Video: Russellian Monism

comments 8

Last week I posted a video outlined one way of understanding the problem of consciousness. Now here’s the solution.

The Author

I am a philosopher and consciousness researcher at Durham University, UK. My research focuses on how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview.


  1. Adrian says

    Well, even if we could make consciousness the intrinsic aspect of matter, this type of consciousness would be too lifeless and mechanical… consciousness as we know it is spontaneous, arbitrary and autonomous, it is nothing like the inanimate matter. To explain what we see we must find an even deeper ontological division between mind and matter.

    I have developed a theory along the lines of Neutral Monism or rather Buddhist Monism… and because it seems to solve many challenging philosophical problems I was compelled to title it “The Psychophysical Principles of Consciousness.” The results are somewhat unusual … please take a look whenever you have some time to spare, I’m interested in a professional opinion.

    Click to access ppoc.pdf

      • Adrian says

        It is logical to assume that the intrinsic nature of matter would be complementary to its relational nature… it cannot be some distinctive ontological category. Consciousness on the other side features the arbitrary and unilateral nature of qualia for example or the autonomy of free agency, the independence of the conscious self etc… I think such attributes cannot be reconciled in any way with the linear [mechanical and lifeless] features of physical stuff, after all matter as described by physics never shows “a mind of its own.”

        In my interpretation the intrinsic aspect of matter is entirely objective and consists of potential information [nothing to do with consciousness].

  2. I think to a certain extent matter as understood in physics today does show a mind of its own. Individual actions by individual particles are dynamic and somewhat unpredictable at the level of specific quantum events. Only the large scale behavior or great numbers of particles shows the emergence of very predictable patterns or organization.

    • Adrian says

      In my opinion quantum randomness is a fully objective feature of the natural world, as far as consciousness is concerned, physical non-determinism only provides the interval of freedom where an objective event like a neural spike can be made to correlate with a subjective impulse, like my desire to move a finger.

      In my paper I am trying to make free will fundamental to consciousness… The “extraordinary” or non-natural features of consciousness would follow from the fact that subjectivity is self-generated and self-propagated, this is why it is not easy to integrate consciousness into a fully physical explanatory framework.

      Basically, the Jungian Superego is creating and permanently refreshing the self-awareness and the entire content of our consciousness: sensations, perceptions, imagination, thought etc. and it does so according with its own arbitrary will power. I might be wrong but everything seems to check out…

      • Very interesting. So obviously what you are trying to accommodate in your theory of reality is not just consciousness but libertarian free will. Even if we accept that there is libertarian free will, it’s not clear to me that this can’t be accommodated by the panpsychist. We might think that technically particles are free, but they lack intelligence and will inevitably simply follow their basic drives.

  3. Adrian says

    Thank you for your reply… Of course panpsychism can accommodate both consciousness and free-will… just like I, a material human been, know I have inside me these fleeting shapes, colors and sounds I call consciousness plus the diverse impulses I call will power, in the same way an elementary particle could have some kind of superficial awareness and some degree of freedom so rudimentary it gets lost in quantum randomness.

    Yet when we reason like that we assume that the aware self must be some material object. Still, if for example I loose a foot in an accident my self awareness will not change one iota, I’m still me… if both my hands and feet are cut off and all my internal organs are replaced with artificial apparatuses I’m still me ! If some part of my brain which does X function is removed I would still be me but lack X function… people lived with up to 60% of their brains extirpated.

    What I mean is the aware self is no object. I am not my body, the support of the proto-consciousness is not the elementary particle! Attribute selfhood to it and you are faced with the dreaded combination problem.

    Instead, the self awareness is created by the Superego or anatman at the same time with the various contents of consciousness. That is, the self is not the support of conscious forms, but it is created side-by-side with them and from the same source.

    Anatman, being a common part of the neutral reality is identical for me, for you, for a fly or a frog… It creates arbitrarily its own unconscious seeds or archetypal tendencies and it then starts to execute the program. Thus libertarian free-will pre-dates all subjectivity including the self, the hard problem is solved insofar as subjective forms exist only for myself, they are exactly what they seem to be and no further explanation is possible.

  4. Pingback: Can a Physicalist be a Panpsychist? | Conscience and Consciousness

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