Panpsychism?

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby kennyc » Fri Dec 29, 2017 12:42 pm

LOL! Because Seth Sayeth! LOL!
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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby Poodle » Fri Dec 29, 2017 1:54 pm

mattb wrote:
Poodle wrote:
mattb wrote:... But as I say, quantum physicists are now investing time and energy in Idealism ...


They are? Who and where, please.


According to The New Scientist, 11/11/17, "Reality? It's what you make it" by Philip Ball, it mentions Chris Fuchs at University of Massachusetts, Markus Muller at University of Vienna, Giulio Chiribella at University of Hong Kong.

I'm not involved in the field so I know nothing about these people, and perhaps the author is taking what they have said and giving it his own slant, (he does apparently have a book on the way!). But this article in a serious science journal suggests Idealism is on the agenda in academia.


Idealism ain't mentioned. That article concerns " ‘consciousness induc[ing] wave function collapse’ in the context of quantum systems."

A comment by the author ... "... a mind-boggling alternative: that a coherent description of reality, with all its quantum quirks, can arise from nothing more than random subjective experiences."

See - no idealism anywhere.

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby mattb » Fri Dec 29, 2017 2:53 pm

Well, I think the 'everything has consciousness' idea is a standard objection to panpsychism, so I clarify this in my video. I wouldn't say a table, rock or chair is conscious or has consciousness, because none of these are trying to preserve an existence as a rock or a chair, whereas even the simplest cells act in their own self interest to preserve their existence. (rocks, chairs and tables are simply labels we give to specific arrangements of matter).

What we see in the quantum double slit experiment suggests to me that at the most basic level matter has sufficient 'awareness' to make choices in specific circumstances. So yes this base awareness is present in every atom, including those that make up rocks, chair and tables, but to me that's quite different from saying they have consciousness.

The point about my video is that it makes more sense to consider ourselves part of a living and behavioural Universe, rather than a mechanical one, into which living beings somehow make a magical appearance.

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby mattb » Fri Dec 29, 2017 3:22 pm

See - no idealism anywhere.


No, the author certainly doesn't use the term idealism, and as I say this may be the author's take on what others have said. But when I read

"It's as if we live in a solipsistic world where collapse only occurs when knowledge of the result impinges on a conscious mind. 'It follows that the quantum description of objects is influenced by impressions entering my consciousness,' Wigner wrote. 'Solipsism may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics'"

or later
"'We live' Wheeler said, 'in a participatory universe' - one that can't be meaningfully described without invoking our active involvement. 'Nothing is more astonishing about quantum mechanics' he wrote 'than its allowing one to consider seriously..that the universe would be nothing without observership'"

To me that's essentially idealism, because external reality is dependent on the human mind.

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Fri Dec 29, 2017 6:21 pm

mattb: all the gibberish you have referenced is only a description "of us" and not of the universe. I think its called "projection."
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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby Poodle » Fri Dec 29, 2017 7:05 pm

mattb wrote:... What we see in the quantum double slit experiment suggests to me that at the most basic level matter has sufficient 'awareness' to make choices in specific circumstances. So yes this base awareness is present in every atom, including those that make up rocks, chair and tables, but to me that's quite different from saying they have consciousness.

The point about my video is that it makes more sense to consider ourselves part of a living and behavioural Universe, rather than a mechanical one, into which living beings somehow make a magical appearance.


With all due respect, mattb, I think you may be confused between wave/particle duality and a choice-making system. Nothing makes a choice in the double-slit experiment. Either a wave passes through two open slits or, if it's forced through a single slit, it acts more like a particle. The choice is a function of the experimenter, not the wave.

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby mattb » Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:38 pm

Poodle wrote:With all due respect, mattb, I think you may be confused between wave/particle duality and a choice-making system. Nothing makes a choice in the double-slit experiment. Either a wave passes through two open slits or, if it's forced through a single slit, it acts more like a particle. The choice is a function of the experimenter, not the wave.


Fair point Poodle, I should have been been more specific in the terminology used (I am in the video and blog posts). Although I did say 'make choices', that would be better expressed as "at the most basic level matter has sufficient 'awareness' to change its behaviour in specific circumstances". And when I said the quantum double slit experiment, I was referring to both the basic experiment (firing individual particles through one slot while the second is open which results in a wave interference pattern even though there is no second particle to interfere with the first), as well as the measurement problem that arises if the experimenter tries to measure these particles' paths, causing waveform collapse.

It's reasonable to say of the quantum double slit experiment, "That's just the way subatomic particles behave, so what?" But the measurement problem is considered unsolved, so many scientists are interested in understanding why subatomic particles behave differently in different circumstances. The observer effect is one interpretation of the measurement problem. However that is essentially an idealist approach because it means the introduction of human consciousness is able to change the behaviour of the basic stuff of the universe (which is one reason the observer effect is not universally accepted).

At the other end of the scale, something materialist/physicalist science still hasn't explained is how living conscious beings like us can be composed solely of the unconscious (not even living) matter around us. Now, I would say the main difference between a rock and all living beings is a living being's ability to have some awareness of its circumstances, and modify its behaviour - to make choices. People, mice and amoeba can all do this, whereas rocks cannot. So how do aware/choice making living beings appear from all this dead matter? Without an intelligent creator, or an idealist universe where matter is dependent on the human mind, one possible answer is a 'panpsychic' one - that we are part of a fundamentally living universe. And if the universe were 'alive' at the most basic level, then we would expect to find awareness, leading to behavioural change at any level, including the subatomic. (One further point about this panpsychic approach is that it doesn't require belief in the observer effect).

So, I realise that what I'm saying will sound naive or nonsensical to most, and just plain crazy to many others. But I believe if you examine our concept of consciousness itself, particularly in the light of recent research into animal consciousness, there is a logical case to be made that awareness (leading to human consciousness) would have to be a basic property of our universe. In the most simple terms it is a 'bottom up' account of consciousness (from basic matter upto complicated humans), rather than going from the top down (idealism), or where I would say science is at the moment (consciousness comes out nowhere).

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby Lance Kennedy » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:41 pm

There is no need to consider anything non living as having awareness, though their properties may create that illusion.

On subatomic particles.
The simple truth is that the reality behind those particles is not understood. It can be described mathematically, but that is not understanding. My own feeling is that closest I personally can get to understanding it, is to consider each particle as being a probability matrix. Each particle has a certain probability at a specific time of being in a certain place. But at the same time, it has an infinite number of different probabilities of being in other places. When such a particle passes through a slit, it has nothing to do with awareness or choice, but simply of probability. In fact, since each slit has its own probability of passing the particle, the particle will pass through both simultaneously and interfere with itself.

If this is hard to understand, the reasons are :
1. Because it is, indeed, bloody hard to understand.
2. Because it is probably wrong. Sigh!

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby mattb » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:35 pm

Actually I've probably skewed a discussion about panpsychism by bringing in the measurement problem. That's really secondary to my main point, which is I think there are good reasons for taking panpsychism as a p.o.v (without requiring belief in a God/soul/reincarnation/rock spirits, none of which I believe in).

The question I'm raising is where is this boundary between the living world and the non-living world? Could the entire world/universe in fact considered to be in a sense 'living'? Living creatures don't contain any substance (no Victorian Elan Vital) that the inanimate world lacks. I guess many would say awareness happens when matter crosses a certain threshold of complexity, in the formation of our brain structure. Certainly human consciousness depends on the brain, but the brain is just an arrangement of the exact same atoms found throughout the inanimate world, and nothing more. And intelligent awareness does not necessarily require complex brain structures anyway - there is some fairly sophisticated awareness in slime mold https://www.scientificamerican.com/arti ... ime-molds/ About the simplest form of life imaginable, it can learn to navigate a maze, anticipate future events, choose the optimal food for its needs, and even map transport networks. And it does all this without a brain or CNS.

So is there a threshold of complexity that gets crossed which leads to awareness? I doubt it. And similarly, is there a threshold that gets crossed to transform a carbon atom from a rock, into a living atom when it becomes part of a living creature?

Now in the end a philosophical chat is never going to describe reality, it can only offer another way to get our hunter-gatherer brains around the stuff that surrounds us. But considering the world as a living behavioral thing, rather than a mechanical one, might be a useful approach.

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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby bobbo_the_Pragmatist » Wed Jan 03, 2018 6:55 pm

mattb wrote:
Poodle wrote:With all due respect, mattb, I think you may be confused between wave/particle duality and a choice-making system. Nothing makes a choice in the double-slit experiment. Either a wave passes through two open slits or, if it's forced through a single slit, it acts more like a particle. The choice is a function of the experimenter, not the wave.


Fair point Poodle, I should have been been more specific in the terminology used (I am in the video and blog posts). Although I did say 'make choices', that would be better expressed as "at the most basic level matter has sufficient 'awareness' to change its behaviour in specific circumstances".


Ha, ha.................why.........thats exactly the same thing. I surmise there is no duality in yourself. Thats kinda ironic.
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Re: Panpsychism?

Postby mattb » Sat Jan 06, 2018 6:32 pm

bobbo_the_Pragmatist wrote:Ha, ha.................why.........thats exactly the same thing. I surmise there is no duality in yourself. Thats kinda ironic.


Well, yes to me it is the same thing. But certain words have connotations, and people may take issue with words like 'consciousness' or 'choice' because those are usually reserved for describing human experience. Consciousness is really only awareness/sentience. And brainless slime mold is making a choice when it picks food with the optimal carbohydrate and protein balance from 11 options - given the obesity epidemic in developed nations, on that score no-brained slime mold makes smarter dietary choices than millions of humans!

Likewise the word 'panpsychism' just sounds as if it's going to involve Ouija boards and tree spirits at some point. The basic question 'how can conscious beings like us be composed solely of unconscious atoms?' hasn't been answered by materialist/physicalist science. The assumption that unconscious atoms arranged into a human brain start generating consciousness, doesn't really stand much examination. Which is why I say there's a logical and evidential case for a type of panpsychism, (although answering that question is not everybody's cup of tea).


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