Pantheism and Ockham’s Razor

When viewed under the lens of Ockham’s Razor, pantheism appears to rise above its competitors. Ockham’s Razor favors the explanation that makes the least number of assumptions while accommodating all relevant data.

In a previous article we presented a logical summary for a proof of God:

Argument Summary
  • Humans are composed of elementary particles or fields of “energy”.
  • Human mental states result from these field interactions.
  • Every complex physical property results from the shaping of simpler forms of that property in a system’s interacting subsystems.
  • It would involve special pleading to claim that mentality works dramatically differently from physicality.
  • It is therefore irrational to assume that a property like mentality would magically arise from nowhere when fields interact.
  • Therefore fields have simple mentality.
  • Field interactions shape this mental state making it more complex.
  • The more and sophisticated the interactions, the more complex the states.
  • The Universe is composed only of interacting fields.
  • Therefore the Universe must have some kind of mental life.
  • Ergo God.

Now this argument contains a couple of assumptions relating to panpsychism. 1) mental states don’t simply spring out of non-mental stuff; 2) mental properties arise the same way as physical properties.

These are all extremely reasonable assumptions. Physical phenomena don’t spring out of non-physical stuff so why would we entertain that mental phenomena could spring out of non-mental stuff? There is no justification whatsoever that we should treat mental phenomena completely differently than physical phenomena in that regard. In other words, we can’t plead that mentality is a special case with respect to physicality. We can’t engage in special pleading.

But pantheism’s chief competitor, materialism, does make two truly outlandish assumptions: 1) mental states spring out of non-mental stuff by some unknown unjustifiable process; 2) mental properties arise in a completely different way than physical properties. These are monumental assumptions. Since they require some as yet unknown mechanism, they are in fact supernatural assumptions.

Something is supernatural if it transcends the laws of nature. Materialism’s assumption that the mental strongly emerges from the physical seems to meet that definition. There is not a single solitary concrete example of the strong emergence of anything. So strong emergence goes against everything we know about the laws of nature. Strong emergence is in fact supernatural.

The Special Pleading of Mentality’s Strong Emergence

Humans are ultimately composed of elementary particles or fields. Every complex physical trait we have can be traced to primitive versions of this trait in these fields. Every physical thing we do is a form of movement. We can only perform these movements because the fields we are composed of have the ability to move.

These movements require energy. Our bodies have mechanisms to absorb and use energy to perform these movements. The same holds true with our elementary particles.

The ability to move our limbs doesn’t magically appear out of thin air at some point of development. It is instead directly traceable to each of our subsystems: cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles. There is not one physical attribute that is an exception to this rule. As such, complex physical phenomena are said to weakly emerge from the interactions of subsystems that possess simpler forms of these physical phenomena.

A rational person therefore would assume that this weak emergence rule would apply to our mental abilities too. That is, every complex mental phenomena we are capable of would have a simpler counterpart in each subsystem. This would mean though that the cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles that compose us would have simple forms of mentality too. That is, panpsychism is a reality.

The alternative to our subsystems possessing mentality involves the idea that mentality strongly emerges from physical sources that lack any mental capabilities. This odd scenario assumes that mentality is somehow inexplicably special. It is a unique case that applies only to mental capabilities but not physical properties. Yet no justification whatsoever has ever been presented for this special case. This is the very definition of special pleading.

Special pleading is a fallacy in which something is cited as an exception to a general or universal principle, without justifying the special exception. Those who oppose panpsychism necessarily must embrace the strong emergence of mentality. They dogmatically adhere to this irrational outlook with only the rudimentary logical fallacy of special pleading to justify it.

It is high time that all sane scholars reject the raving irrationality of mentality’s strong emergence and instead embrace the only rational alternative, panpsychism.

Panpsychism’s Combination Non-Problem

For many philosophers the so called combination problem is panpsychism’s Achilles’ heel. The combination problem refers to not understanding how the multitude of cells (or particles) possessing simple mentality, work together to form the complex mentality that we experience.

There really is no problem at all though. We don’t seem to have a problem understanding how our complex physical properties weakly emerge from simpler forms of those properties in the cells or particles that compose us. Why on Earth then would there somehow be a problem for mental properties?

This “problem” is really just a case of special pleading. Mental properties somehow inexplicably operate differently than physical properties because some philosophers simply find the idea of panpsychism distasteful.

Highly integrated cells working together cause new physical capabilities to emerge just as our advanced mental capabilities emerge from cells with far simpler mental capabilities. The mind’s subjectness is akin to the body’s systemness. Either both have a combination problem or neither does.

Has any actual justification ever been presented that the combination problem even exists? It does not appear so. This “problem” then is merely a dogmatic fantasy or delusion based on nothing but blind faith.

The real combination problem seems to apply to anti-panpsychists. How does phenomenal experience somehow magically arise from nowhere when the right combination of particles form? This is the real question that is consistently ignored by those with a deep-seated, blindingly irrational aversion to the eminently rational position of panpsychism.

Pantheism The Mother Spirituality

Most theists (believers in God) will not want to hear this but all theisms (beliefs in God) are forms of pantheism. Panpsychism too necessarily leads to pantheism. Consider this argument:

  • The Universe is all there is.
  • There is no way that a supreme being could be less than all there is or more than all there is.
  • God can only be the Universe.

The first statement is a simple fact. The second statement though requires some clarification. Logically, barring supernatural beliefs, God cannot be more than All there is. God is a thing and therefore cannot be outside the set of all things. But can God be less than all there is? Now consider this other argument:

  • All mind is shaped by matter interaction.
  • All matter is mind.
  • All matter interacts with all other matter through gravity for one.
  • The totality of mind is Mind or God the Universe.

For the first two statements refer to our article on Proving the Existence of God. For the third statement refer to Newton’s law of universal gravitation. If all matter interacts with itself, all matter will form the ultimate mind, God. So God cannot be less that all there is. God clearly is all there is.

All claimed supernatural properties of God are unjustified and even unjustifiable and so can be flatly ignored. What is left clearly and logically shows that all forms of theism including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Deism and any others as well as panpsychism, are forms of pantheism. Truly it seems that pantheism is the mother of all theistic spiritualities.

Anti-Panpsychism’s Argumentum Ad Absurdum

Panpsychism is the idea that everything in the Universe has some sort of awareness or mind. Pantheism relies on panpsychism and extends it, so it is vitally important to not only prove pantheism true but panpsychism too. The reality of panpsychism can be proven with a very simple logical argument.

The Argument

We know from biology that thinking humans are collections of individual living entities called cells and that these cells are composed of molecules. We know from chemistry that molecules are composed solely of atoms. We understand from physics that atoms are composed of subatomic particles which ultimately are composed only of elementary particles. Elementary particles are simply packets of energy. Energy packets are just energy enclosed within a field.

Everything that a human does can be traced down to interactions of these energy fields. Nothing we do can be caused by anything else unless you believe in the existence of magical paranormal forces. So, the only logical conclusion is that human mental states result from the interactions of energy packets or energy. The Universe, all that is, is composed only of energy and therefore is a vast sea of mentality.

Argumentum Ad Absurdum

Another way to prove the reality of panpsychism is to illustrate the utter absurdity of the opposing argument that the building blocks of matter have no awareness and that awareness simply appears from nowhere at some indeterminate point.

So, according to some anti-panpsychists, a human zygote has no mentality but mentality magically switches on at some precise point in its development. No mentality, then after one more neural connection it magically appears from nowhere.

Other anti-panpsychists will admit that cells have mentality but maintain that the atoms that compose them don’t. So at some magically precise point in evolution, one more molecule was added to to a primitive cell and then mentality magically appeared from nowhere.

The blatant absurdity at work here is that no actual mechanism is proposed for the development of awareness. Awareness simply appears out of nowhere for no reason at some indeterminate point of development.

Our explanation on the other hand has no such problem, awareness is simply ubiquitous. Awareness is a fundamental property of the most simple form of matter, energy. When organized into a sufficiently complex intercommunicating system, the sum total of energy is aware of itself as a system.

Proving Panpsychism

Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mental component. That is, all things, from free energy 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 fundamental 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, the smallest system must 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.


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.