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Panpsychism – The Future Calls?

Toaster is in lurve

Toaster is in lurve: Cle0patra “Toaster has a new friend – Ice, they’ve been inseparable since she arrived” via Flickr

Panpsychism is the belief that all things possess consciousness. Some extend this belief to say that the type of consciousness matches the complexity of a thing’s organization.

The idea goes back to ancient times and has appeared around the globe. But it was rejected by a Church that adhered to a speculative, Aristotelian view of matter and which made a sharp distinction between organic and inorganic substances.¹

The Church’s teaching that human beings, alone, have souls complicated things, especially during times when disagreeing with or merely peeving powerful religious authoritarians could lead to ruin—that is, loss of property, torture and death.

After the Church, the philosophy of logical positivism helped to further squash panpsychism in the mid-20th century.

But it never went away.

Interest in panpsychism reemerged in academic philosophy, the New Age, science fiction and quantum physics. Also, it never really left Eastern religions, especially within Korean, Japanese and Chinese beliefs.

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Today, with the rise of robotics, computing and artificial intelligence, a whole new vista of debate has opened up.

A contemporary panpsychist might say that an electrical circuit or machine generates a quality of consciousness in keeping with the degree of that object’s organizational complexity.

Also, the way a thing is organized could affect its consciousness. Not just the degree.

Sound nuts?

Well, let’s remember that human consciousness is demonstrably affected by our bodies and especially the electrochemical pulses coursing through the brain, nervous system and organs. So maybe the panpsychic view is not too far-fetched.

Additional critiques of panpsychism maintain that it is doubtful machines have souls, which many say is an essential component to life.

This might seem like the most compelling critique.

But can we be certain that God does not instill certain machines with souls… if not now, perhaps in the future?

St. Jerome produced a 4th-century Latin edition of the Bible, known as the Vulgate, that became the Catholic Church’s official translation – Wikipedia

Also, as our human bodies are increasingly transformed by science and technology even before conception – with in vitro fertilization – where do we draw the line between mankind and machine?

Traditional theology classes would probably not ponder these kinds of questions in a mature way.

It seems they are more geared toward generating revenue, defining intellectual boundaries and inculcating organizational obedience within a financially free clergy.²

But the questions raised by panpsychism are not going away. And soon they will have to be taken seriously.

Our future might depend on it.

¹ (a) This agrees with “Aristotle’s distinction between the mineral kingdom and the animal and vegetative kingdoms.”

(b) “There is no clear or universally agreed-upon distinction between organic and inorganic compounds.” See

² From the perspective of depth psychology, emotionally challenged individuals often want something to cling on to. It might be hoards of money, status, or just something old and familiar. I say “financially free” because clergy who fit the bill are not burdened with financial concerns. How many working people around the world can claim that?

Related » Artificial Intelligence (AI), Strong AI Thesis, Leibniz, Spinoza

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Reversal – Beyond the clever machine

300-2In psychoanalytic theory, reversal is a Freudian defense mechanism.

A broader idea than turning against the self, reversal takes place when the ego converts an instinctual impulse into behavior appearing as its opposite. The miser becomes a philanthropist, the pervert a prude, the hater a lover.¹

Remember that Freud bases most everything on the instincts of life (eros) and death (thanatos). So reversal involves aspects and combinations of both waking and dreaming life:

The expression reversal into the opposite refers to the transformation of an idea, a representation, a logical figure, a dream image, a symptom, an affect, or the like into its opposite.²

Freud’s entire model is predicated on the belief that the psyche behaves like a clever machine or, in more contemporary terms, an adaptable computer program. For Freud, a variety of internal attempts are made to reduce anxiety and increase overall functioning. Sometimes the “program” works well. Other times it gets buggy (neurosis) or caught in a downward spiral where the machine crashes (psychosis), requiring a reboot.

Reversal is just another example of the clever machine trying to make things optimal, given its paradoxical life/death nature.

My main critique of this view is that all of the regulating is done within the machine. Even dreams that play with, combine or synthesize different moments in space-time are seen as originating from within the neurological system (mainly brain processes).

Compare this view to most religious and mystical traditions and it seems to fall short. A recent example, given the time of year, is how the three wise men in the New Testament are told in a dream to not return to King Herod³ after they find the Christ child. So the three wise men go home another way (Matt 2:12).

Granted, this is a religious story and we have no way of publicly demonstrating its truth. But it does suggest possibilities: Dreams could come from God or otherworldly agents beyond the clever machine. The brain could simply be reading a story, just like a media player plays a video or a radio plays a station. Not many would say a video player actually directs a movie or the radio writes the tune.4

Being a materialist atheist, Freud would not have seriously considered this perspective. And  I think that this, despite his obvious genius, was his greatest shortcoming.

¹ We see this with some religious people who talk about love but underneath harbor hateful, violent thoughts that sometimes erupt into deadly action.

² See

³ Beforehand, Herod lies to the wise men, saying he wants to honor instead of kill Jesus.

Freud’s student Carl Jung mentions the latter analogy, well before the idea of “channeling” becomes mainstream.

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Functionalism – Are we simply what we do?

In art and architecture functionalism refers to combining aesthetics and efficiency. With intellectual roots in the 18th and 19th centuries, in the 1920s and 30s the Bauhaus movement designed furniture for utility.

In architecture, the idea that function should determine form was exemplified by Le Corbusier’s definition of a house as “a machine for living in.”

Portret van Talcott Parsons (1902-1979)

Portret van Talcott Parsons (1902-1979) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In social anthropology and sociology, functionalism (and structural functionalism) envisions society as a self-regulating organism. Social institutions, customs, beliefs and even social deviance all contribute to societal functioning. This approach was especially prominent in the sociological work of Emile Durkheim and Talcott Parsons.

In the Philosophy of Mind functionalism presents a challenge to behaviorism. While strict behaviorism explains the mind by observing external causes and effects, functionalism tries to account for consciousness in terms of all inner and outer causes and effects. Philosophical functionalism considers the possibility, overlooked by behaviorism, of a multiplicity of inner causes and effects existing within the mind. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy simplifies it thus:

Functionalism is a theory about the nature of mental states. According to functionalism, mental states are identified by what they do rather than by what they are made of.¹


Related » William James


Strong AI Thesis

The Strong AI Thesis was named by American philosopher John Searle (born 1931), to describe the belief that AI (artificial intelligence) may possess actual consciousness like that of a human being.

The idea is expressed as follows:

The appropriately programmed digital computer with the right inputs and outputs would thereby have a mind in exactly the sense that human beings have minds”¹

Searle, himself, rejects the Strong AI Thesis. He believes that computer intelligence simulates but doesn’t possess real thought, a position called “Weak AI.” His Chinese Room thought experiment gives us a compelling argument in support of his position.

English: Mica (Brionne Dawson) is trapped in t...

Mica (Brionne Dawson) is trapped in the Chinese Room. It is an imaginary space first described by philosopher John Searle, though this is from the 2009 fiction narrative feature The Chinese Room, inspired by Searle’s thought experiment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Others believe that Strong AI isn’t too far-fetched, considering that human beings are, at least in part, made up of electrochemical interactions. If Strong AI is true, we can reduce idea down to the simplest levels and argue that even your refrigerator, toaster or iPad have some kind of unique electro-organizational consciousness that would distinguish them from, say, a pile of rocks.

These ideas are explored in many science fiction novels, TV-shows and films. One of the better treatments is found in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, where the line between humans and Cylons sometimes seems very thin.

¹ John Searle, 1998 in Dennett, Damiel C. Consciousness Explained, Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1991 p. 435.

Related Posts » Isaac Asimov, Commander Data, Hal 9000, Panpsychism



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Vashist Forest 2 by Paul Evans via Flickr

Vanaprashta (Skt: ‘home in the forest or woods’)

In traditional Hinduism this is the third asrama (Vedic stage of life) in which the male, having fulfilled his matrimonial dharma as a householder, generally retreats to the forest to study the deeper meaning of sacred texts and to become adept at meditation.

Some Hindu texts stipulate that the religious recluse must be a Brahmin, but this view is not universal.¹

Vanaprashta is a difficult path to follow, especially today. Within the changing face of Hinduism the contemporary practice is more a psychosocial rather than geographical withdrawal. Today’s Hindu meditator, whether male or female, may pull back into the deeper aspects of the psyche (and perhaps beyond) without necessarily leaving the household.

Mahatma Gandhi with textile workers at Darwen,...

Mahatma Gandhi with textile workers at Darwen, Lancashire, England, September 26, 1931. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This shift is made evident in Pauline Kolenda’s ethnographic study conducted in Khalapur, where she notes:

Jivan Mal was a Gandhian. Like Gandhi, he tried to live his life according to the four ashramas, and when we knew him, he was in the third ashrama; he was a vanaprashta one who had retired from ordinary life to devote himself to religion. He explained that he and his wife were “like brother and sister”; he had given up sexual activity. Consistent with his religiosity and his Gandhianism was his strict vegetarian diet, but inconsistent with his Gandhianism was his inability to consort with untouchables, to be near them or to take food or drink from them or with them.²

¹ When I first made this entry at, Wikipedia made little or not mention of Vanaprashta. But it’s caught up. For more details on the life of the traditional hermit, see .

² Pauline Kolenda, “Micro-Ideology and Micro-Utopia in Khalapur: Changes in the Discourse on Caste over Thirty Years,” Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 24, No. 32 (Aug. 12, 1989: 1831-1838), pp. 1833-1834. One might ask how such snobbishness could be a sign of positive spirituality and in keeping with God’s will.

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The Logic Of Entropy & Global Warming

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The dictionary defines the word entropy as the logarithm of probability of the occurrence of a given state. Entropy even has its own human worked out mathematical formula continuously applied in physics, engineering etc. Namely, a thermodynamic quantity that measures the fraction of the total energy of a system that is not available for doing work.

But, entropy also has other related applied definitions. As in ‘the constant inevitable slow deterioration (decay) of a established system’. Any system, not just mechanical & electronic. Therefore the systems that underwrite life, its biology & society are included in that definition. This would indicate that entropy is a set Law of Nature universally contained in all matter & energy…therefore in Life, Nature & the Universe and all the different linked systems associated with their activity.

Q: But where does that set law in physical Nature come from? What maintains the integrity & permanence of that set law in Nature? What can change that set principle operating across the board of physical matter & energy…and therefore life, Nature & the Universe?

A: At a different level of understanding & logic outside of mathematics, we can say entropy is very much a physical law of innumerable laws manifesting out of the previously discussed Unified Field of Creation. Its evolution sourced & orchestrated function, allowing the controlled orderly decay of matter & energy in its specific physical form (system) and designated life-cycle. To put it another way, everything physical has a inherent Laws of Nature governed life-span. The law of entropy, allows the decaying aspect of that life-span, to take place in a orderly organized systematic set pattern. That law of entropy, nowhere more obvious than in the interactive regeneration of old cells to new cells in the biology of life. The physical integrity of that law and its process, being underwritten by the spiritual Laws of Nature that underwrite and interact with the physical Laws of Nature.

Q: So where does unnatural entropy come into the equation?

A: We could say ‘unnatural entropy’ is premature decay taking place in the normal expected decaying life-span of a system, be it in the biology of life, the Laws of Nature or the Universe. That means the physical law of entropy has malfunctioned in the system, resulting in uncontrolled premature decay and the subsequent early termination of that specific system. Premature disease (entropy) appearing in the healthy biology and organs of life is this process in action.

Q: Where does premature entropy originate, what is its root cause?

A: Premature entropy occurs, through accumulating imbalance created in the physical & spiritual component of life, Nature & the Universe. The physical source of that imbalance when it arises, is definitely human in its origin. For example: No other life-form has the creative power to re-synthesize chemicals, minerals & other natural resources and saturate them into the systems of life, Nature and the Universe. Thereby eventually contaminating/altering the Laws of Nature governing the systems that underwrite and process the evolution of physical matter & energy. Laws that have been in place for millions of years in the biology of life, long before the human being came along to add the products of its synthetic creativity to that perfect system. Because anything synthetic added to the complex workings of physical Nature, is alien and potentially toxic to its interactive ecological systems that support life. When its toxicity accumulates, the physical Laws of Nature begin to malfunction not only in the biology of life, but Nature also.

Clarification: Human beings have the power to cause imbalance in Nature in two ways. The first is a growing result of our ability to pollute physical Nature with what comes out of the creativity of science and can be called synthetic pollution. The second is much more subtle & caused through influence created out of thought & desire that does not support the purpose and function of evolution & life…and therefore Nature and its Laws. This contamination can also be called synthetic pollution, because its influence has not come out of perfect creativity of Nature, but the human beings creativity.

Note: This influence is simply called karma in the ancient Sanskrit language it originated from…but, far from being simple in the many branches of its meaning. Unfortunately, with the passing of centuries its knowledge has become lost in translation and all that is left is the chaff to sift through. To eventually be written off by some as mere theory and others as a good joke to have a laugh about. So perhaps it is worth pausing in this Article, to explain why it has become so misunderstood and pilloried over the centuries. Because until science removes its physical blinkers, it will not comprehend the Intelligence that logically must underwrite Life, Nature & its Laws. Including the law of entropy that is underwriting Global Warming. To understand the source of the science uncovered logical law of entropy, is to also understand those other un-scientific turn-off words. Namely, Karma, Spiritual & God.

Interlude: A brief pause in the subject matter to set the karma & spiritual record straight…and possibly, even the broken God record in the process…maybe. Because the mind will only understand what it wants to understand.

Further up the ladder of human evolution, it can be said karma is far from being mere theory, philosophy or a joke. Its reality, knowledge and experience is not to be found in physical consciousness, but spiritual consciousness. In the highest level of that structure of consciousness that has been called divine, all human beings possess a latent born potential to access the self-referral field of Creation…that is called the Veda in Sanskrit. Or from the author’s English pen, the borrowed Unified Field from Albert Einstein’s pen That is where spiritual knowledge is eternally sourced, certainly not books. To gain access to it with the mind, it is necessary to come out of the structure of physical consciousness and acquire/develop/cultivate the silent quality of Abstract Consciousness. To experience that silent reality in the physical mind, is to then understand not only why karma has been called karma, but why God has been called God. A most treasured word of millions of people down through the centuries…yet just like karma, so misunderstood. A religious misunderstanding that has caused so much bloodshed and misery for millions of people down to the present day. A human created chaos problem that has turned many off the subject of Religion & God.

It could be said both Religion & Science understand the word transcendent…but, not the experience of the meaning. To transcend anything is to rise above it. i.e. what was before is no longer in the present. Therefore, to transcend thought is to come out of the thinking process and all that is attached to the thinking process. To then enter a transcendent medium where the conscious awareness of the mind, is left with no experience of anything but pure silence. It is only after many applications of that process, that the awareness evolves to become aware of itself as that silence. It is that specific transcendent acquired silence, that is the key to unlocking the full potential of the physical mind. One of those potentials is access to spiritual consciousness and all its many levels of activity sourced to the Unified Field of Creation.

The point to be made : The above knowledge is not new, it is as old as civilization itself. Yes, there are many more complex questions that arise out of its subject, but the answers to them are not to be found in books, but in the self-referral field of Creation. Until the mind can grasp that it is more than the sum of its physical parts, it will remain forever trapped and lost in its own physical individuality, creativity, imagination and intelligence. Unstoppable evolution will not allow that to happen, human beings must continue to evolve up the ladder of evolution or ultimately disappear off the tree of life. The universal law of entropy will see to that….nothing to do with God. It can also be said, that Science will never physically enter the Unified Field through the laboratory, mathematics or atomizing the atom. Quantum physics has proved that dead-end statement, in its physical quest to mathematically probe the limits of physical matter & energy. Likewise, religion will never find transcendent God through endless words & ritual. Surely it is time to understand that logic from out of the chaotic history of religion, a chaos sourced to mankind…definitely not God.

Suggestion: If required, read the About page @ for further clarification.

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Returning to the original topic:

When human beings create imbalance in the system of life through the means described, the physical Laws of Nature begin to imperceptibly become disorganized at a very subtle sub-atomic layer of Nature. If that imbalance continues, it eventually expresses itself on the surface of life in the form of accelerating entropy (disorder & malfunction) in the systems of life and Nature. For example: Global warming & cooling and its changing of environments, is a natural cycle of Nature tied to the infinite workings of evolution. But, drastic life threatening acceleration of Global Warming, is definitely not part of that natural cycle of Nature. Because physical Nature is spiritually primed to support life and its evolution, not to destroy it prematurely. The law of entropy and its variable function & process, that underwrites the physical systems created out of matter & energy, proves that point of logic. Because without that law, there would be constant uncontrollable chaos that life could not survive in.

The point to be made: Every life-form has a spiritual connection to the Unified Field of Creation that sources Life, Nature & the Universe for the purpose of evolution. Everything we do as creative human beings, becomes a negative or positive cause & effect equation (influence) entering the interactive system of Nature and its Laws…and therefore effecting all life on this shared planet and the systems that underwrite life. As logical thinking human beings, we have to become aware that Nature and its Laws, are a perfectly functioning created system from Intelligence greater than the human beings physical intelligence. Nature is not something clinically separate and divorced from ourselves or other life-forms, but contains all species in its infinite organization, creativity and laws. This is where science falls spiritually short in its physical only understanding of Life, Nature and the Universe.

Clarification: Until well-meaning science understands that life is much more than the sum of its physical parts, it is unknowingly doing more harm than good with what comes out of its endless synthetic creativity. Yes, it is fixing many problems from the science laboratory, but inadvertently creating many more in the laboratory of Nature. One of them is the rapid acceleration of Global Warming linked to rapid synthetic pollution saturating the planet. From the seas to the forests to the atmosphere and ecological systems that support life. A harsh indictment maybe, but the evidence is all around us and in us. Nature simply cannot handle the growing industrial & chemical pollution saturating the planet at an ever increasing toxic rate. Science surely knows this and has done the right thing and activated the early warning bell, but to no avail. The economy and the good life must come first in the political survival manual and big business with the golden goose and the most to lose appear to agree.

Postscript: It would seem appropriate to add, that the author has sent numerous ignored articles to science, governments and especially the media, going back to 1999. All dealing with the growing disorder (unnatural entropy) accelerating on this planet and the reason why it is happening. Global Warming being just one of them and long before it became yet another media primed, divided & fuelled endless argument & debate in Nations. The end divisive result being, that the public became confused and no uniform concrete agreement is forthcoming from Nations to seriously address its global issue. Science can rightly point the entropy finger at the news media, for the disregard/skepticism in the political and public arena of their painstaking scientific gathered evidence.

Explanation: The minority science view, should never have been presented by the media as being equal in credibility & volume to the overwhelming majority science view. To then be given equal status by the media and played one against the other to further cloud the issue in the public arena. It is not balanced reporting at all, but creating a situation where the public are swung this way and that way in the media manipulated process to create news, not report it. Yes, the minority should always be heard in society, but where an issue of magnitude demands a urgent decision & solution, the majority opinion must prevail in a society. Otherwise the unresolved problem lingers on to reach its inevitable entropy conclusion and it becomes too late to seriously address it.

Clarification: It could be said the Media not only informs the public, but creates their perceptions and realities out of its 24/7 saturated information. That is the enormous power the media has come to possess in society. Namely, to create, control, direct & fuel the perceptions of the public. According to our history books, social & political disorder (entropy) becomes the end result of a minority dictating/obstructing/influencing the decision making process & mandate of a majority. If 21st century validation of its equation is required, then listen to President Obama’s 2014 Address To The Nation speech. Its tone & direction would suggest he has worked out its equation and wants the American people…and especially Congress, to follow suite.

Kind regards to the reader from the author.


Boy George

Boy George em sua apresentação como DJ na boat...

Boy George em sua apresentação como DJ na boate Pacha, em São Paulo, Brasil. O evento ocorreu em 14 de julho de 2007. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Boy George (George Alan O’Dowd, 1961- )

In the 1980’s this lead vocalist from the pop group Culture Club followed David Bowie‘s lead by cross-dressing and generally combining big business with political statement.

The single “Karma Chameleon” touched on spiritual themes, as did his less commercially successful later work.

In the 21st century he remains an outspoken critic of figures like Madonna, although he’s virtually gone from an 80s big shot to a new millennium dark horse. In 2008 he served four months in prison for the assault and false imprisonment of Audun Carlsen.¹

I only mention George here because, in his day, he did have something to say.