In praise of weirdness + Can electrons be conscious?

In Praise of Weirdness

EXCERPT: ... Most philosophers think of norms either statistically or normatively [...] but the kind of violation of normality that is constitutive of weirdness isn't either of those. Statistical rarity isn't enough, as I just explained. But neither is the weird necessarily something that violates our ethical, epistemic, or aesthetic norms. On the contrary, weirdness in my sense is good.

Imagine a world without weirdness -- a world where everything proceeds more or less according to expectations. The grass all shows the normal range of variation; the high school kids all wear normal clothes; philosophers endorse only the normal range of sensible theses. How dull! A certain amount of weirdness is wonderful...

[...] Now before you read this an endorsement of the view that we should all go completely bananas, let me mention two strong counterpressures toward normality.

First: If everything is surprising, nothing is surprising. There can be no expectations in sheer chaos. Weirdness blooms only against a contrasting background of normality. Not everything can be weird. We weirdos require a sea of straight-men to differ from. So thank you, straight-men!

Second: [...] It's weird to eat scrambled paper for breakfast. It's weird to glue your socks to your hair instead of sliding them comfortably onto your feet. There are excellent reasons people don't do those things. But those things aren't bad because they're weird; they're weird because they're bad.

The best weirdness is weirdness against a background of normality where the weird-making feature is not also a bad-making feature. This is weirdness as harmless (maybe even helpful) novelty and difference. It's the weirdness of my father, one Christmas, flocking and decorating a tumbleweed instead of a tree for the living room. It's the weirdness of the girl who wears cat ears and sparkly eye shadow to school. The world's capacity to produce weirdness is one of the most wonderful things about existence, right alongside pleasure, knowledge, kindness, and beauty. (MORE - details)

Electrons may very well be conscious

EXCERPT (Tam Hunt): This month, the cover of New Scientist ran the headline, “Is the Universe Conscious?” Mathematician and physicist Johannes Kleiner [...] told author Michael Brooks that a mathematically precise definition of consciousness could mean that the cosmos is suffused with subjective experience. “This could be the beginning of a scientific revolution,” Kleiner said, referring to research he and others have been conducting.

Kleiner and his colleagues are focused on the Integrated Information Theory of consciousness, one of the more prominent theories of consciousness today. As Kleiner notes, IIT (as the theory is known) is thoroughly panpsychist because all integrated information has at least one bit of consciousness.

You might see the rise of panpsychism as part of a Copernican trend—the idea that we’re not special. [...] Humans are not a treasured creation, or even the pinnacle of evolution. So why should we think that creatures with brains, like us, are the sole bearers of consciousness? In fact, panpsychism has been around for thousands of years as one of various solutions to the mind-body problem. David Skrbina’s 2007 book, Panpsychism in the West, provides an excellent history of this intellectual tradition.

While there are many versions of panpsychism, the version I find appealing is known as constitutive panpsychism. [...] As modern panpsychists like Alfred North Whitehead, David Ray Griffin, Galen Strawson, and others have argued, all matter has some capacity for feeling, albeit highly rudimentary feeling in most configurations of matter.

Panpsychists look at the many rungs on the complexity ladder of nature and see no obvious line between mind and no-mind. [...] While inanimate matter doesn’t evolve like animate matter, inanimate matter does behave. It does things. It responds to forces. Electrons move in certain ways that differ under different experimental conditions. These types of behaviors have prompted respected physicists to suggest that electrons may have some type of extremely rudimentary mind. [Freeman Dyson, David Bohm, J.B.S. Haldane, Niels Bohr, etc]

[...] I am fleshing out in my work how we can turn these “merely” philosophical considerations about the nature of mind throughout nature into a testable set of experiments, with some early thoughts sketched here. Such experiments move debates about panpsychism out of the realm of philosophy and more firmly into the realm of science. (MORE - details)
If the universe is aware then it’s probably aware of us. Earth may be like the sting of a biting insect, a simple itch, cancer or a virus. Best thing to do is keep everybody away from this place. Perhaps Earth is so contagious that the universe has invoked a no contact rule....something Feynman never thought of.  Big Grin

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