New Galen Strawson paper.

#1
https://www.academia.edu/8226285/Mind_and_Being_The_Primacy_of_Panpsychism


"I’ll start with a metaphysical creed—four propositions. I’m confident that the first three are true, and I suspect that the fourth is true, but I don't think one has to accept any of them to agree with my principal thesis—the thesis of the primacy of panpsychism. This is the highly unoriginal thesis that there are good reasons for favouring panpsychism above all other positive substantive proposals about the fundamental nature of concrete reality."
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
Thanks for this. I especially liked:

I admit our ignorance, but remain firm in my commitment to No Jumps and No Radical Emergence. The idea that something can be wholly non-experiential but nonetheless ‘protoexperiential’ will always seem attractive. It is after all the standard view of the evolution of consciousness like ours, according to which biological experientiality (human or canine or feline, etc) evolved from wholly non-experiential origins. But No Jumps and No Radical Emergence are part of the deep structure of naturalism. We have no reason to believe that nature ever makes ontological jumps of the sort forbidden by [7] and we have very good reason to believe that it doesn’t. I don't, however, need to make this move. All I need to do is to reissue the polite enquiry I made earlier. Why does
anyone think anything non-experiential exists at all? I think the polite enquiry is devastating and I’ll return to it. I know that some will be unimpressed by it, and by the commitment to [7] and [8], so it’s fortunate that there’s another way of showing the inadequacy of neutral monism.
You might also like the Panpsycism thread.
 
#3
Of course, that particular argument only has plausibility so long as one doesn't suppose a "dialectical" view of "protoexperientiality" and "experientiality"...and surprise surprise, this is exactly what is missing in this criticism.

Don't get me wrong. I quite dig Strawson...but he does have his blind spots.
 
#5
We know the experiential is real and we also know—about as well as we know anything in science—that it’s literally located in the brain:
[23] human experience is neural activity.
This is by now far beyond reasonable doubt. So we know, about as well as we know anything in science, that the spatial can be experiential—given that the world is spatial. And in the present state of our knowledge we have to treat ‘space’ and ‘spacetime’ as names for some real dimensionality whose nature we aren’t clear about, although we know that it must be such as to allow the existence of experientiality.
How is that a thing? Everything is experiential, but those experiential things are located in the brain? Isnt the brain also experiential then? How could it be located in something that is basically experience?

It’s beyond reasonable doubt that human experience is wholly a matter of neural goings-on and it seems no less clear that the most parsimonious scientific hypothesis about the nature of physical reality is that everything is experiential.
Related to the quote before, how can the neural part be true if everything is experiential? That would mean that experience creates experience. Hes not saying that this isnt possible, but that assumption seems rather weird to me.

Many say that experience (consciousness) is a mystery. But what is mysterious? We know what experience is. We know exactly what certain types of experiences are simply in having them.
I dont believe that this is true. We know how it is to experience a experience. Just because we do that doesnt mean that we know what they are.

I’m not claiming to know that there is no non-experiential reality.
...
[29] everything is experiential
Meh. Contradictions.

In this immoveable sense there is necessarily an experiencer whenever there’s experience.
Since everything is experience he implies god, or am i thinking wrong here?


But anyways, still interesting, sure. Especially that part:

We need to be able to put aside as far as possible the object-property distinction that serves so well in many other areas of philosophy and everyday life but easily leads us into a intractably misleading picture according to which, when it comes to the 'mind-body problem', we have to think first that we have a
thing
, a physical thing, and then have to wonder how such a thing can possibly have experiential
properties
. The improved picture represents matter soberly and realistically as an almost inconceivably sparse shimmering skein of energy, energy-stuff. On one view, this is what spacetime is. But insofar as this picture has positive imaginative (quasi-pictorial) content for us, it still builds in some version of our ordinary conception or picture of space. And if we now try to exert ourselves further imaginatively, in the way philosophy so regularly demands, in the attempt to put aside any standard conception or picture of space, we’re returned to the ‘epistemic structural realist’ point that we know nothing at all about the intrinsic nature of the physical in so far as as its intrinsic nature is more than its scientifically detectable structure; except of course, and again, and as always, when we have experience.
He puts the whole thought of something physical in experience. The physical would be a experience aswell. And experience is also energy. And spacetime. Well, no wonders there, since experience is everything. So, theres that. I always feel so defeated after reading stuff about panpsychism. Really. In experience everything seems somehow explainable.
 
#6
I do not see any reason to accept panpsychism.

1. The only reason to attribute mental events to others is their behavior.

2. No such behavior observed in many types of beings.

3. Then we have no reason to believe in panpsychism.
 
#7
I do not see any reason to accept panpsychism.

1. The only reason to attribute mental events to others is their behavior.

2. No such behavior observed in many types of beings.

3. Then we have no reason to believe in panpsychism.
I'm sorry, but this is simply incorrect and is incredibly anthropocentric. There is considerable evidence that plants exhibit behaviours very similar to animals; read this article and you will see: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blo...ants-research-shows-they-think-feel-and-learn.

In addition, "no such behaviour" is wrong for a lot of animals, to quote Koch: "bees, octopuses, ravens, crows, magpies, parrots, tuna, cichlid, and other fish, mice, cetaceans, dogs, and monkeys, are capable of sophisticated, learned, non-stereotyped bevhaviours that would be associated with consciousness if a human were to carry out such actions" So you are flat out wrong in this case, Haruhi.
 
#8
I'm sorry, but this is simply incorrect and is incredibly anthropocentric. There is considerable evidence that plants exhibit behaviours very similar to animals; read this article and you will see: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blo...ants-research-shows-they-think-feel-and-learn.

In addition, "no such behaviour" is wrong for a lot of animals, to quote Koch: "bees, octopuses, ravens, crows, magpies, parrots, tuna, cichlid, and other fish, mice, cetaceans, dogs, and monkeys, are capable of sophisticated, learned, non-stereotyped bevhaviours that would be associated with consciousness if a human were to carry out such actions" So you are flat out wrong in this case, Haruhi.
Your criticism is misguided, because I never have specified what types of behavior lead us to attribute mental states to others. It is possible that plants and nonhuman animals have experiences. What is certain is that a stone does not exhibit these types of behavior, which is enough to reject panpsychism.
 
#9
Your criticism is misguided, because I never have specified what types of behavior lead us to attribute mental states to others. It is possible that plants and nonhuman animals have experiences. What is certain is that a stone does not exhibit these types of behavior, which is enough to reject panpsychism.
Lol, no it isn't. Indeed, that's probably the worst, most determinedly abused and misapplied caricatural distortion of real panpsychism or neutral monism.
 
#10
Your criticism is misguided, because I never have specified what types of behavior lead us to attribute mental states to others. It is possible that plants and nonhuman animals have experiences. What is certain is that a stone does not exhibit these types of behavior, which is enough to reject panpsychism.
This demonstrates a complete misconception of panpsychism. No panpsychist argues that rocks are conscious. Instead, they argue that atoms that make up the rock have some sort of proto-mind. I recommend doing a bit of reading of panpsychism and you will see that your statements are misguided.
 
#11
Lol, no it isn't. Indeed, that's probably the worst, most determinedly abused and misapplied caricatural distortion of real panpsychism or neutral monism.
This is incredible. Panpsychism not says that even the stones have some proto-experience? And when I stated that only humans have experiences?
 
#12
This demonstrates a complete misconception of panpsychism. No panpsychist argues that rocks are conscious. Instead, they argue that atoms that make up the rock have some sort of proto-mind. I recommend doing a bit of reading of panpsychism and you will see that your statements are misguided.
It's the same. There is no reason to believe that atoms have some proto-mind.
 
#13
It's the same. There is no reason to believe that atoms have some proto-mind.
Why not? It's one way to explain consciousness, unless you have something against consciousness being 'material' It avoids the 'ex-niho' miracle.
Nonetheless, you make it clear that you have not looked into panpsychism in any great detail, other than the learning the usual caricatures that are raised against it.
 
#14
This is incredible. Panpsychism not says that even the stones have some proto-experience? And when I stated that only humans have experiences?
Panpsychism or neutral monism has no need of stones to be conscious entities, in order to be true. Either primtive entities such as atoms or subatomic particles may have basic proto-experience, or else basic cosmic forces may do so, just by way of example. I actually don't know a single person who holds to NM or PP, who believes that stones are conscious entities in themselves.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#16
I think panpsychism has a certain strength to it - it sticks rather close to the generally accepted notion that brains and minds are strongly coupled most of the time while avoiding the bizarre appeals to cryptic complexity and the "jump" of materialism's ex nihilo miracle.

Where I think it falters is whether you take the Many -> Whole approach (bits of proto-qualia become our experience) or the Whole -> Many approach (Being becomes beings) something remains to be solved. That said I'm going to have to take a second look at Strawson's paper as I didn't really get why he felt the Combination Problem was something he no longer worried about.

I also think intentionality and possibly reason are problematic from the accretive side, and the Whole -> Many side is something I just can't square with our knowledge of minds. (Idealism suffers from the same problem, at least as presented by those claiming there is an Uber-Mind.)
 
#17
I think panpsychism has a certain strength to it - it sticks rather close to the generally accepted notion that brains and minds are strongly coupled most of the time while avoiding the bizarre appeals to cryptic complexity and the "jump" of materialism's ex nihilo miracle.

Where I think it falters is whether you take the Many -> Whole approach (bits of proto-qualia become our experience) or the Whole -> Many approach (Being becomes beings) something remains to be solved. That said I'm going to have to take a second look at Strawson's paper as I didn't really get why he felt the Combination Problem was something he no longer worried about.

I also think intentionality and possibly reason are problematic from the accretive side, and the Whole -> Many side is something I just can't square with our knowledge of minds. (Idealism suffers from the same problem, at least as presented by those claiming there is an Uber-Mind.)
I can't say I really have an issue with the "combination problem" so called, either. To be sure, there is a *pragmatic* problem...how is that actually achieved? But then we have pragmatic problems with the sense of smell. I don't see any basic, unresolvable, philosophical problem with the sense of smell, neither with the so-called combination problem. To my mind, the proto-experiencing entities, be they atoms or whatever holons we choose, remain to some degree proto-experiencing entities, in themselves, when moving in certain waves or figures of combination, but those waves or figures of combination are what also give rise to more complex experiencing entities. If experience-energy stuff is all that exists, which is the basis of the intelligent NM position, then movements and complex combinations of it, at least when enacted from within, are also experiential figures of some kind, by necessity.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#18
I can't say I really have an issue with the "combination problem" so called, either. To be sure, there is a *pragmatic* problem...how is that actually achieved? But then we have pragmatic problems with the sense of smell. I don't see any basic, unresolvable, philosophical problem with the sense of smell, neither with the so-called combination problem. To my mind, the proto-experiencing entities, be they atoms or whatever holons we choose, remain to some degree proto-experiencing entities, in themselves, when moving in certain waves or figures of combination, but those waves or figures of combination are what also give rise to more complex experiencing entities. If experience-energy stuff is all that exists, which is the basis of the intelligent NM position, then movements and complex combinations of it, at least when enacted from within, are also experiential figures of some kind, by necessity.
But I think this argument can be extended to other paradigms. The Holistic Idealist could say, "It's only natural that Mind can form minds". A Materialist could say, "Given everything else is amenable to reductionism and is composed of nonconscious atoms, why would the mind be different?".

I'm much more amenable to the Whole -> Many side of Panpsychism but that's also a problem in need of an explanation. I still think intentionality and subjectivity are problems because they are intertwined with a first-person observer, not with a proto-conscious universe or Idealistic Uber-Mind. The very idea of proto-consciousness is making an assumption about qualitative experience wholly divorced from how said experience actually occurs in the day-to-day.That experience seems resistant to accretive explanations as well as said experiences being divisions of an Experiencer.

I think the Idealist who posits there are only Minds which have existed for eternity would be on better ground, but there's the whole pre-birth and post-death issue, not to mention the tight coupling of mind & brain. Even if one wants to accept souls, how these Minds would make the consensus world around us remains unanswered. (There's also the non-spatial nature of Res Cogitans that I personally can't grasp though admittedly this isn't even a problem for some mechanistic/"materialistic" thinkers like physicists Tegmark, Ladyman, and Ross .)
 
#19
But I think this argument can be extended to other paradigms. The Holistic Idealist could say, "It's only natural that Mind can form minds". A Materialist could say, "Given everything else is amenable to reductionism and is composed of nonconscious atoms, why would the mind be different?".
I'm not really sure there's truly a "combination problem" for materialism either. Indeed, "things" that when combined form greater and more capable "things" is a fact of simple observation. Not that I'm supporting materialism, but again, I'm just not seeing a fundamental problem.
I'm much more amenable to the Whole -> Many side of Panpsychism but that's also a problem in need of an explanation. I still think intentionality and subjectivity are problems because they are intertwined with a first-person observer, not with a proto-conscious universe or Idealistic Uber-Mind. The very idea of proto-consciousness is making an assumption about qualitative experience wholly divorced from how said experience actually occurs in the day-to-day.That experience seems resistant to accretive explanations as well as said experiences being divisions of an Experiencer.
I don't know what you mean by this. Why would primitive auto-experiential entia not be "a first person observer" making allowances of course for the "person" absurdity inside that phrase.

I think the Idealist who posits there are only Minds which have existed for eternity would be on better ground, but there's the whole pre-birth and post-death issue, not to mention the tight coupling of mind & brain. Even if one wants to accept souls, how these Minds would make the consensus world around us remains unanswered. (There's also the non-spatial nature of Res Cogitans that I personally can't grasp though admittedly this isn't even a problem for some mechanistic/"materialistic" thinkers like physicists Tegmark, Ladyman, and Ross .)
I find Idealism, souls, etc very weak. It does not explain adequately why existence seems to necessarily have the properties it has, as force and energy. A fact that is just as important as experientiality, imo.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#20
I'm not really sure there's truly a "combination problem" for materialism either. Indeed, "things" that when combined form greater and more capable "things" is a fact of simple observation. Not that I'm supporting materialism, but again, I'm just not seeing a fundamental problem.

I don't know what you mean by this. Why would primitive auto-experiential entia not be "a first person observer" making allowances of course for the "person" absurdity inside that phrase.
I think you're underestimating the combination problem. Why should qualia be divisible, when one of the primary reasons the Hard Problem is hard is that we have qualitative experiences for whom a reductionist model cannot even be sketched out?

As for first person perspectives of primitive entia, why would we think they have first person experiences? And why would their interaction make a new first person entity? Experiences happen to a first person macro-entity, intentionality is also focused on similar beings (us humans at the least). Neither seems amenable to reductionism, though on the flip-side neither seems wholly divorced from physical biological beings. To suddenly claim that something like consciousness, which is first-person centric, is somehow spread across the universe (a claim by both Panpyshcism and Idealism) seems like a huge leap to me. Adding a "proto" prefix only confuses the matter further. What exactly is "proto-consciousness"? Is it like sleep, like being in a daze? What good reason do we have to believe there is such a thing?

Ditto for intentionality - if anything it's even worse.

Panpsychism, while having its charms, ultimately seems like a way to force an answer to huge mysteries by mashing together the mental and physical and claiming the problems of subjectivity/intentionality/rationality are solved.

I find Idealism, souls, etc very weak. It does not explain adequately why existence seems to necessarily have the properties it has, as force and energy. A fact that is just as important as experientiality, imo.
I think all the paradigms are fundamentally flawed, though materialism is last place for me given the ex nihilo miracle it requires. Perhaps "souls" are the wrong word, though the above issues combined with the issue of where memories are "located" makes me think it would be unfair to say Panpsychism is necessarily superior to Idealism or Dualism. (I'm also sympathetic to some of Scholastic Metaphysics and Hylemorphism, though I think it's also a dead end. If I ever comprehend Whitehead I might go in for process philosophy...)

Perhaps Panpsychism should drop the "Pan". Think of some core capable of experience and intentionality that need not tie into survival of individual living beings. These cores may simply be part of living biological systems and recycled in a genuine physical space rather than a God-dream - basically another part of the environment without extending mental properties to every bit of matter.
 
Top