to use the philosophical concept of substance as well but I know many don't like that concept. I share the OP's intuition that only something indivisible or continuous can be conscious. It seems to me to simply follow from the phenomenology. Any experience involves the unification of a number of different elements. And when I look in nature for something that can accomplish this binding of the various elements of an experience, it is immediately obvious that any appeal to a complex entity (such as a brain) begs the question because that entity itself is constituted of parts. So when I think about what relates all the parts of a brain together, again I fairly quickly see that ultimately it is the space that the brain occupies, or the field that it is a behaviour of, or the substance that it is a modification of, that unifies all its elements. And so when looking for the correct place for consciousness in nature, it must be at this very fundamental level of the unifying continuum.
  • tom
    1.5k
    Intuitively, space is the nearest physical concept I have.bert1

    What about time?
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