Note: My maya-gaia website, evolving since 1997, is a chronicle of my passing all considered opinion
through the lens of my Nirvikalpa Samadhi with both an open-mind and healthy skepticism.

Scientific Discourse on Consciousness and Panpsychism

Distinguishing Pantheism, Panentheism, Pansychism

Pantheism: Pantheism, Pantheist: From the Greek words "pan" (all) and "theos" (God). God is all. The belief that every existing entity (humans, animals, etc.) together, is a part of God. The entire universe is divine. They do not view God in personal terms, as having a personality, having the ability to make decisions, able to interact with humans, etc.

Panentheism: Panentheism, Panentheist: (From the Greek pan-en-theos which means all-in-God) Like Pantheism, Panentheism includes the belief that God is in everything. The belief that the entire universe - substances, forces and laws -- is God - the universe is God's body. But, in addition, God is seen as transcending the universe. This belief is seen in Process Theology and in some components of New Age belief. Leading Panentheists in the present and recent past are John Cobb, Charles Hartshorne, Shubert Ogden, and Alfred North Whitehead.

Panpsychism: Panpsychism, in philosophy, is either the view that all parts of matter involve mind, or the more holistic view that the whole universe is an organism that possesses a mind (see pandeism and panentheism). This is not to say that panpsychism believes that all matter is alive or even conscious but rather that the constituent parts of matter are composed of some form of mind and are sentient.

This is a non-technical exploration of the Cosmic Mind - a new metaparadigm of reality. Rather than one embraced by classical physics where our separate consciousness is evolved out of primordial matter, forces and space/time- the new metaparadigm proposes that a conscious singularity created all numinous, forces, time/space and phenomenal matter. From this, our brains evolved enabling the expression of sentient consciousness subtley entangled with its cosmic source.

While metaphysical concepts in Eastern and gnostic mysticism provide strong philosophical support for such a concept this page concerns arguments arising out of contemporary scientific research particularly in the fields of quantum physics, psychology, neuroscience, biophotronics, nanotechnology and cosmology. see links to resources

Process Philosophy and the New Thought Movement Process philosophy, or process theology, or simply process thought, is an outlook with roots that go as far back as the thought of Heraclitus in the West and Buddhism in the East, but the most prominent philosopher in developing its present form was Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). Drawing on diverse sources, including quantum physics, he worked out an awe-inspiring metaphysical system. Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000) preferred to call his philosophy psychicalism, rather than the more traditional panpsychism, a philosophy holding that reality is composed of innumerable minds or experience.

Panpsychism, Do We Need A New Name? by Dr. Ken Van Cleve - Even many panpsychists don't like to call it panpsychism. There is something unscientific about the word. It seems to conjure up mythology and we have enough trouble getting taken seriously in scientific circles as it is. Picture Psyche and Cupid and it starts to be laughable. And the less said about the God Pan the better. Perhaps we do need a new name? Personally I have trouble calling it panpsychism because I think the word "pan" meaning "all", is misleading. I do not believe all things have a mind. Even the "psychism" is misleading because it isnít necessary for an experiencing entity to have what is commonly thought of as cognitive ability or mind. In spite of its name, ours is the ontology that best accounts for mind and consciousness.

Could Life And Consciousness Be Related To
The Fundamental Quantum Nature Of The Universe?

Theoretical physics and experimental psychology were a first step towards uncovering truth in the inner world of consciousness. The bridge that linked the inner and outer worlds was light. Both relativity and quantum physics, the two great paradigm shifts of modern physics, started from anomalies in the behavior of light. And both led to radical new understandings of the nature of light. Light, it seemed, occupied a very special place in the cosmos; it was in some ways more elemental than space, time or matter. It seems light may be the fundamental quanta that enables a seamless continuity between our personal consciousness and a cosmic matrix.

Stuart Hameroff We account for feelings and conscious experience by philosophical pan-protopsychism in which the components of conscious experience are irreducible, fundamental entities embedded in the Planck scale of fundamental spacetime geometry. Our proposal is consistent with the philosophy of A. N. Whitehead who proposed that consciousness was a sequence of "occasions of experience" occurring in a "basic field of proto-conscious experience". Thus the infinitesimally tiny Planck scale, described by loop quantum gravity, string theory, quantum foam etc., is the authentic Matrix whose configurations give rise to conscious experience (and everything else). The boundary between the quantum and classical worlds is unclear, and the transition between the two is commonly described as quantum state reduction, collapse of the wave function, or decoherence.

The Illusion of Reality by Peter Russell: In much the same way as Copernicusí insight turned our model of the cosmos inside out, the distinction between the physical world and our experience of the world turns the relationship of consciousness and the material world inside out. In the current metaparadigm, consciousness is assumed to emerge from the world of space, time and matter. In the new metaparadigm, everything we know, including space, time and matter, manifests from consciousness.

We think the world we see around us is composed of matter- that the stuff of the world is, for the want of a better word, matterstuff. As far as the actual physical reality is concerned, this may be so- uncertain though we may be as to the ultimate nature of this matterstuff. But the world we see around us is not the physical world. The world we actually know, is the world that takes form in our mind. And this world is not made of matterstuff, but mindstuff. Everything we know, perceive, and imagine, every color, sound, sensation, thought, and feeling, is a form that consciousness has taken on. As far as this world is concerned, everything is structured in consciousness.

Matter is derived from mind or consciousness, and not mind or consciousness from matter.

The underlying assumption of the current metaparadigm is that matter is insentient. The alternative is that the faculty of consciousness is a fundamental quality of nature. Consciousness does not arise from some particular arrangement of nerve cells or processes going on between them, or from any other physical features; it is always present.

If the faculty of consciousness is always present, then the relationship between consciousness and nervous systems needs to be rethought. Rather than creating consciousness, nervous systems may be amplifiers of consciousness, increasing the richness and quality of experience.

What is Your Dangerous Idea?- Mind is a universally distributed quality; contribution in the Edge feature by Rudy Rucker - On Panpsychism: Each object has a mind. Stars, hills, chairs, rocks, scraps of paper, flakes of skin, molecules - each of them possesses the same inner glow as a human, each of them has singular inner experiences and sensations. I'm quite comfortable with the notion that everything is a computation. But what to do about my sense that there's something numinous about my inner experience? Panpsychism represents a non-anthropocentric way out: mind is a universally distributed quality. Yes, the workings of a human brain are a deterministic computation that could be emulated by any universal computer. And, yes, I sense more to my mental phenomena than the rule-bound exfoliation of reactions to inputs: this residue is the inner light, the raw sensation of existence. But, no, that inner glow is not the exclusive birthright of humans, nor is it solely limited to biological organisms.

Note that panpsychism needn't say that universe is just one mind. We can also say that each object has an individual mind. One way to visualize the distinction between the many minds and the one mind is to think of the world as a stained glass window with light shining through each pane. The world's physical structures break the undivided cosmic mind into a myriad of small minds, one in each object. The minds of panpsychism can exist at various levels. As well as having its own individuality, a person's mind would also be, for instance, a hive mind based upon the minds of the body's cells and the minds of the body's elementary particles.

Do the panpsychic minds have any physical correlates? On the one hand, it could be that the mind is some substance that accumulates near ordinary matter - dark matter or dark energy are good candidates. On the other hand, mind might simply be matter viewed in a special fashion: matter experienced from the inside. Let me mention three specific physical correlates that have been proposed for the mind. Some have argued that the experience of mind results when a superposed quantum state collapses into a pure state. It's an alluring metaphor, but as a universal automatist, I'm of the opinion that quantum mechanics is a stop-gap theory, destined to give way to a fully deterministic theory based upon some digital precursor of spacetime. David Skrbina, author of the clear and comprehensive book Panpsychism in the West, suggests that we might think of a physical system as determining a moving point in a multi-dimensional phase space that has an axis for each of the system's measurable properties. He feels this dynamic point represents the sense of unity characteristic of a mind.

I still haven't said anything about why panpsychism is a dangerous idea. Panpsychism, like other forms of higher consciousness, is dangerous to business as usual. If my old car has the same kind of mind as a new one, I'm less impelled to help the economy by buying a new vehicle. If the rocks and plants on my property have minds, I feel more respect for them in their natural state. If I feel myself among friends in the universe, I'm less likely to overwork myself to earn more cash. If my body will have a mind even after I'm dead, then death matters less to me, and it's harder for the government to cow me into submission.

Examining Psychism a discussion with Lee Smolin and Stuart Hameroff: Here is Robert Anton Wilsonís definition of Von Neumann's Catastrophe of the infinite regress: A demonstration by Dr.Von Neumann that quantum mechanics entails an infinite regress of measurements before the quantum uncertainty can be removed. That is, any measuring device is itself a quantum system containing uncertainty; a second measuring device, used to monitor the first, contains its own quantum uncertainty; and so on, to infinity. Wigner and others have pointed out that this uncertainty is only terminated by the decision of the observer.

What this means, and has been proven time and again in experiment after experiment, is that without a conscious observer, quantum states remain uncertain and in a state of indeterminacy. It is the conscious observer that makes the uncertainty wave function collapse out of an either/or "maybe" into something "real". No experiment has yet been able to remove this observer from the results. Therefore without consciousness, there is no wave function collapse, and no "reality". Scientists, including Einstein have been fighting this conclusion for more than 70 years, when he said, "God does not play dice", but experiment after experiment has proven this to be the case. The Aspect Experiment in 1982 and its dozen follow up experiments have reproduced this non-local consciousness dependent result. This is most troubling to determinist materialist as it goes against their training and every other working scientific theory. Yet the power of quantum mechanics has made itself known in almost every field of technology and industry.

Francis Crick Not to be disrespectful, but Francis [Crick] is heavily invested in his "Astonishing hypothesis" that he already knows that consciousness is not mysterious - just a result of nerve cell firings (is there a testable prediciton of this assertion- viz testable predictions of classical emergence theories?). by Stuart Hameroff

Stuart: I am indeed heavily invested in the Orch OR theory. And I *believe* it to be true to at least some extent. The difference is that Orch OR generates testable predictions. There is a list of 20 testable predictions in an appendix in my paper from Phil Trans Royal Society on my website (under Penrose-Hameroff Orch OR papers). Orch OR can be disproved (and many have tried). That obviously doesn't mean its correct, but it is a viable theory. And, with all humility, it is in my opinion one of the few (if not the only) in depth theories of consciousness in that it addresses qualia and detailed neurophysiology. Its "unfortunate" that to do so implicates quantum theory.

Belief is the death of thought. - R.A.Wilson

Consciousness Is a Big Suitcase an Edge discourse about Marvin Minsky's propositions with John Horgan, Stuart Hameroff - Stuart: "Minsky's Big Suitcase is Big Sandbag". Marvin Minsky's recent attempt to explain away consciousness makes me wonder if my Samsonite is feeling distended, or still angry at being lost at Heathrow. OK, I know it's a metaphor, but that's just the problem. Consciousness may indeed be like a theater spotlight, neural net computer, nonlinear attractor such as the Great Spot on Jupiter, or a suitcase. But we need to ask what consciousness actually is, rather than merely what it is like. What is consciousness? There have always been two types of answers. Socrates argued that conscious experience was something created by the cerebrum, whereas Thales, Plotinus and other ancient "panpsychists" saw conscious experience as a fundamental feature of reality. Professor Minsky and other "computationalists" follow Socrates in that consciousness is seen as a property of complex activity in the brain's neural networks (and will eventually occur in electronic computers). However others find this view alone unable to accommodate subjective experience-the explanation seems too much like "and then a miracle happens".

Could proto-conscious qualia actually exist as fundamental properties, like spin, or charge? At very small scales spacetime geometry is not smooth, but quantized. Granularity occurs at the incredibly small "Planck scale" (10^-33 centimeters , 10^-43 seconds) which Roger Penrose portrays as a dynamical spider-web of quantum spins. Experiential qualia as well as Platonic values could exist in Planck scale geometry of quantum spin networks. How did they get there? How did anything get there. In this view qualia ensued (directly or indirectly) as particular patterns and dynamics in spacetime geometry from the Big Bang ("...a miracle DID happen"). How could the brain access this supposed "funda-mental" spacetime? Roger Penrose and I have developed a model of consciousness based on quantum computing in protein structures called microtubules inside the brain's neurons. The proposal ("orchestrated objective reduction - Orch OR") involves sequences of pre-conscious superpositions of information ("qubits") which reduce to classical "bit" solutions. Reduction occurs (non-computably) by Roger's quantum gravity threshold-instability in superposed (separated) Planck scale geometry. The Orch OR model thus portrays consciousness as brain processes connected to self-organizing ripples in the basic makeup of reality. (I'd rather be a ripple than a suitcase.)

Regardless of whether the Orch OR model pans out (and unlike other theories it is testable), computer technology seems to be evolving toward the quantum computer. As the mind has always been viewed as contemporary information processing technology, the 21st century metaphor for consciousness may well be self-organizing quantum comput

Consciousness and Neuroscience - a model by Francis Crick and Christof Koch retrieved from on March 13, 2006 - Perhaps the most intriguing aspect to Crick and Kochís model of consciousness is that it is based upon narrowing not the definition of consciousness, but the kind of consciousness they are attempting to observe. They state that their intention in refining their idea of consciousness is to not only allow for a neurological based description, but, in addition, the need to develop a model located within the scope of the scientific method, that is, a model which can be further honed through experimentation and observation. Their purpose in narrowing aspects of consciousness is to address what they see as the primary hurdle in advancing the study of consciousness, namely, deciding whether consciousness is a philosophical or scientific problem and then determining, if it is a scientific problem, how it can be studied. Many neurologists, Crick and Koch state, still believe that science still lacks the tools needed to study the subject of consciousness, and thus, that the study of consciousness should be postponed.

Crik and Koch suggest not only that now is the time for addressing scientific investigations into the nature of consciousness, but that the primary question scientists should be asking themselves is precisely how the scientific aspects should be distinguished from the philosophical aspects. Thus, Crick and Kochís model of consciousness begins by locating the question of consciousness in the biological, specifically, the neural:

Beginning with what Crick and Koch address as the first question, they seek to separate the philosophical aspects of consciousness--that is, the cultural, social, and ethical aspects of consciousness--from those which relate directly to neurons and neural processes (the neuronal correlate of consciousness.

Update 07 25 2012: Process Studies Excerpts of a thread in the forum, 2004 initiated by Larry Copling, Ft. Lauderdale, FL: PanenDeism is a merging of ideas found in Process New Thought, PanenTheism and Classic Deism. The basis of PanenDeism is one of reason and rationality (as in classic deism)-- which lends a solid practicability and scientific foothold to this new form of Process Theology--but reason is to be held as a "tool" of spiritual investigation, rather than as a replacement "deity" to worship, as is common in many classically deistic approaches to spirituality. On the more positive side of the discussion, however, a scientific approach to spirituality, as Edward O. Wilson explains in his important book "Consilience", generally leads us to a more deistic understanding of God.

PanenTheism is a near "state-of-the-art" conception of Deity, positing (among other things) that all of physical reality exists within God (Immanence AND Transcendence), but Panentheism is seriously limited by retaining some of the elements of classical Theism. What is mandated is a complete "break" from a middle-ages based metaphysics and epistimology. PanenDeism answers that call.

Above all, PanenDeism boldly embraces the ideas of Process Theology, and is, indeed, an innovative new iteration of that theme. It remains "open at the top" in it's scope; allowing room in the evolution of PanenDeistic thought for such insights as "string theory", "parallel universes", or whatever else quantum physics might happen to teach us.

Panendeism Website Panendeism website by Larry Copling, 2011.

God Theorom A critical review of above website by Robert G. Brown, Duke University, 2011 who teaches Introduction to Philosophy of Religious Belief at Duke.

Conscious Cosmology Mike Adams examines the new evidence at CERN for the Higgs Boson field in the context of mainstream science's blind eye to individual and cosmological consciousness and the possibility that intention plays a role in what science discovers. End Update

The Mind-Boggling World Of Brain/Mind Research. Review of April, 2000 conference- Toward a Science of Consciousness hosted by the Center for Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, By Dan Huff

Stuart Hameroff In recent years I have considered that such a connection to the basic proto-conscious level of reality where Platonic values are embedded is strikingly similar to Buddhist and other spiritual concepts. This website is intended to convey the ideas and implications behind Orch OR.

Inductive Reasoning and Panpsychism - a physicsforums thread (9 pages) initiated by Les Sleeth - discoursing panpsychism starting with perspectives from Alan Anderson and referencing the work of Shan Gao

Putting Theism back in Pantheism by Brunla Van Cleve, Ph.D.; an increasing number of scientists who believe in God-guided evolution are looking for answers other than materialistic ones to questions of ultimate reality. The Panpsychist concept of Theism fits well with their understandings of Theism as the ultimate power. Because of this, and the reasons listed below, these scientists are taking a long hard look at the monistic form of pantheism known as Panpsychism.

A Panpsychism Model of Consciousness- Applying An Empirical Inductive Method...a forum thread moderated by Les Sleeth.

Panpsychism Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Panpsychism in the West by David Skrbina - Reviewed by David Cunning, University of Iowa

Concept of Consciousness index to abstracts - U of Arizona: Promoting open, rigorous discussion of all phenomena related to conscious experience.

More Panspychism at ConsciousEntities

Why Classical Mechanics Cannot Naturally Accommodate Consciousness - but Quantum Mechanics Can- Henry P. Stapp, 1995 Theoretical Physics Group, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, University of California, Berkeley, California

Consciousness, Causality, and Quantum Physics- David PrattCa Reprinted with permission from Journal of Scientific Exploration, 11:1, pp. 69-78, Spring 1997

Science of Consciousness and the Hard Problem Henry P. Stapp, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory U of California, Conference at University of Arizona, April 8-13, 1996. Abstract: Quantum theory is essentially a rationally coherent theory of the interaction of mind and matter, and it allows our conscious thoughts to play a causally efficacious and necessary role in brain dynamics. It therefore provides a natural basis, created by scientists, for the science of consciousness.

The Roots of Consciousness by Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD - an encyclopedic volume of consciousness studies. Thinking Allowed host Jeffrey Mishlove is a licensed clinical psychologist, an accomplished radio and television interviewer, one of the most erudite and articulate personalities on television and president of the Intuition Network. Jeffrey received the Pathfinder Award from the Association for Humanistic Psychology for his outstanding contributions to the exploration and expansion of human consciousness.

These links are to works of scientists or keen intellectuals whose comments lend some degree of support to the new metaparadigm and more here. Links for exploring both pro and con sides of the Cosmic Consciousness discourse and more here.



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