Category Archives: consciousness

Another befuddled person touts panpsychism, proposing some possible (but impossible) tests of the idea that all matter is conscious

I continue to be baffled by the presence and lucubrations of apparently sentient people who claim that consciousness inheres in all matter, from electrons to us. This view that everything (including the Universe itself) is conscious is called panpsychism, and I’ve written about it at length. Why is this cockeyed theory so popular? Because it purports to […]

Anil Seth on the “real” problem of consciousness—and his hypothesis

Scholarpedia defines the “hard problem” of consciousness this way: The hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers 1995) is the problem of explaining the relationship between physical phenomena, such as brain processes, and experience (i.e., phenomenal consciousness, or mental states/events with phenomenal qualities or qualia). Why are physical processes ever accompanied by experience? And why does a given physical process generate the […]

Panpsychism: an interview and a critique

Yes, we’re gonna have more on panpsychism today, and, after I read Goff’s book (coming via interlibrary loan) I think I’m pretty much done. I’ve now finished Annaka Harris’s book book Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind, and, as I said yesterday, it’s a good read but suffers from her […]

The weirdness of split-brain experiments

I’m reading Annaka Harris‘s recent book Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind, which is a short but very readable and absorbing account of recent work on consciousness, both empirical and philosophical. Although she seems to have a weakness for panpsychism, I’m not yet through with that bit and so will […]

Podcast: Dan Dennett and Sean Carroll on illusions, consciousness, free will, and other stuff

Reader Paul called my attention to a new episode of Sean Carroll’s Mindscape podcast. It’s two hours long, so of course I don’t have the patience to listen to it (you can by clicking on the screenshot below), but fortunately there’s a transcript you can get by clicking on “Click to show episode transcript” near […]

Another panpsychist flogs a dead theory

Sorry, I’m not yet done with panpsychism. The more I read about this theory, the more I’m puzzled that seemingly rational people accept such a grossly benighted view of consciousness. Seriously! Especially atheists, for panpsychism resembles theology in several ways: There is not a shred of evidence supporting its tenets. It was invented to plug […]

Pigliucci on panpsychism and Churchland on “intractable problems”

I’ve had several public disagreements with Massimo Pigliucci (I believe he considers me a philosopher manqué), but I’m not so set in my ways that I can’t give him kudos when he writes a good paper or has some good ideas. And his new piece on Medium, which is largely a critique of panpsychism, is […]

A BBC show on panpsychism once again shows that there’s no “there” there

UPDATE: In the first comment on my thread below, reader Coel calls our attention to a year-old critique of panpsychism by physicist Sabine Hossenfelder, “Electrons don’t think.” It makes some physics-related criticisms of panpsychism that I could not have made, but also adds a nice comment, a response to the claim (made by Goff among […]

Sean Carroll vs. Philip Goff on panpsychism

Since we’ve been talking about panpsychism lately—that’s the theory that the entire Universe and its constituents are in some way conscious—I thought I’d post a podcast in which two opposing academics hash out the issues. I’ll be posting a bit more about panpsychism in the weeks to come as I read and learn more about […]

Oy! LiveScience touts panpsychism as the solution to the hard problem of consciousness

Until I read this piece, I always thought that LiveScience was a rigorous science site. Indeed, most of it is, but here’s an exception: a paean to “panpsychism”, the view that everything in the Universe, from electrons to elephants—indeed, the Universe as a whole—has a form of consciousness. The author of the article is Philip […]