Regarding Panpsychism

Pax Christi, everybody!

Are there good reasons to consider Panpsychism, and if so, is it compatible with Christianity?

I would say pretty emphatically no to both questions. It’s right up there with panentheism, and both lean heavily on a lot of woo. We are distinct individuals, and as not only our own personal experience tells us, but that also is reflected in scripture. There is no hint of consciousness being an attribute of material itself.


Is this what you are talking about? Ironically, I had just added this encyclopedia to the Bib (Bibliography of Useful Sources), before I read your post. Panpsychism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

What brings you to ask about panpsychism? What questions does it seem it might answer for you?

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No as subjective experience is a function of neuronal complexity.

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That’s the one! Pretty crazy how that happens sometimes.

Well, I think my consideration comes from the mind/body problem, which I honestly don’t really understand, and I don’t want to assume that the mind is what the brain produces, so I’m trying to hear out everyone.


Those are interesting questions. I know some people really wrestle with things like this. I think my version of the question is something like: what is the connection, perhaps overlap, between the material body and the psyche? I have a very materialistic understanding of the , er, uh, material/stuff. So, I wouldn’t consider the material/stuff to have any kind of soul.
But none of what I say here has any formal philosophical background, and what you are talking about does.
How would one, I wonder, determine whether there is soul in the material or even what that is?
It’ll be interesting to hear what people say.

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I have to alter my response because I see more than one definition of panpsychism…

From Wikipedia:

In the philosophy of mind, panpsychism (/pænˈsaɪkɪzəm/) is the view that the mind or a mindlike aspect is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of reality. It is also described as a theory that “the mind is a fundamental feature of the world which exists throughout the universe.”

It is not compatible with either Christianity or science. It is frankly either short step from the narcissistic option of solipsism, or a poorly thought out effort to escape the confining rigidity of the naturalistic worldview in support of some religious ideas.

From Internet encyclopedia of Philosophy

Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mind or a mind-like quality.

This is different… or at least causes me to read the other definitions differently… more like animism than solipsism. I don’t know about Christianity but it is at odds with much of science. It is too magical for my taste, for instead of looking for an explanation of our experience of the human mind it magically adds it to all things like a justification for anthropomorphizing everything. I am reminded of the anime “Kami Chu” where you have gods for every thing that exists.


Here’s yet one more:

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One of the most challenging puzzles for philosophers and scientists is how did consciousness originate? Did it emerge from the complexity of neurons or is there some other explanation? The idea of panpsychism grew out of the realization that consciousness could not have emerged solely from the material elements of the periodic table unless those elements had a spark of consciousness. It is an interesting idea, but how would one test it. Another idea that is not amenable to testing is the Greek idea of the logos which refers to words which are the outer manifestation of self - consciousness. Max Planck, the discoverer of quanta as he immersed himself in the developing theory of quantum mechanics said, “We can never get behind consciousness.” What if consciousness is not emergent but is the ground of all being as Paul Tillich famously proclaimed to be God.

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I’m fine with God being ‘the ground of all being’ since he is the Creator of all things.

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It’s both, at either end of the scale. Or just at our end. Either way, pet rocks are whimsy.

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