Philosophy of Panpsychism

Architect Louis Kahn famously advocated seeking the spiritual essence of a tectonic element by asking a brick “what do you want to be?” (The brick answered it wanted to be an arch). Related to the spirit or consciousness of the inorganic, Philosopher Phillp Goff explores the philosophy of panpsychism, through which he seeks to counter materialist and quantifiable metaphysics of physical science, by examining the possibility that consciousness is universal and it exists from an atomic level to that of the universe. The academic papers that are available on his website lay out the arguments against the dualist separation of mind and body, as he explains subjective qualities of consciousness from human to animal, then to the inorganic. 

Goff argues that micro-level parts have their own consciousness and the body is a collective coming together of this micro consciousness into a macro level whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Unlike animism which postulates many individualized spirits or gods, Goff submits the idea of an underlying universal consciousness comparable to the entity of a single God.

With consciousness pervading each things and beings, this philosophy is applicable to the part to whole question of architectonics and also to the idea that architecture can be an open-ended consciousness that interfaces with the consciousness of the subject/user. That is to say, architecture has a soul and it can affect yours.

Panpsychism is apt at revealing that the ontology of architectural creations has a spirit/consciousness that is manifested in form; this imbued consciousness follows that of the architect as much as the consciousness of the architect originates from the universal consciousness or God. As a basis for an architectural theory, this is not to say that these forms have to mimic an organism in a biomorphic form (after all, the brick wanted to be an arch). If the concept that inorganic forms can be constituted of macro level, further argument can be made to state that architecture is an extension of the human spirit and it affects the human soul through an interface.