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Variations on panpsychism[edit]

Qualitative Panpsychism

Qualitative Panpsychism[edit]

A conglomerate of ideas from various philosophers, qualitative panpsychism has no single proponent. It basically states that 1.) subjectivity is a quality of reality not just mentality, 2.) the experience of "what it is like to be something" is expressed on a qualitative continuum from a very poor experience on one end (such as in the case of rocks etc.) to an exceedingly rich experience on the other (such as in the case of humans or even angelic beings or God).

Supporters and opponents of panpsychism[edit]

I think that an enormous list of supporters and opponents of panpsychism is not a good thing for this article: it is already most of the length of the article, the opponents section is much less thorough than the supporters section, there is no criteria in sight for how long the lists could grow, and the reader will get little from such long lists.

Furthermore, I dispute that David Chalmers, C. S. Peirce and Thomas Nagel are panpsychists.

I've deleted the lists and pasted them below. I think the idea of a "Thinkers on panpsychism" is a good one, but it needs to be an annotated list to be valuable to this entry.

  • Gee, I think the list of famous historical (and contemporary) supporters and opponents of panpsychism is fascinating to someone like myself (who didn't know until recently that panpsychism -- which I have believed in for some years was an accepted concept with a word for it!). To say it is already "most of the length of the article" is nonsense, unless you're counting vertical height. Usually when people discuss the "length of an article" they are talking about a concept more like the number of words, not vertical height. If this is such a problem, the names could be formatted horizontally instead of vertically. (But it's not a problem, so please leave the list vertical!)
  • Sure, annotation would add to the value of the list of names. But I cannot see why "it needs to be annotated" to be valuable to this entry. Learning about any doctrine or belief is enhanced when one learns who the supporters of that doctrine or belief have been.
  • I definitely vote for restoring the names back into the article.Daqu 18:38, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
  • Then, make it into a table, you can't delete valuable information as you please. Your reasoning is insufficient and silly. I will restore this list in due time. Who cares whether you dispute that Chalmers is panpsychist? Exa (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 00:24, 1 February 2012 (UTC).

Supporters of panpsychism[edit]

Detractors from panpsychism[edit]

Chalmers, Nagel, and Peirce[edit]

Although Chalmers sometimes seems to resent his association with panpsychism, he is known in the field as arguing a viewpoint supportive of panpsychism. I will need to hunt it down, but I have read a paper or something he wrote where he, somewhat begrudgingly if I'm not mistaken, affirms that his views support (at least they do not contradict) the basic premise of panpsychism (I will go hunting for this when time permits). The main thrust of his work could be summarized as the defense of the idea that consciousness is a non-reducible dimension of the universe. That view is at the very least, sympathetic towards and fully compatible with panpsychism. I say all of this with a caveat - I do not think that Chalmers' overall philosophical point is to promote panpsychism per se, just that his arguments support panpsychism. Of course, I respect the choice to interpret Chalmers as being non-panpsychist, but the generally accepted reading of his work is that it is supportive of panpsychism. I'll finish with a quote from his annotated bibliography. This annotation is a summary of his own work:

"There are no strong arguments against panpsychism, and good reason to take it seriously"

Although it is possible that Nagel has since recanted his arguments favoring panpsychism, he did write an article entitled "Panpsychism" (in Mortal Questions (1979)) that presents arguments in favor of panpsychism. This article is oft-cited in conteporary debates as being a defense of Panpsychism.

As for Peirce, at the moment I can't seem to find the support I used for his inclusion on the "pro" list, although, I did develop both lists with support (but I am not beyond making a complete mistake here). I will update the discussion if I get around to finding it (and if it's findable).

I'm not arguing at this point for any modification of the article as it is, I am only responding to the remover of the lists that he would disagree that Chalmers' and Nagel's views are panpsychist. I have planned for some time to expand this article (which I created), although I have not found the time yet. If the article were, in the future, to contain a section about contemporary thought on Panpsychism, both Chalmers and Nagel are essential citations, as they are in other articles (see the Stanford Encylclopedia one). --mporch 00:21, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Chalmers: it does go to support my suggestion that we shouldn't haven an unannotated list of supporters and opponents -- clearly one cannot simply put Chalmers on a lits of suppporters. My understanding of Chalmers is that he claims that a proper understanding of consciousness would have big implications for our understanding of physics, but that he would agree with such an enlightened materialism.
Nagel: Good information; I don't have reason to disupte what you say here.
Peirce: I could imagine that at some time Peirce did support such a philosophy, but it doen't fit well with what I understand of his mature philosophy. ---- Charles Stewart 07:59, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
I agree with your removal of the list. I think it's useful to keep it here for research.
--mporch 10:57, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Jung and Campbell[edit]

I would not classify Jung or Campbell as promoting (or denying for that matter) panpsychism. They both promote versions of the idea that there is a universal human subconscious (their views are in a certain sense, the same, since Campbell basically uses Jung as a theoretical framework). This view is not the basic idea of panpsychism, which is the idea that everything, particularly, non-human things are conscious in one form or another. Moreover, none of the varieties (monads vs. universal consciousness, for example) of panpsychic views include the idea that there is some sort of "subconscious" aspect to conscious things. The idea of the subconscious is a psychoanalytic idea that has basically nothing whatsoever to do with the philosophical idea of panpsychism (which does not detract from its potential value, it is just irrelevant to this article). Putting Jung's and Campbell's ideas into this article both confuses the idea of panpsychism and confuses the understanding of Jung's and Campbell's ideas. Neither of these individuals were on either list that I compiled (which were removed and placed above) because their ideas are simply not viewpoints on panpsychism either pro or con. Their names do not come up in direct connection to debates about panpsychism. I don't necessarily oppose the removal of the lists from the main article (thanks for keeping them here), but I do oppose replacing them with what is irrelevant and confusing information. If consensus for this removal is acheived, this section should be removed.--mporch 00:21, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

In fact both names were on the list that I deleted; I removed them from the list I pasted above because I had expanded on both names. Otherwise I agree with what you said above; what I wrote did not assert that either thinker was panpsychist, although certainly some have drawn such conculsions from both thinkers writings. I would have no problem with what I wrote being removed to the comments section. ---- Charles Stewart 07:59, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Woops - well, my mistake then. I must have put them on before for some reason, but now I've made a pretty good argument against them being there. Once again, I agree with further research and elaborating their relationship to panpsychism.
--mporch 10:57, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Idealism, Hegel, and Schopenhauer[edit]

Idealism is not necessarily the same as panpsychism, as is stated in the article. However, idealism is compatible with panpsychism in contrast with materialism, which is not. So, idealist philosophers do not necessarily explicitly argue in favor of panpsychism. Neither Hegel nor Schopenhauer (who by some reckonings is actually anti-idealist) are cited as supporting or opposing panpsychism. This is why they were not included in either list that I had compiled. I believe that arguments could be made that both Hegel's and Schopenhauer's philosophies are compatible with panpsychism, to my knowledge, neither of them explicitly comment on it. I feel somewhat ambivalent about the idealism section as it is. Clearly, idealism as a whole is compatible with panpsychism, but it would be unfortunate to confuse the two. Certainly the relationship between the two should be fleshed out as the article matures. I am not sure that citing Hegel and Schopenhauer is necessarily adding to the understanding with out further explanation. I don't suggest making a particular change to the article at this time. I just wanted to get further the discussion. --mporch 00:21, 17 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Again both were on the list I removed. ---- Charles Stewart 07:59, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)
Once again, my bad.
--mporch 10:57, 20 Sep 2004 (UTC)

I rewrote the whole article. I'm a total newbie in Wiki, and I hope nobody gets angered. I hope I made the article better. Let the discussion continue. Jussi Hirvi 18. July 2005

I've updated all relevant information on hylopathism's relation to panpsychism. I also wrote a new article on hyle which has some bearing on discussions of panpsychism.

I also included a very brief discussion of Chalmers' Philosophical Zombie, since I have found that criticism (or other discussion) of this thought experiment is highly relevant to the philosophy of the mind in general, and particularly both to panpsychism and hylopathism in that in both ideologies the concept of mentality is ill-defined, which is also the downfall of Chalmers' argument.

Tastyummy 20:16, 10 August 2006 (UTC)


I think it should be discussed somewhere in the article that most of the thinkers who discuss panpsychism are only making an epistemological claim that we can't know panpsychism is false. (And any argument against it would seem to be an argument from ignorance: I know these things have mental properties. I don't know if those things have mental properties. Therefore, they don't (or probably don't).) Some of these people also suggest that panpsychism accords with their intuitions. Hardly anyone actively argues for it as a metaphysical view. KSchutte 17:48, 12 March 2006 (UTC)

Consciousness and sentience[edit]

The first paragraph, in defining panpsychism informally, makes a point of distinguishing consciousness from sentience (where it mentions that some forms of panpsychism involve the belief that the universe is sentient, but not necessarily conscious).

The problem here is that, though the word "sentience" is not particularly ambiguous, the word "consciousness" is used in a wide variety of different ways -- and one of those ways is pretty much synonymous with "sentience".

I propose that that either the use of the word "consciousness" be avoided, or that the intended meaning of the word "consciousness" be made much more precise -- even in this informal definition in the first paragraph. (Unfortunately, I am not the right person to do this, because I know very little about panpsychism. But I do know when the meaning of a passage is unclear.)Daqu 15:21, 5 November 2006 (UTC)

Free will[edit]

I feel surprised there is no mention in this article of the implications of panpsychism for free will. For starters, this is a very good paper by Peter Ells (who is also, incidently, a wikipedian, though inactive) on a theory of naturalistic, libertarian free-will based on panpsychism. I would request people here to have a look at it and consider updating the article accordingly. Thanks. Amit@Talk 13:05, 16 September 2007 (UTC)

In relation to other metaphysical positions[edit]

Notice the fourth paragraph of the section headed "In relation to other metaphysical positions" contradicts itself quite blatantly when discussing whether "weak" emergence is compatible or necessary for panpsychism:

"No form of panpsychism attributes full, human-style consciousness to the fundamental constituents of the universe therefore all version need a certain amount of emergence — that is, weak emergence, in which more sophisticated versions of basic properties emerge at a higher level. No version of panpsychism requires strong emergence ... Thus, 'weak emergence' would be incompatible with any non-physicalism, such as psychism (including panpsychism); whereas 'strong emergence' would support non-physicalism, such as psychism (including panpsychism)."

Per the article and as a panpsychist myself, the first assertion that panpsychism only requires weak emergence is the correct position; requiring strong emergence would be incompatible with panpsychism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Perthro (talkcontribs) 15:48, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree wholeheartedly with your comment that there is a paragraph in this section which both blatantly contradicts a previous (correct) assertion and that whoever inserted the paragraph plainly does not understand the contemporary talk about the strong and weak varieties of emergence or how they're related to materialisms and nonmaterialisms. I am familiar with the quoted paper from which the bulk of the paragraph in question was drawn and the inserter of the quote appears to have both misunderstood and grossly overstated the author's case, arriving at precisely the opposite conclusion of what they should have. I have thus removed most of the misleading paragraph which is as follows:

"Strong emergence, if it exists, can be used to reject the physicalist picture of the world as fundamentally incomplete. By contrast, weak emergence can be used to support the physicalist picture of the world".[1] Thus, "weak emergence" would be incompatible with any non-physicalism, such as psychism (including panpsychism); whereas "strong emergence" would support non-physicalism, such as psychism (including panpsychism). Furthermore, because "strong emergence" has a holistic outlook, it is particularly amenable to universalist holistic panpsychism ("one single mind that unites everything that is" as "universal soul" etc. of Neo-platonic metaphysics).

Knowing how wikipedia functions, and knowing the nature of the proponents of panpsychism (being one myself), I have some confidence that the eliminated section will be reinserted. However that would be a mistake for the above-mentioned reasons which serve to show that the eliminated paragraph misinforms the entry-reader and undermines their ability to understand what panpsychism is. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:44, 15 June 2010 (UTC)

Nagel's argument, discussed later in the page, includes as its second premise: '(2) "Nonreductionism", or the view that mental properties cannot be reduced to physical properties.' Weak emergence is reductionism; at very least that's what the wikipedia article says on the specific topic, though admittedly the article is rather short. I thought the point of panpsychism is that there isn't any emerging being done in the first place; there is consciousness 'everywhere', and the changes in "material" circumstances relate to changes in "conscious" circumstances, without necessarily requiring the 'panpsychist' to take a definite view on the 'substantial nature'/'ontological makeup' of, and relationship between these two principally distinguishable 'aspects' of our world. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:24, 17 January 2012 (UTC)

The discussion there is bland and possibly from a dualist point of view, it is not true that "reductive physicalism is incompatible with panpsychism", whatever makes you feel that way, I cannot fathom. However, that would be an argument, not a certainty. I most certainly disagree with the presentation of that as fact. In fact, I must edit it to reflect that it is *not* a fact. You can add references to support that point of view later. By the way, "emergentism" is just another variety of middle age superstition and so is "non-reductionism". Exa (talk) —Preceding undated comment added 18:51, 31 January 2012 (UTC).

If the discussion in the 'arguments for panpsychism' section is 'bland' perhaps you should consider rewriting it, or at least suggest some direction for improvement. While your comment that "emergentism is just another variety of... superstition" might have some basis (since emergentists don't offer a mechanism or causal means by which the emergent properties 'arrive' in the world ("it's suspiciously like magic")), I don't think that you could say that about "non-reductionism". There is an extensive literature on the topic, and an adequate reduction of first person phenomena to third person activity is yet to have been achieved. Of course, favouring a materialist metaphysic will incline you to believe that reductionism must, somehow, be possible. But given that such a reduction has not been achieved, it seems little more than a superstition to presume that it will be. One might argue, from a metaphysical presumption of materialism, that it must be possible to achieve such a reduction, but the arguments that first person phenomena are irreducible to a third person material world can be made from a metaphysical neutral position; they are epistemic arguments - they do not require that 'we have already subscribed to dualism' in the way that arguments for reductionism depend on our presuming materialism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:44, 24 February 2012 (UTC)

Detailed understanding?[edit]

Another criticism is that we have a detailed understanding of how cognition — thought, memory, etc — work in terms of the functioning and structure of the brain. If the matter that the brain is made of already has cognitive abilities simply by virtue of being matter, then cognition is somehow being done twice over.

This is news to me. Just looking at the article on memory, I see the following: "Overall, the physiological mechanisms behind memory are poorly understood.[7]" Perhaps this paragraph should be removed? Viriditas (talk) 09:43, 19 February 2009 (UTC)


I've put a "dubious" tag on the following quote from the article: "Another criticism is that we have a detailed understanding of how cognition — thought, memory, etc — work in terms of the functioning and structure of the brain."

Aside the fact that this assertion is unsourced (as an existing "citation needed" tag already indicates), as someone who has studied neuroscience I can say unequivocally that this statement is false. The first thing any neuroscience professor tells an ambitious student is "at the end of the day we really have no clue how the brain works". We can probe and prod the brain to say "hey, this part lights up on the screen when we show this sort of image to the subject"; we can dissect individual neurons to determine what conditions cause them to fire; we can model them on computers as neural networks and perform interesting "brain-like" tasks such as associative memory and "learning". But this is all a far cry from "a detailed understanding of how cognition - thought, memory, etc - work in terms of the functioning and structure of the brain." Mbarbier (talk) 17:24, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Ha, I should have just looked at the section right above this one. Mbarbier (talk) 17:25, 8 June 2010 (UTC)

Update on the article[edit]

Hello, i am very educated on pansychism. For the pansychism article i am going to be updating it in a few weeks. I will add alot of information to the article including a section on the history of panpsychism. I find the current article very slim in content, really it does not have enough information on it!! I hope to change that. (talk) 17:13, 6 December 2010 (UTC)

Better definition[edit]

This is a much better definition of panpsychism rather than what is currently on the article:

panpsychism: In philosophy (also called pampsychism), the theory that all matter, or all nature, is itself psychical, or has a psychical aspect; that atoms and molecules, as well as plants and animals, have a rudimentary life of sensation, feeling, and impulse that bears the same relation to their movements just as the psychical life of human beings does to their objective activities.

Perhaps this definition should be added? (talk) 13:33, 17 December 2010 (UTC)

Here are the definitions of a number of words: Perhaps some of this can be added to the article?

  • Panpsychism (also known as pampsychism) is the view that all parts of matter involve mind.
  • Hylozoism is the philosophical conjecture that all or some material things possess life, or that all life is inseparable from matter.
  • Animism is the belief in souls, which may, depending on your religious preference, be present in animals, plants, and objects, and people.
  • Panexperientialism credits all entities with phenomenal consciousness but not necessarily with cognition.
  • Panprotoexperientialism is a weaker form of panexperientialism, crediting entities only with latent consciousness.
  • Quantum Animism attributes spirit, mind, or mentality only to quantum-realm particles.
  • Vitalism invokes a non-physical "élan vital" or "life spark."
  • Neo-Psychism is a new term coined to detach itself from traditional panpsychism and its connotations.
  • Hylopathism is the belief that some or all matter is sentient or that properties of matter in general give rise to subjective experience.
  • Idealism is the philosophical theory which maintains that experience is ultimately based on mental activity. (talk) 20:00, 17 December 2010 (UTC)


I've toned the last section down a bit, but it still seems POVish. Sheer ignorance prevents me doing more.1Z (talk) 13:24, 27 February 2011 (UTC)

Neutral Monism[edit]

Spinoza didn't introduce neutral monism, he introduced dual aspect theory. They are different, principally in that in neutral monism the mental and physical are both separable and reducible to the underlying neutral substrate. So the sentence "varieties of monism that don't presuppose (like materialism and idealism do) that mind and matter are fundamentally separable. An example is neutral monism" is wrong.Aarghdvaark (talk) 14:24, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Neutral monism is widely linked to Dual Aspect theory, because the two Aspects, mind and matter, are presumably aspects of something, which must be in itself neutral between mind and matter. 1Z (talk) 17:10, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

Panexperientialism and Panprotexperientialism[edit]

..have been sideline in the current version of the article, although it is the only page dealing with them on WP and they are immportant in contemporary philosophy. Gregg Rosenberg needs to be mentioned vis a vis intrinsic properties. 1Z (talk) 17:10, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

And the links are broken, and Panprotexperientialism has been misspelt as panprotpsychism...this is a considerable step back from previous version of the page. The history (particularly ancient) of the topic has been expanded at the expense of contemporary relevance. 1Z (talk) 17:14, 22 May 2013 (UTC)

The See Also section[edit] much too long. Most of the links are already mentioned in the article. 1Z (talk) 17:10, 22 May 2013 (UTC)