Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. - Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

What Panpsychism Process of Organism Means

"The proposition and development of the "panpsychism process of organism" means re-imagining the "consciousness of the universe" as a living collective and evolving dynamic of "creational panpsychism" where normal, everyday pancreational contexts point to the panexperiential, panexistential, and panpsychic elements of creation and creation's God." - re slater

Creational Beingness

If we are in agreement that the Spirit of God enlivens all creation at its birth with a divine vibrancy of possibility, renewal, re-creation, and wellbeing, then we are travelling together in healthy circles of potentiality.

Meaningfully, God has birthed creation with the urge to be more than itself - within its very soul and its cosmic structures - against the destructive urges which would tear it apart from the connectivity creation feels within itself and all that is encompassed within its "being, energy, or cosmic comportments".

To this testament words fail. Yet this is what is meant by creational "urgency" imbued by the living God when "birthing or transferring" Himself (sic, God's Image; God's Divine Being) into the evolutionary birth of creation. God has birthed creation with a divinity fully inhabiting all creational (or cosmic) structures. This is what gives to creation its urgency, its purpose, its teleology: God's Self.
Creation's urgency, purpose, or teleology comes from God's Self.

Mankind is but the sum of all which came before it. Mankind is not the exception to creational homogeneity. Humanity is evolved from within the greater context of creation's "soul, consciousness, or beingness," however we try to explain it. Mere words fail. Even the bible cannot describe creation's "soul" apart from using anthropomorphic terms telling of stones crying out, trees clapping their hands, and the mountains dancing for joy.

Man is not the creational exception to consciouness

Cosmic Consciousness

God has birthed creation from Himself. His Essence, Soul, Being has been birthed into creation. Humanity is but one of many "children" of God. It is what is meant by "cosmic consciousness all the way down". Consciouness, beingness, soulness is not singular to the human experience. However it is described by the term panpsychism it tells us God's Self is within the thing He has made.

Which is why we describe God and Creation as essentially similar yet dissimilar in ontological self. One is God - the other is created. But they are the same thing - filled with agency, love, generative wellbeing, purposeful drive for creativity and novelty, and so forth.

Besides the difference of ontological being would be the difference of holiness versus sin. Creation bears both. God does not. It is the theological problem of freewill agency. With agency comes the matter of sin and how it does not love, nor fellowship, union, connectedness, wellbeing, peace, or harmony. Agency brings with it a rogue's gallery of destructive urges to beingness, selfhood, consciousness, etc. It is the reason Christ came to atone for sin and remove its destructiveness through Himself and within the course of history as it plays out. We know this as the Christian hope.

Panpsychism is not a Separatistic Emergent Process

Cosmic conscious panpsychism stands against the emergentist position of a separately evolved process birthed out of nowhere, out of the ether as it were. It is the theoretical posit of an action unlike any action, trait, or ontology found within creation itself.

Non-Christian emergentists posit the exterior condition of the development of neurological brain connectivity which may then form an exotic (out of nothingness) consciousness unfamiliar to creation's interior processes. Consequently, this esoteric element of "consciousness" came from nowhere but the process itself.

Christian emergentists posit the non-evolutionary development of humanity as a (singular) miraculous event bring consciousness along with it. Most likely from the God which created mankind. A humanity which shares likeness with creation only in that creation shares a likeness with God. In this process, it is an exterior event disconnected from creation's (evolutionary) process of development. Thus it is described as an emergentist position or proposition.
The Christian evolutionist will state that emergentism is without connectivity to the creational pan-connected universe describing it's panexperiential, panexistential, and panpsychic elements of creation. That this esoteric emergentist "matter" known as "consciousness" is more magical, mystical, even *miraculous, when claiming esoteric existence out of nothing coming before it. As if it came from the very ether it exists within.
This emergentist position is known as bio-panpsychism denying holistic creational connectivity with creation's "essence". It is why the non-emergentist will claim creational panpsychism all the way down to the lowest elemental elements and forces of the universe. That everything within creation breathes the same life and dynamo of its Creator-God without exception. And that human consciousness but reflects the greater consciousness found within the very expanses of creation.
The sum of humanity's evolutionary development is not greater than the whole from which it was birthed. The consciousness of humanity but shares with the whole of creation, and in all its parts: all that it is, will be, and ever will become. Creation is conscious' mother. God is it's Father. Humanity is the bearer of both acts.

R.E. Slater
August 25, 2020

*All (open and relational) process theologians will struggle with miracles "out of nowhere" interrupting the free flow of one agency-filled process to the next. When God does miracles in the bible it is not as an exterior force interjected into the present complex of process-filled forces of creation. If anything, the miracles of God come from within the process of creation moving in agreement and partnership with God as it can against the reality of sin and evil which contend against all things God and God filled.

Integral Philosophy and the Panpsychic Nature of Creation and Consciousness

Last week I had introduced a discussion between Matt Segall and David Long re "Cosmologies in Question" in the post Integral Philosophy & The Integral Left - Integrating Life, Nature & Politics. It was my first foray into the field of study of evolutionary panpsychism all-the-way-down utilizing the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead developed by Matt Segall's proposition and development of the panpsychism process of organism (refer to the Wikipedia article at end of post re panpsychism as a concept).

Till now I had been willing to admit creation's panexperientialism of itself because of its everywhere connectivity across all elements of its corporeal composition. But as Whitehead had originally deemed his metaphysic as the "Philosophy of Organism" (later to be known as Process Philosophy referring to its key element) I wasn't too sure how I felt by admitting creational panpsychism as a viable process mechanism even though many a Whiteheadian readily admitted its probability, if not reality, of existence.

Through Matthew's discussions with David Long this embedded dynamism of creational process has helped it become a reality to my understanding of the cosmos' "feeling" of itself in some expanded re-imagining of the "consciousness of the universe" as a living collective and evolving dynamic of some kind composed of sentient and non-sentient life.

Whitehead described creation as a living organism by which he referred to its connectivity with itself across all levels of itself, whatever that may mean. This was the panexperiential version of creation. But he didn't stop there. Whitehead also felt that creation was alive to itself in some panpsychic form being driven by some internal mechanism that "felt" itself in contact with its God and its many parts as a living, breathing "organism".
From the rocks to the trees; from inert gases to quantum structures; across the starry heavens to within the very gravity wells themselves; creation was alive and pregnant with life bursting everywhere within and without.
Much of my reticence was in not wishing to open a pandora's box of goofiness related to the many mysticisms and existential 'isms we see or hear about. But to try to stay within the realms of admitted science and the normal, commonsense experience of humanity. Sure, meditation, Yoga, finding peace and solemnity underneath the weight of magnetic rocks, or humming chants or songs, or taping into the rhythms of the earth by various means. Sure, I get it. Some individuals are the epitome of human tuning forks of the universe. Their souls naturally reach out and vibrate with nature and mankind.

Or in a Christian context, I will readily advocate for the Spirit of God's daily communion and activity with both this world and the church. That the Spirit is in moment-to-moment communion with humanity and God's creation. But I don't advocate for exorcism, (demonic?) witchcraft, speaking in tongues outside of the apostolic context of international language / dialect within an evangelical setting of gospelizing, or other rogue mysticisms. The fantasies claimed as real are fantasies which claim a reality that isn't there for many. 

And so the idea of admitting to creational panpsychism (but not a narcissistic "fantastical-mystical" panpsychism) seemed to me to allow too much goofy, or unworldly, mysticism apart from  the everyday pancreational contexts we find ourselves in. Places or locations which might bring spiritual renewal such as walking through a quiet woods, or on the path of a scented garden, or in a brightly lit holiday shopping mall. Or listening to the silence of nature filling our parched souls longing for a touch of God or humanity or nature. Or finding inspiration within a stained glass cathedral, a towering basilica such as Notre Dame, or an empty university chapel. Even in enjoying the communion of other individuals alone, in groups, or at concerts and sports venues.
Normal, everyday pancreational contexts point to the panexistential and panpsychic elements of creation and creation's God. There is a Spirit of God energy here which enlivens nature, ourselves, the very expanse of heavens above, with the vibrancy of possibility, renewal, re-creation, and wellbeing. Creation, like ourselves, urges to be more than itself even as we ourselves strive within our souls and cosmic structures against other destructive urges which would tear us apart from the connectivity we feel with each other and the cosmos.
The offer of God's communion with one another as with Himself are communions fraught with breakage and decomposition. We strive for more yet are confounded in our very beings when striving to become more. God urges us forward and yet by our freewill, or by our environment, we devolve against all that we are even as we should be evolving into all the we can be. The offer of Jesus' atoning redemption into this devolving cycle may be broken by His salvific work on the Cross of Calvary.

That by Christ's redemption hallowed communion may be restored and become real enough that forward movement is possible against all the obstacles which would obstruct. This is the hope which God has made real not only for ourselves but for creation as well. By God's love and loving atonement the "feeling" within the universe for redemptive causal-closure may become real and within this reality the interruptedness of its journey continued towards holism, peace, and generative futures. Welcome then to the panpsychism of the Holy, the Divine, through the Work and Love of our Creator-God made whole to His creation through His incarnation in the God-man Christ Jesus, the reconciler of our souls even as God is to the soul of creation itself.

R.E. Slater
August 25, 2020

Colossians 1:20 - and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
2 Corinthians 5:18 - Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation,
Romans 5:10 - For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.
Colossians 1:22 - yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—
Romans 5:11 - And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Romans 11:15 - For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
2 Corinthians 5:19 - namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:20 - Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.
Ephesians 2:14 - For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
Ephesians 2:16 - and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
Matthew 10:34 - “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

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Cosmologies in Question (Matt Segall and David Long)
Integral Theory and the Theory of Consciousness
Streamed live on Aug 19, 2020

The Integral Stage. This is the first of a possible series of debates on the
place of cosmology in Integral Theory. In this discussion, Matt Segall and
David Long square off over David Long's contention that the idealist and
panpsychic elements in Integral Theory should be replaced with a strictly
emergentist account of the place of consciousness in the cosmos.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Consciousness in the Wild

by Matthew T. Segall
August 17, 2020

I just finished a 2.5 hour debate with David Long (moderated by Bruce Alderman of The Integral Stage). David is a proponent of “Integral 2.0,” an attempted upgrade of Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory  (1.0) which David feels amounts to a kind of idealistic creationism when it comes to cosmological questions and the origins of consciousness. David argues for a form of emergentism, the idea that consciousness or sentience emerges out of neutral physics and chemistry at some point in evolutionary history. I argued against emergentism by pointing out that as an account of consciousness it ultimately collapses into either epiphenomenalism or dualism (I unpack why in this article). I argue in favor of a Schellingian/Whiteheadian form of evolutionary panpsychism. The debate should be uploaded in the next few days, and I will share it here. Below are a few reflections offered in an attempt to bridge my position with David’s.
  • I’m fine with saying that consciousness is an emergent property/product of a complex system. But the system in question is not just the neurons in the skull, it’s the system of the universe.
  • When we abstract brain physiology from the wider organism-environment field and evolutionary developmental history to which it belongs, when we stick a brain in a laboratory fMRI machine, we may learn some interesting things about how we’re wired up to respond to the world. DARPA/The Pentagon is spending billions on brain science, because it pays off if the goal is the instrumentalization of human souls. It could also pay off therapeutically, if that’s what society values.
  • But consciousness is different “in the wild.” Out here in the midst of human history on an imperiled planet earth we conscious beings find ourselves not only embodied but embedded within the body of the world. This world-body’s horizons are analogous to our rentinal blind spot where the optic nerve enters the eye. The light of sight recedes into the darkness of a seer unseen.
  • As an emergent product of cosmogenesis, consciousness can’t quite get a handle on its comic origin. A finger can’t touch itself. An eye can’t see itself.
  • We reach for the edge of space-time only to have it recede from us at an ever-accelerating rate. My consciousness is limited in its capacity for ever-vigilant attentiveness to the entire experiential field encompassing me. My focus on this field is always shifting from locus to locus and fades off at fractal edges. Consciousness is an emergent product of the entire history and extent of the cosmos. I mean this quite literally and physically. What else could it be?

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

What is at stake in cosmological inquiry?

by Matthew T. Segall
August 19 2020

Some reflections after my debate with David Long. Also riffing on what I wanted to speak
with John Vervaeke about (our dialogue should be posted on John’s channel in a few weeks)

thinking out loud about my recent debate with David Long (which you can watch here: https://youtu.be/rRxL_6DeIV0) and my upcoming dialogue with John Vervaeke

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Setting the Akashic Record Straight
(final response to David Long about emergence and panpsychism)

by Matthew T. Segall
August 21, 2020

David and I debated last weekend on The Integral Stage:

Here are a few of my academic papers on the place of life
in the cosmos and on the scientific study of consciousness:

On the Place of Life in the Cosmos:
Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism & Contemporary Theoretical Biology

“The Varieties of Physicalist Ontology:
A Study in Whitehead’s Process-Relational Alternative”

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Illustration of the Neoplatonic concept of the World Soul emanating from The Absolute, in some ways a precursor to modern panpsychism
In philosophy of mindpanpsychism is the view that mind or a mind-like aspect is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of reality.[1] It is also described as a theory that "the mind is a fundamental feature of the world which exists throughout the universe."[2] It holds that mentality is present in all natural bodies that have unified and persisting organization, which most proponents define in a way that excludes objects such as rocks, trees, and human artifacts.[3]
Panpsychism is one of the oldest philosophical theories, and has been ascribed to philosophers including Thales,[4] Plato,[4] Spinoza,[4] Leibniz,[4] William James,[4] Alfred North Whitehead,[1] and Galen Strawson.[1] During the nineteenth century, panpsychism was the default theory in philosophy of mind, but it saw a decline in the mid-20th century with the rise of logical positivism.[4][5] The recent interest in the hard problem of consciousness has revived interest in panpsychism.[5][6][7]


The term "panpsychism" comes from the Greek pan (πᾶν : "all, everything, whole") and psyche (ψυχή: "soul, mind").[8]:1 Psyche comes from the Greek word ψύχω (psukhō, "I blow") and may mean life, soul, mind, spirit, heart, or 'life-breath'. The use of psyche is controversial because it is synonymous with soul, a term usually taken to refer to something supernatural; more common terms now found in the literature include mindmental properties, mental aspect, and experience.


Panpsychism holds that mind or a mind-like aspect is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of reality.[1] It is also described as a theory that "the mind is a fundamental feature of the world which exists throughout the universe".[2] Panpsychists posit that the type of mentality we know through our own experience is present, in some form, in a wide range of natural bodies.[8] This notion has taken on a wide variety of forms. Contemporary academic proponents hold that sentience or subjective experience is ubiquitous, while distancing these qualities from complex human mental attributes;[9] they ascribe a primitive form of mentality to entities at the fundamental level of physics but do not ascribe it to most aggregates, such as rocks or buildings.[1][10] On the other hand, some historical theorists ascribed attributes such as life or spirits to all entities.[9]


The philosopher David Chalmers, who has explored panpsychism as a viable theory, distinguishes between microphenomenal experiences (the experiences of microphysical entities) and macrophenomenal experiences (the experiences of larger entities, such as humans).[11]
Philip Goff draws a distinction between panexperientialism and pancognitivism. In the form of panpsychism under discussion in the contemporary literature, conscious experience is present everywhere at a fundamental level, hence the term panexperientialism. Pancognitivism, by contrast, is the view that thought is present everywhere at a fundamental level—a view which had some historical advocates, but has not garnered present-day academic adherents. As such, contemporary panpsychists do not believe microphysical entities have complex mental states such as beliefs, desires, fears, and so forth.[1] Originally, however, the term panexperientialism had a narrower meaning, having been coined by David Ray Griffin to refer specifically to the form of panpsychism used in process philosophy (see below).[9]



Two iwakura – a rock where a kami or spirit is said to reside in the religion of Shinto
Panpsychist views are a staple theme in pre-Socratic Greek philosophy.[5] According to AristotleThales (c. 624 – 545 BCE) the first Greek philosopher, posited a theory which held "that everything is full of gods."[12] Thales believed that this was demonstrated by magnets. This has been interpreted as a panpsychist doctrine.[5] Other Greek thinkers who have been associated with panpsychism include Anaxagoras (who saw the underlying principle or arche as nous or mind), Anaximenes (who saw the arche as pneuma or spirit) and Heraclitus (who said "The thinking faculty is common to all").[9]
Plato argues for panpsychism in his Sophist, in which he writes that all things participate in the form of Being and that it must have a psychic aspect of mind and soul (psyche).[9] In the Philebus and Timaeus, Plato argues for the idea of a world soul or anima mundi. According to Plato:
This world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related.[13]
Stoicism developed a cosmology which held that the natural world was infused with a divine fiery essence called pneuma, which was directed by a universal intelligence called logos. The relationship of the individual logos of beings with the universal logos was a central concern of the Roman Stoic Marcus Aurelius. The metaphysics of Stoicism finds connections with Hellenistic philosophies such as NeoplatonismGnosticism also made use of the Platonic idea of the anima mundi.


Illustration of the Cosmic order by Robert Fludd, where the World Soul is depicted as a woman
After the closing of Plato's Academy by the Emperor Justinian in 529 CE, Neoplatonism declined. Though there were mediaeval Christian thinkers who ventured what might be called panpsychist ideas (such as John Scotus Eriugena), it was not a dominant strain in Christian thought. In the Italian Renaissance, however, panpsychism enjoyed something of an intellectual revival, in the thought of figures such as Gerolamo CardanoBernardino TelesioFrancesco PatriziGiordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella. Cardano argued for the view that soul or anima was a fundamental part of the world and Patrizi introduced the actual term panpsychism into the philosophical vocabulary. According to Giordano Bruno: "There is nothing that does not possess a soul and that has no vital principle."[9] Platonist ideas resembling the anima mundi also resurfaced in the work of esoteric thinkers such as ParacelsusRobert Fludd, and Cornelius Agrippa.

Early modern period

In the seventeenth century, two rationalists can be said to be panpsychists, Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz.[5] In Spinoza's monism, the one single infinite and eternal substance is "God, or Nature" (Deus sive Natura) which has the aspects of mind (thought) and matter (extension). Leibniz' view is that there are an infinite number of absolutely simple mental substances called monads which make up the fundamental structure of the universe. While it has been said that the idealist philosophy of George Berkeley is also a form of pure panpsychism and that "idealists are panspychists by default",[5] it has also been argued[by whom?] that such arguments conflate mentally-constructed phenomena with minds themselves.[citation needed] Berkeley rejected panpsychism and posited that the physical world exists only in the experiences minds have of it, while restricting minds to humans and certain other specific agents.[14]

19th century

In the nineteenth century, panpsychism was at its zenith. Philosophers such as Arthur SchopenhauerC.S. PeirceJosiah RoyceWilliam JamesEduard von HartmannF.C.S. SchillerErnst Haeckel and William Kingdon Clifford as well as psychologists such as Gustav FechnerWilhelm Wundt and Rudolf Hermann Lotze all promoted panpsychist ideas.[5]
Arthur Schopenhauer argued for a two-sided view of reality which was both Will and Representation (Vorstellung). According to Schopenhauer: "All ostensible mind can be attributed to matter, but all matter can likewise be attributed to mind".[citation needed]
Josiah Royce, the leading American absolute idealist held that reality was a "world self", a conscious being that comprised everything, though he didn't necessarily attribute mental properties to the smallest constituents of mentalistic "systems". The American pragmatist philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce espoused a sort of psycho-physical Monism in which the universe was suffused with mind which he associated with spontaneity and freedom. Following Pierce, William James also espoused a form of panpsychism.[15] In his lecture notes, James wrote:
Our only intelligible notion of an object in itself is that it should be an object for itself, and this lands us in panpsychism and a belief that our physical perceptions are effects on us of 'psychical' realities[9]
In 1893, Paul Carus proposed his own philosophy similar to panpsychism known as 'panbiotism', which he defined as "everything is fraught with life; it contains life; it has the ability to live."[16]:149[17]

20th century

In the twentieth century, the most significant proponent of the panpsychist view is arguably Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947).[5] Whitehead's ontology saw the basic nature of the world as made up of events and the process of their creation and extinction. These elementary events (which he called occasions) are in part mental.[5] According to Whitehead: "we should conceive mental operations as among the factors which make up the constitution of nature."[9]
Bertrand Russell's neutral monist views tended toward panpsychism.[9] The physicist Arthur Eddington also defended a form of panpsychism.[6]
The psychologist Carl Jung, who is known for his idea of the collective unconscious, wrote that "psyche and matter are contained in one and the same world, and moreover are in continuous contact with one another", and that it was probable that "psyche and matter are two different aspects of one and the same thing".[18][better source needed] The psychologists James Ward and Charles Augustus Strong also endorsed variants of panpsychism.[19][16]:158[20]
The geneticist Sewall Wright endorsed a version of panpsychism. He believed that the birth of consciousness was not due to a mysterious property of increasing complexity, but rather an inherent property, therefore implying these properties were in the most elementary particles.[21]


The panpsychist doctrine has recently seen a resurgence in the philosophy of mind, set into motion by Thomas Nagel's 1979 article "Panpsychism"[22] and further spurred by Galen Strawson's 2006 realistic monist article "Realistic Monism: Why Physicalism Entails Panpsychism."[23][24][25] Other recent proponents include American philosophers David Ray Griffin[1] and David Skrbina,[5][16] British philosophers Gregg Rosenberg,[1] Timothy Sprigge,[1] and Philip Goff,[6][26] and Canadian philosopher William Seager.[27] The British philosopher David Papineau, while distancing himself from orthodox panpsychists, has written that his view is "not unlike panpsychism" in that he rejects a line in nature between "events lit up by phenomenology [and] those that are mere darkness."[28][29]
Panpsychism has also been applied in environmental philosophy by Australian philosopher Freya Mathews.[30] Science editor Annaka Harris explores panpsychism as a viable theory in her book Conscious, though she stops short of fully endorsing the view.[31][32]
In 1990, the physicist David Bohm published "A new theory of the relationship of mind and matter," a paper based on his interpretation of quantum mechanics.[33] The philosopher Paavo Pylkkänen has described Bohm's view as a version of panprotopsychism.[34]
The integrated information theory of consciousness (IIT), proposed by the neuroscientist and psychiatrist Giulio Tononi in 2004 and since adopted by other neuroscientists such as Christof Koch, postulates that consciousness is widespread and can be found even in some simple systems.[35] However, it does not hold that all systems are conscious, leading Tononi and Koch to state that IIT incorporates some elements of panpsychism but not others.[35] Koch has referred to IIT as a "scientifically refined version" of panpsychism.[36] The philosopher Hedda Hassel Mørch has argued that with minor modifications, IIT would be compatible with "Russelian panpsychism."[37]

Arguments in favor

Hard problem of consciousness

In the philosophy of mind, panpsychism is one possible solution to the so-called hard problem of consciousness.[38][7] David Chalmers, who formulated the hard problem of consciousness, has argued panpsychism is one of multiple viable theories of consciousness in The Conscious Mind (1996)[38] and subsequent work.[39][10] Chalmers argues against any reductive solution to the hard problem of consciousness by presenting three related arguments: the explanatory argument, the conceivability argument, and the knowledge argument.[39] He then discusses three possible non-reductive explanations of consciousness but leaves open the correct solution.[39]

Hegelian argument

In a subsequent paper, Chalmers has built on his previous exploration of panpsychism and said that a "Hegelian" argument is the most convincing argument for panpsychism, although he admits that it is not definitive. The argument is Hegelian because it is based on Hegelian dialectic and the concepts of thesis, antithesis and synthesis.[10]
Chalmers uses the materialist argument from causal closure as his thesis and the conceivability argument for mind–body dualism as his antithesis. Chalmers argues that each argument is persuasive, and that the most persuasive way to resolve both simultaneously is to adopt a form of panpsychism, which is the synthesis of the two arguments.[10]
Chalmers, however, takes his argument further, and argues that for the thesis of panpsychism there is a separate antithesis of panprotopsychism—the proposition that everything in existence is proto-conscious as opposed to conscious. Chalmers tentatively proposes Russellian monism as a synthesis but he does not fully embrace this option and instead sees panpsychism and panprotopsychism as more plausible options.[10]


Alleged problems with emergentism are often cited by panpsychists as grounds to reject reductive theories of consciousness. This argument can be traced back to the psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, who applied the phrase ex nihilo nihil fit ("nothing comes from nothing") in this context – saying thus the mental cannot arise from the non-mental.[5]

Thomas Nagel

In the article "Panpsychism" in his 1979 book Mortal QuestionsThomas Nagel defines panpsychism as "the view that the basic physical constituents of the universe have mental properties",[24]:181 which he claims are non-physical properties.[1] Nagel argues that panpsychism follows from four premises:[1]
  • (1) "Material composition", or commitment to materialism.
  • (2) "Non-reductionism", or the view that mental properties cannot be reduced to physical properties.
  • (3) "Realism" about mental properties.
  • (4) "Non-emergence", or the view that "there are no truly emergent properties of complex systems".
Nagel notes that new physical properties are discovered through explanatory inference from known physical properties; following a similar process, mental properties would seem to derive from properties of matter not included under the label of "physical properties", and so they must be additional properties of matter. He also argues that "the demand for an account of how mental states necessarily appear in physical organisms cannot be satisfied by the discovery of uniform correlations between mental states and physical brain states."[24]:187 Furthermore, Nagel argues mental states are real by appealing to the inexplicability of subjective experience, or qualia, by physical means. Nagel ties panpsychism to the failure of emergentism to deal with metaphysical relation: "There are no truly emergent properties of complex systems. All properties of complex systems that are not relations between it and something else derive from the properties of its constituents and their effects on each other when so combined."[5] Thus he denies that mental properties can arise out of complex relationships between physical matter.
Critics of panpsychism could[original research?] deny proposition (2) of Nagel's argument. If mental properties are reduced to physical properties of a physical system, then it does not follow that all matter has mental properties: it is in virtue of the structural or functional organization of the physical system that the system can be said to have a mind, not simply that it is made of matter. This is the common functionalist position. This view allows for certain man-made systems that are properly organized, such as some computers, to have minds. This may cause problems when (4) is taken into account. Also, qualia seem to undermine the reduction of mental properties to brain properties.[citation needed]


The most popular empirically based argument for panpsychism stems from evolution and is a form of the non-emergence argument. This argument begins with the assumption that evolution is a process that creates complex systems out of pre-existing properties but yet cannot make "entirely novel" properties.[5] William Kingdon Clifford argued that:
... we cannot suppose that so enormous a jump from one creature to another should have occurred at any point in the process of evolution as the introduction of a fact entirely different and absolutely separate from the physical fact. It is impossible for anybody to point out the particular place in the line of descent where that event can be supposed to have taken place. The only thing that we can come to, if we accept the doctrine of evolution at all, is that even in the very lowest organism, even in the Amoeba which swims about in our own blood, there is something or other, inconceivably simple to us, which is of the same nature with our own consciousness ...[40]

Quantum physics

Philosophers such as Alfred North Whitehead have drawn on the indeterminacy observed by quantum physics to defend panpsychism.[5] Advocates of panpsychist theories based on quantum physics see quantum indeterminacy and informational but non-causal relations between quantum elements as the key to explaining consciousness.[5] Other philosophers who have defended panpsychism on the basis of quantum physics include Shan Gao[41] and Michael Lockwood.[5] Those who have defended panprotopsychism, a variant on panpsychism, on the basis of quantum phsyics include the physicist David Bohm and the philosopher Paavo Pylkkänen.[34]

Intrinsic nature

These arguments are based on the idea that everything must have an intrinsic nature. They argue that while the objects studied by physics are described in a dispositional way, these dispositions must be based on some non-dispositional intrinsic attributes, which Whitehead called the "mysterious reality in the background, intrinsically unknowable".[5] While we have no way of knowing what these intrinsic attributes are like, we can know the intrinsic nature of conscious experience which possesses irreducible and intrinsic characteristics. Arthur Schopenhauer argued that while the world appears to us as representation, there must be 'an object that grounds' representation, which he called the 'inner essence' (das innere Wesen) and 'natural force' (Naturkraft), which lies outside of what our understanding perceives as natural law.[42]
Galen Strawson has called his form of panpsychism "realistic physicalism", arguing that "the experiential considered specifically as such – the portion of reality we have to do with when we consider experiences specifically and solely in respect of the experiential character they have for those who have them as they have them – that 'just is' physical".[43]:7

Arguments against

One criticism of panpsychism is that it cannot be empirically tested.[10] David Chalmers responds that while no direct evidence exists for the theory, neither is there direct evidence against it, and that he believes "there are indirect reasons, of a broadly theoretical character, for taking the view seriously" (see above).[10]
A related criticism is what seems to many to be the theory's bizarre nature.[10] John Searle states that panpsychism is an "absurd view" and that thermostats lack "enough structure even to be a remote candidate for consciousness."[44] Philip Goff, on the other hand, writes that many theories now known to be true have faced resistance due to their intuitive strangeness, and that such intuitions should therefore not be used to assess theories.[1]
The combination problem is frequently discussed as an objection to panpsychism.[11][45][1] It can be traced to the writing of William James,[11] but was given its present name by William Seager in 1995.[46][11] While numerous solutions have been proposed, they have yet to gain widespread acceptance.[11] Keith Frankish explains the combination problem as follows:[45]
Panpsychists hold that consciousness emerges from the combination of billions of subatomic consciousnesses, just as the brain emerges from the organization of billions of subatomic particles. But how do these tiny consciousnesses combine? We understand how particles combine to make atoms, molecules and larger structures, but what parallel story can we tell on the phenomenal side? How do the micro-experiences of billions of subatomic particles in my brain combine to form the twinge of pain I’m feeling in my knee? If billions of humans organized themselves to form a giant brain, each person simulating a single neuron and sending signals to the others using mobile phones, it seems unlikely that their consciousnesses would merge to form a single giant consciousness. Why should something similar happen with subatomic particles?
Some[who?] have argued that the only properties shared by all qualia are that they are not precisely describable, and thus are of indeterminate meaning within any philosophy which relies upon precise definition according to these critics (that is, it tends to presuppose a definition for mentality without describing it in any real detail). The need to define better the terms used within the thesis of panpsychism is recognized by panpsychist David Skrbina,[16]:15 and he resorts to asserting some sort of hierarchy of mental terms to be used. Thus only one fundamental aspect of mind is said to be present in all matter, namely, subjective experience. Another panpsychist[who?] response has been that we already know what qualia are through direct, introspective apprehension; and we likewise know what conscious mentality is by virtue of being conscious. For Alfred North Whitehead, third-person description takes second place to the intimate connection between every entity and every other which is, he says, the very fabric of reality. To take a mere description as having primary reality is to commit the "fallacy of misplaced concreteness".[citation needed]
By placing subjective experience as the intrinsic nature of the physical world, panpsychists hope to avoid the problem of mental causation.[10] However, Robert Howell has argued that all the causal functions are still accounted for dispositionally (i.e., in terms of the behaviors described by science), leaving phenomenality causally inert.[47] He concludes: "This leaves us once again with epiphenomenal qualia, only in a very surprising place."[47]
Another criticism of panpsychism has been that it is not useful for explaining the functions of the brain. Giulio Tononi and Christof Koch write that while panpsychism integrates consciousness into the physical world in a way that is "elegantly unitary," its "beauty has been singularly barren. Besides claiming that matter and mind are one thing, it has little constructive to say and offers no positive laws explaining how the mind is organized and works."[35]

In relation to other theories

A diagram summarizing Cartesian dualism, physicalism, idealism, and neutral monism, four positions to which panpsychism has been compared in various ways


Writing in 1950, Charles Hartshorne said that panpsychism, in contrast to many forms of idealism, holds that for all minds there is a single, external, spatio-temporal world, which is not just ideas in a divine mind.[48] He said panpsychism was thus a form of realism.[48] David Chalmers also contrasts panpsychism to idealism (as well as to materialism and dualism).[49] On the other hand, Uwe Meixner argues that panpsychism can come in both dualistic and idealist forms.[50] He further divides the latter into "atomistic idealistic panpsychism," which he ascribes to David Hume, and "holistic idealistic panpsychism," which he favors.[50]


David Chalmers describes panpsychism as an alternative to both materialism and dualism.[10] Philip Goff similarly describes panpsychism as an alternative to both physicalism and substance dualism.[6] Chalmers describes panpsychism as respecting the conclusions of both the causal argument against dualism and the conceivability argument for dualism.[10] Goff has argued that panpsychism avoids the disunity of dualism, under which mind and matter are ontologically separate, as well as dualism's problems explaining how mind and matter interact.[1]

Neutral monism

The relationship between neutral monism and panpsychism is complex, and further complicated by the variety of formulations of neutral monism.[51] In versions of neutral monism in which the fundamental constituents of the world are neither mental nor physical, it is quite distinct from panpsychism.[51] On the other hand, in versions where the fundamental constituents are both mental and physical, neutral monism is closer to panpsychism or at least dual aspect theory.[51] Neutral monism and panpsychism (as well as sometimes dual aspect theory) are sometimes grouped together as similar theories.[39][7]

Physicalism and materialism

Panpsychism encompasses many theories, united by the notion that consciousness is ubiquitous; these can in principle be reductive materialist, dualist, or something else.[9] Galen Strawson maintains that panpsychism is a form of physicalism, on his view the only viable form.[25] On the other hand, David Chalmers describes panpsychism as an alternative to both materialism and dualism.[10] Philip Goff similarly describes panpsychism as an alternative to both physicalism and substance dualism.[6]


Panpsychism is incompatible with emergentism.[9] In general, theories of consciousness fall under one or the other umbrella; they either hold that consciousness is present at a fundamental level of reality (panpsychism) or that it emerges higher up (emergentism).[9]

Animism and hylozoism

Panpsychism is distinct from animism or hylozoism, which hold that all things have a soul or are alive, respectively.[9] Neither animism nor hylozoism has attracted contemporary academic interest.[9]


Panexperientialism is associated with the philosophies of, among others, Charles Hartshorne and Alfred North Whitehead, although the term itself was invented by David Ray Griffin in order to distinguish the process philosophical view from other varieties of panpsychism.[9] Whitehead's process philosophy argues that the fundamental elements of the universe are "occasions of experience," which can together create something as complex as a human being.[5] Building off Whitehead's work, process philosopher Michel Weber argues for a pancreativism.[52] Philip Goff has used the term panexperientialism more generally to refer to forms of panpsychism in which experience rather than thought is ubiquitous.[1]
Panprotopsychism is a theory related to panpsychism. It is discussed as a viable theory of consciousness in the works of David Chalmers.[10]
Cosmopsychism is the theory that the cosmos is a proper whole, a unified object that is ontologically prior to its parts. It has been described as an alternative to panpsychism[53] or as a form of panpsychism.[54] Proponents of cosmopsychism claim that the cosmos as a whole is the fundamental level of reality and that it instantiates consciousness, which is how the view differs from panpsychism, where the claim is usually that the smallest level of reality is fundamental and instantiates consciousness. Accordingly, human consciousness, for example, is merely derivative from the cosmic consciousness.

In Eastern philosophy

In the art of the Japanese rock garden, the artist must be aware of the "ishigokoro" ('heart', or 'mind') of the rocks [55]
According to Graham Parkes: "Most of traditional Chinese, Japanese and Korean philosophy would qualify as panpsychist in nature. For the philosophical schools best known in the west — Neo-confucianism and Japanese Buddhism – the world is a dynamic force field of energies known as qi or bussho (Buddha nature) and classifiable in western terms as psychophysical."[55] Anand Vaidya and Purushottama Bilimoria have argued that Advaita Vedanta, an influential school of Hindu philosophy, incorporates a form of panpsychism, more specifically a form of cosmopsychism.[56]

East Asian Buddhism

According to D. S. Clarke, panpsychist and panexperientialist aspects can be found in the Huayan and Tiantai (Jpn. Tendai) Buddhist doctrines of Buddha nature, which was often attributed to inanimate objects such as lotus flowers and mountains.[8]:39 Tiantai patriarch Zhanran argued that "even non-sentient beings have Buddha nature."[55]
Who, then, is "animate" and who "inanimate"? Within the assembly of the Lotus, all are present without division. In the case of grass, trees and the soil...whether they merely lift their feet or energetically traverse the long path, they will all reach Nirvana.[55]
The Tiantai school was transmitted to Japan by Saicho, who spoke of the "buddha-nature of trees and rocks".[55]
According to the 9th-century Shingon Buddhist thinker Kukai, the Dharmakaya is nothing other than the physical universe and natural objects such as rocks and stones are included as part of the supreme embodiment of the Buddha.[55] The Soto Zen master Dogen also argued for the universality of Buddha nature. According to Dogen, "fences, walls, tiles, and pebbles" are also "mind" (心,shin). Dogen also argued that "insentient beings expound the teachings" and that the words of the eternal Buddha "are engraved on trees and on rocks . . . in fields and in villages". This is the message of his "Mountains and Waters Sutra" (Sansui kyô).[55]

See also



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  2. Jump up to:a b Bruntrup, Godehard; Jaskolla, Ludwig (2017). Panpsychism: Contemporary Perspectives. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 365. ISBN 978-0-19-935994-3.
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  4. Jump up to:a b c d e f Koch, Christof (1 January 2014). "Is Consciousness Universal?"Scientific Americandoi:10.1038/scientificamericanmind0114-26. Retrieved 13 September2018.
  5. Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Seager, William and Allen-Hermanson, Sean. "Panpsychism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
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  53. ^ Nagasawa, Yujin; Wager, Khai (2016-12-29), "Panpsychism and Priority Cosmopsychism", Panpsychism, Oxford University Press, pp. 113–129, doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199359943.003.0005ISBN 9780199359943
  54. ^ Goff, Philip (2017-08-24). "Consciousness and Fundamental Reality"Oxford Scholarship Onlinedoi:10.1093/oso/9780190677015.001.0001ISBN 9780190677015.
  55. Jump up to:a b c d e f g Parks, Graham. "The awareness of rocks." Skrbina David, ed. Mind that Abides. Chapter 17.
  56. ^ Vaidya, Anand; Bilimoria, Purushottama (2015). "Advaita Vedanta and the Mind Extension Hypothesis: Panpsychism and Perception". Journal of Consciousness Studies22 (7–8): 201–225.

Further reading

  • Clarke, D.S., ed. (2004). Panpsychism: Past and Recent Selected Readings. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-6132-7.
  • Skrbina, David (2005). Panpsychism in the West. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-69351-6.
  • Skrbina, David, ed. (2009). Mind That Abides: Panpsychism in the New Millennium. John Benjamins. ISBN 978-9027252111.
  • Blamauer, Michael, ed. (2011). The Mental as Fundamental: New Perspectives on Panpsychism. Gazelle Books. ISBN 978-3-86838-114-6.
  • Ells, Peter (2011). Panpsychism: The Philosophy of the Sensuous Cosmos. O Books. ISBN 978-1-84694-505-2.
  • Alter, Torin; Nagasawa, Yugin, eds. (2015). Consciousness in the Physical World: Perspectives on Russellian Monism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-992735-7.
  • Brüntrup, Godehard; Jaskolla, Ludwig, eds. (2016). Panpsychism: Contemporary Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199359943.
  • Goff, Philip (2017). Consciousness and Fundamental Reality. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0190677015.
  • Goff, Philip (2019). Galileo's Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness. Pantheon. ISBN 978-1524747961.
  • Harris, Annaka (2019). Conscious: A Brief Guide to the Fundamental Mystery of the Mind. Harper. ISBN 978-0062906717.
  • Seager, William, ed. (2019). The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism. Routledge. ISBN 978-1138817135.

External links