Pan-Proto-Psychism?

Formally agreed names for recognised philosophical positions often elude me because quite often I do want to play fast and loose with definitions until something new emerges. Infuriating I know, but bear with me.

This whacky click-bait headline in Scientific American:

“Could Multiple Personality Disorder
Explain Life, the Universe and Everything?”

… introduces this paper from The Journal of Consciousness Studies:

“The Universe in Consciousness.”

by Bernardo Kastrup, whose idea is:

“There is only cosmic consciousness.” – And the abstract lists the paper dealing with: physicalism / bottom-up panpsychism / cosmopsychism / the hard problem of consciousness / the combination problem / the decombination problem.

Obviously anything like pan-psychism undermines centuries of established physical science, so as is often said extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. (As Kastrup points out in later Twitter traffic, despite the undermining, much of the established structure can in fact stay intact.) But why make it this hard? Why make such an extraordinary claim?

If physics and consciousness are both emergent from the same proto-stuff and emergent through evolution to be more than the sum of their parts – both ergodic and non-ergodic parts – then job done?

I often refer to my own fundamental information position as pan-proto-psychism. It’s not that the universe comprises or depends on a cosmic consciousness, but that both the physical and mental universes are built of the same proto-conscious and proto-physical stuff – stuff called fundamental information. All the things we know and love are emergent from evolved patterns (of information) but are rarely reducible to their components. Philosophy-friendly scientists in both physics (String and QLG?) and consciousness (IIT?) both seem to be headed to this conclusion.

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[Hat tip to Sabine Hossenfelder for the original link. However a great flame-war arising from his response to her tweet …

Another side to my agenda – why go looking for a fight when there are more constructive options? Funnily enough in the immediate preceeding post I had said:

“public conversations in science are often dishonest, largely political in fact, about playing to galleries and tribes”

Hear, hear.]


Also published on Medium.

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