Panpsychism, pansignaling, and Buddhism

Panpsychism means “all mind” or mind in all things, with an emphasis on cognition being a fundamental aspect or part of nature.

Pansignaling means “all signaling” or signaling in all things, with an emphasis on signaling being a fundamental aspect or part of nature.

I like the term pansignaling because it gets us to look at the signals, without which there is nothing.

Another word that is close to these two is panexperientialism, which connotes that “the fundamental elements of the universe are ‘occasions of experience’ which can together create something as complex as a human being.”

These ideas or similar can be found in the Huayan and Tiantai schools of Buddhism.

Highly recommend giving these ideas some thought and reading the links provided above.

I  tend to favor thinking of this stuff from the signaling point of view. A signal can be found, defined, analyzed, and so on. A signal is a fairly objective thing. When we consider signals and consciousness, it is very natural to consider that signals are parts of networks and that networks can be parts of bigger networks.

As I understand it, panexperientialism holds the view that atoms have experience, and that molecules have experience as do the atoms that make them up… and so on till we get to cells, organs, brains, human consciousness. Human consciousness, which is fundamentally experiential, is what humans mainly think of as experience. At all levels, the “parts” of human consciousness also are conscious or cognizant and thus capable of experience. Thus, there is no mind-body problem. Cognition or awareness is part of nature from the very bottom up. For example, a single bacterium can know to move toward something or away from it.

Life is “anti-entropic signaling networks” that organize, self-organize, combine, cooperate, compete, eat, and change constantly. From this, we can see where impermanence and delusion as described in Buddhism come from.

3 thoughts on “Panpsychism, pansignaling, and Buddhism

  1. Hi ABN,

    I hadn’t heard of pansignalling before, thank you for sharing. I wonder how it explains anything in addition to what our material sciences already explain. If its just signals, as in communication, then we already recognise that there is a flow of information (material information) that happens at every level. In integrative neurological models, signalling (communication) is the primary thing that is happening in brains (and everything else), and supposedly consciousness arises from this (as an emergent phenomenon).
    But how does Pansignalling give any further explanatory power, especially with regards to the problem of consciousness?

    I know a bit about panpsychism and Panexperientialism (in fact I have tried to summarise their difference in my last post). Panpsychism considers consciousness to be a fundamental principle of the universe, akin to space, time and matter. This, on the hand, does give more explanatory power. Because with just material things we cannot arrive at consciousness (not yet anyway) but by considering consciouss as a fundamental building block, we avoid having to explain it by further deduction using other basic material concepts. Rather, now we can use it! to explain why there is consciousness in the universe. Similar to how we can use the concept of matter to explain why there is matter in the universe.

    Panexperientialism is a little more subtle an complex in my opinion (won’t go into too much detail here).

    Am I missing the concept of Pansignalling altogether (could you explain a bit more then?).

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.

      Pansignaling is my own term. I think it has descriptive value. A signal can be as simple as a photon striking another photon or as complex as the signals we are sending to each other now.

      There can be no matter or consciousness without signaling. All human psychology and consciousness involves signaling within the brain/body/awareness of the individual as well as between individuals.

      I tend to think that when a signal network reaches a level of complexity, consciousness either arises or is perceived or experienced through that network’s participation in it.

      I can also see how even two photons could be “conscious” in the sense that they interact according to the laws of physics.

      I have only used the term pansignaling in this one post, but I have used signaling as a basic concept similar to matter in other posts.

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