Handbook of Contemporary Animism


Consciousness and Ways of Knowing





Auctor, -trix



Sentient Matter

Max Velmans



Animistic Science of the Earth

Stephan Harding



Animistic Plant Ontologies

Matthew Hall



Action in Cognitive Ethnology

Marc Beckoff



Embodied Oiko-Paganism

Adrian Harris



Animistic Research Methodology

M. J. Barrett



Consciousness, Wights, & Ancestors

Jenny Blain


Capitulum 28.



Sentient Matter

Max Velmans


pp. 363-4 one of Julian Jaynes's manifold absurdities

p. 363

"Jaynes (1979), by contrast, argued that

{What about when a person is too tired to be thinking in words, but nevertheless is continuing to work, and can remembre the whole process afterwards? What about when Julian Jaynes himself pauses briefly from words to admire some aisthetic attraction -- is he "unconscious" then although he can remembre the event quite well afterwards?}

p. 364

human language is a necessary condition for consciousness." {But Jaynes would seem to have used human language only to promote absurdities! Would not this fact tend to hypothesize that human language would be necessary to establish even the absurdity, and hence supposedly the unconsciousness, of a deceiving faker such as himself!}

Jaynes 1979 = J. Jaynes : The Origin of Consciousness ... . London : Allen Lane.

p. 364 "theory of mind"?

"Nicholas Humphrey (1983) ... arguing that consciousness emerged only only when humans developed a "theory of mind". ... There are other, modern variants of this position (e.g., Carruthers 1998)". {How could humans possibly develop a "theory of mind" if they were actually mindless (as claimed by Humphrey and by Carruthers) while they were developing this hypothesis? Are non-epistemology-devoted persons all so definitely mindlessly unconscious as so arrogantly alleged by these authors (Humphrey and Carruthers) whose own "theory of mind" is so utterly absurd to to prove their own selves (by their own hypothesis!) to be utterly "mindless" and "unconscious".}

{This is analogous to alleging that if a person while dreaming is not aware of being in a dream, then that must be a proof of that person's being totally unconscious at that time, despite of the memories and other evidence to the contrary! Most ordinary persons going through their life having no special "theory of mind" -- is that also a definite proof that ordinary persons are utterly unconscious throughout life, despite all indications to the contrary?}

Humphrey 1983 = N. Humphrey : Consciousness Regained. Oxford Univ Pr.

Carruthers 1998 = P. Carruthers : "Natural Theories of Consciousness". EUROPEAN J OF PHILOSOPHY 6.2:203-22.

pp. 364-5 beasts' recognition of their body in mirror-reflections

p. 364

"Gallup (1977 ...) ... found that individually housed chimpanzees, given access to a full-length mirror, ... use their mirror reflections to groom themselves ... . ...

p. 365

Similar findings have been obtained with orang-utans (Tobach et al. 1997), gorillas (Shillito et al. 1999) and tamarins (Hauser et al. 1995); mirror recognition has also been found in elephants (Plotkin et al. 2006) and dolphins (Reiss & Marino 2001)."

Gallup 1977 = C. G. Gallup : "Chimpanzees : Self-recognition". SCIENCE 167:86-7.

Tobach et al. 1997 = E. Tobach et al. : "Viewing Self and Nonself Images in a Group of captive Orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus Abellii)". PERCEPTUAL & MOTOR SKILLS 84:355-70.

Shillito et al. 1999 = D. J. Shillito et al. : "Factors Affecting Mirror Behaviour in Western Lowland Gorillas". ANIMAL BEHAVIOR 55:529-36.

Hauser et al. 1995 = M. D. Hauser et al. : "Self-recognition in Primates". PROC OF THE ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE USA 92:10811-14.

Plotkin et al. 2006 = J. M. Plotkin et al. : "Self-recognition in Asian Elephant". PROC OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE USA 103:17053-7.

Reiss & Marino 2001 = D. Reiss & L. Marino : "Mirror Self-recognition in the Bottlenose Dolphin". PROC OF THE SCIENTIFIC ACADEMY OF THE USA 98:5937-42.

{The author cited this as though taking an interest in one's mirror-reflection were necessary in order to indicate "self-consciousness" : whereas, in fact, body-based-self-consciousness is indicated by mere noticing of what one's body is doing into order to use it for anything further; and a more generalized self-consciousness, namely the recognition of one's thoughts as one's own, is established simply by one's using one's thoughts to achieve further thoughts. It is evident, therefore, that self-consciousness is fully praesent in essentially all conscious beings, i.e., in perhaps all living beings (if not in all non-living entities as well). According to the vibhu epistemology, our consciousness is located in the far reaches of the universe. [written May 18 2015]}

p. 365 who-all is consciousness?

"One cannot be certain that other animals are conscious -- or even that other people are conscious".

{To the contrary! :- During the process of telepathy, the location of one's consciousness may be manifestly in the body of another person; so that, by extrapolation, it may be deduced that one's own material body need never be the location of one's consciousness : and therefore, that all beings may be consciousness, except for one's own "self" only, which is never truly a locus of consciousness -- of this we can be as "certain" as we be can of any scientific fact. [written May 18 2015]}

p. 365 do all animals sleep?

"Within the animal kingdom creatures that sleep include mammals, birds, many reptiles, amphibians and fish, and even ants and fruit flies.

However, not all active animals appear to sleep (for example, fish that swim continuously in shoals)". {Is the author unaware that fishes have been been prove to swim while sleeping?}

{In this case, appearances are deceiving. "Tuna ... need to swim even while they are sleeping!" ("TFSThS") -- "They even swim while sleeping" ("TFCSS"). -- This is, of course, the ichthyic aequivalent to somnambulance in humans.}

"TFSThS" = "Tuna Fish Swim in Their Sleep". http://www.answers.com/Q/Why_do_tuna_fish_swim_in_their_sleep

"TFCSS" = "Tuna Fish Cannot Stop Swimming". http://www.anabac.org/index.php/en/tropical-tunas/interesting-facts/67-did-you-know-that-tuna-fish-cannot-stop-swimming-during-their-entire-life

{"the dolphin ... let half of their brain sleep at one time. They must remain at the surface of the water. First, they close one eye and allow one side of the brain to sleep, then they switch sides." http://www.captseaweed.com/information_on_dolphins.html }

pp. 366-7 activation of dominant activities within consciousness

p. 366

"the activities in the human brain that are eligible for consciousness ... involve heightened activation of dominant activities ... . For example, top-down influences of attentional systems ... on input are likely to be the ones by which their activation is heightened ... . Such

p. 367

... activities may also become dominant by entering into phase-locked synchrony ... . ... If so, consciousness may be a natural accompaniment of ... having an attentional system".

pp. 368-9 no brain is necessary for existence of consciousness : consciousness is praesent even in unicellular beings

p. 368

"As Charles Sherrington [1942, cited in Vesey 1964:323] has pointed out, there appears to be nothing special about the internal structure of brain cells that mignt make them uniquely responsible for mind or consciousness."

p. 369

"consciousness extends not to just simple invertebrates (such as Planaria) but also to unicellular organisms, fungi and {chorophyll-}plants."

Sherrington 1942 = Charles Scott Sherrington : Man on His Nature. Cambridge Univ Pr.

Vesey 1964 = Godfrey Norman Agmondisham Vesey (ed.) : Body and Mind : Readings in Philosophy. London : Allen & Unwin. (reprinted 1970)

p. 369 consciousness in electronic computers?

"silicon-based computers can in principle carry out many functions that, in humans, we take to be evidence of conscious minds.

So how can we be certain that they are conscious?" {But, by the same token, are we not fairly certain that mere computers are largely lacking in various other abilities and behaviours characteristic of living beings and usually regarded as integral to consciousness?}

{The ratiocination-variety of consciousness (as functioning in humans and in other animals, and even in plants), however, is generally accompanied by at least of modicum of volition in the form of free-will, a feature rather lacking in electronic computers. Furthermore, sensory consciousness (as functioning in humans and in other animals, and even in plants) is subject to free-will occasioned by pleasure-and-pain, which electronic computers have not been demonstated to experience.}

{Just as our own consciousness is capable of leaving out of our material bodies under certain circumstances (e.g., near-death experiences and other varieties of astral-projection), so likewise if electronic computers were actually conscious, that consciousness would be demonstrably capable of traveling out of, and returning into, them -- which may possibly be occurring during computers' "glitches".}

p. 369 mind is inhaerent in rudimentary matter

"Panexperimentalists such as A. N. Whitehead ([1929] ...) have suggested that ... elementary forms of matter may be associated with elementary forms of experience. And if they encode information they may be associated with rudimentary forms of mind."

Whitehead 1929 = Alfred North Whitehead : Process and Reality. GIFFORD LECTURES.

Skrbina 2005 = David Skrbina : Panpsychism in the West. Cambridge (MA) : M.I.T. Univ Pr. (reprinted in 2007 & in 2008)

pp. 369-70 physical matter is not necessary for existence of consciousness

p. 369

"the nature of matter doesn't matter to consciousness at

{This is the actual experience of persons undertaking projection/transvection in an immaterial subtle body (and also of practioners of "remote viewing"); and likewise the experience of all dreaming persons (whose dream-body, if any even be praesent, is an immaterial subtle one).}

p. 370

all. ... Computational functionalists take the further step that ... material stuff is irrelevant.

Any system that functions as-if it has consciousness and mind does have consciousness and mind. If a non-biological system functions exactly like a human mind then it has a human mind. ... . ... the functioning of a system determines the experience of that system. ...

{If it be thus functioning, it must be within the purview of divine entities, who in that context do condescend to function as its quasi-consciousness : this function is not only the duty of the networked committees of deities who guide the material-plane; it is their joy. [written May 21 2015]}

In my estimation, however, panpsychofunctionalism (the view that anything that has a function is conscious by virtue of having that function) is too extreme. If experience depends solely on form (or function) ..., then virtual minds embodied in symbol-manipulating programmes would have normal human experiences provided only that they mimic the mind's internal relationships. ...

{The extent whereto any functioning mechanism hath associated therewith some mode of consciousness would depend on the degree to which whatever category of deity under consideration may care to associate, connectedly, a (its own) consciousness. Because categories of deities differ greatly in their interests and concerns, whether any material mechanism shall appear to possess an associated consciousness will depend on the deity-category.}

In any case, to be a conscious entity or being, one would be have to be an entity or being. {Why not entityless borrowing of consciousness from the universal telepathic concourse of cosmic-deity committee-networks?} And it is by no means self-evident that any system that mimics the functioning of a given conscious entity would be a conscious entity of the same kind."

{In no case is "entity or being" requisite to consciousness, which is characteristic of mind/spirit/soul regardless of whether befitting (or not) any [arbitrary] definition of "entityhood" or "beinghood". Cosmic consciousness (which is quite full and intent) is characteristically lacking any sense of restriction that could result in a particularity of entityhood. [written May 21 2015]}

p. 372, n. 3 consciousness, unified and/or fragmented

"In our own case, we have the subjective impression of having a relatively unified consciousness in which our whole being participates ... . ... .

{According to KU 3:3, and BA 4:4:2, the stages of such "unification" of the senses denote the stages of dying, i.e., of achieving moks.a ('liberation') from the material body.}

... there may also be some more general process associated with the manner in which the individual components of entities lose their separate ... identities once they are integrated into the ... entities of which they are parts."

{According to Bauddha metaphysics (in the Abhi-dharma), however, the fundamental cause of suffering is unification of the skandha-s; and suffering is permanently surceased by disuniting them.}

KU = Kaus.itaki Upa-nis.ad http://www.mantraonnet.com/upanishads/kausitaki-book3.html "When the person, asleep, sees no dream, he becomes unified in ... a burning fire ... . ... When the person, ... about to die, ... falls into unconsciousness, folk say of him, ... He becomes unified".

BA =Br.hat Aran.yaka http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sbe15/sbe15076.htm ""He has become one," they say ... . ... The point ... becomes lighted up, and and by that light the Self departs ... . And when he thus departs, life ... departs after him".

pp. 371-2 development of mind; a denial of the hypothesis of emergentism

p. 371

"as Sherrigton suggests ..., consciousness is a "development of mind from unrecognizable into recognizable". On this panpsychist or panexperimentalist view, all forms of matter have an associated form of consciousness. ... But, consciousness, in some primal form, ... was there from the beginning."

p. 372, n. 4

"There have been many defenders of panpsychism, including Spinoza, Leibnitz, Lotze, Fechner, Wundt and James. The nonreductive unification of matter and consciousness that is implicit in panpsychism has, in recent years, led to a resurgence of interest in this ... (see, for example, the review of panpsychism by Skrbina 2005; DeQuincey 2002; and the readings on Whitehead in Weber & Desmond 2008). A physicalist version of panpsychism has also recently been defended by Strawson (2006)."

p. 371

"The development of representation was avccompanied by the development of consciousness that is of something. The development of self-representation was accompanied by the dawn of differentiated self-consciousness and so on. ... But consciousness, in some primal form, did not emerge at any particular stage of evolution. Rather, it was there from the beginning."

p. 372

"Continuity in the evolution of consciousness favours continuity in the distribution of consciousness, although there may be critical transition points in the forms of consciousness associated with the development of life, representation, self-representation and so on."

DeQuincey 2002 = Christian De Quincey : Radical Nature : Rediscovering the Soul of Matter. Montpelier (VT) : Invisible Cities Pr. (reprinted in 2010 at Rochester, Vt. : Park Street Pr)

Weber & Desmond 2008 = Michel Weber & Will Desmond (edd.) : Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought. 2 Voll. PROCESS THOUGHT, Voll. 10.1-10.2. (LCCN B1674.W354 .H374, ISBN 9783938793923 3938793929, OCLC 495305319 : 1411 pages, consisting of 115 entries written by 101 "internationally renowned experts") Berlin :Walter DeGruyter; Heusenstamm (Frankfurt) : Ontos Verlag. Vol. 10.1 : "Thematic Entries" (OCLC 664467114 : 726 pp.), ed. by Michel Weber. Vol. 10.2 : "Biographical Entries; Critical Apparatus" (OCLC 762683183 : 691 pp.), ed. by Will Desmond. http://www.degruyter.com/viewbooktoc/product/210922

Strawson 2006 = G. Strawson : "Realistic Monism : Why Physicalism Entails Panpsychism". J OF CONSCIOUSNESS STUDIES 13.10-11:1-31.

{Our own comments on so-called "evolution of consciousness" : alike unto energy and matter, consciousness can neither be created nor destroyed, cannot be increased nor diminished. How-be-it, due to vagaries of memory (memory-potential itself being likewise non-creatable and non-destructible, non-increasable and non-diminishable; but due to its ability to shift its location to and from other beings and other worlds, may speciously appear so), discontinuities may superficially seemingly exist. [written May 21 2015]}


Graham Harvey (ed.) : Handbook of Contemporary Animism. Acumen Publ, Durham; ISD, Bristol, 2013.