All shares consciousness – not just us

Some top scientific thinkers are now recognizing the all infusing consciousness that permeates even inanimate matter. In my book, Sun of gOd, I look at its presence in grains of sand and galaxies, electrons and weather systems, revealing a Universe incorporating both intelligence and design without need of any Intelligent Designer.

Adding to the subject, journalist Olivia Goldhill writes of increasing academic credibility given to panpsychism, quoting Philip Goff as saying “Consciousness is a fundamental feature of physical matter; every single particle in existence has an “unimaginably simple” form of consciousness.”  Centuries of scientific taboo begin to crumble.

In the chapter of my book dedicated to inanimate intelligence I cover many of the bases that scientists are now reaching. There follow a few selected paragraphs, penned ten years ago, followed by the article in Quartz.

“Inanimate intelligence – is stuff smarter than we think?” (snippets)

…The more that science discovers about the inner workings and strategies of the vegetable world the more and more probable it seems that intelligence does pervade the entire living world, from mankind to microbe, from tree to fungi. But what about the inanimate world of rocks and mountains, grains of sand and crystals, winds and hurricanes, blazing stars?

…From the traditional viewpoint of the animist, a universal consciousness permeates every particle of matter in the Universe, from the electrons in your socks to the thundercloud about to soak them. If these particles of matter do possess some awareness of being, some miniscule micro-bit of consciousness, it becomes less surprising that they are able to self-organize into something with form and order, something with behaviour that seems intelligent. This “something” might be a whole weather system or a single thundercloud, an ocean or a rolling river, a mountain range or an ordered beach, a star or a volcano.

…Mountaineers and seafarers have long attributed character and personality to the realms they explore, as did the early astronomers, before the thought of it was banned. Without allowing for anything other than brain-based intelligence, we must view all this stuff as chemical and physical reactions, accidentally bringing about complex functioning phenomena, some of which are even able to support intelligent life.

…A giant ocean full of intelligence might be dependent upon that which exists within its every drop. If we can accept James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis of a global planetary system operating as though there is intelligence at play, then we can logically accept that the sub-components of this system form an integral part of that intelligence. We recognize a similar concept in the group intelligence of a termite mound or a slime mould, seeing it as a composite of its individual components. Perhaps intelligence will always be a by-product of consciousness – perhaps even it is the purpose of consciousness.

…Although it might appear simplistic, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the reason things “hang together” so well is because every thing contains some measure of intelligence, together with an awareness of being, belonging and form. Until they are willing to include intelligence in their considerations, scientists may never be able to explain how natural phenomena from slime moulds to weather systems to stars manage to achieve and maintain their incredible feats of self-organization.

Article from QUARTZ, by Olivia Goldhill
The idea that everything from spoons to stones are conscious is gaining academic credibility

Consciousness permeates reality. Rather than being just a unique feature of human subjective experience, it’s the foundation of the universe, present in every particle and all physical matter.

This sounds like easily-dismissible bunkum, but as traditional attempts to explain consciousness continue to fail, the “panpsychist” view is increasingly being taken seriously by credible philosophers, neuroscientists, and physicists, including figures such as neuroscientist Christof Koch and physicist Roger Penrose.

“Why should we think common sense is a good guide to what the universe is like?” says Philip Goff, a philosophy professor at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. “Einstein tells us weird things about the nature of time that counters common sense; quantum mechanics runs counter to common sense. Our intuitive reaction isn’t necessarily a good guide to the nature of reality.”

David Chalmers, a philosophy of mind professor at New York University, laid out the “hard problem of consciousness” in 1995, demonstrating that there was still no answer to the question of what causes consciousness. Traditionally, two dominant perspectives, materialism and dualism, have provided a framework for solving this problem. Both lead to seemingly intractable complications.

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It’s about self-organising consciousness


Is matter conscious?

I was recently alerted by Graham Hancock to this excellent article from a Norwegian philosopher maintaining that matter itself is conscious, a conclusion she came to through logical thought process.

If you have read my book, Sun of gOd, you will know that I reached this same conclusion, as one of the inevitable consequences of recognizing consciousness in our Sun and other stars. The chapter was titled: Inanimate intelligence   –   perhaps stuff is smarter than we think.

As I put it  “For all we know, the tree might be tickled by the ripple of a breeze; the volcano excited by its own eruption; the thundercloud proud of its lightning; the mountain sublime in its majesty.”

Seneca put it like this 2000 years ago…

“Life is the fire that burns and the sun that gives light. Life is the wind and the rain and the thunder in the sky. Life is matter and is earth, what is and what is not, and what beyond is in Eternity.”

This is Hedda Hassel Mørch’s approach to the classic hard problem of consciousness.

The nature of consciousness seems to be unique among scientific puzzles. Not only do neuroscientists have no fundamental explanation for how it arises from physical states of the brain, we are not even sure whether we ever will. Astronomers wonder what dark matter is, geologists seek the origins of life, and biologists try to understand cancer—all difficult problems, of course, yet at least we have some idea of how to go about investigating them and rough conceptions of what their solutions could look like. Our first-person experience, on the other hand, lies beyond the traditional methods of science. Following the philosopher David Chalmers, we call it the hard problem of consciousness.

But perhaps consciousness is not uniquely troublesome. Going back to Gottfried Leibniz and Immanuel Kant, philosophers of science have struggled with a lesser known, but equally hard, problem of matter. What is physical matter in and of itself, behind the mathematical structure described by physics? This problem, too, seems to lie beyond the traditional methods of science, because all we can observe is what matter does, not what it is in itself—the “software” of the universe but not its ultimate “hardware.” On the surface, these problems seem entirely separate. But a closer look reveals that they might be deeply connected.   Continue reading