Comment on Michael Zimmerman’s Integral Life piece on Consciousness

See http://integrallife.com/integral-post/yes-virginia-consciousness-does-go-all-way-down for Michael’s post and my full comment. First paragraph of my reply copied below.

“Hi Michael,

This is a great piece and I found your treatment of recent developments in the study of consciousness really useful–especially the references to Christof Kotch, his work, and his recent turn to panpsychism.

This last item, Kotch’s move to a panpsychic view, I find especially interesting. I’ve been pondering the ‘consciousness all the way down’ view in Integral and its relationship to the implied panpsychic basis on which it rests. If as Wilber says ‘the meaning of a statement is the mode of its enactment’ then I’m not convinced any reference to, or reliance on, a panpsychic view can support a fully integral worldview. My concern, and it may be mostly a semantic one (but no less important for this) is that any reference to ‘psych’ or ‘mind’ or perhaps even ‘consciousness’ will always signify a kind of homuncular stance to modernists and postmodernists–that is, that we are sneaking in a metaphysical ‘spirit’ or all knowing mind that introduces a form of causality not reified through material existence. The mode of the meaning of ‘panpsychism’, in its essence, then will always be uncomfortable for modern (reductionists)/postmodern (subtle reductionists) types and therefore not meaningful enough to constitute the enactment of a practically effective Integral worldview–one that can get real and widespread traction in the formation of a planetary civilisation. The word ‘spirit’ has a similar and much stronger effect, and basing a view of spirit on even a ‘sophisticated’ panpsychism just seems to compound the problem. Shifting to Whiteheads concept of panexperientialism as a form of ‘weak’ panpsychism might help or even protopanexperientialism, but even these terms don’t seem to be quite right as signifiers of what we are trying to articulate as integralists to the modern and post modern levels.”

(See full comment and original post by Michael Zimmerman by clicking the link above.)

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