Monday, May 07, 2012

Philosophy Bites - Galen Strawson on Panpsychism

I was fortunate to see Galen Strawson lecture at the Toward a Science of Consciousness conference a few years ago - it was my first exposure to his logic-based defense of panpsychism. I wasn't swayed, but I was highly intrigued. There is a hybrid form of panpsychism at the heart of Wilberian integral theory, so some readers might find this podcast useful.

For reference, I highly recommend the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - here is the beginning of the entry on panpsychism:
Panpsychism is the doctrine that mind is a fundamental feature of the world which exists throughout the universe. Unsurprisingly, each of the key terms, “mind”, “fundamental” and “throughout the universe” is subject to a variety of interpretations by panpsychists, leading to a range of possible philosophical positions. For example, an important distinction is that between conscious and unconscious mental states, and appeal to it allows a panpsychism which asserts the ubiquity of the mental while denying that consciousness is similarly widespread. Interpretations of “fundamental” range from the inexplicability of mentality in other, and non-mentalistic, terms to the idealist view that in some sense everything that exists is, and is only, a mental entity. And, although the omnipresence of the mental would seem to be the hallmark feature of panpsychism, there have been versions of the doctrine that make mind a relatively rare and exceptional feature of the universe.

Against the backdrop of our immense scientific knowledge of the physical world, and the corresponding widespread desire to explain everything ultimately in physical terms, panpsychism has come to seem an implausible view. Nonetheless, the doctrine retains some attractive and interesting features. The recalcitrance of the mind, and especially consciousness, to fit smoothly into the scientific picture recommends our consideration of them.
That brief introduction is hopefully useful going into this podcast.

Galen Strawson on Panpsychism

Is there something that it is like to be an electron? That sounds implausible. Yet Galen Strawson believes this is the best explanation of how things are. Find out why.

Listen to Galen Strawson on Panpsychism

Listen to an earlier interview with Galen Strawson on the Sense of Self

Philosophy Bites is made in association with the Institute of Philosophy

Among Strawson's many books:

Another great introduction to modern thinking on panpsychism:
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