It seems Goff and Kastrup have fallen out. With a great swell of interest in pan-psychism and idealism stoked by these two in the last couple of years it was no surprise they came together to compare notes recently.
They’re not new to each other. Goff was actually an academic referee to Katsrup’s PhD I believe. I’ve had them both in the “close but no cigar” camp for a while. Much common ground with each other and with my own position in terms of the issues they are resolving in “science-informed” orthodoxy of current philosophical views of the world, both ontological and epistemological. Each making their own needlessly but importantly different choices in framing their metaphysics. Pity. But from my perspective much scope for narrowing those differences to the insignificant. Close but no cigar, as I say.
I’ve not really diagnosed their falling out, other than noting the Twitter traffic arising.
My own position I’d call “pan-proto-psychist” in these terms, but I’d call the metaphysical proto-stuff “information”. Significant difference between things, the stuff that gives things identity, is information (in the von Neumann sense), knowledge in the participatory awareness sense of one adjacent thing with the other. Very much Whitehead’s creative process reality, as I discovered in the last year or so.
What I didn’t expect to find was people making reference to Galen Strawson as a positive source of views on pan-psychism. I had him in the analytic, logical-positivist camp, wrongly it seems.
Reading Strawson’s “Mind and Beingâ€”the Primacy of Panpsychism” I further didn’t expect to find him translating “Sein und Sosein” as “being and quality“. I’ve a lot more reading to do, but this sparked another great synthesis for me.
The radical empiricism of Wm James was dubbed “Quality” by Pirsig – the pre-conceptual (in-the-moment) sensing of one thing by another. It’s this inter-objective sensing that gives rise to possible thoughts of psychism. Adjacent things being “aware” of each other even if neither is “conscious” in the orthodox everyday sense. It’s that process, an event of one detecting a coming together – a nexus – with the other that is the most fundamental “atom” of anything else physical or psychical. Hence pan-proto-psychism for me. Pirsig built his whole Metaphysics of Quality on this. I’ve simply arrived at the same view calling this property of the Whiteheadian nexus “information”.
[Hold: Need to come back and link references. Needed to capture the thought for now. Adding detail below:]
After that reading …
[First 19 pages – need to extract notes – admits to significant recent change of position from Strawson since (say) 2003 – explains my confusion.
Very like Whitehead approach to “doing metaphysics” – setting-up a few axioms then arguing why these provide “best” explanatory solution to known situation and known issues.
Being is as being does – and all science is about observation of what things do (external), never about any intrinsic (internal) nature – a la Goff – so readily denied by scientists.
A very important new read.]
You don’t have to call it â€˜materialismâ€™ (â€˜physicalismâ€™) if you don’t want to.
(He does, because as he says, even “physics” is just an abstract set of rules – structural relationships – with no such thing as intrinsic physical nature behind it. I don’t because “physics” comes with all that baggage of misplaced concreteness. As he says several times, these are just terminological differences – what we choose to call things. Closely related to theÂ things I say about the reality of memes relative to the (much more intangible) reality of (say) genes and species readily accepted by most.)
 In the case of experience, the having is the knowing.
(James / Pirsig “radical empiricism”. Foucault “savoir”. Knowing in the “biblical” sense. Directly acquainted … he says … any non-experiential concrete reality is, by contrast, wholly ungrounded … radically and irredeemably verification-transcendent belief. A “posit” (* See figure here). We know the experiential is real and we alsoÂ knowâ€”about as well as we know anything in scienceâ€”that itâ€™s literally located in the brain)
 human experience is neural activity.
This is by now far beyond reasonable doubt.
(Mostly neural. Mostly brain. Neural/brain plus other endocrine / biochemical interactions with the physical.)
(a given that… ) pure panpsychism is the most parsimonious hypothesis about the nature of concrete reality?
We think in terms of things comprising stuff in spatio-temporal pictures, even though our physical models tell us everything (even our brain) is 99.999% vacuum (plenum).
From one intuitively natural perspective matter is quite astoundingly insubstantial, an intricately shimmering almost-nothing … When we go on to consider a brain we find many further layers of staggeringly
intricate organizationâ€”in an almost entirely empty space. Such is matter. Such is the material brain. It helps to maintain this picture when weâ€™re wondering how experience can be physical. It helps to resist the picture of a mammalian brain as … a piece of meat that can be diced and fried with garlic; although itâ€™s also that. Terry Bisson’s thinking meat anyone?
Those who (like [Strawson’s] former self) canâ€™t shake their commitment to the idea that we know what space (spacetime & matter) is in some truly fundamental respect may simply be unable to engage fully with the â€˜mind-body problemâ€™
(Hallelujah! There’s an element of letting go existing certainties – allowing a crack, a crack in everything, it’s how the light gets in. The anthemic theme.)
17 No Mystery – Many say that experience (consciousness) is a mystery (it sells a lot of books) . But what is mysterious? We know what experience is. We know exactly what certain types of experiences are simply in having them.
That – [E] a plurality of subjects canâ€™t possibly combine to form or generate a single subject – is merely conjecture.
I canâ€™t feel any deep difficulty in the subject combination problem
(Me neither. This is about a proper appreciation of evolutionary emergence of species – it’s not magic. Many experiencing subjects combining to form an experiencing whole. Why is this any more of a problem than a zillion quarks combining to form a box of meat, or 100,000 rivets – or starlings – flying in close formation? Simply show me how.)
I also believe (with William James et al) that thereâ€™s a metaphysically primordial way of thinking about what a subject of experience is given which there is, in the case of any particular episode of experiencing, no
real distinction between the subject of experience or experiencer and the experience or experiencing. (Yay!) This may contribute to my failure to feel worried by the combination problem. I don’t, however, think that this particular belief is indispensable to the lack of worryâ€”except insofar as itâ€™s linked to the Sein ist Sosein (Being is Quality) claim.
(You and me both.)
A Keith Turausky reference on this page too!
40 Iâ€™m mindful, also, of Turauskyâ€™s suggestion that particular experiences may be formed by subtractionâ€”reductionâ€”sculptingâ€”of a base of experiential â€˜white noiseâ€™ (cf. Turausky unpublished).
(It’s Free Wont, rather than Free Will. Consciousness – creativity – is about structuring not construction. Turausky, previously on Psybertron.)
P30 (Final page, before references)
 We should favour panpsychism(*) over all other substantive theories of the fundamental nature of reality.
(* ie everything is experiential â€” that the intrinsic (non-structural) nature of the energy that is widely agreed to wholly constitute physical reality is experientiality. Works for me using “experiential” rather than “conscious” – which is why I prefer pan-proto-psychism to panspychism. The crude suggestion of everything being conscious confuses many otherwise intelligent thinkers.)