A free energy reconstruction of arguments for panpsychism

Beni M.

PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE COGNITIVE SCIENCES, vol.22, no.2, pp.399-416, 2023 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 22 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s11097-021-09739-w
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, IBZ Online, PASCAL, Philosopher's Index, Psycinfo
  • Page Numbers: pp.399-416
  • Keywords: Free energy principle, Panpsychism, The argument from continuity, The argument from intrinsic nature, Temporally deep systems, CONSCIOUSNESS, CONTINUITY, PRINCIPLE, FUTURE, BRAIN, LIFE
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


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.