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Alternative forms[edit]


Surface analysis pan- + psychism. From German Panpsychismus (1874), from Latin pampsychia (1591). Cognate with Ancient Greek πάμψυχος (pámpsukhos, in full life) and (modern) Greek παμψυχισμός (pampsychismós, panpsychism).


  • IPA(key): /panˈsʌɪkɪz(ə)m/, /pænˈsaɪ(ˌ)kɪz(ə)m/


panpsychism (usually uncountable, plural panpsychisms)

  1. (philosophy, metaphysics, uncountable) The doctrine that all matter has a mental aspect.
    Pansychists often qualify panpsychism so that only "true individuals" are animated: i.e., so that things like atoms, molecules, and organisms are animated as atoms, molecules, and organisms, whereas things like rocks, tables, and boots are not animated as themselves, although they do comprise animate elements (e.g., molecules).
    • 2004, D. S. Clarke, Panpsychism, SUNY Press, page 10,
      As we shall see in chapter 3, the Tiantai school of Buddhism advocated a version of panpsychism without such beliefs, and this demonstrates that the panpsychist thesis stands on its own, and is logically independent of the claim that mentality can somehow be attributed to the universe as a whole.
    • 2005, David Skrbina, Panpsychism in the West, The MIT Press (Bradford Books), page 182,
      Generally speaking, elements of panpsychism in phenomenology are faint at best. In Harman's opinion, "It's safe to say that there is no panpsychist strain anywhere in the phenomenological movement."
    • 2014, "panpsychism", entry in Tim Bayne, Axel Cleeremans, Patrick Wilken (editors), The Oxford Companion to Consciousness, Oxford University Press, page 500,
      Panpsychism is a family of views whose basic principles are that the mental is both fundamental and ubiquitous. [] Panpsychism can be usefully contrasted with the opposing doctrine of *emergentism: the view that certain attributes apply to complex systems which do not apply to the system's constituents.
  2. (philosophy, metaphysics, countable) Any specific doctrine or system of panpsychism.
    • 1961 [George Allen & Unwin], Victor Lowe, The Approach to Metaphysics, Ivor Leclerc (editor), The Relevance of Whitehead, 2013, Taylor & Francis (Routledge), page 207,
      Whitehead devised such a conception, which to my mind definitely supersedes the panpsychisms of the history of metaphysics.
    • 1975, John Howie, Thomas O. Buford (editors), Contemporary Studies in Philosophical Idealism, C. Stark, page 75,
      The genius of modern panpsychisms has proved to be their capacity to incorporate rather than reject the mechanistic point of view.
    • 1997, David Ray Griffin, Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality: A Postmodern Exploration, State University of New York Press, page 111,
      This seems to be due to one factor that they all—the various idealisms, phenomenalisms, positivisms, and panpsychisms—have in common: They reject, or at least fail to endorse, the idea of "matter."

Usage notes[edit]

Strictly speaking, panpsychism is a very general term. Any ontology that takes mind or some quality of the mind as ubiquitous can be take as panpsychist. In contemporary usage, panpsychism is synonymous with panexperientialism rather than pancognitivism. Panexperientialists take experience of some form as ubiquitous, while pancognitivists take cognition in some as ubiquitous. The following terms may fall under or overlap with the concept of panpsychism, but are are distinct from the concept in everyday usage:

  • animism (the supernaturalistic belief in a multitude of — more or less anthropomorphic — spirits animating the features of the world, characteristic of many traditional tribal religions
  • pansensism and hylopathism doctrines that everything senses — very closely related to panpsychism
  • hylozoism, panbiotism, and panzoism doctrines that all matter is intrinsically alive; their similarities with and distinctiveness from panpsychism chiefly centres on how the underlying concepts of “life” and “mentality” are defined
  • panexperientialism the doctrine that everything experiences — “at present the most fully articulated form of panpsychism”[1]
  • pantheism and panentheism — doctrines that God or the Divine Principle “saturate” the Cosmos — in the former God is identical with the universe and every material thing is a part of God; in the latter God transcends the universe
  • The doctrine of the world soul which states that the universe in its totality has a single unifying spirit — such a doctrine is usually panentheistic.

Related terms[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ David Skrbina, Panpsychism in the West, MIT Press (2005), →ISBN, page 21

Further reading[edit]