Panpsychism and the Hard Problem of Consciousness
Copyright ©2021 - December 06, 2021
It is of no value to discuss a topic without first having sufficient facts and descriptions to base one's reasoning of whether the topic is right or wrong. Therefore, I will present proven examples of what is real in the real world of Natural physics, then compare known Natural physics to what is known of consciousness and the mind, and then compare the known facts to the philosophy of panpsychism.
Real World Natural Physics
For background information, and as mentioned in the Tao Mutually Arising article, for over thirty years I professionally designed, created, modified, and diagnosed electronic circuitry that operated upon the interactions (physics) of electrical field flux. Using the same principles of flux fields (and all other wave-based interactions that are obvious to everyone who takes a moment to look), as a research project I applied similar techniques organically to create numerous new and wonderfully positive emotions that cannot otherwise exist in today's societies. Specific types of non-electrical non-organic flux fields have also now been used for several years to heal specific types of organic disease. There is no theory involved in the use of flux fields: all applications have been performed with the knowledge of what works, how it works, and has worked millions of times perfectly without variation. For individuals like myself, we ignore philosophical theories, and instead only give attention to what is verifiably real in the real world.
When I use the term flux fields, I am inferring all known wave-based interactions that include the different angularities, different durations, different directions, different origins, and different ratios that occur simultaneously within all known Nature-based physics. Natural physics is not linear. Reductionism is impossible within Natural physics. To my own personal knowledge, no modern science has yet described a common Nature-based flux field.
For ease of use, for individuals who are not familiar with physics, they might remember how magnetic fields feel when bar magnets are close to the other, and to then use that memory as a vague and linear analogy of flux fields.
Consciousness and the Mind
All material things in the universe are based upon and react as would be expected within general physics, including the human body and the reasoning mind. Humans are the product of Natural physics, and as such, human behavior follows the laws of Natural physics. The thing that I will name to be the human mind is the Natural physics of flux fields within a closed organic system.
One of the core basics of Natural physics is that there is no such thing as a perfectly stable field. Never is there a perfectly stable water pressure, a perfectly stable gravity, nor a perfectly stable electrical field. Those of us who work professionally with field fluxes are very familiar that 3D field stability cannot possibly happen: ever. Similarly, and as expected relative to Natural physics, the human thinking processes are highly variable relative to health, nutrition, emotional state, and age. Therefore, the human mind is physics-based.
An analogy of the mind is given in the article Does Consciousness Exist — Review and Commentary: "is that of the mind being composed of waves of thoughts within a pyramid-like structure where each combination of two or more waves creates a new layer. Within this analogy all thoughts are separate layers, and the top layer is the current sum of all previous thoughts, choices, perceptions, emotions, and all else. If a standing-attention were created at, say, level 10, then levels 11 and higher would be observed by the standing-attention as they are created."
The three top layers are relatively easy to observe and to analyze. Digging further down relies upon oneself having observed the acts of layering as they had occurred. The following comment about a spider is an example of having self-observed while self-learning (standing-attention), which created memories of the layering process.
The authentic author's comments within Daodejing spoke of similar, that of specific states of virtue requiring specific preexisting layers of foundational virtues.
The article Classical Philosophy of Quality has the mention of one of countless layers of self-learning during an individual's development of mind: "Upon my first having learned to crawl, with abrased elbows I pulled myself into the living room where I discovered a gray spider walking southward on the floor's trim-board. I marveled at the living thing, for it being different than the humans, as well as for its radiance of quality, and I delighted in analyzing the mechanics and geometries of the legs relative to the body and the board that enabled the creature's mobility." The mind self-learns by observing, and the quality of the self-learning is relative to the degree of the effort exerted to analyze. The human mind does not have mystical magical supernatural "functions" "built into our brains", nor is the human mind's reasoning the sole product of "genetic inheritance" as some biologists claim.
If an individual does not exert the effort to learn when an infant, then the individual will become an adult who is incapable of analyzing. Example: MIT graduates who could not make light with a battery, bulb, and wire. To not be able of analyzing a simple thing as an adult means that the individuals were never able to analyze any topic that required similar mental acts of reasoning. (Obtaining a college degree today does not require the ability to think.)
The article Prodigy Myths Autism and History has good examples of individuals who were psychology professors, and yet knew nothing of the mind, nor of physics: "...John Watson proposed "that there were three basic emotions present at birth — fear, rage, and love — that were called out by specific but limited stimuli."
All known science of the mind is similar: full denial of physics and commonsense.
Nature existed before man. Man did not exist before Nature. Nature rules man. Man does not rule Nature. All things in Nature are based upon the same Natural physics, including humans, and also including the human mind. The human mind is physics-based: the human mind behaves precisely how all other physics-based flux fields behave. There is nothing mystical-magical about the human mind's way of learning and thinking.
As a general idea, all material things in the universe (organic and inorganic) are based upon and react as would be expected within general physics, including the human body and the reasoning mind. Humans are the product of Natural physics, and as such, human behavior follows the laws of Natural physics.
To expand the ideas on the creation of the above-mentioned new emotions, think of your life's happiest moment, and give attention to the body's state of energy radiance. As an analogy, if one's happiest moment in life were 100 decibels of a musical tone plus 500 lumen of radiance, then now increase the intensity to 150 decibels and 750 lumen, and then increase again to 200 decibels and 1,000 lumen, while the radiances expand in all directions while increasing of densities. Except for the body's ability to withstand the intensities, there is no limit nor boundary of how intense the happiness (or any other positive emotion) can become. Similarly, amplifying a flux field does not require additional energy input, but rather, it can be done by modifying the durational ratios. Literally, specific positive emotions can be created that are stronger than the body is able to endure (and the emotions are real, based upon one's own life of real experiences, naturally occurring, and not merely be artificially induced emotions). Of a specific genre of emotions, for myself there is no heaven nor paradise that I would trade the emotions for. Some people believe that good people go upwards upon death, and that bad people go downwards upon death: my wish is to go north-north-east at a ~35-degree incline.
Sensory perceptions, learning, thoughts, memories, mentally weighing, and emotions are as expected of Natural physics' flux fields.
However, the "I Observer" (of which some of us name to be the consciousness) does not follow the laws of Natural physics; the "I Observer" is perfectly stable regardless of health, nutrition, emotional state, and age. Even when an individual is in their last moment of life, of when their body energy (chi) has approached total depletion (you will likely not understand what that means until you yourself have experienced it firsthand), or when a painfully palpitating heart is within seconds of permanently stopping, still the "I Observer" remains stable. The physics known to schools and physicists (including Newton), cannot create an "I Observer".
One of the most crucial problems with theories like panpsychism is that different debaters define consciousness differently, which permanently prevents panpsychism from becoming a viable theory. A rough third-person interpretation of a type of "I Observer" is found in The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism:
"Advaita Vedanta centrally posits the existence of a permanent 'self' (atman). The self is characterized as the 'witness' (saksin) of the experiences, that is as that which is conscious of them— yet not in the sense of some substantial entity that performs the witnessing, but rather as nothing but the taking place of witnessing (consciousness) itself. ... Synchronically and diachronically, manifold experiences are presented in one and the same consciousness, whose oneness is not reducible to some unifying relations between the experiences, but rather forms the dimension in which they, together with all their interrelations, have their existence in the first place. This presence-dimension is [my emphasis] ... what is called atman (qua witness) in Advaita. (Fasching 2010, 20)
Savikalpa samadhi would be direct awareness of presence. Nirvikalpa samadhi would be pure presence. Can the latter be 'known'? If it is known, it is experienced as an object. But then it is not pure presence. It can, though, be experienced. That is nirvikalpa samadhi. This is not awareness of, or consciousness of presence, this is nowness/presence itself. Whereas we generally experience time as an endless succession of point-like 'nows' as a result of that subject/object cut, the idea here is that presence is actually relatively fundamental, universal, unmoved and unchanging. To ask, 'where is presence' is to miss the point that presence or pure being is a precondition for all spatiotemporal experience, including the localization of objects and properties. Presence or nowness is the backdrop against which change is perceived. (Chapter 18, Neutral Monism Reborn, Breaking the Gridlock Between Emergence and Inherence, Michael Silberstein)"
Though the description of the atman is flawed (imaginary nouns, no verbs, and manipulated to fit an ideology), still the general gist is good enough for the current purposes: for some of us, since before birth, it is the "I Observer" that we give the name consciousness. Some researchers of the developing mind name "sensory perception" to be consciousness, but that makes no sense because sensory perceptions are based upon Natural physics, of little difference than any other wave-based physics field. It is as the body and mind behaving precisely as Natural physics behaves, while there is an "I Observer" watching from the vantage point of being intimately present. It is the body and human mind that are the created 3D 'objects', whereas the "I Observer" is not and cannot be of the 3D, and thus, again, cannot be a created product of Natural physics.
But again the problems with wrong words arise: just because some individuals may have an "I Observer", it does not necessitate that everyone else must also have an "I Observer". According to the preponderance of scientific and philosophical literature, and of how the authors described their own minds (i.e. William James), almost all of the authors are as organic robots: automatons without an "I Observer" consciousness.
Individuals without an "I Observer" are sensorially perceivable by other people as having nil body emissions, and commonly termed to be "empties".
A displeasing but interesting experiment found that an individual may momentarily no longer be aware of their "I Observer" during strong negative emotions. The experiment ended quickly, but the results do raise the question of wondering if normal selfishness and other negative emotions typically held by most people might be a cause of the individuals not recognizing a possible "I Observer".
Of the numerous core topics of physics not spoken of nor reasoned by philosophers and scientists, one fundamental topic of physics stands-out prominently. My being curious of the overly simplistic core topic of physics that is missing in panpsychism, I looked at a few elementary school science books to verify my own memories of the science topics taught in the school that I attended. And yes, there, in the 3rd grade science book is a basic introduction of the core topic, and by the 5th grade science book the topic is given direct attention. And so, the physics topic is missing in science and philosophy, not because of a lack of education, but rather because of the individuals being unable to process the specific thought pattern: no extrapolations, and no connected vertical durations. The absence of the mental pattern is obvious throughout all of modern science, philosophy, and ideologies.
The missing core physics topic in science and philosophies is that all things have polarities, including flux fields. Wave patterns flow in all directions: all polarities. When observing another person observing oneself, the feedback patterns describe what has been observed. Flux fields do similarly. Emotions do similarly by push-pull durations of ratios. It has been researched and observed that the human organism has a 'negative' (so to speak) field. The 'negative' field is aware of (perceives) the 'positive' side (the 'positive' side being what is commonly referred to as the 3D body). It is feasible that a dense flux field (i.e. any animal organism) may have a form of consciousness that is based upon the act of self-referencing between all polarities.
Here the question is to ask: if the human mind is physics-based, but the "I Observer" is not of 3D physics, then to what degree is the 'negative' polarity 3D? Self-creating an organic flux field with its polarities is easy and Natural, but flux fields require polarities, and if the 3D body were to die, then what is left of the 'negative' polarity? Anything? Or would the 'negative' polarity remain as its own flux field, it just not being expressed in the 3D 'positive'?
The simple reality of Reality is that the 3D universe was created from 'something elses' that are not three-dimensional of width, length, nor height. When very young, my own interpretation was that where two each 'non-3D' curves were of close enough proximity, the curves' fields intermingled (transductance) at specific durations (i.e. ratios) to enable a third dimension that we now exist in. Countless curves interacting with each other, with each minute interaction being ruled by the laws of Nature: physics. Modern 'cyclic universe' theories attempt a parallel interpretation, except without applying the necessary fractal field flux.
Common beliefs assume that the universe popped into existence from energy (while ignoring the fact that energy itself is 3D and is therefore a created thing also). A three-dimensional creature cannot measure what it cannot perceive (axiom: created things cannot comprehend that which created them), which permanently prevents man from learning what the 'something elses' might be.
The ancient Chinese and Greeks had a noun-name for the 'something elses': "spirits". Modern science believes of itself to be enlightened because it now uses the newly invented noun-name 'physics', but modern science is no closer to knowing what the 'something elses' are than any of the most primitive of people from thousands of years ago: inventing a new noun-name for an unknown does not make the speaker smarter, nor does the new noun-name describe and explain what the thing is.
Is the 'negative' side of the human composed of 3D, or is it itself a 'something else'? Perhaps a "spirit" as the ancients claimed? The "I Observer" cannot be 3D, and, so, therefore, how should the "I" be rationalized? The human mind is able to discern and be influenced by the presence of the "I", but it is unknown if or how much the human mind influences the "I Observer", and yet that question is the single most important of all.
The problem intensifies: as mentioned in the Tao Mutually Arising article, irrefutable evidence shows that the future influences the past in ways that bypass the normal Newtonian 3D physics. If the present 3D is influenced by a future event, then by what process is the present influenced? Some future influences are of short periods of seconds to several days (i.e. gut feelings), which might could be given (weakly) a Natural physics explanation of perceiving and recognizing approaching events (the 'now' is as a ratio of a curve, which means that the curve already exists beyond the ratio), but no known 3D physics is able to transverse 20 to 50 years, nor to do so repeatedly with 100% accuracy. Past research showed there to be three primary ingredients within future influences, but one of the ingredients is only able to be named a "void" because there is nothing there to be 3D perceived. (Raising arms with palms upwards while shrugging the shoulders: cannot reason a void-nothing.)
But there, if a human is influenced from his future self, then what does that say about the 'negative' polarity and the "I Observer"? Which one communicates? Do either communicate? Is perhaps the 'negative' side permanent? The more questions that we ask, the further we find that there can be no firm answers.
Panpsychism - True or False
Panpsychism believes that the whole universe is conscious and has mental aspects. The belief is correct, but backwards and upside-down: the whole 3D universe is of wave-based Natural physics, including the human mind. It is not that the universe is conscious, but rather it is the human who has the universe's nature.
Individuals with an "I Observer" recognize that the 3D is the 3D, and recognize that the human mind is a portion and product of the 3D. Individuals without an "I Observer" — whose human mind does the sole observing — may not be able to recognize themselves as being a product of Natural physics. Panpsychism is written anthropomorphically, of inserting human characteristics into non-human objects, but the opposite should have occurred, that of inserting non-human objects' characteristics into the human. If man values his mind, then he ought to also value the 'mind' of Nature.
Man's physics-based mind struggles to discern what is right and what is wrong. Man's physics-based mind concludes that the ultimate value is creativity. Man's physics-based mind then recognizes that creativity can only exist through the ingredient of harmony. Man then has the physics-based choice to become harmonious with his environment, or else to self-destroy himself. There is no other option: man must either be of harmony, or else cease to exist.
Harmony is not the external behavior, but rather harmony is inward qualities expressed outwardly. Never in the history of man has any government, science, philosophy, nor ideology ever strived for harmony, nor for quality. Quality begins with each individual cleansing the earth under their own feet. Man does not yet have the mental ability to do that.
The act of many individuals choosing harmony or disharmony, results in new creativity, or, the destruction of what Nature has created. Observe, that many physics-based individuals combined, results in the environmental product of combined behavior: the thing that the many physics-based creatures created. Several related topics — including the 'Self-Compounding Problem' — will be saved for future articles.