Philosophy offers four metaphysical propositions to account for the fact that we are embodied beings with consciousness - also known as 'the mind-body problem'.  The alternatives are dualism, idealism and materialism.  Dualism claims that reality fundamentally consists of two radically different and separate kinds of substance - matter and mind.  No one has explained how they could interact.  Idealism claims that the ultimate nature of reality is pure Spirit (or consciousness or mind), and that what we call 'matter' is either an illusion or is a product of Spirit.  The latter is just as logically incoherent as the materialist claim that mind could 'emerge' from wholly mindless matter.  Either would require a miracle, and miracles explain nothing - they are gaps in explanation.  Only panpsychism satisfies the tests of internal coherence and consistency with experience.


This worldview claims that ultimate reality is both physical and non-physical, that it consists of objective matter and subjective mind.  It further claims that mind and matter are inseparable - mind and matter always go together, 'all the way down' to the basic building blocks of the world.  In panpsychism, consciousness is the intrinsic capacity of matter/energy to feel, know, and purposefully direct itself.

This innate ability of matter/energy to purposefully direct itself explains the development inherent in evolution.  This drive is known as Eros by Wilber and others.  What we call 'evolution' is movement of matter/energy exploring its own potentials, and in the process giving rise to Earth's myriad species.  Evolution also proceeds through physical processes of unpredictable mutations and natural selection, but these physical changes are guided from within by the intrinsic drive present in all manifest reality.

The idea of intrinsically sentient matter is mainly troubling to Western minds that have succumbed to the scientific explanation that reality is constructed from lifeless matter, from subatomic particles through atoms and molecules to cells and beyond.  Yet the only thing we can all be certain of is that consciousness exists - we all know that there are sentient beings (at least in our own case).  We're aware of what philosopher Thomas Nagel called 'what it feels like to be'.  We also make choices.  Only panpsychism explains all of that.  Science's empiricism, founded in the senses, is able to detect only physical objects.  Consciousness is not physical, not an object.

In summary, panpsychism is the only foundational metaphysical assumption that accounts for the world as we actually experience it.  Both matter and mind are real and neither is reducible to the other.  In other words, sentience or consciousness is built into the very fabric of the universe.  The individual molecules in each grain of sand have proto-sentience (though grains of sand and rocks do not).