I have noticed that panpsychism, which is the idea that some or all elements of matter possess some form of consciousness, subjective experience, mental awareness, or whatever you would like to call it, seems to be gaining favour these days. Noted neuroscientist Christoff Koch has recently suggested that consciousness may be a property of matter like mass or charge. I was just listening to a Philosophy Bites podcast where philosopher Galen Strawson (listen here) was forcefully arguing that panpsychism or micropsychism was in fact the most plausible prior if one is a physicalist or monist (i.e. someone who believes that everything is made of the same stuff). He argued that it was much more plausible for electrons to possess some tiny amount of consciousness then for it to emerge from the interactions of a large number of neurons.
What I want to point out is that panpsychism is a closeted form of dualism (i.e. mind is different from matter). I believe philosopher David Chalmers, who coined the term “The hard problem of consciousness“, would agree. Unlike consciousness, mass and charge can be measured and obey well-defined rules. If I were to make a computer simulation of the universe, I could incorporate mass and charge into the physical laws, be they Newton’s Laws and Maxwell’s equations, the Standard Model of particle physics, String theory, or whatever will replace that. However, I have no idea how to incorporate consciousness into any simulation. Deeming consciousness to be a property of matter is no different from Cartesian dualism. Both off-load the problem to a separate realm. You can be a monist or a panpsychist but you cannot be both.