The Special Pleading of Mentality’s Strong Emergence

Humans are ultimately composed of elementary particles or fields. Every complex physical trait we have can be traced to primitive versions of this trait in these fields. Every physical thing we do is a form of movement. We can only perform these movements because the fields we are composed of have the ability to move.

These movements require energy. Our bodies have mechanisms to absorb and use energy to perform these movements. The same holds true with our elementary particles.

The ability to move our limbs doesn’t magically appear out of thin air at some point of development. It is instead directly traceable to each of our subsystems: cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles. There is not one physical attribute that is an exception to this rule. As such, complex physical phenomena are said to weakly emerge from the interactions of subsystems that possess simpler forms of these physical phenomena.

A rational person therefore would assume that this weak emergence rule would apply to our mental abilities too. That is, every complex mental phenomena we are capable of would have a simpler counterpart in each subsystem. This would mean though that the cells, atoms, subatomic particles and elementary particles that compose us would have simple forms of mentality too. That is, panpsychism is a reality.

The alternative to our subsystems possessing mentality involves the idea that mentality strongly emerges from physical sources that lack any mental capabilities. This odd scenario assumes that mentality is somehow inexplicably special. It is a unique case that applies only to mental capabilities but not physical properties. Yet no justification whatsoever has ever been presented for this special case. This is the very definition of special pleading.

Special pleading is a fallacy in which something is cited as an exception to a general or universal principle, without justifying the special exception. Those who oppose panpsychism necessarily must embrace the strong emergence of mentality. They dogmatically adhere to this irrational outlook with only the rudimentary logical fallacy of special pleading to justify it.

It is high time that all sane scholars reject the raving irrationality of mentality’s strong emergence and instead embrace the only rational alternative, panpsychism.

Panpsychism’s Combination Non-Problem

For many philosophers the so called combination problem is panpsychism’s Achilles’ heel. The combination problem refers to not understanding how the multitude of cells (or particles) possessing simple mentality, work together to form the complex mentality that we experience.

There really is no problem at all though. We don’t seem to have a problem understanding how our complex physical properties weakly emerge from simper forms of those properties in the cells or particles that compose us. Why on Earth then would there somehow be a problem for mental properties?

This “problem” is really just a case of special pleading. Mental properties somehow inexplicably operate differently than physical properties because some philosophers simply find the idea of panpsychism distasteful.

Highly integrated cells working together cause new physical capabilities to emerge just as our advanced mental capabilities emerge from cells with far simpler mental capabilities. The mind’s subjectness is akin to the body’s systemness. Either both have a combination problem or neither does.

Has any actual justification ever been presented that the combination problem even exists? It does not appear so. This “problem” then is merely a dogmatic fantasy or delusion based on nothing but blind faith.

The real combination problem seems to apply to anti-panpsychists. How does phenomenal experience somehow magically arise from nowhere when the right combination of particles form? This is the real question that is consistently ignored by those with a deep-seated, blindingly irrational aversion to the eminently rational position of panpsychism.

Pantheism The Mother Spirituality

Most theists (believers in God) will not want to hear this but all theisms (beliefs in God) are forms of pantheism. Panpsychism too necessarily leads to pantheism. Consider this argument:

  • The Universe is all there is.
  • There is no way that a supreme being could be less than all there is or more than all there is.
  • God can only be the Universe.

The first statement is a simple fact. The second statement though requires some clarification. Logically, barring supernatural beliefs, God cannot be more than All there is. God is a thing and therefore cannot be outside the set of all things. But can God be less than all there is? Now consider this other argument:

  • All mind is shaped by matter interaction.
  • All matter is mind.
  • All matter interacts with all other matter through gravity for one.
  • The totality of mind is Mind or God the Universe.

For the first two statements refer to our article on Proving the Existence of God. For the third statement refer to Newton’s law of universal gravitation. If all matter interacts with itself, all matter will form the ultimate mind, God. So God cannot be less that all there is. God clearly is all there is.

All claimed supernatural properties of God are unjustified and even unjustifiable and so can be flatly ignored. What is left clearly and logically shows that all forms of theism including Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Deism and any others as well as panpsychism, are forms of pantheism. Truly it seems that pantheism is the mother of all theistic spiritualities.

A Rational Morality

Rational pantheism should involve a rational system of ethics or morality. The rational spiritualist should have some objective universal guidelines to help navigate moral problems that they face. That system is a simple equation: M = B – H.

M = B – H

M = B – H or Moral action = Benefits to all Harms to all. So if a give action you perform results in more good than harm, it is the correct or moral action. Note that does not limit itself to just people. All beings should be represented as well. A being’s moral worth is determined by a combination of their complexity and the benefits they provide others.

Subjective or Objective?

Many naysayers persist in the belief that morality is subjective. But that’s like saying science is subjective. Science involves following an objective method. The fact that some are too ignorant to understand it or too self-centered (“evil”) to conform to it, is irrelevant to the method’s objectiveness. Similarly, morality is objective when conscientiously and competently following an objective moral method like M = B – H.

Some will say that determining what constitutes Benefits and Harms are subjective. Again though, benefits and harms are only useful when they are viewed objectively. If a perceived benefit is based on an unfounded belief that is a subjective belief not an objective one. When harms and benefits are supported with appropriate justification they are evaluated objectively. Saying that morality cannot be objective is like saying science can’t be objective.

Against the Creator Argument

Most if not all religions have a creator myth. A supremely powerful being suddenly takes the notion to create the universe out of nothing. This myth though has a simple argument against it. Consider:

  • The Universe is all there is.
  • Nothing can exist outside of all there is.
  • If a creator existed then it could at best be identical to the Universe.
  • It is impossible for the creator to create itself.
  • Therefore the “creator”/Universe must have always existed.

Note that the argument contain one important assumption: energy cannot be created or destroyed as per the law of conservation of energy.

If the creator was not the Universe then the Universe consisted of the creator and some “stuff” or “energy”. The creator could fashion this stuff into the known universe but the Universe itself, was always there and will always be there.

So as is clearly evident, the notion of a creator creating the universe out of nowhere is logically impossible. At best you could say (as we do) that the creator or God has forever been gradually creating the universe into a different form much like we recreate ourselves as we grow.

Anti-Panpsychism’s Argumentum Ad Absurdum

Panpsychism is the idea that everything in the Universe has some sort of awareness or mind. Pantheism relies on panpsychism and extends it, so it is vitally important to not only prove pantheism true but panpsychism too. The reality of panpsychism can be proven with a very simple logical argument.

The Argument

We know from biology that thinking humans are collections of individual living entities called cells and that these cells are composed of molecules. We know from chemistry that molecules are composed solely of atoms. We understand from physics that atoms are composed of subatomic particles which ultimately are composed only of elementary particles. Elementary particles are simply packets of energy. Energy packets are just energy enclosed within a field.

Everything that a human does can be traced down to interactions of these energy fields. Nothing we do can be caused by anything else unless you believe in the existence of magical paranormal forces. So, the only logical conclusion is that human mental states result from the interactions of energy packets or energy. The Universe, all that is, is composed only of energy and therefore is a vast sea of mentality.

Argumentum Ad Absurdum

Another way to prove the reality of panpsychism is to illustrate the utter absurdity of the opposing argument that the building blocks of matter have no awareness and that awareness simply appears from nowhere at some indeterminate point.

So, according to some anti-panpsychists, a human zygote has no mentality but mentality magically switches on at some precise point in its development. No mentality, then after one more neural connection it magically appears from nowhere.

Other anti-panpsychists will admit that cells have mentality but maintain that the atoms that compose them don’t. So at some magically precise point in evolution, one more molecule was added to to a primitive cell and then mentality magically appeared from nowhere.

The blatant absurdity at work here is that no actual mechanism is proposed for the development of awareness. Awareness simply appears out of nowhere for no reason at some indeterminate point of development.

Our explanation on the other hand has no such problem, awareness is simply ubiquitous. Awareness is a fundamental property of the most simple form of matter, energy. When organized into a sufficiently complex intercommunicating system, the sum total of energy is aware of itself as a system.

Proving Panpsychism

Panpsychism is the view that all things have a mental component. That is, all things, from free energy to atoms to the Universe itself have some kind of mental life.

The proof for panpsychism is exceptionally simple. The main “argument” against panpsychism is not an argument but a purely faith-based belief propped up by ridiculous pseudoscience and absurd pseudo-logic.

Basically, the claim against panpsychism is that mentality is emergent. That is, mentality magically arises from non-mental stuff at some indeterminate point in evolution. Proponents of emergence strongly dispute that this process is anything magical. But magic involves supernatural occurrences. A new fundamental property, mentality, simply occurring at some indeterminate point for no known reason out of nowhere and from nothing would most certainly be a supernatural occurrence.

Now we actually understand emergence very well in physical systems. Every emergent physical property that we understand, is an illusion that is explainable by the physical properties of the system’s constituent parts. Take the hardness property of iron. Iron is made of iron atoms which are not hard but have bonding properties which result in them combining together. We interpret this bonding as hardness. The property of hardness is an illusion that only exists in our reality but not at the reality of the atomic level. That is, if you were able to shrink down to the level of the atom you would not experience hardness. You would instead see atoms packed together.

There is no reason to believe that mentality works in a different way. In fact, it would be an extraordinary claim that mentality would operate in an entirely different way than physical processes. Particularly when there is not a single shred of evidence or even a logical argument to support such an oddly magical explanation.

So in effect, refuting the magical emergent argument for mentality is actually panpsychism’s proof. As far as we know, all emergent physical processes are explainable by simpler physical processes of a system’s component parts. Therefore mentality will be explainable by the simpler mental properties of the system’s component parts as well. Since magical creation from nothing is impossible, the smallest system must have the simplest level of mentality. When these simple systems organize into complex systems we get not only complex physical properties but we can get complex mental properties too.

Argument Summary

P. Either mentality arises from non-mental stuff or all stuff has simple mentality that can be arranged into complex forms.
P. There is no justification whatsoever that mentality can magically arise out of nothing. Therefore this claim can be rejected.
P. Further, it is impossible for complex things to arise from nowhere. Such an explanation can therefore only be supernatural.
P. All complex physical properties result from the arrangement of simpler versions of these properties in a system’s subsystems.
P. It would involve special pleading to claim that mentality would operate in a dramatically different way than physicality.
C. Therefore panpsychism must necessarily be true.

When there is only one rational explanation for something, that explanation, while not technically proven true, is the one only the irrational will reject. When an explanation appeals to supernatural magical forces, that explanation will only be entertained by the non-rational.

Conclusion

So human mentality is in fact emergent. But it doesn’t magically arise out of thin air from non-mental stuff. Complex mentality instead emerges from a multitude of simple mental systems operating together in a complex system. That is, human-level mentality emerges exactly the same way as the physical human being emerges as cells grow and multiply. Panpsychism is therefore an undeniable fact that philosophy and science needs to come to terms with.

Pantheism and the Fallacy of Division

Explains how our proof for the existence of God does not commit the fallacy of division.

Parts of a whole

To date the best argument against our proof for the existence of God has been an accusation of committing the fallacy of division. The fallacy of division involves claiming that because a thing has a property, the components of that thing also have that property. So because we say “We have
consciousness and because consciousness can’t magically arise out of thin air, the atoms that compose us must have consciousness.” this means we are committing this fallacy. Or does it?

Consider this argument: “We have mass. Therefore the atoms composing us have mass.” This is a correct statement. If I say though, “I have a mass of 150 pounds. Therefore the atoms composing me each have a mass of 150 pounds.” this is obviously incorrect. The difference is that the second argument is guilty of equivocating a fundamental property (mass) with a specific property (a specific amount of mass).

So what we’re saying is that consciousness is a fundamental property and that human level consciousness and atom level consciousness are specific properties. We are not equivocating human level consciousness with atom level consciousness . Therefore our argument is not susceptible to the fallacy of division.

Is the Universe Divine?

One way in which pantheism has been improperly characterized is by claiming that it is the idea that “reality is is identical with divinity”. This is from the current Wikipedia entry on pantheism. Now on the one hand, this seems fine since one definition of divine simply refers to being a deity. The God of classical pantheism definitely is a deity. The other definition though refers to being supremely good. Here is the problem. By associating panthenism with divinity, we are associating with the irrational idea that God is only good.

Clearly though, God is not only good. God’s existence involves horrific things like disaster, wars and plagues. A good God would not partake in evil things like this. You might say “well God is just deterministic”. Even if God were largely or even completely deterministic, God is still doing bad things and so clearly is not divine.

We are not wholly good or bad. The most stable people are in a balance of good and bad. Rationally then, we should allow God the same interpretation. God is not good or bad but a balance of the two. God is not divine. God is simply the Universe, good and bad, yin and yang.

The Atheist Delusion

Is atheism irrational? It definitely is. No matter which flavor of atheism you look at, you’ll find it’s based on fundamentally flawed beliefs. For the sake of simplicity we’ll look at atheism as split into two camps: soft and hard (AKA negative and positive). Also we’ll be dealing with lay definitions. In philosophy, atheism generally refers to hard atheism.

Hard (positive) atheism is the purely faith-based belief that there is no god. Believing something doesn’t exist without having proven its nonexistence is completely irrational. A rational person is convinced in the truth (or falsity) of something commensurately based on the evidence available to support its truth (or falsity). A rational person knows something is false only if it has been logically proven false. This includes falsification by the scientific method.

Soft (negative) atheism is the lack of belief in god because of a belief that there is no evidence (knowledge) to support any god’s existence. In other words, soft atheism is simply agnosticism. Why would soft atheism exist when we already have the concept of agnosticism? Further, rational people also do not align themselves with very irrational people when they don’t have to unless some other motive is afoot.

Now why would soft atheists align themselves with atheism despite being associated with the glaringly obvious irrationality of hard atheism? If they truly were rational, why wouldn’t they distance themselves from the hard atheists? Why don’t they criticize the irrationality of hard atheists instead of welcoming them with open arms? Why also would they not simply call themselves agnostics since that is supposedly what they really are? Maybe it’s because they’re not really agnostics at all. The only plausible explanation is that soft atheists are simply hard atheists masquerading as soft atheists because they are unable to explain away the irrationality of their faith based position of hard atheism. By fraudulently posing as agnostics they can still publicly call themselves atheists without having to answer hard questions about their irrational faith.

Imagine someone who strongly believes in science. She’s looking for a group to join that shares these views. She finds two groups “Friends of Science” and “Science Friends”. “Friends of Science” is picky and very strictly allows only highly science oriented people to join. “Science Friends” however is astonishingly open and counts among its members flat earthers, astrologers and channellers. None of these three areas are valid areas of science at all. Someone who values science would always choose “Friends of Science” and never want to join such a group such as “Science Friends”. Someone who values science would criticize the “Science Friends” for allowing such irrational members. Anyone who claimed to value science but rejected “Friends of Science” and joined “Science Friends” willingly and without criticism could only be a fraud.

Some “weak” atheists try to sidestep the issue by claiming that the existence of god is of low probability. But probabilities can only be computed when there is data and no data is ever produced. Claiming to have computed probabilities when such a thing is impossible is incredibly irrational.

Argument Summary
Positive Atheism

P. Irrational people believe in unprovable claims.
P. X believes that there is no god but cannot prove it.
C. X is irrational.

Agnosticism

P. Rational people withhold belief in something when there is no evidence for that thing.
P. Z is unconvinced of the existence or nonexistence of any god due to lack of evidence.
C. Z is rational.

Negative Atheism

P. Rational people do not belong to groups of irrational people if they have an rational alternative.
P. Y claims to hold the same position as Z but instead choses to belong to a group with X as a member.
C. Y is irrational.

P. Rational people understand that probabilities cannot be computed when there is no data.
P. Y claims that any god is improbable but cannot produce any data.
C. Y is irrational.

As we can see, whichever way you look at atheism, it is a belief system that is fundamentally irrational. Couple this with the undeniable reality that the God of pantheism is a logically established fact. Rational people accept established facts, they don’t ignore them or belittle them. If a purported fact is not actually established, rational people will explain why rather than simply issue empty pronouncements of faith.