Thursday 24 April 2014

Panpsychism - Galen Strawson on consciousness

I was browsing the wonderful Philosophy Bites yesterday and listened to Galen Strawson on Panpsychism*.
*Panpsychism is the doctrine that mind is a fundamental feature of the world which exists throughout the universe
I've mention Strawson's ideas before, and my big objection to his approach is that he denies emergence as an explanation of how you can get consciousness (experiential things) from non-experiential matter.  He - briefly - addresses that point head on in this philosophy bite, though I'm not entirely convinced by is argument and yesterday's post about Integrated Information Theory (IIT) is an example of a way to approach the emergence of consciousness (not that I found IIT entirely convincing either).

However, this, from Strawson, at least deserves pondering:
Why have we simply assumed that the physical is in its fundamental nature non-experiential. What's the evidence for that idea? And I'll give you the answer because it's mathematically precise, there is zero evidence for the existence of non-experiential reality anywhere in the universe. So why simply assume that the fundamental things are non-experiential and then cause this huge problem for yourself which is the problem of how do I get the experiential from the non-experiential? It's much simpler, simply to suppose that there is experiential reality already there, right at the bottom of things.

Galen Strawson on Panpsychism (Starting at 4:42)
The point is that: "cogito ergo sum"; we know from our own experience that the experiential exists, it is non-experiential reality that we are taking on trust.

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