Panpsychism and Cosmopsychism

Dissertation, University of Birmingham (2020)
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This collection of papers centres around a novel approach to the problem of phenomenal consciousness called cosmopsychism. A simple version of cosmopsychism says that the cosmos as a whole is conscious. In this collection, I focus on a comparison between arguably the most promising versions of cosmopsychism and panpsychism, called constitutive cosmopsychism and constitutive panpsychism, respectively. The first paper, ‘A Blueprint for Cosmopsychism’ offers a blueprint for a cosmopsychist approach, comparing it to the panpsychist approach. It highlights how following the blueprint allows one to sidestep the most serious of panpsychism’s problems, the combination problem, while also avoiding the problem of infinite decomposition. However, it notes that the approach must address a serious problem of its own in the derivation problem. The second paper, ‘Beyond Panpsychism and Cosmopsychism? Focuses’ on two related views that reject subjects of experience at the fundamental level, thus avoiding the subject aspects of the combination and derivation problems. Albahari’s perennialism is touted as the natural successor to cosmopsychism; avoiding its subject derivation problem while maintaining a cosmic consciousness. Meanwhile, Coleman’s panqualityism is touted as a natural successor to panpsychism; avoiding its combination problem while maintaining that phenomenality is present at the level of microphysical ultimates. However, I show both views seem to face problems equal in measure to those they seek to avoid. The third paper, ‘The Subject Problem for Panpsychism and Cosmopsychism’ targets the hardest problems for constitutive panpsychism and constitutive cosmopsychism; the subject combination problem and the subject derivation problem, respectively. I show that the two problems are almost identical, both hinging on the entailment of what I call synchronous perspectives scenarios. I formulate broad arguments from metaphysical impossibility and epistemic implausibility against both views, based on such scenarios. However, I provide a possible model of how to understand synchronous perspective scenarios unproblematically. I also provide several alternative responses. The fourth, and final, paper in the collection provides an account of, and motivation for, a version of cosmopsychism I call CRP cosmopsychism. This version of cosmopsychism is created on the priority cosmopsychism blueprint and has three further key commitments: simple panpsychism, priority monism and Russellian monism. The paper motivates each of these commitments both in isolation and in partnership, before responding to each of the derivation problems; the subject derivation problem, the quality derivation problem and the structure derivation problem. Furthermore, I argue that cosmopsychism should be preferred over panpsychism owing to considerations concerning internal relations.

Author's Profile

Khai Wager
Oxford University


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