How can it be argued that the physical universe is devoid of consciousness?

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when it requires the consciousness of a physical entity to present the argument?
Laptop, I like your argument. But the rebuttal would be that the house didn’t make you, the house was made by conscious effort. Since the universe did create us, and if we argue that there exists physical law, e.g. causality, or that events are not random, but instead depend on prior events, then the beginings of the universe contained the seeds of consciousness at its outset.
ksoileau: Do you have an example of such a program, that sounds interesting. I thought computers were only capable of deduction–genetic algorithms and monte carlo methods have an element of chance, which can allow for discovery, but the constraints on whether or not these alterations are improvements must be in the code to begin with, right?
I thinks so far the arguments allow for the following:
Consciousness doesn’t exist.
Consciousness is an aspect of the universe (like hydrogen, gravity, or harmonic motion)
Ultimately, these are both ideas, so trying to substantiate them would likely be pointless, like trying to illustrate that an electron is a “thing”. For each experiment to show that an electron is a concrete object in space, I’ll give another one that shows it is diffuse throughout space, until ultimately the satisfactory definition is no longer self consistent.
Keypointist: Thanks for the contribution. I’ve got some issues with Penrose and the Platonic realm, but I do love Mikhail Bakunin’s quote, “Everything will pass, and the world will perish, but the Ninth Symphony will remain.”

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Say what?

Jon M dn ǝpıs sıɥʇ

You can’t. We are an integral part of the universe and we have both individual and collective consciousness.

Laptop Jesus

There is consciousness IN it, but the universe itself isn’t conscious.
It’s like saying “I am conscious, but my house isn’t. The house I live in cannot think for itself.”


They would say that consciousness evolved from a non-conscious, strictly material process.

Its Kfed...byutch!

Cogito Ergo Sum.

neil s

Who says it is? Consciousness, however, does not imply an overarching personality directing things, so no deity is implied.

Edward L

LOL. I think they mean the universe itself. Not the incredible organisms that have been assembled out of it.


As long as you’re not looking at the physical universe as an entity itself.


People can argue about anything they want, it is called free will and free Speech. No supporting facts required.

][ ǀȫǀ Ʈʘʘ ϻцϲн! lmao

Anyone can argue about it. It doesn’t necessarily mean they know what they’re talking about.

Martin G

philosophical mumbo jumbo

Just Pass'n Thru

in other words it’s sort of an oxymoron, hence no real “answer” to this “argument”

Old Timer Too

The physical universe is not self-aware. It does not say, “I think, therefore, I am” (Dark Star).


sorry you didn’t understand the argument… try again. basically it’s “there is no mind without a body”. it should not be difficult to understand… perhaps you’re deliberately trying to misunderstand it? I hope not.

Law & Order: Intarwebz Unit

Life has consciousness, but the elementary particles making up matter, energy and space do not. Consciousness requires a special arrangement of matter and energy. The universe as a whole is not an intelligent entity.
Honestly, I think you’re being intentionally obtuse.

billy d

You’ve presented an extremely non sequitur argument. It is illogical and unintelligible; utilizes part-to-whole logic; and is laced with the menacing overtones of cosmological ignorance.
Please revise.


the universe doesn’t have a soul, it just is…


Your premise is poorly stated.
It is completely correct to say that IN the physical universe there are living beings that have consciousness — us, and we can argue about it.
It is completely incorrect to assume that because there are physical beings IN the universe that have consciousness, that the universe itself has consciousness. The universe is just the place where we are — we don’t define it.
The way you stated your premise would be like saying, “because there are physical beings on the earth that have consciousness, the earth itself has consicousness.” The earth doesn’t have consciousness, we physical beings that happen to live on it do.
See your error?

Frou Frou

the physical unverse itself, not the beings in it of course,as they are separate life forms


You’re going to have a difficult time proving that conciousness exists period, let alone that conciousness is required to present an argument.
Other than people (you included) saying they are conscious what proof is there?

Mr. Smartypants

I don’t think many people would even make that argument. Even atheists tend to believe that there’s consciousness in the universe–in the brains of humans, anyways. The real argument is whether consciousness is dependent upon a physical brain or whether there’s a soul that doesn’t need a brain to exist.


Top be honest with you I do believe the universe is nonsenchant and how would a vacum have a conscience, to me I have learned to accept empty space as ,well empty space.

Earl Blue, Duke of Cookieshire

Well, as someone says, it lays in what you mean by devoid. If two conscious entities are arguing in a box the box contains conscious entites but it’s not self conscious.


Some might say it’s like a fish asking, “Is there such a thing as water?”
But I prefer the science to back up the philosophical, so I like — even love the ‘Uncertainty Principle’, which goes deeply into this question — [EDIT: and especially the real effect an observer has on any event. It’s almost the analogy of the tree falling in an empty desert not making a sound. So consciousness is definitely a component of the Universe — at least as WE know it!]
I choose the word “love” rather than “like”, because liking something usually means a pretty good knowledge of the subject, where love really doesn’t. Speaking quantitatively, anyway.
EDIT: BTW Kfed has got it backwards. In this case it’s “Sum, ergo cogito.” Or is it ‘Sumo’. Hmmm.


Like so many philosophical questions, the answer depends on definitions. Until you define what you mean by consciousness, I don’t think your question can be answered.
“it requires the consciousness of a physical entity to present the argument”
I don’t agree with this. A computer program can discover a new mathematical proof (essentially an argument) and present it. Is the program conscious? Whatever consciousness is, I doubt that computer programs have it.
Some links on theorem proving programs:


The argument could be that the physical universe is only a part of the whole universe. Consciousness could originate from the non-physical part of the universe – the so called Platonic realm. I think the physicist Roger Penrose is saying something along these lines in his book Shadows of the Mind.
It could be that it requires certain physical structures (brains) to channel and process the non-physical conscious will. The non-physical consciousness is using the physical brain to present the argument but the consciousness itself exists outside of the physical universe.


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