In what follows, a plausible version of the panpsychist thesis is worked out before two arguments for panpsychism are examined for their soundness. In a next step, two arguments against the developed panpsychist thesis are discussed, which, prima facie, pose theoretically insurmountable aporia for it. In a final step, it is argued that panpsychism as located in analytic philosophy can overcome these problems when it is included in the wider theoretical framework of panentheism, as it is paradigmatically set out in the classical German philosophy of the panentheist Karl Christian Friedrich Krause and his pupil Arthur Schopenhauer.
1. Panpsychism in Analytic Philosophy of Mind
Panpsychism is a metaphysical theory about the fundamental structure of reality and the ontological categories which constitute it. It rests on the assumption that we dispose of epistemologically reliable access to the fundamental structures and qualities of reality that may be grounded both through our natural scientific and through our transcendental relationship to reality. As a first approximation, the intuition lying behind panpsychism admits of the following formulation: Both physical and mental properties are fundamental characteristics of reality. Because this formulation does not specify the central concepts, the panpsychist intuition must be explicated in several ways in order to develop a clear thesis of panpsychism.
1.1 The Fundamental Ubiquity of Physical and Mental Properties
That physical and mental properties are fundamental characteristics of reality means that mental properties cannot be reduced either semantically or ontologically to non-mental properties nor can physical properties be reduced either semantically or ontologically to non-physical properties. In panpsychism, both mental and physical properties, respectively, are fundamental properties.1
By the assumption that physical properties are fundamental, panpsychism is distinguished from idealism from which it follows that physical properties can be reduced to mental properties. The demarcation of panpsychism from classical property dualism is more difficult. The latter is consistent with the panpsychist intuition that mental and physical properties are fundamental properties. However, while classical property dualism implies that mental properties are only properties of higher creatures and humans, who have a complex nervous system, and that some physical things possess only physical properties, the panpsychist generally assumes that the class of those entities that possess mental qualities is far wider than the class of higher creatures and humans.
However, within the panpsychist debate, there is no unanimity about how exactly this class is to be determined. As a minimum consensus, and line demarcating panpsychism from classical property dualism, the different manifestations of panpsychism have in common only the assumption that in addition to humans and higher creatures, the fundamental physical entities constituting empirical reality, that is, the smallest building blocks of the physical universe, possess mental and physical properties. The panpsychist assumes that between the exemplification of mental and physical properties at the fundamental ontological level of reality there obtains a factual equivalence, which, on the ground of the opposed semantic and ontological irreducibility of mental to physical properties, can only be known a posteriori, not a priori. It therefore follows from panpsychism that mentality is, at the fundamental level of reality, one ubiquitous and underlying property of reality.
The question of which conditions must be fulfilled for other entities to be spoken of as exemplifying mental and physical properties is variously answered by panpsychists. Some panpsychists assume that a necessary and sufficient condition for the exemplification of mental properties lies in the structure of complex physical objects. They argue that, although organisms at every stage of development exemplify mental properties, pure aggregates of physical entities such as tables or stones must be excluded. For in those, the physical building blocks do not form a well-ordered whole in which each part is connected with every other part, and with the whole in a whole constituting interaction.2
To overcome the explanatory difficulty that in every version of panpsychism, mentality is ascribed to the fundamental, and so simple, building blocks of reality, even though these are not necessarily part of any complex physical structure, other panpsychists argue, rather, for the thesis that every entity, on every level of complexity, exemplifies both physical and mental properties. The difficulty here consists in the fact that it is not clear how exactly physical entities, which are not fundamental building blocks of reality, may be ontologically individuated.3
In what follows, I at first bracket these difficulties and proceed from the minimal formulation of the panpsychist thesis, which ascribes mental and physical properties only to the fundamental building blocks of reality and higher living beings and humans, since this thesis sufficiently specifies, and places under discussion, the essential elements of panpsychist thinking. We hold to the following specification of the minimal panpsychist thesis: Both mental and physical properties are ontologically fundamental and, in their exemplification, factually equivalent properties of both the fundamental entities constituting reality and the higher creatures and human beings.
1.2 The Fundamental Ubiquity of Physical Structures and Subjective Experience
The minimal panpsychist thesis remains unclear until the concepts of physical and mental properties are specified. In the following I therefore ignore abstract properties and assume that mental and physical properties are the only metaphysically relevant property types.
Based on this premise, in a first step, mental properties can be classified as those properties which logically imply the existence of a subject of experience.4 The concept of a subject of experience is thereby minimally interpreted ontologically, and implies only that, on logico-conceptual grounds, we can think no mental property of which the exemplification does not imply the existence of a subject which is the ontological bearer of this property.
Mental properties can be further specified as intentional und qualitative properties: Every mental property implies both elements of relatedness to an intentional object and elements of phenomenal givenness. Mental properties are therefore exactly those properties which imply the existence of a minimally ontologically understood subject of experience that is intentionally related to an object, which appears to it in a certain phenomenal manner, and brings with it a what-it-is-likeness for the subject of experience of this state. Mental properties are thereby intrinsic properties of a subject of experience.5
Based on this understanding of mental properties, physical properties may, as a first step, be defined ex negativo: Physical properties are exactly those properties which are not mental properties. That is, the exemplification of physical properties does not conceptually imply the existence of a subject of experience, which is phenomenally directed towards some intentional content. There are two possibilities for arriving at a positive concept of physical properties, complementary to this aspect: the theory-based and the object-based account. The object-based approach to the concept of physical properties rests on the assumption that physical properties are exactly those which are exemplified by paradigmatic physical objects, or locally supervene on these. The theory-based approach rests on the assumption that exactly those properties are physical which are part of the ontological inventory of a physical theory, or supervene locally on these properties.6
Both approaches are confronted with difficulties. The difficulty of the object-based approach is that, on the one hand, it is not clear what exactly a paradigmatic physical object is, and how agreement about this could be achieved, and, on the other hand, it is not excluded that paradigmatic physical objects exemplify mental properties. If, then, all the properties of a paradigmatic physical object were classified as physical properties, then it could happen that the conceptual dichotomy between mental and physical properties itself collapses.
The difficulty of the theory-based approach is, on the one hand, that it is not clear which properties a complete and true physical theory implies, because current physical theories frequently change and turn out to be false. Based on pessimistic meta-induction, it is to be expected that our present best physical theories will also be overturned, and new physical theories will be developed that incorporate new or other physical properties into their ontological inventory. Similarly to the object-based approach, the fact that genuine mental properties can be included in the theoretical framework of physics can also be applied to the theory-based approach.7
Nevertheless, the theory-based approach seems to be the more promising approach. However, in order to arrive at a positive determination of physical properties, it must, in one respect, be made specific and, in another, qualified. To avoid the case where mental properties are classified as physical properties if they were included in a possible future widening of the ground of physical theories, the theory-based approach must be restricted in such a way that physical properties are exactly the properties assumed in a complete and adequate physical theory; as long as we are not dealing with any ontologically surprising extension of the currently known physical theories. Although not excluded, it would be particularly ontologically surprising if physical theories were to incorporate mental properties as mental properties into their ontological inventory.
Based on this restriction, the specification of the theory-based approach assumes that a decisive feature of properties found in physical theories, both in the past and in the present as well as in any non-ontologically surprising physical theory, consists in the fact that they are dispositional and thus structural properties: Any fundamental physical property is defined by its relation to other physical properties and thus by its dispositional behaviour in certain situations.8 This is faintly surprising, because the approach of an empirically serviceable physics, aside from its epistemological preconditions which may also contain a priori elements, is essentially based on experiments and trials. The structure of the experimental approach to reality is based on dispositions and structures: In the experiment, the researcher interrogates empirical reality to find out how it behaves under certain conditions. That is, the experiment, as the fundamental scientific relation to the world is, by its very nature, directed to dispositions. It is thereby in the excellent position of being exclusively structural, that is, of exploring extrinsic properties of the building blocks of reality empirically.9
The thesis of physical structuralism emerges eo ipso on the basis of this determination of physical properties. This means that the image of the fundamental structure of empirical reality, drawn by physics, is a picture of structural connections which provides information about the extrinsic relations of a causally closed system, and describes in mathematical and logical terms how physical entities in particular situations within this structure behave, dispositionally.10
Therefore, in contrast to mental properties, which are intrinsic properties, physical properties are extrinsic-relational and thus dispositionally determined.
1.3 A Minimal Analytical Panpsychist Thesis
Based on the assumption that mental properties represent an intentional object phenomenally to a subject of experience, and are therefore intrinsic properties of this subject of experience, and given that physical properties are extrinsic properties of reality-constituting entities, the minimal panpsychist thesis admits of being specified as follows: Both mental and physical properties are ontologically foundational, not reducible to one another but factually equivalent in their exemplification by both the fundamental reality-constituting entities, and higher living creatures and human beings, in such a way that all fundamental entities, and higher living beings and human beings, are genuine subjects of experience, who have a phenomenal inner life, and are involved dispositionally in structures described by physics, due to their extrinsic properties.11
Just as it is somehow phenomenal to be Benedikt Göcke, and to write this paper, there is also, somehow, something it consists in to be a photon and fly through the universe. However, even if the panpsychist is willingly to be imputed this, he is not obliged to accept that the basic building blocks of reality have a conscious life comparable to the one of human beings.12 The developed thesis of panpsychism merely states that there is, in each case, a phenomenal inner life of the fundamental building blocks of reality, which implies the existence of an ontologically minimally understood subject of experience, and, in this sense only, is similar to us. The developed thesis of panpsychism is thereby consistent with the fact that the phenomenal experience of the basic building blocks of reality can vary greatly from our experience of reality, and is sensu stricto epistemologically closed to us, as is the subjective experience of other people and higher living beings.13
2. Arguments for Panpsychism
The panpsychistic thesis, because of its prima facie absurdity, often evokes adverse reactions, since the natural attitude in life does not usually assume that the physical foundations of reality are subjects of experience with a phenomenal inner perspective. For the English philosopher Colin McGinn, for example, panpsychism is reminiscent of the 1968 movement, and is designated by him as little more than a »comfortable piece of utter balderdash.«14 However, because philosophy requires separating the genesis and the validity of a theory from one another, it must be soberly asked which arguments speak for panpsychism.
2.1 The Argument from the Homogeneity of Cosmic Evolution
The argument from the homogeneity of cosmic evolution is based on the assumption that evolutionary processes, whose similarity is characterized by the development of complex entities and structures from simple entities and structures, play out on both the cosmic and the biological level. Against this background, the argument of the homogeneity of cosmic evolution assumes that the only plausible explanatory model consistent with the natural sciences for the factual existence of complex phenomenal life presupposes that every basic physical entity possesses mental properties. It may be formulated as follows:
- (1) Cosmic evolution has led to the development of physical creatures, which call a complex, phenomenal-intrinsic inner life their own.
- (2) Cosmic evolution can only lead to the development of physical beings that call a complex phenomenal-intrinsic inner life their own when mental properties are either (a) bound by divine intervention to the exemplification of physical properties, or (b) by supervenience, or, (c) mental properties emerge from complex physical properties, or (d) each basic physical entity has mental properties.
- (3) Mental properties are not bound to physical properties by divine intervention.
- (4) Supervenience is no explanation of the existence of mental properties.
- (5) Mental properties do not emerge from physical properties.Therefore:
- (6) Each basic physical entity has mental properties.Therefore:
- (7) Each basic physical entity has mental properties, and some complex physical beings have mental properties.
The argument is valid: If the premises are true, then it is not possible that the conclusion is false. The decisive question, therefore, is the soundness of the argument, so is about the truth of the premises. The first premise seems to be true: That cosmic evolution has led to the development of living creatures that have a complex, phenomenal inner life can be confirmed by oneself. The second premise is also true because it covers all relevant explanatory types of the emergence and existence of complex phenomenal life.
The decisive premises are therefore (3) to (5). The third premise, that is, the assumption that mental properties have been brought into the world by a decision of divine will at a certain time of cosmic evolution, to correlate with certain physical properties, is rarely treated: On the one hand, one is aware that, although a theological necessity for the possibility of God’s significant action in the world obtains, the recourse to divine action is difficult to justify in detail. And one runs the danger of integrating God into the striven for ultimate foundation only as an explanatory gap filler. On the other hand, a theological explanation of the existence of complex phenomenal life points directly to the other explanatory models mentioned in the argument. For it would have to specify through which metaphysical means, or natural laws, the existence of mental states and their correlation with physical states is assured by divine action.15
The fourth premise, that is, the assumption that mental properties supervene on physical properties, may be excluded as an explanation of the existence of mental properties. Supervenience does not denote the causal, but the logical relation between properties of different property classes. It generally states that there can be no difference on the supervenient level without difference on the subvenient level but there may be a difference on the subvenient level without any difference on the supervenient level. That mental properties supervene on physical properties may well be the case accidentally. However, the supervening relationship does not explain how mental properties have come into the world but already presupposes their existence.
The fifth premise entails that there is a causal relationship between the existence of physical properties and the existence of mental properties. The concept of weak emergence entails that F is a weakly emergent property of a physical system S, with a specific microstructure (p1, …, pn), if and only if the natural laws logically imply that every physical system S with microstructure (p1, …, pn) exemplifies property F, but F cannot be reduced to the properties of the microstructural entities. The concept of strong emergence assumes that F is a strongly emergent property of a physical system (p1, …, pn) if and only if each system S with microstructure (p1, …, pn) exemplifies property F, but this exemplification of F does not logically follow from the natural laws, but is a factum brutum.16
Based on this understanding of emergence, a weak emergence of mental properties can be excluded. While, for example, liquidity is a weakly emergent property of accumulations of H2O molecules that can be explained by natural laws, this is not the case with mental properties, because it does not follow logically from the natural laws that systems that have a certain physical microstructure have a certain mental characteristic.17
If mental properties emerge from physical properties, then they must be strongly emergent properties of physical systems. This possibility, however, is excluded because of the essential differences between physical and mental properties. For it is absurd to assume that a purely extrinsically determined structure, which has no intrinsic-phenomenal properties, is in a position to bring about the existence of intrinsic-mental properties. This would be as absurd the assumption that a space-time universe is constituted by a structure of abstract mathematical entities.18
Because neither divine intervention nor supervenience and strong emergence can explain the existence of complex phenomenal life, following the argument from the homogeneity of cosmic evolution, the last remaining possibility for explaining the existence of complex phenomenal experience, is this: Mentality is not a new phenomenon of the universe, but one of its own essential features: Even the smallest building blocks of reality have phenomenal properties that belong to the same ontological category as human phenomenal experience. Mental properties therefore belong to the ontological basis of reality.19
2.2 The Argument from Intrinsic Natures
The argument from intrinsic natures supports the genetic argument by analysing the ontological carrier of the dispositional structures investigated by the physical sciences. It argues that mental qualities are the only plausible candidate to fulfill this crucial role of metaphysical explanation of the existence of empirical reality. The following is an argument with three assumptions and the panpsychist conclusion outlined:
- (1) If there is an intrinsic nature of fundamental physical entities, the physical sciences can not give us any information about this.
- (2) There is an intrinsic nature of fundamental physical entities.
- (3) If there is an intrinsic nature of fundamental physical entities, the only plausible candidate for this intrinsic nature of fundamental physical entities is phenomenal consciousness.Therefore:
- (4) Fundamental physical entities have phenomenal consciousness.Therefore:
- (5) Fundamental physical entities have phenomenal consciousness, and some complex physical beings have mental properties.
The argument is logically valid, so the crucial question is the question of the plausibility of the premises. The first premise is true: We have already seen that the physical sciences examine only the dispositional behaviour of physical entities, and this approach leads to physical structuralism, which does not imply any ontological statements about the intrinsic properties of physical entities whose dispositions are examined.20
All the theoretical terms of the physical description of the fundamental structures of the universe, such as the terms »electron«, »spin«, or »photon«, can therefore be removed by the method of Ramseyfication, which replaces each of these terms with an existential bound variable, without the result that the physically obtained state of knowledge is changed. There remains the assertion that there are things which fulfil a certain dispositional function and, because of this, are part of a larger mathematically describable structure.21
The second premise is also true and may be justified by a reductio ad absurdum. If one assumes that there is no intrinsic nature of the basic physical entities, it is assumed that the investigated dispositional properties may exist in themselves.22
This results in two problems: Firstly, in property theory, it is assumed that it is precisely the intrinsic properties of things that explain their dispositional behaviour, from a metaphysical viewpoint; by the fact that an entity x, in situation S, behaves the way Z in virtue of its intrinsic (or: categorial) properties M.23 Without a categorial basis, that is, without the intrinsic properties of the basic physical entities, it would be metaphysically incomprehensible how their specific dispositional behaviour is possible at all.24 Secondly, the assumption that there is no intrinsic-categorial nature to the basic physical entities either leads to the conclusion that we live in an abstract mathematical structure, or to the assumption that empirical reality, as concrete empirical reality, is a strongly emergent property of an abstract mathematical structure. On the one hand, the denial of the existence of an intrinsic nature to the basic physical entities implies that the mathematical structures described in physics are ultimate reality: All that exists are structures. For physics can not say anything about the intrinsic nature of reality.25 To avoid this absurd conclusion, on the other hand, it could only be assumed that empirical reality is a strongly emergent property of a special mathematical structure, and thus also an absurd factum brutum.26
Without intrinsic properties, therefore, it is not possible for the structure discovered by physics, and described in mathematical terms, to have any concrete reality at all. This means that physical entities have intrinsic natures and thus the second premise is justified.27
The third premise is decisive for the soundness of the argument. It is justified, in a first step, by the fact that the only case in which we can have epistemologically unproblematic, direct, certain, access to intrinsic properties of a physical entity is the case of one’s own phenomenal experience. For our mental qualities are such that they may be distinguished from the properties of physics by their phenomenal nature.28 Based on the assumption that it is epistemologically legitimate to extrapolate from the immediately certain knowledge of one’s own intrinsic essence to the intrinsic nature of all physical entities, it follows, in a final argumentative step, that we recognize mentality as the ontological carrier of the structures discovered in physics.
3. Arguments Against Panpsychism
Although there are two good arguments for panpsychism, at least two good arguments may be formulated against it, each of which can be understood as the complement of one of the arguments which speak for it.
3.1 The Problem of the Absurd Multiplication of Subjects of Experience
The argument from the absurd multiplication of subjects of experience concentrates on the minimal panpsychist thesis that all basic physical entities, and only some complex physical entities, have mental properties. It attempts to show that there is no objective concept of physical complexity to determine which physical structures are sufficient and necessary for the development of complex phenomenal life. On the argument, therefore, panpsychism implies that every physical structure correlates with the existence of a subject of experience, and thus leads to an absurd multiplication of the number of existing subjects of experience. The argument may be formulated as follows:
- (1) The limitation of the minimal panpsychist thesis, with respect to the number of existing subjects of experience, is plausible when there are objectively necessary and sufficient conditions for when a physical structure leads to the development of complex phenomenal life, and thus to the existence of a corresponding subject of experience.
- (2) There are no objectively necessary and sufficient conditions for when a physical structure leads to the development of complex phenomenal life, and thus to the existence of a corresponding subject of experience.
- (3) The limitation of the minimal panpsychist thesis regarding the number of existing subjects of experience is not plausible.
- (4) If the limitation of the minimal panpsychist thesis is not plausible with regard to the number of existing subjects of experience, then it should be abolished.
- (5) If the restrictions are lifted, panpsychism implies that each physical structure correlates with the existence of a subject of experience.
- (6) It is absurd that any physical structure correlates with the existence of a subject of experience.Therefore:
- (7) Panpsychism is false.
Because the argument is logically valid, it is necessary to ask how the premises are justified. The first assumption is true: The minimal panpsychist thesis assumes that, in addition to the basic physical building blocks, only a few complex physical structures such as humans and higher living beings possess mental properties and constitute independent experiential substructures. This presupposes that there are objectively necessary and sufficient conditions for when a physical structure leads to the development of complex phenomenal life and thus to the existence of a corresponding subject of experience.
The second premise states that there are no such objective criteria, since the assumption that there are persisting complex physical objects cannot be justified against the background of physical structuralism. The reason is that structuralism implies that, in a sense, there is only one physical structure, and the relations it specifies between the physically fundamental entities, and it therefore leads to nominalism about macroscopic objects. What is addressed semantically as a complex persistent physical object is thus based on linguistic convention. Furthermore, because of the causal closure of physical reality, for any two basic entities, they are in a causal context which makes it possible to speak of them as a complex structure.29 Any setting of necessary and sufficient conditions for the development of a rich phenomenal life is therefore an arbitrary semantic stipulation.
However, as the third premise of the argument implies, without necessary and sufficient criteria for the physical complexity necessary for a rich phenomenal experience, the restrictions of the number of experiential phenomena of complex phenomenal life, defined in the minimal panpsychist thesis, must be abandoned. For it is not clear why basic physical entities, and only a few other physical structures should be thought of as correlated with genuine subjects of experience.
To save panpsychism prima facie, on the fourth premise of the argument, it must be assumed that, in fact, any physical structure is correlated with the existence of a genuine subject of experience.30 As this consequence implies that tables, and planetary systems, and forests, and the sum of the table and the chairs in this room (let us call them »tairs«), should be classified as genuine experiential subjects, the panpsychist thesis secunda facie should be rejected, due to an absurd multiplication of subjects of experience.
3.2 The Combination Problem of Panpsychism
The fact that panpsychism leads to a prima facie absurd multiplication of existing subjects of experience seems to be a strong argument against its plausibility as a metaphysical theory. But it does not really show the inconsistency but only the epistemic significance of panpsychism, against the background of our general assumptions about the existence of subjects of experience. The argument is therefore flanked by a further argument that shows that, in the context of a panpsychist ontology, it is not clear how new subjects of experience may emerge from the mental properties of the basic physical entities, regardless of the structures that they constitute:
- (1) All basic physical entities are subjects of experience, and there is at least one subject of experience S that is not a basic physical entity but a complex physical entity.
- (2) If all basic physical entities are subjects of experience, and there is at least one subject of experience S that is not a basic physical entity but a complex physical entity, panpsychism must be able to explain the existence of S, by recourse to the physical complexity of S.
- (3) Panpsychism cannot explain the existence of S by recourse to the physical complexity of S.Therefore:
- (4) Panpsychism is false.
The truth of the premises is decisive for the soundness of the argument. The first premise is true by definition, because it expresses the minimal panpsychist thesis. The second premise is also true: We know from the argument from the homogeneity of cosmic evolution that the panpsychist assumes that the basic physical building blocks of the universe are conscious and, in the course of cosmic evolution, through the formation of complex structures, higher levels of experience are constituted, by the mentality of the basic building blocks. If this constitution of higher-level subjects is not to be postulated simply by implication, the panpsychist must explain how it is possible that new subjects, different from the fundamental experiential subjects, can exist.
The starting point of the combination problem is to take up this explanatory requirement and put it to the panpsychist, in the third premise of the argument, that he can not fulfil this task which is necessary for him. For it would only be possible with reference to strong emergence, setting the origin and existence of a subject of experience’s complex phenomenal life in relation to the existence of basic subjects of experience.
The assumption that the existence of complex subjects of experience can only be explained by reference to strong emergence may be justified as follows: If m is the set of basic physical subjects of experience which, ex hypothesi, are responsible for the constitution of a complex subject of experience S that is not contained in m, then no facts about the elements of this set or m itself, neither the physical nor the intrinsic facts about the relations between the basic experiential subjects and their inner constitution, can explain the existence of S. Contrary to, for example, the vector analysis of a physical force, it is not apparent how, out of many basic subjects of experience and their mental states, a further and genuine subject of experience could be generated at all.31
The only way to explain the existence of higher-level subjects of experience is, therefore, by recourse to the concept of emergent relations. But since weak emergence can be excluded, a theory of strong emergence is the only alternative. Some panpsychists argue, accordingly, that the existence of subjects of experience of complex phenomenal life emerges strongly from basic subjects of experience, even if no metaphysical or scientific principles can be stated that explain this relation.32
Because, however, the strong emergence of complex experiential entities is as obscure as the strong emergence of intrinsic from extrinsic properties, the panpsychist cannot appeal to strong emergence without undermining the justification for his own position, which has only led to the recognition of the phenomenal life of the basic building blocks of reality.33 Panpsychism should therefore be rejected.
4. Panpsychism and Panentheism
There are good arguments both for and against panpsychism. In what follows, it is argued that the apparent antinomy of panpsychist thinking can be resolved when panpsychism, as discussed in analytic philosophy of mind, is integrated into the metaphysical paradigm of panentheism, as discussed in continental transcendental philosophy. To illustrate this, exemplary recourse to the panentheistic thinking of Karl Christian Friedrich Krause and his pupil Arthur Schopenhauer is appropriate, because the philosophical systems developed by both thinkers are closely interwoven.
4.1 Krause, Schopenhauer, and Analytical Philosophy of Mind
Recourse to the monistic thinkers Krause and Schopenhauer, as luminaries of the wild years of classical German philosophy, in the course of the analysis of analytic panpsychism, is systematically obvious. Although, to my knowledge, Krause is not at all in this discussion and Schopenhauer is often only mentioned in a historical marginal note as a panpsychist.34 This is astonishing, for a glance at the writings of Krause and Schopenhauer shows quickly that a large part of the topoi, which are presently discussed in the analytic panpsychism debate by recourse to Eddington, Russell, and James, are nearly verbatim, but at least, according to the case, to be found in Krause and Schopenhauer.
Firstly, both Krause and Schopenhauer hold the thesis of physical structuralism. They start from the causal closeness of the physical world, which for them is the world described by science. As transcendental philosophers, they assume that the knowledge discovered by physics is established by the principle of sufficient reason. The principle of sufficient reason, however, exclusively leads to the scientific discovery of the dispositional structure of empirical reality. In this way, Krause and Schopenhauer place themselves directly on the ground of the panpsychism debate.35
Secondly, both agree that physical structuralism does not facilitate complete knowledge of the system of sciences, because it only explores the structure between different entities in empirical reality, and their dispositional properties, not their intrinsic nature. According to Krause and Schopenhauer, the intrinsic categorial nature of the thing as such (Ding an sich) cannot be attained by a methodology based on the principle of sufficient reason, since it is only the relations between things that are analysed. In this respect too, Krause and Schopenhauer agree with the current debate, which is based on the insight that decisive elements of a complete metaphysical explanation of the world cannot be grasped by structuralism.36
Third, both agree with the panpsychist debate that there must be an intrinsic nature behind the structured phenomena whose denial, as Schopenhauer says, is a good recommendation for a place in the madhouse.37 For both, this insight into the intrinsic nature of reality cannot be forced as the conclusion of a chain of proof, but must be carried out by every subject of knowledge himself, in the form of immediate intuition. When this is done, it can be used as an element of a final foundation that turns physical structuralism into an all-embracing metaphysical theory.38
Fourth, just as in the analytic debate, it is assumed that our immediate perception of our own phenomenal experience serves as an epistemically legitimate justification for the existence of an ontological carrier of the dispositional properties of physical reality. So Krause and Schopenhauer assume that a direct, certain intuition of one’s own intrinsic nature is possible, and that knowledge of the intrinsic nature of empirical reality can be deduced from this direct, certain, knowledge. Without this perception of our own intrinsic nature, physical structuralism would remain only a metaphysical patchwork.39
4.2 Panentheism as the Solution to the Panpsychist Aporia
Although Krause and Schopenhauer are in harmony with the central insights of contemporary analytic philosophy of mind, they spell out the panpsychist insights under panentheistic premises, transcendentally. While panpsychism is generally understood as a position mediating between physicalism and dualism, since it determines both the physical and the mental as inseparable and fundamental features of reality, panentheism generally strives for a higher reconciliation of an atheistic pantheism, on which the universe itself is causa sui, and the ontological dualism of necessarily existing creator and contingent creation. To achieve the synthesis of pantheism and classical theism, panentheism interprets the being of the finite universe, in the monistic tradition, as an intrinsic constitutive part of the all-unity, which is conceived as absolutely infinite, and transposes the fundamental difference between the ground of being and the effect of being into the Absolute itself. Thus, the world as a constituent part of the inner structure of the Absolute is distinguished from the Absolute in itself, just as hydrogen and oxygen are also constitutive of the whole in the H2O molecule, and yet may be determined and distinguished from it.
Transcendental panentheism, as presented by Krause and Schopenhauer, attempts to justify the relation between empirical reality and the Absolute, epistemologically, as a metaphysical theory, by analysis of the immediately certain conditions of the possibility of any subjectivity. The esssential idea is as follows: In and through the recognition of the intrinsic nature of one’s own self, which is directly examined in intuition, the subject ascends to the recognition of the intrinsic determination of the Absolute, and then descends back to the intrinsic determination of the whole of extrinsic empirical reality which sustains physical structuralism.
Krause calls the Absolute simply »Essence« and Schopenhauer, as he himself admits inadequately »Will«. For both, the Absolute is the one principle of being and knowledge of empirical reality that unites all transcendent and transcendental determinations in the unity of its essence. He who recognizes himself recognizes this idea that, in his being and knowing, he is always bound in the one being and the recognition of the Absolute. Hence, Krause locates the world logically expressis verbis »in« the Absolute. Schopenhauer speaks, in a conceptually equivalent way, of the existence of empirical reality as a manifestation of the Will.40 For both, therefore, the being of reality is not to be understood in the mode of a creation, but as the intrinsic determination of the Absolute itself. In the knowledge of our own self, one knows through metaphysical intuition the Absolute only in one of its manifold determinations.41
And precisely in this lies the key to solving the panpsychist aporias. Both arguments for panpsychism show that conscious experience is a necessary condition for the existence of reality. The argument from the homogeneity of cosmic evolution shows that conscious experience, as an intrinsic bearer of dispositional structures of being, must exist at every moment of the existence of the universe. The argument from intrinsic natures yields the conclusion that the dispositional structure, studied by physics, without conscious experience of microphysical reality, could have no concrete reality. Both arguments against panpsychism show that panpsychism, despite the necessity of phenomenal experience for any metaphysical foundation of physical structuralism, has serious problems with the concept of the subject of experience: The argument from the absurd multiplication of subjects of experience has shown that, under any panpsychistic premises, any arbitrary physical structure implies the existence of a corresponding subject of experience. While the combination problem has shown that the panpsychist can consistently assume a certain number of basic subjects of experience, but does not have the explanatory resources to explain the existence of subjects of complex phenomenal experience. Although, in panpsychism, on the one hand, conscious experience is necessary for the existence of reality, it cannot, on the other hand, explain how subjects of experience can be individuated, and go beyond the number of fundamental subjects of experience.
The solution to this antinomy suggested by transcendental panentheism is to maintain the fundamental validity of the arguments for panpsychism, but to re-read it, and to abandon the assumption that there are numerically distinct metaphysical subjects of experience. Within present analytic philosophy of mind, the epistemological reference to the intrinsic nature of one’s own existence constitutive of panpsychism is interpreted as meaning that it can only show the inner nature of each individual existence. Instead, it should be assumed panentheistically as showing truth beyond the inner nature of one’s own existence, and, as a matter of fact, as a self-display of the intrinsic nature of the Absolute: The inner vision of the self shows more than the inner nature of one’s own existence. It shows the inner nature of the Absolute.
If the analytic panpsychist follows this argumentation, he leaves the two arguments against him at the expense of his abolition in transcendentally motivated panentheism. For he then abandons the assumption that there is metaphysically more than one subject of experience: All the different mental qualities, following the panentheistic interpretation of panpsychism, would be characteristics of the only existing subject of experience: the Absolute.42
This conclusion might evoke prima facie similar amused reactions as panpsychism. But secunda facie it is quite an attractive theoretical option, because the physical sciences show us the image of a causally closed universe, and because the panpsychist may explain the reality of the individual relations of any dispositional structure, but not why they together constitute a coherent and harmonious reality. The panentheist can explain this by analogy to our pre-critical experience of diachronic identity as follows: Just like the assumption that there is a bearer of my conscious life enables me to see a unity and identity in my life, so empirical reality requires the existence of a single bearer to explain its own ontological unity.43
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See Chalmers 1996: 126 and Blamauer 2011: 9. See the collections edited by Göcke 2012, and Koons/Bealer 2010 for critical analyses of physicalism, and Kim 2007 for an argument against non-reductive physicalism. See Göcke 2012a for an argument that phenomenal experience belongs ontologically to the fundamental level of reality.
See, for this kind of panpsychism Clarke 2004: 5. See also Brüntrup/Jaskolla 2016a: 2: »Most forms of panpsychism, however, distinguish between mere conglomerates like a rock formation and genuine individuals like animals and possibly elementary particles. Mental properties can only be attributed directly to genuine individuals.«
For this variant of panpsychism see Blamauer 2011b: 338: »Panpsychism is commonly understood as a doctrine that states that everything that occurs in the world has, in itself, a form of consciousness. That is, consciousness is not just a particular human property, but one that may be found on all levels of our universe. Mental properties (conscious experience, subjectivity, etc.) and physical properties (mass, charge, spin, etc.) are both fundamental and universal.« See also Buck 2011: 60.
See Foster 1991: 205: »If P is a pain-sensation occurring at a certain time t […] we should ultimately represent the occurrence of P as the event of a certain subject’s being in pain at t. And if D is a decision occurring at t, […] we should ultimately represent the occurrence of D as the event of a certain subject’s taking a decision at t. Quite generally, […] we must represent each episode of mentality as the event of a subject’s being in a certain mental state at a certain time, or performing a certain act at a certain time, or engaging in a certain mental activity over a certain period of time.« See also Shoemaker 1986: 10: »[It is] an obvious conceptual truth that an experiencing is necessarily an experiencing by a subject of experience, and involves that subject as intimately as a branch-bending involves a branch«
See Strawson 2006: 189: »Experience necessarily involves experiential ›what-it-is-likeness‹, and experiential what-it-is-likeness is necessarily what-it-is-likeness for someone-or-something. Whatever the correct account of the substantial nature of this experiencing something, its existence cannot be denied.« See also Blamauer 2011: 103. On the difficulty of determining the concept of intrinsic properties, see Seager 2006: 129-30: »The philosophical literature on the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties (or relational properties) is vexed and very far from settled. The core intuition would seem to be the idea that the intrinsic properties of x are the properties that all duplicates of x would have […] That is, the intrinsics are the properties x has ›all by itself‹ or ›of its own nature‹.«
See Stoljar 2002: 313: »A physical property is a property which either is the sort of property required by a complete account of the intrinsic nature of paradigmatic physical objects and their constituents or else is a property which metaphysically or logically supervenes on the sort of property required by a complete account of the intrinsic nature of paradigmatic physical objects and their constituents« See also Stoljar 2002: 313: »A physical property is a property which either is the sort of property that physical theory tells us about or else is a property which metaphysically (logically) supervenes on the sort of property that physical theory tells us about.«
See Blackburn 1990: 63-64: »Just as the molecular theory gives us only things with dispositions, so any conceivable improvement in science will give us only a better pattern of dispositions and powers. That’s the way physics works.« See also Brüntrup 2011: 17.
See Russell 1927: 254: »It would seem that wherever we infer from perceptions it is only structure that we can validly infer; and structure is what can be expressed by mathematical logic.«
Thomas Nagel says panpsychism is the thesis that »the basic physical constituents of the universe have mental properties, whether or not they are part of living organism« (Nagel 1979: 181). See also Blamauer 2011a: 102: »Panpsychism is—in short—typically understood to be the view that consciousness experience is a fundamental as well as ubiquitous characteristic of our universe, equal to physical properties like mass, charge, and spin.«. See also Seager/Allen-Hermanson 2010: »Panpsychism is the doctrine that mind is a fundamental feature of the world which exists throughout the universe.«
For this objection, see McGinn 2006: 95: »Is it really to be supposed that a particle can enjoy these kinds of [human] experiences—say feeling depressed at its monotonous life of orbiting a nucleus but occasionally cheered up by its experience of musical notes?« See also Lycan 2006: 70. For a contrary argument see Pfeifer 2016: 45.
See Brüntrup/Jaskolla 2016: 4: »But similarity is not a transitive relation. Mental properties at the fundamental level might well be wildly dissimilar from those found in living organisms. The highly speculative and abstract character of panpsychism has thus always to be kept in mind. Panpsychism is a possible move in the logical space of metaphysics, not a crude animalistic view of matter.« To distinguish human phenomenal experience from the phenomenal experience of the basic building blocks of reality, some panpsychists introduce the concept of proto-mentality. See Rugel 2011: 115-16 and Jaskolla 2011a: 70.
See McGinn 2006: 93: »Any reflective person must feel the pull of panpsychism once in a while. It’s almost as good as pantheism! The trouble is that it’s a complete myth, a comfortable piece of utter balderdash […] and isn’t there something vaguely hippish, i.e. stoned, about the doctrine?«
See, however, Hasker 2001 und Swinburne 1997 for an analysis of the explanatory relevance of divine action for the existence of mental states.
See Strawson 2006a: 13: »Liquidity is often proposed as a translucent example of an emergent phenomenon, and the facts seem straightforward. Liquidity is not a characteristic of individual H2O molecules. Nor is it a characteristic of the ultimates of which H2O molecules are composed. Yet when you put many H2O molecules together they constitute a liquid (at certain temperatures, at least), they constitute something liquid. So liquidity is a truly emergent property of certain groups of H2O molecules. It is not there at the bottom of things, and then it is there.«
See Strawson 2006a: 15. See McGinn 2000 for an argument that we are simply too limited to understand how mental properties emerge from physical properties.
See James 1950: 149: »And Consciousness, however small, is an illegitimate birth in any philosophy that starts without it, and yet professes to explain all fact by continuous evolution. If evolution is to work smoothly, consciousness in some shape must have been present at the very origin of things. Accordingly we find that the more clear-sighted evolutionary philosophers are beginning to post it there. Each atom of the nebula, they suppose, must have had an aboriginal atom of consciousness linked with it.«
See Williams 2011: 74: »Physical theory describes the fundamental physical entities exclusively in dispositional terms.« See Russell 1948: 240: »The physical world is only known as regards certain abstract features of its space-time structure—features which, because of their abstractness, do not suffice to show whether the world is, or is not, different in intrinsic character from the world of mind.«
See Seager 2006: 138: »Why should matter have any intrinsic properties at all? An alternative view is that all there is to matter is the set of inter-relationships which science reveals.« See also Brüntrup 2011: 25.
See Williams 2011: 71-72: »Categoricalism (sometimes known as ›Categorical Realism‹) is the thesis that all dispositions must ultimately have categorical properties that ground them; it is this thesis that the dispositional essentialist denies when she claims that some or all dispositions can be baseless.«
See Seager 2006: 141: »Dispositions require a categorical base. A good number, perhaps most or conceivably even all of the relational properties which science discovers about matter are causal dispositions. If dispositions require (metaphysically) a base of intrinsic properties which determines their powers then we have an argument from the relations structures revealed by science to the need for some intrinsic nature which subvenes these powers.« See Williams 2011: 72: »Categorical properties lack essential causal and modal features, so something must be added for a categorical property to properly ground a disposition. Nevertheless, as categoricalism concerns what is necessary for grounding dispositions, questions of what that additional something might be can be set aside.«
See Brüntrup 2011: 30: »But if there are no carriers, then the formal, mathematical structure is the ultimate reality.«
See Brüntrup 2011: 30: »How the concrete physical world as we know it emerges from this mathematical structure is a case of mysterious inter-attribute emergence, in this case the emergence of concrete physical objects from abstract mathematical structures.«
See Brüntrup 2016b: 55: »We need ultimate intrinsic properties that carry the entire existing set of functional-relational properties.«
See Seager 2006: 136: »Matter must have an intrinsic nature to ground the relational or structural features revealed to us by physical science. We are aware of but one intrinsic property of things, and that is consciousness. […] We are physical beings and our consciousness is a feature of certain physical structures.« See also Brüntrup 2011a: 44. See Eddington 1920: 200 and Russell 1927: 402. See also Russell 1927a: 300.
See Mathews 2011: 144: »The individuation of objects, at the macro-level, at any rate, is not consistently objectively determined […]. Matter is not really, in any ontological sense, parceled up into convenient units or packages, despite the plethora of discrete artefacts in our own daily life that suggest that it is. Indeed, many of our individuations—of rocks and mountains, for instance—have basically nominal status.« See also Skrbina 2011: 126-127.
Skrbina 2011: 121-22 takes exactly this route: »[T]he body indeed has innumerable lesser selves: organs, cells, macromolecules, proteins, atoms, and so on. All of these (except the atomic ultimates) are themselves composed of lesser selves, and all participate in higher-order minds.«
See also James 1950: 160: »Where the elemental units are supposed to be feelings, the case is in no wise altered. Take a hundred of them, shuffle them and pack them as close together as you can (whatever that may mean); still each remains the same feeling it always was shut in its own skin, windowless, ignorant of what the other feelings are and mean. There would be a hundred-and-first feeling there, if, when a group or series of such feelings were set up, a consciousness belonging to the group as such should emerge. And this 101st feeling would be a totally new fact, the 100 original feelings might, by a curious physical law, be a signal for its creation, when they came together; but they would have no substantial identity with it, nor it with them, and one could never deduce the one from the others, or (in any intelligible sense) say that they evolved it.« See also Goff 2006: 58 and Göcke 2012a.
See Goff 2011: 135-36: »[The argument] has no concerns about the intelligibility of panpsychist emergentism, the view that facts about the existence and nature of high-level conscious subjects, as a matter of brute fact or natural law, arise from facts about the existence and nature of micro-physcial conscious subjects.«
See Chalmers 2016a for an analysis of the combination problem, Goff 2016, Skrbina 2011 und Brüntrup 2016b for various attempted solutions.
According to Krause 1869: 4, science is a system of true findings, differentiated within itself, in which all parts »exist in relation to each other, not merely as a whole, in which parts are next to one other, collected in a mere aggregate, but as a whole in which the parts are all in, with and through one other (in, mit und durch einander), are all only in, with and through, the whole thing. Everything is essentially joined to form a whole which contains parts, each of which, although something specific, and exists for itself, nevertheless exists only for itself, by, and as long, as it is in a certain connectedness, and interaction, with all other members of that structure, which also account for the organism«. Schopenhauer 1889: 4 fully agrees on the adequacy of such a concept of science: »For by science we understand a system of notions [Erkenntnisse], i.e. a totality of connected, as opposed to a mere aggregate of disconnected, notions [Erkenntnisse]. But what is it that binds together the members of a system, if not the principle of sufficient reason? That which distinguishes every science from a mere aggregate is precisely, that its notions [Erkenntnisse] are derived one from another as their reasons.«
See Schopenhauer 1969: 28: »That all science in the real sense, by which I understand systematic knowledge under the guidance of the principle of sufficient reason, can never reach a final goal or give an entirely satisfactory explanation. It never aims at the inmost nature of the world; it can never get beyond the representation; on the contrary, it really tells us nothing more than the relation of one representation to another.«
See Krause 1886: 9: »If, therefore, there is knowledge of something which in an unlimited way is all that there is, this insight entails that this something is without a ground (ohne Grund). Consequently, the insight into the nature and existence of this something is without a ground as well, it is unprovable and not in need of a proof. […] If there is such an insight, it must be immediate and not mediated through any other insight or item of knowledge. And although not everyone will be able to obtain it without instruction, it must be possible to instruct every spirit to obtain this insight for themselves.«
Krause 1886: 66 argues that »we can only become aware of other things in so as far as these things are ourselves, and we are in these things ourselves.« Furthermore, »we can make an inference to the beings outside us, under the form: as true as I am myself, as I observe myself, there is also this or that being« Krause 1886: 75. Krause, in other words, argues that, through self-observation, we can use what is discovered as the true nature of the I to account for the ultimate ground of empirical reality. Schopenhauer, in turn, expresses this idea in a similar way: »What is directly known to us must give us the explanation of what is only indirectly known, not conversely.« (Schopenhauer 1966:196) That is, as Schopenhauer 1889: 246 says, »if we stood in the same inward relation towards every natural phenomenon as towards our own organism, the explanation of every natural phenomenon, as well as of all the properties of every body, would likewise ultimately be reduced to [that which is discovered as the nature of the I in self-observation].«
Empirical reality, in Krause’s words, has to be understood panentheistically as being in the ultimate ground, while, in Schopenhauer’s words, it has to be understood as a manifestation of the ultimate ground. Although different in name, both doctrines arguably express the same concept: That B is in A means that, according to its true nature and existence, B is completely and inseparably determined by the true nature and existence of A. As Krause 1869: 307-08 states: »Following present linguistic usage, I use ›in‹ here […] of finite essences and essentialities, and mean by it that this finite thing is the higher whole [that is, Essence] as part of it. So this finite thing, as a part of the same, is, however, bounded by the whole of pure Essentiality. So indeed, the limit of the finite is in common with that of its whole, but this boundary does not limit or circumscribe (begrenzt oder umgrenzt) the whole as a whole.« That B is a manifestation of A means the same. What Schopenhauer says about the relation between the ultimate ground of empirical reality, and empirical reality itself, therefore fits well with Krause’s panentheistic definition of the world’s being in its ultimate ground: »Now this is all very well, yet to me, when I consider the vastness of the world, the most important thing is that the essence in itself […] is present whole and undivided in everything in nature, in every living being. [… T]rue wisdom […] is acquired by thoroughly investigating any individual thing, in that we try thus to know and understand perfectly its true and peculiar nature.« (Schopenhauer 1969: 129).
See Krause 1903: 362: »My chief principle is that all science rests upon the intuition of an infinite substance, which intuition can not be proved according to the principle of sufficient reason, but can only be proved as present in the human mind (Geist).« See also Schopenhauer 1889: 216: »The kernel and chief point of my doctrine, its Metaphysic proper, [is] that this thing in itself, this substratum of all phenomena, and therefore of the whole of Nature, is nothing but what we know directly and intimately and find within ourselves as the will.«
Cf. Brüntrup 2011a: 39-40. As Wollgast 1990: 22 summarizes Krause’s insight: »Human self-knowledge, and therefore all knowledge, presupposes an absolute principle, ›Essence‹, which first makes the unity of thought and being (Sein) possible. The subject, searching for indubitable knowledge, and so reflecting on itself, presupposes the Absolute, knows that it always already finds itself within the Absolute, that it can know itself and the Absolute only through the Absolute.«
A central argument that seems to speak against the developed thesis is based on the premise that our phenomenal experience is a single stream of consciousness, and that we cannot have an epistemological approach to phenomenal experience that is not our own phenomenal experience. In other words, we always have only phenomenal access to our own consciousness, and no phenomenal evidence that this consciousness is part of a higher consciousness. This argument is a purely epistemological argument, and does not lead to a metaphysical conclusion that shows that it is not the case that our phenomenal experience is, at the same time part of a broader, phenomenal life. See Sprigge 2006: 485-86. See also Jaskolla/Buck 2012, Göcke 2014, and Zagzebski 2013 for analyses of holism and the concept of omni-subjectivity.