Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Panpsychism is the belief that mind, or consciousness, is omnipresent throughout the universe and is a fundamental aspect of the universe. Examples of panpsychic beliefs are that atoms have "atomic consciousness", rocks have "rock consciousness", trees have "tree consciousness", planets have "planet consciousness", the universe has "universal consciousness", and so on. Panpsychism is sometimes called panexperientialism or panprotopsychism in contemporary philosophy of mind.
Panpsychism and Theism
Panpsychism is sometimes described as nothing more than the universe having "universal consciousness". This view is shared by some forms of theosophy, pantheism, panentheism, and cosmotheism. However this form of panpsychism does not necessarily imply any of these views.
Panpsychism and the Mind-body problem
Panpsychism does not necessarily imply idealism - the metaphysical view that mind is the fundamental constituent of reality (a view that reduces matter to mind - a type of monism). Panpsychism is compatible with either idealism or dualism - the view that mind and matter are mutually irreducible. In contrast, panpsychism seems incompatible with materialism (or physicalism), another kind of monism that reduces mind to matter.
Panpsychism is often viewed as a solution to the hard problem of consciousness.
Thinkers on panpsychism
Starting from the skeptical idea that all we can know of the universe is what we perceive of it, the idealists went on to draw the radical conclusion that it is the mind that makes the universe. In modern philosophy George Berkeley is seen as the originator of the idealist tradition; key figures of idealism include Georg Hegel and Arthur Schopenhauer. Spinoza (1632 - 1677) is also considered a panpsychist thinker.
The Psychoanalytic Tradition
Starting from the work of Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung investigated psychological and mythological archetypes, and began to argue for a panpsychical and mystical view of the human condition. Joseph Campbell took these ideas further, arguing for a archetypal core to all myths, the monomyth, and viewed mythical accomplishment as the basis for individual and social growth, and further saw life as being made up of myth structured journeys.
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