His Dark Materials: Panpsychism At Play

Philip Goff on how Pullman preempted panpsychism.

The BBC/HBO dramatization of Philip Pullman’s magnum opus His Dark Materials has been one of the televisual highlights of the year, if not the decade. The alternative reality of Lyra Belacqua’s Oxford, with its airships and daemons and gateways to other worlds, is so strange and yet somehow so familiar. The violent dogmatism of the Magisterium mirrors the rising tide of nationalism; the Gyptian children severed from their daemons might serve as a metaphor for the scars of a decade of austerity.

What is perhaps most captivating is how Pullman draws on cutting-edge developments in science to tell his story. At the centre of the His Dark Materials trilogy is the mysterious substance known as ‘Dust'. In developing his theory of Dust – he likes to talk of it as a process of discovery rather than creation – Pullman drew inspiration from dark matter, the equally mysterious substance that is predicted by our best scientific theories but which we have thus f

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