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Panpsychism is the understanding of the universe as a universal consciousness, in all that exists, but not greater than what exists; that consciousness, mind or soul (psyche), is a universal and primordial feature of all things.. Panpsychism holds that a divine super-consciousness exists (as the totality of sentient beings).

Panpsychism is one of the oldest philosophical theories, and has been ascribed to philosophers like Thales, Parmenides, Plato, Averroes, Spinoza, Leibniz and William James. Panpsychism can also be seen in ancient philosophies such as Stoicism, Taoism, Vedanta and Mahayana Buddhism. Thales (c. 624 – 545 BCE) the first Greek philosopher, held “that everything is full of gods.” It is closely related to animism which comes from the Latin ‘anima’ for soul, and is a belief that all life in the universe has a soul or spirit, and such spirit can inhabit objects also.

Some panpsychists hold that (as a component of universal mind or psyche) each individual sentient being possesses free will. Free will is where each makes choices about how we live. In addition, we are provided the opportunity (e.g., possibilities) for us to live well/abundantly. Each individual therefore has the option to act as if it is meaningful, and to create a myth that will allow him or her to live within what life offers—in a stance of love.

There is a strong similarity between panpsychism and panexperientialism (the doctrine that everything experiences ) and 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 (see below).

In all panxxxxism beliefs the divine Source or being is most often held to be incorporeal (immaterial), and without gender.

If God (Greek: theos) represents spirit or consciousness, then it can be held that all things contain the spirit or consciousness of God.

See 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 panentheism God transcends the universe); God (theos) is within and the same as the realm of matter and time, except that pantheism suggests that God is in the material universe, not consciousness.

Visit the IQS on the divine to help define your own views on these alternatives.

hylozoism, panentheism
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