What causes some things to be conscious, and others not to be? This question is a variation of the ancient “mind-body problem”, which focuses on the relationship between matter and the mind. For thousands of years, there has not been a satisfying solution to this problem. Within the past couple decades, it’s been rebranded as the “hard problem” of consciousness, implying that solving the problem is difficult. Could the answer to the question be in the way things vibrate?

What is the “resonance theory of consciousness”?

Tam Hunt and Jonathon Schooler from the University of California have developed what they call a “resonance theory of consciousness”.


Hunt and Schooler claim that “resonance”, synchronized vibrations, are at the core of not only consciousness among both humans and animals but also physical reality in general. Everything in the universe is constantly vibrating.

What does vibration have to do with consciousness?

When different vibrating things come close together, they sync up and begin to vibrate at similar frequencies, due to a phenomenon called “spontaneous self-organization”. An example of this phenomenon is the fact that the rotation of the moon is precisely synced with its orbit around the Earth, so that we always see the same exact face.


This phenomenon also takes place within our own skulls. Neuron firing takes place in our brains at measurable frequencies. Mammalian consciousness is frequently thought to be associated with certain types of neuronal sync.

Do all things have consciousness?

Hunt and Schooler conclude that all things have at least a little consciousness. They come to this conclusion based off of the behavior of all entities around us, from electrons to atoms, to bacteria to bats, rats, and mice. According to Hunt and Schooler, “panpsychism” – the idea that all matter has some degree of consciousness – has become an increasingly more prevalent and accepted position.

Footnotes 2 Plato

According to panpsychist, consciousness did not arise at some point during evolution. Rather, it is inseparable from matter itself. However, certain types of matter, such as atoms, have only rudimentary levels of consciousness. As matter becomes more complex, so does its consciousness.