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Could consciousness pervade the universe ?

Posted on Friday, 17 January, 2020 | Comment icon 634 comments

Could even fundamental particles possess some form of consciousness ? Image Credit: kalhh / Pixabay
The question of exactly what consciousness is has puzzled philosophers and scientists alike for millennia.
We - as in the human race - are conscious, meaning that on a day-to-day basis we perceive a great deal about the world around us. We feel - both physically and emotionally - and can not only ask big questions about our own existence, but also about the nature of existence itself.

But what exactly is consciousness ? Is it something that our brains produce or can it exist outside of complex, highly-evolved forms of life ? Could consciousness be inherent to all matter ?

Philosopher Philip Goff, author of Galileo's Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness, subscribes to panpsychism - the idea that consciousness is not exclusive to the human mind but is in fact a fundamental feature of the universe that pervades throughout the cosmos.

"This doesn't mean that literally everything is conscious," he told Scientific American.
"The basic commitment is that the fundamental constituents of reality - perhaps electrons and quarks - have incredibly simple forms of experience. And the very complex experience of the human or animal brain is somehow derived from the experience of the brain's most basic parts."

"Human beings have a very rich and complex experience; horses less so; mice less so again. As we move to simpler and simpler forms of life, we find simpler and simpler forms of experience."

In this context, 'experience' is a reference to perceiving the world, either through pleasure or pain, or through seeing, hearing, smelling, touching etc.

"Perhaps, at some point, the light switches off, and consciousness disappears," said Goff.

"But it's at least coherent to suppose that this continuum of consciousness fading while never quite turning off carries on into inorganic matter, with fundamental particles having almost unimaginably simple forms of experience to reflect their incredibly simple nature."

Source: Scientific American | Comments (634)

Tags: Consciousness, Panpsychism

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #625 Posted by Festina on 16 February, 2020, 20:39
How so?   He’s been with the same woman for over thirty years when he could have easily traded up for newer super models.  Seems to be a faithful husband.  He’s fit and eats healthy food, works his butt off and is self made by his own merits  — no inheritance was he given.  Accepts his receding hairline and graying hair with dignity and he seems to be apolitical.  He’s not best bassist on the planet but as a songwriter he’s top notch.  He also helps other aspiring musicians — and appears to be very unselfish all around.  So what’s your problem?     
Comment icon #626 Posted by joc on 17 February, 2020, 0:44
My only goal is to know the 'actual' truth....Ultimate Truth has no meaning to me.  If something is true...then it is true regardless of what one believes...right?  That's the only place I have ever been coming from...what is the 'actual' truth.  Okay...from one perspective we can say...no one knows what the actual truth is...but from MY perspective...one can know what the actual truth is if nothing else than by eliminating the things that we know are NOT truth.  With NDEs...the truth is...they never actually 'died'.  Their brains came back...so...we know for certain that they didn't experienc... [More]
Comment icon #627 Posted by joc on 17 February, 2020, 0:46
I'm not sure really...I've always thought he was a flake.  Since I can't remember why I thought that...I'll just go with what you said...he sounds like a good guy. See how easy that is?
Comment icon #628 Posted by Festina on 17 February, 2020, 0:57
It’s okay, I didn’t like him much at the beginning either...but I didn’t know why exactly.  And then I listened ....with new ears.  Now I love him!         
Comment icon #629 Posted by Festina on 17 February, 2020, 1:09
No one really dies — there is no death, what seems so is transition.   You'll find out....when you croak.  Then you will know.
Comment icon #630 Posted by Festina on 17 February, 2020, 1:48
Great song and on topic......  
Comment icon #631 Posted by lightly on 17 February, 2020, 16:24
I'm unsure about a lot of things...  But OOBexperiences  do seem to occur often enough for me to legitimately question if our conciousness is strictly confined to our brains.    After all, energy is everywhere, is it always strictly defined and contained? i think it leaks.   I also think there may be 'shortcuts' in spacetime....or even instances of energy making spacetime completely irrelevant.  ??? these are just my thoughts and beliefs.  As is my firm belief that the manifest is born of the unmanifest. Which is of course indefineable...unexplainable...and so, is also completely exasperating ... [More]
Comment icon #632 Posted by lightly on 17 February, 2020, 17:15
I think I'm beginning to understand.   So, your saying it is impossible to prove that God does NOT exist.    ( I'm just teasing you )  
Comment icon #633 Posted by Helen of Annoy on 17 February, 2020, 17:32
I too have that problem with lacking vocabulary for the... abovestuff or far-out-so-close-inside-stuff... I mean, in my own, first language too, not just in English      Oh, yes, OOBEs too, the closest to NDEs a living person can get. And dreams that later did happen in the real life.  There're so many of those seemingly little, personal insights, that, combined, lead to pretty certain conclusion that... we don't know    We probably can't even know in this form, at this stage of human development, but we are going somewhere *wiggles* 
Comment icon #634 Posted by lightly on 17 February, 2020, 20:10
..   Removal of rather insulting and unkind remark to maintain peace and harmony in what is, for some, a dead and completely uninvolved universe. .  

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