Re: What exactly is "panpsychism"?

From: Samantha Atkins (
Date: Sun Jan 11 2004 - 14:20:19 MST

On Sun, 11 Jan 2004 09:16:33 -0600
"Paul Fidika" <> wrote:
> Sorry, I don't think that Metaqualia explained panpsychism well at all when
> he quoted Hans Moravec; what you're talking about above (and in Moravec's
> quote) is more like some kind of "quantum mysticism" than panpsychism. I
> consider myself a panpsychist at the moment, and all I mean by asserting
> this is that I believe all things have qualia to a certain extent. A quale
> is simply "what it's like to be in some state," e.g. information, and
> because all things, from rocks to raindrops, posses information and can
> "extract" information from other sources (like when a rock extracts
> information about a surface when it collides with it), this means they must
> all have qualia.

This seems confused. That which is "what it's like to be in some state" can only be relevant to an entity capable of such self-reflection. To attribute this to all things that can be in any state whatsoever is not justified. It is a projection of our own self-awareness universally.

> Of course, I'm definitely not asserting that rocks are
> "conscious" or "sentient" by any reasonable definition of the word; they're
> far too simple for that, all I've asserted is that there is something it is
> like to be a rock, and probably not much at that. Though rocks absorb all of
> their photons and soundwaves unfocused, unfiltered, and with no
> pre-conceived notions, they "see" reality in full as it truly is; I suppose
> there's a certain Taoistic virtue in that. ;-)

Seems pretty loose and sloppy to me. But that isn't to say I don't have more than a little attraction toward the position. I just see no way to justify it.

> My current working hypothesis is that the complexity and richness of qualia
> corresponds directly to the complexity of the algorithm. If you had two Paul
> Fidikas; myself and a "Brute-Force Paul Fidika," who consisted simply of a
> long list of IF Percept A, Then Action B rules. If Brute-Force Paul had
> enough of these rules, like more than would reasonably fit into our
> universe, and if these were carefully constructed to make Brute-Force Paul
> do whatever I would do in any given situation, then we would both be
> functionally equivalent. HOWEVER, I believe that Brute-Force Paul would have
> much less qualia than I, in fact, no more qualia than a really long and
> stupid list of switch-statements in C++, because that's "all" he is, after
> all.

The list would probably be surprisingly short at a raw behavioral level for human beings. <g> In the above case, by construction, the automaton would have no self-awareness.
> Also for the record, Searle and his "information relativism" doesn't like
> panpsychism (see Chapter six of The Mystery of Consciousness and his
> exchange with David Chalmers therein), although all Searle can ever muster
> up against it is "my intuition suggests that panpsychism is a load of BS,
> but I can't come up with even a remotely good reason as to why that would be
> true." He doesn't actually come out and say that, but like any good
> philosopher rambles on and on for a few pages about nothing (poor
> fluent-aphasiac ;-p ).

Perhaps a more fruitful question may be whether a rock having qualia makes any difference or not.

- samantha

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