A free energy reconstruction of arguments for panpsychism

Beni M.

PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE COGNITIVE SCIENCES, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11097-021-09739-w
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index, Scopus, IBZ Online, PASCAL, Philosopher's Index, Psycinfo
  • Keywords: Free energy principle, Panpsychism, The argument from continuity, The argument from intrinsic nature, Temporally deep systems, CONSCIOUSNESS, CONTINUITY, PRINCIPLE, FUTURE, BRAIN, LIFE


The paper draws on scientific resources formed around the notion of Free Energy Principle to reconstruct two well-known defences of panpsychism. I reconstruct the argument from continuity by expanding the mind-life continuity thesis under the rubric of the Free Energy Principle (FEP), by showing that FEP does not provide an objective criterion for demarcating the living from the inanimate. Then I will reconstruct the argument from intrinsic nature. The FEP-based account of consciousness is centred on the notion of 'temporal depth' of generative models. I argue that even evolution can be modelled as a temporally deep system. Since we have no access to the intrinsic perspective of evolution to see whether or not it models itself as a temporally deep system, we must draw an analogy from our own case and conclude that evolution is consciousness involving. Thus the paper reconstructs two main arguments for panpsychism.