Faculty of Social Sciences

Panentheism, Panpsychism and Neuroscience: In Search of an Alternative Metaphysical Framework in Relation to Neuroscience, Consciousness, Free Will, and Theistic Beliefs

  • Date: 16 March, 13:15
  • Location: Auditorium Minus, Gustavianum, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala
  • Doctoral student: Li, Oliver
  • About the dissertation
  • Organiser: Religionsfilosofi
  • Contact person: Li, Oliver
  • Disputation

This thesis philosophically examines, critically discusses, and proposes how a plausible philosophical framework of consciousness and free will should be formulated.

This thesis philosophically examines, critically discusses, and proposes how a plausible philosophical framework of consciousness and free will should be formulated. This framework takes into account contemporary scientific research on human consciousness and free will and its possible challenges; also it is examined how this framework should be related to theistic beliefs – especially those connected to human and divine consciousness and free will.

First, an overview of important research within the natural sciences about the conscious mind is presented together with its challenges to a theistic worldview. Next, questions related to reductive physicalism and dualism as a thesis and an antithesis are discussed. This dialectical approach leads to two lines for possible alternatives: emergence theories and process panpsychism. The subsequent analysis suggests that a form of process panpsychism in combination with a weaker form of emergence is most plausible.

After a discussion of some central ideas about determinism and indeterminism, together with a brief overview of standard arguments within the philosophical free will debate, the proposed emergent process panpsychism is related to these standard arguments in the free will debate and scientific research about decision-making. As  a result it will be suggested how free will should be understood in relation to the emergent process panpsychism.

The consequences of these results are then discussed in relation to a theistic worldview. Here panentheism will be suggested as the most reasonable conception of God. Also, the consequences for divine consciousness, divine action and interaction, the human soul, life before birth and after death, and more briefly a personal relationship with God, theological determinism, omniscience, and omnipotence will be discussed specifically in relation to panentheism in an emergent  process panpsychist setting.