Is Panpsychism Inconsistent with Physics?

8 Jan

I’ve been commenting on this piece that tries to argue in a not particularly sophisticated way that panpsychism is inconsistent with physics. For some reason, my comments have come up under the name “Art Uncut,” which was a now defunct campaigning group I was involved in 8 years ago. Here is my final comment:

I’ll try to explain the view one more time. Physics gives us behavioural structure; panpsychism is a proposal about what underlies that behavioural structure. Think about a mathematical model in economics that’s just a bunch of equations that abstracts away from the concrete realities of labour, prices, etc. The reality of labour doesn’t add to the reality specified by that model; to the contrary, labour is the very thing one of those symbols refers to! Similarly, according to panpsychism, physics gives us mathematical models that abstract away from the concrete reality of a universe filled with consciousness. The term ‘mass’ refers to something that physics characterises in terms of its behaviour but which in its intrinsic nature is a form of consciousness. If that view makes sense, then there’s no conflict with physics. There are all sorts of ways you could (and people do) challenge it, but you haven’t given us one.

Indeed, the very reason philosophers like David Chalmers, Sam Coleman and myself are interested in this form of panpsychism is that, in contrast to dualism, it avoids a conflict with physics. There’s been a significant number of peer reviewed articles published in academic journals on this view in the past 10 years or so. Do you really think that if there were such a basic conflict with physics, it would not have been picked up on before? Philosophers working on this stuff may be profoundly misguided, but we’re not idiots.

I’ll leave it there.

2 Responses to “Is Panpsychism Inconsistent with Physics?”

  1. I found her comments, especially in the comments really rather distasteful. Among other juvenile barbs she openly questioned why you deserve to have your job.

    Given that her entire article was based upon a grotesque (one might say quite embarrassing/naive) misreading of what panpsychism, both in in ancient and modern forms, is arguing for I found really distasteful.

    (I also came across her article from a philosopher, Massimo Pigliucci, who retweeted it approvingly!)

  2. Lee Roetcisoender January 13, 2019 at 5:01 pm #

    Everyone is entitled to a narrow, bigoted opinion, even Sabine. I can appreciate the work that you and others are doing on the panpsychism front, nevertheless, as long as you and others insist upon grounding all potential theories in a form of “Realism”, those theories are dead on arrival. Realism as a grounding architecture is an albatross, the only model that will avoid dualism in one form or another is an architecture grounded in the reality-appearance distinction, a model which asserts strict monism.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: