The ‘mind’ represents a mental process of
thought and consciousness; the ‘body’ represents the physical aspects of matter
(i.e. neuron structures, the brain). The mind-body problem investigates the
relationship between the mental realm and the physical realm of a person. It is
believed that the mind and body interacts with each other all the time. Descartes
dualism believes that the mind and body are independent but separated entities,
of which both exist in a human being. It is believed that the mind and body
interacts with each other all the time. Koch suggests that panpsychism views that the mind
(psyche) is found everywhere (pan).

This essay will further expand on how panpsychism is a form of naturalistic dualism
and that the idea of which consciousness must be postulated as a necessary property
of the universe alongside with physical properties of a person. This essay will
discuss and define panpsychism and the concept of mind-body problem. According
to Nagel’s argument, there are four plausible premises that cannot to be
neglected or denied whilst understanding panpsychism and its theory of
mind-body works. These four premises are (1) material composition, (2) non-reductionism,
(3) realism about mental properties and (4) emergentism is false. These premises
will be used to show that Nagel’s theory of panpsychism is rationally
acceptable. Moreover, this essay also aims to expand the belief that panpsychism
is a good solution to the mind-body problem.


In philosophy, panpsychism
views consciousness as an element that attribute to all sorts of things in the
world – living or non-living. Panpsychism is often criticised for being religious or spiritual
nonsense. This is because panpsychism can be interpreted in many ways. Some may
interpret panpsychism as the theory that suggests everything is conscious, regardless
of it bring a living or non-living object. This means that tables, hammers,
buildings and all other non-living objects are believed to be conscious as well.

Such interpretation of panpsychism seems extremely absurd; this theory may be
seen to have more in common with animism –a religious belief that objects carry
spiritual nature, than with proper philosophy. Moreover, another interpretation
of panpsychism is the belief that everything in the universe is strictly
experiential. The focus of this essay is not to expand on either interpretation
of panpsychism above. However, this essay aims to attribute experiential
properties to the fundamentals, the ultimate aspects of the universe. Panpsychism
discussed throughout this essay also accepts that the fundamental is also
physical. However, it does not propound that these fundamentals are
experiential. Panpsychism does not advocate human consciousness as a
common feature throughout all nature but rather, sees it as an all-inclusive
form of initial sentience. Sentience is seen and understood as general
subjectivity, cognitive capability or experience that is spatial. Sentience cannot
be defined in spatial terms because it does not physically occupy space. Research
suggests that consciousness is
a synthesized form of sentience; consciousness is based on elements that are
chemically orchestrated from the physical realm of matter. In this essay, I
agree with Koch’s claims that some versions of panpsychism are empirically
plausible. Panpsychism dispenses the most specific, empirically plausible and
logically derivable set of established principle to approach
the relationship between the mental and physical
realms of living beings and/or non-living beings. Panpsychism
discovers that the impact from the mental realm of thoughts (i.e. pain and sensations) greatly affect
the physical realm of matter (i.e. atoms and neurons). In addition to that, Rene
Descartes was the first philosopher who discovered a solution
to the dilemma. This solution is now known as Cartesian Dualism. Descartes
believed that the body was entirely divisible; he strongly believed that he was
merely a thinking thing. Descartes considered that the
mind and body are existentially separable entities
which often interact with one another. Therefore, panpsychism is a good solution to the mind-body problem as it provides an explanation
to how the properties of the mind interact casually with physical functions.

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To further
expand the theory of panpsychism, Nagel outlined four premises that imply panpsychism.

These premises will be examined in the following paragraph. Nagel’s first
premise, material composition, is the belief that all conscious, living beings
are made up of only physical matters, any other constituents other than matter
are not needed. His second premise, anti-emergence, highlights the common
denial that mental states spontaneously and voluntarily emerge in complex
systems of a certain nature. In short, mental properties can never be physical
properties, while physical realm is not related to the mental. His third
premise, non-reducibility, suggests that mental states are not reducible
to the physical properties of organisms. His fourth and last premise, realism,
is that mental states do exist and are properties of entirely physical
organisms. Mental properties cannot belong to spiritual, un-real beings.

Moreover, Nagel stated the truth of each premise stated in his argument is more
reasonable than the false properties of it. This paper will also examine the
three challenges to his argument about panpsychism. The first challenge is dealing
with mental properties, or the separation of matter into ‘physical’ and
‘mental’ constituents. This challenge does not constitute any uncertainty
towards panpsychism’s rational acceptability. To deny that the consciousness of
a living being is only made up of matters suggest that dualism occurs. Nagel stated
that no other properties besides matters are needed to prove consciousness. The
denial of this premise suggests dualism – of which requires adding
insignificant substances to evince consciousness in living beings. Nagel stated
that all living beings must be made up of matter that are arranged in specific orders.

The second challenge is Panpsychism’s contradiction in its appeal to other
types of emergence. There is no solid evidence for dualism; substance would
require redirection of a new philosophical inquiry. The dualistic concept needs
to account for causal connections between the spiritual (soul) and the material
(body), which is difficult to prove and investigate. However, it is simpler to
define physical matters. Exploring physicality is more elegant and thus more
attractive to accept.

while the premise seems to mark Panpsychism’s departure from substance dualism,
it will be revealed later things are not so clear. Panpsychism takes this idea to its logical
extreme. If consciousness is to be a fundamental property of the universe then
it must have been present all along, before we conscious creatures came along
and started questioning everything. Panpsychism claims that to make sense of
the idea that consciousness is a fundamental property of the universe we must
consider that the fundamental building blocks of the
universe already instantiate conscious properties (In this dissertation I will
use the terms consciousness, experience and experiential to mean the same thing
unless otherwise noted). The main reason for this claim is that it allows for a
reductive theory of consciousness in a dualist context. If consciousness is
fundamental to the universe, and was present all along, then it is no longer a
mystery why we are conscious; it is simply the natural evolution of our
universe that has led to conscious creatures from the basic conscious
properties available at the beginning.

The third problem apprehends
a concerning predicament of the mind-body problem. Which is failing to explain physical
encounters with subjective experiences. Panpsychism is used to examine the
mind-body problem when other concepts fail to provide reasonable explanation to
the mind and body connection. Looking at intuitive theories of mind, they encompass
physicalism and property dualism. The shortcomings of reductive and
non-reductive theories have made panpsychism stand out. The mind allows us to experience
consciousness on a daily basis. However, it is very difficult to define what
the mind is, and how it functions. It is agreeable that living beings are aware
of the world through the process of the mind – we have awareness to what is
happening around us. Awareness in terms of accessing, navigating and
interacting with different environments. Even with genetic inheritance, every
being has their own sense of awareness regardless of being in the same
environment or not. This is because awareness is paired with independent
experiences. As an example, robots and living beings will be used to explain
awareness and consciousness. When a living being (with consciousness) encounters
a tree, the shape, size and colour of the tree becomes visible against a
background of the land and sky (environment); there is an experience with the
tree. On the other hand, the robot does not actually visualise anything. The robot
is only a machine that receives “visual” inputs of which depends on its program
and how it is ‘taught’ to understand certain patterns, light waves and colours.

This robot does not go through an experience of ‘seeing’. Therefore, experience
is a necessity to the mind. A living conscious being, without experience, is no
different to a robot. By programming experience it to a machine, the robot
inherits artificial intelligence. Which means that artificially intelligent
robots deserve equal treatment as to any living being. However, experience is a
tedious and subjective concept that is hard to define. The easiest way to
determine what ‘experience’ means is to process the most obvious aspect of
experience – is there or is there no sensory perception. Living beings
experience, light hence, colours, shapes and sizes. Living being also
experience sounds, touch and smells. These are the fundamental nature of
experience; if there is no subject of experience there is no experience at all.

The problem arises when we try to find an explanation of the origins of
experience and how they fit in the universe. We will now look into the
physicalist approach to the explanation of experience. The physicalist method
is to find a reductive explanation, to explain experience in simpler terms. The
core idea is that experience must be explainable by the sciences. Panpsychism
can solve the mind body problem. But the solution may not be as satisfying as
one would like. This is because of it is very speculative and radical in its
claims. We can criticise the theory on these grounds, yet it can also be one of
its benefits. More conservative theories struggle to account for experience
appealing to the entities and properties we know about, so perhaps appealing to
those we don’t know about is the right move. Panpsychism gives an account of
experience that, paradoxically, both notices the limitations of science but
offers a theory that is elegantly reductive. The panpsychist admires the
explanation of the physical world given by the sciences, yet acknowledges that
they won’t be able to do the same for consciousness; he therefore mirrors the
reductive methods of science and applies it to experience. The conclusion is
radical; the most fundamental entities of the universe are physical of course,
but they are also experiential.

In conclusion, the essay above discussed
and explained mind-body problem as  to  defined panpsychism as an attempt to
reductively explain experience without the limitations of science but following
its model. Panpsychism does offer a good solution to the mind?body problem. 


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