Stare long enough into the blobject, and the blobject stares into you
From The Big Picture, these are Sean Carroll’s three principles of naturalism:
- There is only one world, the natural world.
- The world evolves according to unbroken patterns, the laws of nature.
- The only reliable way of learning about the world is by observing it.
And these are the three principle of poetic naturalism, the variety of naturalism he defends:
- There are many [good] ways of talking about the world
- All good ways of talking must be consistent with one another and with the world.
- Our purposes in the moment determine the best way of talking.
Now, here’s a brief description of one version of a view called cosmopsychism¹:
At the most fundamental level, there is only a single indivisible conscious entity with a tremendously complex and variegated structure — a blobject². The conscious states of the blobject are the determining ground of its structure and its evolution over time. Individual minds are instrumentally useful theoretical constructs constituted by certain conscious states with a certain kind of relation between them. The structure of the blobject can be discovered and described from the perspective of individual minds, and the best descriptions of the blobject’s structure are identical to the best scientific theories.
Cosmopsychism appears to be consistent with Carroll’s principles of naturalism in the broad sense and poetic naturalism in particular. Although I suspect that Carroll would find the idea laughable, it’s not clear to me that even granting him his “big picture” allows him to rule it out.
¹ The term “blobject” is from “Blobjectivism and Indirect Correspondence” by Terry Horgan and Matjaz Potrc. As far as I know, Horgan and Potrc themselves do not explicitly attribute conscious states to the blobject, but I believe blobjectivism commits them to the fundamentality of consciousness on pain of eliminativism.
² I first encountered the term cosmopsychism in Philip Goff’s Consciousness and Fundamental Reality (forthcoming from OUP), although I had already presented the view roughly as I’ve explained it here for a term paper in late 2014, which largely drew on David Chalmers’s and Galen Strawson’s work.