In this episode of Bulletproof Radio, my guest is leading philosopher and consciousness researcher Philip Goff, Ph.D. He studies how to integrate consciousness into our scientific worldview and how consciousness blends with our general theory of reality. “Consciousness is everywhere,” he says.
His approach to consciousness is “a very general framework for bringing together what we know about ourselves from the inside with what science tells us about the body and the brain from the outside to bring them together in a single integrated picture of reality.”
“All we mean by consciousness here is subjective experience, pleasure, pain, visual or auditory experiences and so human experience is incredibly rich and sophisticated,” says Philip, who teaches at Durham University in England. “This is the result of millions of years of evolution by natural selection.”
?In his new book “Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness,” he goes all the back to the foundations of the scientific revolution, when Galileo’s decided to set consciousness outside of the domain of science.
Philip suggests that we need to rethink what science is in order to solve the problem of consciousness and offers up panpsychism as a radically new picture of human consciousness.
“So that’s the idea that basic building blocks have some kind of very rudimentary conscious experience,” Philip says. “But it doesn’t mean every random arrangement of those particles of those building blocks is conscious. It doesn’t mean that your cup of coffee is conscious. It just means that your cup of coffee is made up of little things that are conscious.”
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Follow Along with the Transcript
More About Philip Goff
Book: “Galileo’s Error: Foundations for a New Science of Consciousness”
- We need to rethink what science is to solve the problem of consciousness. 1:49
- 30 years ago panpsychism was just laughed at. 4:06
- Can you define panpsychism in one sentence? – 5:56
- All we mean by consciousness here is subjective experience. – 8:37
- There’s more integrated information in the cells of a tree than there is in the tree as a whole. – 10:01
- This form of panpsychism inspired by Bertrand Russell and Arthur Eddington is a very general framework. – 12:10
- We think of Galileo as a experimental scientist but he was also a great philosopher. – 15:00
- Neuroscience is where we are quantifying the brain in a way that you couldn’t really do 20 years ago. – 19:42
- We postulate fundamental particles to explain what we can observe. – 22:30
- Different people have exactly the same physical experience and have very different inner experiences. – 24:53
- Physics tells us what the electron does, but not what it is. – 32:05
- I just think there’s a different way of thinking about the history of science. – 37:04
- Quantum mechanics is one of our most successful scientific theories in terms of prediction. – 40:27
- The idea that consciousness plays a role in what’s called collapsing the wave function. – 43:33
- The final chapter, I explore the sort of implications for human existence. – 48:55
- We should judge a view on its explanatory power, not its cultural associations. – 53:51
- The Western science perspective is, if I don’t have an explainable mechanism, it doesn’t work. – 57:05
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