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Panpsychism

The Totality Axiom is a form of panpsychism or the belief that consciousness is universal in all that exists. In its animistic form panpsychism is throughly discredited by contemporary science. But it exists in more abstract forms as the Artificial Intelligence researcher and furturist Ray Kurzweil has suggested.

So we could say that the universe --``all that is''-- is indeed personal, is conscious in some way that we cannot fully comprehend. This is no more unreasonable an assumption or belief than believing that another person is conscious. Personally, I do feel this is the case. But this does not require me to go beyond the ``mere'' ``material'' world and its transcendent patterns. The world that is, is profound enough[36, p. 215].

Joseph Campbell, the former expert on the world's mythologies, had a similar sense of the universality of consciousness.

It is part of the Cartesian mode to think of consciousness as being something peculiar to the head, that the head is the organ originating consciousness. It isn't. The head is an organ that inflects consciousness in a certain direction or to a certain set of purposes. But there is consciousness here in the body. The whole living world is informed by consciousness.
I have a feeling that consciousness and energy are the same thing somehow. Where you really see life energy there is consciousness. Certainly the vegetable world is conscious. And when you live in the woods as I did as a kid, you can see all these different consciousnesses relating to themselves. There is a plant consciousness and there is an animal consciousness, and we share both these things. You eat certain foods, and the bile knows whether there's something to go to work on. The whole process is consciousness. Trying to interpret it in simply mechanistic terms won't work[10, p. 18].

Campbell was not saying that energy produces consciousness. He was saying that energy is consciousness.

The philosopher, David Chalmers, has proposed a tentative theory of consciousness based on information. In context Chalmers' information is almost a synonym for mathematical structure. Every structure contains information and any structure can be fully described using information. After outlining his ideas he observes that information is ubiquitous. He does not shrink from the conclusion that experience must also be ubiquitous.

If this [experience is ubiquitous] is correct then experience is associated with even very simple systems. This idea is often regarded as outrageous, or even crazy. But I think it deserves a close examination. It is not so obvious to me that the idea is misguided, and in some ways it has a certain appeal[12, p. 293].

Adult consciousness involves a limited set of brain structures. Much of the brain operates below consciousness. We are not conscious of most of our body most of the time. Experiences enter consciousness when something notable happens like stubbing a toe. Why not assume all the activity not entering our stream of consciousness is nonetheless conscious, but with a limited connection to stream of consciousness? What is left out is as important as what is present. The consciousness we experience is an executive control with a limited capacity to deal with information. So complex filters exist to insure only relevant experience gets through. There is nothing special about the neurons that make up this executive control. Why not assume all the structures in the brain correspond to a consciousness that is their structure.

Equating existence to immediate experience violates our sense of objective physical reality. That reality is a pragmatic creation of consciousness. In what sense could an objective reality beyond any conscious experience exist?

This is not denying our scientific understanding of physical structure. It is describing the context in which that structure has existence and meaning. The dynamic physical transformation of the universe over time is a transformation of consciousness and nothing but a transformation of consciousness.


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