Saturday, September 4, 2010

Is everything conscious?


The Way We Live Now: Mind of a Rock

Panpsychism: I discovered this word recently and I've been searching through a backlog of web postings and wikipedia entries referring to what it means exactly. The bottom line, if you concurred with the basic premiss, would seem to indicate that consciousness might indeed be something a rock could possess. What exactly 'consciousness' is, and what form it might take in a rock is open to more examination, which I hope to take some 'blog time' for soon.

Suffice it to say Panpsychism seems to be about as close an explanation of the type of world I ended up describing in 'Stone Story'. I think it's worth revisiting the story soon and perhaps have one of the characters discuss its merits. Rhonda, the round-shaped stone, and The Squire, the square-shaped stone, along with other 'stone characters' in the story I am writing, are presented as being more aware of what is going on around them than conscious humans. They in fact can influence humans to do their bidding. They get unwitting masons to help them do what the stones like to do best- become stonework; weather it be castles or cathedrals, or free standing walls or just standing stones.

I find it exciting to think that so many interesting people (including friends I am meeting through the blog) have at some time or other explored this concept - the idea that not just living things, but all inert material as well, may have the stuff of consciousness infused in it (them?) and I am delighted that I have found myself in such good company, even if though I suspect I am way out of my depth.

I am particularly enjoying reading the writings of David Chalmers ....

According to Chalmers, anything with a shape or marks on it, (rocks for example) in fact anything at all, is covered in information - information about itself and how it got the way it is. We can speculate that any kind of information might give rise to consciousness: maybe even thermostats and rocks have a dim phenomenal life similar to just seeing different shades of grey. Since, on Chalmers' interpretation of information, everything is covered in it, it follows that everything is in some degree conscious. The result? Panpsychism.

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