Iycee Charles de Gaulle Summary The idea of which consciousness must be

The idea of which consciousness must be

The ‘mind’ represents a mental process of
thought and consciousness; the ‘body’ represents the physical aspects of matter
(i.e. neuron structures, the brain). The mind-body problem investigates the
relationship between the mental realm and the physical realm of a person. It is
believed that the mind and body interacts with each other all the time. Descartes
dualism believes that the mind and body are independent but separated entities,
of which both exist in a human being. It is believed that the mind and body
interacts with each other all the time. Koch suggests that panpsychism views that the mind
(psyche) is found everywhere (pan).

This essay will further expand on how panpsychism is a form of naturalistic dualism
and that the idea of which consciousness must be postulated as a necessary property
of the universe alongside with physical properties of a person. This essay will
discuss and define panpsychism and the concept of mind-body problem. According
to Nagel’s argument, there are four plausible premises that cannot to be
neglected or denied whilst understanding panpsychism and its theory of
mind-body works. These four premises are (1) material composition, (2) non-reductionism,
(3) realism about mental properties and (4) emergentism is false. These premises
will be used to show that Nagel’s theory of panpsychism is rationally
acceptable. Moreover, this essay also aims to expand the belief that panpsychism
is a good solution to the mind-body problem.

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In philosophy, panpsychism
views consciousness as an element that attribute to all sorts of things in the
world – living or non-living. Panpsychism is often criticised for being religious/spiritual
nonsense. This is because panpsychism can be interpreted in many ways. Some may
interpret panpsychism as the theory that suggests everything is conscious, regardless
of it is a living or non-living being. This means that tables, hammers,
buildings and all other non-living objects are believed to be conscious. Such interpretation
of panpsychism seems rightfully absurd; this theory may be seen to have more in
common with animism than with proper philosophy. Moreover, another
interpretation of panpsychism is the belief that everything in the universe is
strictly experiential, thus appearing to be a rather idealistic theory. The
main focus of this essay is not to expand on either interpretations of
panpsychism above. However, this essay aims to attribute experiential
properties to the fundamentals, the ultimate building blocks of the universe.

It also accepts that the fundamental is also physical. Neither does it posit
that these fundamentals are experiential in the exact same way that you and I
are, the idea is that they instantiate properties that are of a similar nature
to our experience, albeit very different. We can call this thesis realistic
panpsychism or naturalistic panpsychism. Panpsychism does not advocate
human consciousness as a common feature throughout all nature but rather, sees
it as an all-inclusive form of initial sentience. Sentience is seen and
understood as general subjectivity, intellectual capability or experience that
is spatial. Sentience cannot be defined in spatial terms because it does not physically
occupy space. Consciousness is
a synthesized form of sentience; consciousness is based on elements that are
chemically conducted from the physical realm of matter. Panpsychism provides us
with the most parsimonious, empirically plausible and logically derivable set of established principle to approach
the relationship between the mental and physical
realms of living beings (or non-living beings). The
mind-body problem is involved with the causal relationship between the mind and the body. Panpsychism
discovers that the impact from the mental realm of thoughts (i.e. pain and sensations) greatly affect
the physical realm of matter (i.e. atoms and neurons). Moreover, Rene Descartes was the first philosopher who discovered a solution
to the dilemma. This solution is now known as Cartesian Dualism. Descartes
believed that the body was entirely divisible; he strongly believed that he was
merely a thinking thing. Descartes considered that the
mind and body are existentially separable entities
which often interact with one another. Therefore, panpsychism is a good solution to the mind-body problem.

Furthermore, Thomas
Nagel outlines four premises that imply panpsychism. These premises will be
examined in the following paragraph. Nagel’s first premise, material
composition, is the belief that all conscious, living beings are made up of
only physical matters, any other constituents other than matter are not needed.

His second premise, anti-emergence, highlights the common denial that
mental states spontaneously and voluntarily emerge in complex systems of a
certain nature. In short, mental properties can never be physical properties,
while physical realm is not related to the mental. His third premise, non-reducibility,
suggests that mental states are not reducible to the physical properties of
organisms. His fourth and last premise, realism, is that mental states
do exist and are properties of entirely physical organisms. Mental properties
cannot belong to spiritual, un-real beings. Moreover, Nagel stated the truth of
each premise stated in his argument is more reasonable than its falsity. This
paper will examine three separate challenges to his argument. The first problem
will be dealing with mental properties, or the separation of matter into
‘physical’ and ‘mental’ constituents. The second will be Panpsychism’s apparent
contradiction in its appeal to another type of emergence. The third problem
captures an issue at the heart of the mind-body problem: the failure of
physical explanations to explain subjective experience. I will attempt to show
how the first two challenges fail to pose any serious threat to Panpsychism’s
rational acceptability. Nagel requires that all living organisms in the universe are
made up of matter arranged in a certain way. ‘No constituents besides matter
are needed.’ (Nagel 1979 p. 181) The plausibility of the premise is straightforward.

Its denial would imply a dualist picture, requiring the addition of an
immaterial substance to account for consciousness in living organisms. Not only
is there no observable evidence for dualism, a new substance would require
another route of philosophical inquiry. The dualist needs to account for causal
connections between the immaterial soul and the material body, something which
seems difficult at best. Physicalism is simpler, more elegant and therefore
more attractive to accept than deny. However, while the premise seems to mark
Panpsychism’s departure from substance dualism, it will be revealed later
things are not so clear. Panpsychism
takes this idea to its logical extreme. If consciousness is to be a fundamental
property of the universe then it must have been present all along, before we
conscious creatures came along and started questioning everything. Panpsychism
claims that to make sense of the idea that consciousness is a fundamental
property of the universe we must consider that the fundamental building blocks of the universe already instantiate conscious
properties (In this dissertation I will use the terms consciousness, experience
and experiential to mean the same thing unless otherwise noted). The main
reason for this claim is that it allows for a reductive theory of consciousness
in a dualist context. If consciousness is fundamental to the universe, and was
present all along, then it is no longer a mystery why we are conscious; it is
simply the natural evolution of our universe that has led to conscious
creatures from the basic conscious properties available at the beginning. 4 

Prima facie panpsychism seems
wildly counterintuitive, if not absurd. But panpsychism is not the first theory
to consider when examining the mind body problem; it is a thesis that becomes
attractive once we see the failures of more intuitive theories. We will
therefore begin by looking at these intuitive theories of mind. They encompass
reductive theories (physicalism) and non?reductive
theories (property dualism). We will see how the shortcomings of these theories
make panpsychism an attractive position. First I offer a quick overview of the
mind body problem.

Our mind is the most familiar
thing we have. In fact, it is more accurate to say that we are minds rather
than we have minds. It is surprising then that it is very difficult to define.

We can agree that through the mind we are aware of the world around us, perhaps
awareness is a good starting point. By awareness we may mean the ability to
assess, navigate and interact with an environment.

We could argue that in our case
the same happens, we are programmed by our genes to act and we have circuits
and hardware in the form of neurons, a brain, eyes, etc. Even if this is the
case there is something about our awareness that is unlike the rover’s. Our
awareness is accompanied by experience. When we encounter a rock we actually
see it, we see its shape and its colour against a background of land and sky,
the rover doesn’t actually see anything (or so we think!). The rover is but a machine
that receives “visual” input in the sense that depending on the pattern of the
light waves received by its optic. No experience is involved, it doesn’t see a
shape or a colour but we do.

Experience is an essential aspect
of the mind. Remove it and you have a machine, add it to a machine and you have
an artificial intelligence that deserves the same treatment as any living
creature. Yet experience too is hard to define, the easiest way is to appeal to
the most obvious aspect of experience; sense perception.

When light reaches our retinas,
we see shapes and colours, these visions take the form of 3D representations in
front of our eyes. We also experience sounds, smells and so on. All these
experiences are subjective; they happen to a subject (e.g. us) and are reported
in a first person language; we say things like “I see blue” or “I fell pain”.

This seems to be the fundamental nature of experience; if there is no subject
of experience there is no experience at all. The problem arises when we try to
find an explanation of the origins of experience and how they fit in the
universe. We will now look into the physicalist approach to the explanation of
experience. The physicalist method is to find a reductive explanation, to
explain experience in simpler terms. The core idea is that experience must be
explainable by the sciences.


Panpsychism can solve the mind
body problem. But the solution may not be as satisfying as one would like. This
is because of it is very speculative and radical in its claims. We can
criticise the theory on these grounds, yet it can also be one of its benefits.

More conservative theories struggle to account for experience appealing to the
entities and properties we know about, so perhaps appealing to those we don’t
know about is the right move. Panpsychism gives an account of experience that,
paradoxically, both notices the limitations of science but offers a theory that
is elegantly reductive. The panpsychist admires the explanation of the physical
world given by the sciences, yet acknowledges that they won’t be able to do the
same for consciousness; he therefore mirrors the reductive methods of science
and applies it to experience. The conclusion is radical; the most fundamental
entities of the universe are physical of course, but they are also

In conclusion, the essay above discussed
and explained mind-body problem as  to  defined panpsychism as an attempt to
reductively explain experience without the limitations of science but following
its model. Panpsychism does offer a good solution to the mind?body problem.