An Argument for Micropsychism: If There is a Conscious Whole, There Must be Conscious Parts

Kriterion – Journal of Philosophy 38 (2024)
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Abstract

Many philosophers today accept that phenomenal truths cannot be explained in terms of ordinary physical truths. Two possible routes to accounting for consciousness have received much attention: the emergentist route is to accept that ordinary experience is inexplicable in physical terms but that microscopic entities as described in physics nonetheless bring about conscious experience. The second route is to argue that microscopic entities have features not described in physics which can fully explain conscious experience. The view associated with panprotopsychism is that microscopic entities have no phenomenal properties. The view associated with panpsychism is that microscopic entities do have phenomenal properties. In this paper it is argued that if consciousness is extended in space only the latter view is possible. According to this argument for micropsychism, if phenomenal truths are not merely structural, all truths about a whole are truths about its parts plus structural relational truths. If there are phenomenal truths about the whole, this must be because there are phenomenal truths about its parts. It wouldn’t follow that panpsychism is true, since it does not follow that consciousness exists outside the wholes we know to be conscious, but it does follow that emergentism and protopanpsychism are false.

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Arjen Rookmaaker
University of Nijmegen

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