Pansychism, Are Electrons Conscious?

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,154
There is a new view into consciousness that is coming up that sort of mimics old world views of soul.
The problem was that using the idea of a soul means separating the mind from body and that was not very well received because that brings spiritulism into the picture and we dont want to have to view sometime like an electron as being spiritual.

The idea with pansychism is that everything is conscious to a greater or less degree. For example, a human is more conscious than a cow but a cow is more conscious than a clam. Taking this down farther, an electron would be considered conscious but to a very very less degree than that of any animal or even a plant.

The reason for thinking about this is because it was realized that physical science is not as physical as we would like because it is all based on how matter behaves not what matter really is. This is now being thought of as a possible reason why we have trouble understanding some experiments that can have different outcomes from the same stimulus.

The idea is not that far fetched because recall that when we try to describe some particle interactions we end up saying that it may not be there until we look at it (in a manner of speaking). How could something not be there until we look at it? Also recall that color is not a property of the universe, it is a property of our own minds. We have grouped certain wavelengths into categories so that we can deal with them faster and dont have to identify them all uniquely every time we want to describe the wavelengths they reflect. I also like to bring up the hole in the ground discussion where we give a name to something that isnt really there just to make it simpler to deal with. The hole itself is not there only the ground around it is there, in a completely physical view. If we did an experiment at LHC to determine where holes were in the world, we would have to go by the particles that surround the 'hole' we could not look for the hole itself because we would never find one existing on it's own.

There is a lot more to this though i'll look up some links. Note however this is not science fiction it is a new start to understanding what consciousness really is.
 

BobTPH

Joined Jun 5, 2013
3,121
Let me see, do I want to go through the left slit or right one? Maybe I'll just go through both!

I do believe consciousness as we usually understand it is an emergent property of a complex enough machine which may or may not be deterministic. Which means that AI programs can become conscious eventually. But an electron? Really?

Bob
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,927
Panpsychism isn’t new, exactly. But one of the things people need to disabuse themselves of immediately is the idea that is it “like something” to be a chair. The consciousness attributed to matter is not the same as the self awareness of something living with a brain.

I tend to keep panpsychism on my list of “things that have a good chance of being correct”, along with physicalism, some flavor of idealism, and some form of scientific realism.
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,927
To put a fine point on it, there’s not a scale of “consciousness” from human to elementary particle, rather, the “consciousness“ of panpsychism is the latent possibility in matter that leads to self awareness in living things.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,280
To put a fine point on it, there’s not a scale of “consciousness” from human to elementary particle, rather, the “consciousness“ of panpsychism is the latent possibility in matter that leads to self awareness in living things.
So, electrons, are they?

To validate the whole discussion it would be fine to have this agreed upon.
 

bogosort

Joined Sep 24, 2011
625
A useful distinction is that between awareness and consciousness. We might define awareness as the ability to interact with the universe -- if something responds to light or heat or whatever, it is aware of light, or heat, or whatever. The more interactions (and different types of interactions) that something can have, the more aware it is.

At some level of sufficient complexity, self-awareness becomes possible. This is consciousness.

I'd say that an electron is aware but not conscious.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,280
A useful distinction is that between awareness and consciousness. We might define awareness as the ability to interact with the universe -- if something responds to light or heat or whatever, it is aware of light, or heat, or whatever. The more interactions (and different types of interactions) that something can have, the more aware it is.

At some level of sufficient complexity, self-awareness becomes possible. This is consciousness.

I'd say that an electron is aware but not conscious.
Consciousness always seemed to me the capability of a being able to express "I am a dog/man/ameba/whatever and that thing in front of me means risk/pleasure/benefit/whatever"

I am xxxx, alone, seems not useful in the mainframe of Nature.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
3,254
The entire argument is anthropomorphic. You cannot ascribe human traits to inanimate objects or non-human animate entities. To do so is irrational.
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,927
The entire argument is anthropomorphic. You cannot ascribe human traits to inanimate objects or non-human animate entities. To do so is irrational.
That's the point, Sam. The idea is not that an electron or a rock or a mattress has some version of human experience. It's that human experience, what it is to be like us, is caused by the proper arrangement of material which has the necessary property to give rise, as an emergent property, to self-awareness, to experience, and to quaila.
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,927
I should point out there are some philosophers who would claim that an electron has some form of experience, but that's just one interpretation of panpsychism and it's not very mainstream.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
3,254
Why did you quote half my sentence?
Simply as a lead-in to what the criteria are that determine life. Nothing more than that. I might also point out that those criteria are from our human perspective and relative only to our understanding of what constitutes "living" versus inanimate in our realm of human understanding.
 

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
2,927
Simply as a lead-in to what the criteria are that determine life. Nothing more than that. I might also point out that those criteria are from our human perspective and relative only to our understanding of what constitutes "living" versus inanimate in our realm of human understanding.
OK, with the second part gone it looked like you were saying I was claiming there was no meaning to living.

The meaning of my comment was, no matter any prescriptive definition of "living", all of the senses in which I would accept "living" as meaningful exclude electrons.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,154
Let me see, do I want to go through the left slit or right one? Maybe I'll just go through both!

I do believe consciousness as we usually understand it is an emergent property of a complex enough machine which may or may not be deterministic. Which means that AI programs can become conscious eventually. But an electron? Really?

Bob
Well you stopped at the point where the electron (or more easily undedrstood the photon) hit the two slits. Let's continue that reasonable thought experiment.
"After i go through the two slits, sometimes i will go to the right, and other times i will go to the left, and still other times i will go to the far right, or even farther right, or even farther, etc., or go farther to the left or even farther, etc., but there are some directions in which i will never go, and i do this because i interfere with myself in different systematic and random ways, This self-interference is hard for humans to understand."

If that isnt complex i dont know what is. It's so complex in fact that we cant quite understand it.
 

xox

Joined Sep 8, 2017
544
There is a new view into consciousness that is coming up that sort of mimics old world views of soul.
The problem was that using the idea of a soul means separating the mind from body and that was not very well received because that brings spiritulism into the picture and we dont want to have to view sometime like an electron as being spiritual.

The idea with pansychism is that everything is conscious to a greater or less degree. For example, a human is more conscious than a cow but a cow is more conscious than a clam. Taking this down farther, an electron would be considered conscious but to a very very less degree than that of any animal or even a plant.

The reason for thinking about this is because it was realized that physical science is not as physical as we would like because it is all based on how matter behaves not what matter really is. This is now being thought of as a possible reason why we have trouble understanding some experiments that can have different outcomes from the same stimulus.

The idea is not that far fetched because recall that when we try to describe some particle interactions we end up saying that it may not be there until we look at it (in a manner of speaking). How could something not be there until we look at it? Also recall that color is not a property of the universe, it is a property of our own minds. We have grouped certain wavelengths into categories so that we can deal with them faster and dont have to identify them all uniquely every time we want to describe the wavelengths they reflect. I also like to bring up the hole in the ground discussion where we give a name to something that isnt really there just to make it simpler to deal with. The hole itself is not there only the ground around it is there, in a completely physical view. If we did an experiment at LHC to determine where holes were in the world, we would have to go by the particles that surround the 'hole' we could not look for the hole itself because we would never find one existing on it's own.

There is a lot more to this though i'll look up some links. Note however this is not science fiction it is a new start to understanding what consciousness really is.
What I think.

Everything is ultimately made up of God-force. Which is more or less consciousness itself. So yes, it is everywhere and in every thing. The mind field in particular can be thought of being built up from from "quantum packets" of consciousness. The more individual quanta that fall into a synchronous state, the "higher" the consciousness. For example. Take 30,000 individuals and put them into a stadium. What happens? A "crowd mind" emerges from the entire group. Another example is the Earth herself, whose soul we have all felt at one time or another I am sure. Going downward, we ourselves are made of cells which are very much alive and autonomous. They can not only communicate with eachother, but to us as well. (I'm sure we're all familiar with pain and pleasure signals!)

The opposite side of that whole dichotomy of course is the void. (Nothingness!) All beings fluctuate between these two states, actually.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,154
To put a fine point on it, there’s not a scale of “consciousness” from human to elementary particle, rather, the “consciousness“ of panpsychism is the latent possibility in matter that leads to self awareness in living things.
So what you are saying is that you dont believe that something that is not alive cant be conscious. But you know the cat in the box may be alive or dead we dont know yet :)

But really the idea is not to hold fast to physical definitions because they seem to be failing, and that consciousness in the brain is what tells us how things behave. So consciousness is constantly analyzing behavior and sometimes can be wrong about what it concludes.

If we try to stick to the definition that an electron (or photon) is purely physical then it gets hard to understand it as a wave. The question is, is it because of our interpretation of what we are seeing some sort of mistake or is it just that the particle just does not behave like a physical object all the time. it is hard to imagine that something can spread out like a wave and then when it is finally measured, turns into a particle. So the idea is to seek other ways to understand it not really to try to fit it back into the framework of what we already know we dont understand and can not understand it in that framework.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,154
There is no meaning of "alive" that I understand which would make electrons "alive".
I think you were just replying to another post but i want to stay away from the discussion of what is alive and what is not alive i think that is a different concept.
 

Thread Starter

MrAl

Joined Jun 17, 2014
8,154
The entire argument is anthropomorphic. You cannot ascribe human traits to inanimate objects or non-human animate entities. To do so is irrational.
Yeah but i already stated that it is not just a human trait. The extrapolation starts out human but trickles down from human to cow to clam to plant, and if we go further we may get down into what we call inanimate objects. It's just an extrapolation. In fact, if we were to talk about a plant (like that grows in a forest or in the back yard) we will find that many people will say that a plant has no consciousness, but more recent studies of different kinds of trees and plants co exist by using some sort of communication through the roots. The roots of nearby plants tangle underground with roots from other plants and so they are something we might call 'aware' of each other. They have to ability to change their growth behavior as a result. There are probably links for this too.

But also i am not talking about being alive or not, just conscious. If something is alive or not is another discussion i think. For example as we extrapolate down, we will eventually run into a virus. IS a virus conscious? If it is, then things that are considered to be not alive can be conscious.
 
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