George Dyson, Analogia: The Emergence of Technology Beyond Programmable Control

… i am one and a half chapters into the book… i am learning about the first modern Russians to cross the Bearing Straits and explore the Pacific Northwest of the Americas… i am learning about the European settler overrun of the West and the Native American population that had called it home for thousands of years… i am learning about very early communication technology that permitted the coordination of troops across large stretches of land…

… really interesting how much of a lesson in the history of suppression of Native American populations the book is… other than the opportunity it afforded to develop the precursor digital transmission technology, there seems little reason for the inclusion of so much historical detail… i wonder if i will learn the reason later on… and then this:

We have to regard the Universe,” he concluded, “not as a collection of Things or Events existing apart from any awareness of them by observers, but as manifested Thoughts in a Universal Mind1

… which dovetails nicely into panpsychism though with leanings towards a Christian sprituality…

… reading about Marconi, Fleming and the development of transatlantic signaling and the vacuum tube…

… and now the development of theoretical physics, nuclear energy, and the atom bomb…


  1. John Ambrose Fleming as quoted in Analogia, George Dyson, loc 1240. [return]

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 7, Beyond Panpsychism

… Annaka Harris on separating consciousness from complex thought:

… it’s important to distinguish between consciousness and complex thought when considering the modern panpsychic views. Postulating that consciousness is fundamental isn’t the same as suggesting that complex ideas or thoughts are fundamental and magically result in a material realization of those ideas.1

… Harris goes on to outline the “hard problem” of panpsychism, which is how does complex consciousness, with memory and predictive capabilities, arise from lots of little consciousnesses?… to me, this is the least hard problem if we allow that individual wholes can add up to wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts, which is exactly what the human body is as an organism… a sum of parts equaling a greater whole… again, refer to the thinking of Wilber and de Chardin… in particular, Wilber’s discussion of holon theory, Wikipedia”)…

… Harris summarizing David Chalmers:

But perhaps it’s wrong to talk about a subject of consciousness, and it’s more accurate to instead talk about the content available to conscious experience at any given location in space-time, determined by the matter present there—umwelts applied not just to organisms, but to all matter, in every configuration and at every point in space-time.2

… one of the points Harris struggles with that i think is a big value of Panpsychism is the implication that a ubiquitous property of consciousness would mean that everything is interconnected… our ability to experience pleasure and pain could quite easily be the nervous system of the greater whole… that is, pleasure and pain is not an experience had by complex minds in isolation of a greater whole… we are the pleasures and pains of the cosmos… all the interactions of matter and energy in the cosmos are a foundation of our pleasure and pain… Native American and other primitive cultures understood this… among the most damaging propositions on the planet is the idea that we stand apart from this whole and can do whatever we want with it… it seems that Harris has a hard time letting go of the need to treat being conscious and undertaking complex thought as independent things… again, the idea of holons…


  1. Annaka Harris, Conscious, p 90 [return]
  2. Ibid, p 92 [return]

Annaka Harris, Conscious, Chapter 6, Is Consciousness Everywhere?

… the introduction to panpsychism…

… a review of the reason(s) why we might need a consciousness is in everything view of the cosmos, the hard problem of consciousness… where do you draw the line between what is conscious and what isn’t?… how do you pin down the conditions for its emergence?… you don’t have to do either of these things if you accept consciousness as somehow fundamental to the nature of the cosmos…

… Ms. Harris explains that most scientists, including neuroscientists, don’t accept panpsychism, believing consciousness to be an emergent quality of complex systems… they fail to solve the hard problem and possibly fail to overcome a human then mammal centric view of consciousness…

… i find it easy to accept panpsychism… experience is noticing, in some way, surroundings… all matter experiences its proximity to other matter… consciousness is simply being aware…

… the arguments against consciousness as a byproduct of evolution seem a little confused, groping around… the emergence of memory and the ability to anticipate and plan is what i think most evolutionists are talking about when they talk about the evolution of consciousness… a gradual awakening of experience into the ability to remember and predict, remember and teach… i am not sure this is the same as consciousness though i am also not sure it can be separated from consciousness…

… i remember reading that genes cary “memory” of predatory threats which cause an animal to respond even if they have never experienced the predator before… this DNA memory takes up to 10K years to dissipate once the predator is no longer in the environment…

… Harris confesses that she does not full on embrace panpsychism but also believes it deserves a place at the conversation table… she outlines the difficulty that humans have in conceiving of consciousness as something more simple and rudimentary than the complex thought processes they are capable of… it is a human-centric bias…

… perhaps we need a scale of awareness from subatomic particles to human brains and beyond (we haven’t gotten at all to the idea that individual higher level consciousnesses may add up collectively to something more complex and powerful still)… maybe that will be in a coming chapter…

… i keep thinking about Ken Wilber’s book, Sex, Ecology and Spirituality… i think also of Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man… both point to levels of complexity that will be composed of the individual units of thought gathered together in interconnected activity… a new level of consciousness and exchange… de Chardin, by the way, is buried a few miles from where i sit making these notes…

A Brain Pickings Post on Panpsychism and Consciousness

… two of my most favorite rabbit holes, though they are really one rabbit hole… i have read a lot on panpsychism and find i believe in the idea that all matter possesses some level of consciousness which can be as fundamental as the attraction or repulsion between two subatomic particles… the idea that to be attracted or repulsed is to “sense” the proximity of “another”…

… it’s an idea that is often (though increasingly less so) dismissed as new age woo-woo, or a kind of spiritualism the intuitive self is drawn to as a pathway to meaning in life…

Basho On Poetry

… winding down to the end of The Essential Haiku…

The basis of art is change in the universe. What’s still has changeless form. Moving things change, and because we cannot put a stop to time, it continues unarrested. To stop a thing would be to halve a sight or sound in our heart. Cherry blossoms whirl, leaves fall, and the wind flits them both along the ground. We cannot arrest with our eyes or ears what lies in such things. Were we to gain mastery over them, we would find that the life of each thing had vanished without a trace.1

Poetry is a fireplace in summer or a fan in winter.2

… Basho promoting Panpsychism?…

Every form of insentient existence—plants, stones, or utensils—has its individual feelings similar to those of men3

… Learn from the Pine has a lot of wisdom… it comforts me because in general, i follow its proscriptions, not perfectly, not even admirably, but i follow them as best i can…


  1. Basho, Learn from the Pine, via The Essential Haiku [return]
  2. Ibid [return]
  3. Ibid [return]