Proving Panpsychism

IMAGE: VOLKER SPRINGEL, VIRGO CONSORTIUM.

Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mental component. That is, all things, from quantum fields to atoms to the Universe itself have some kind of mental life.

The proof for panpsychism is exceptionally simple. The main “argument” against panpsychism is not an argument but a purely faith-based belief propped up by ridiculous pseudoscience and absurd pseudo-logic.

Basically, the claim against panpsychism is that mentality is emergent. That is, mentality magically arises from non-mental stuff at some indeterminate point in evolution. Proponents of emergence strongly dispute that this process is anything magical. But magic involves supernatural occurrences. A new property, mentality, simply occurring at some indeterminate point for no known reason out of nowhere and from nothing would most certainly be a supernatural occurrence.

Now we actually understand emergence very well in physical systems. Every emergent physical property that we understand, is an illusion that is explainable by the physical properties of the system’s constituent parts. Take the hardness property of iron. Iron is made of iron atoms which are not hard but have bonding properties which result in them combining together. We interpret this bonding as hardness. The property of hardness is an illusion that only exists in our reality but not at the reality of the atomic level. That is, if you were able to shrink down to the level of the atom you would not experience hardness. You would instead see atoms packed together.

There is no reason to believe that mentality works in a different way. In fact, it would be an extraordinary claim that mentality would operate in an entirely different way than physical processes. Particularly when there is not a single shred of evidence or even a logical argument to support such an oddly magical explanation.

So in effect, refuting the magical emergent argument for mentality is actually panpsychism’s proof. As far as we know, all emergent physical processes are explainable by simpler physical processes of a system’s component parts. Therefore mentality will be explainable by the simpler mental properties of the system’s component parts as well. Since magical creation from nothing is impossible or at the least unjustifiable, the smallest system should have the simplest level of mentality. When these simple systems organize into complex systems we get not only complex physical properties but we can get complex mental properties too.

Argument Summary

P. Either mentality arises from non-mental stuff or all stuff has simple mentality that can be arranged into complex forms.
P. There is no justification whatsoever that mentality can magically arise out of nothing. Therefore this claim can be rejected.
P. Further, it is impossible for complex things to arise from nowhere. Such an explanation can therefore only be supernatural.
P. All complex physical properties result from the arrangement of simpler versions of these properties in a system’s subsystems.
P. It would involve special pleading to claim that mentality would operate in a dramatically different way than physicality.
C. Therefore panpsychism must necessarily be true.

When there is only one rational explanation for something, that explanation, while not technically proven true, is the one only the irrational will reject. When an explanation appeals to supernatural magical forces, that explanation will only be entertained by the non-rational.

Conclusion

So human mentality is in fact emergent. But it doesn’t magically arise out of thin air from non-mental stuff. Complex mentality instead emerges from a multitude of simple mental systems operating together in a complex system. That is, human-level mentality emerges exactly the same way as the physical human being emerges as cells grow and multiply. Panpsychism is therefore an undeniable fact that philosophy and science needs to come to terms with.

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