A new scientific concept has recently emerged, which scientists are calling “panpsychism.” Panpsychism says that the universe could be capable of consciousness. It has been mooted by scientist Gregory Matloff.
According to Matloff, a physicist at New York City College of Technology, in his recently published paper, humans could be like the rest of the universe, in substance and in spirit. A “proto-consciousness field” could extend throughout all space. The entire cosmos could be self-aware.
Another supporter of panpsychism is Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. He says that biological organisms are conscious because when they approach a new situation, they are able to change their behaviour in order to thwart adverse circumstances.
He is running a series of experiments, including one that includes wiring the brains of two mice together to see if the information will flow between the two like a fused, integrated system would.
“The only dominant theory we have of consciousness says that it is associated with complexity — with a system’s ability to act upon its own state and determine its own fate,” Koch argues. “Theory states that it could go down to very simple systems. In principle, some purely physical systems that are not biological or organic may also be conscious.”
As it stands, panpsychism is just in the experimental phase. Yet it echoes those who have championed Animism in the past. Animism is the religious belief that objects, places and creatures all possess a distinct spiritual essence.
Animism perceives all things—animals, plants, rocks, rivers, weather systems, as animated and alive. The currently accepted definition of animism was only developed in the late 19th century (1871) by Sir Edward Tylor, whose career I explore in my second book “The Golden Age of Spiritualism”.