This is a conjecture about the conditions and operating structures that are required for the phenomenality of certain mental states. Specifically, full-blown phenomenality is assumed, as contrasted with constrained examples of phenomenal experience such as sensations of color and pain. Propositional attitudes and content, while not phenomenal per se, are standardly concurrent and may condition phenomenal states (e.g., when tied to false beliefs). It is conjectured that full phenomenality natively arises in coherent processes of situated sensory synthesis and representation (with (...) conceptual content) that are looped, mereologically whole and multi-dimensional. And that phenomenal states are typically phase-states within a parameterized conjoint structure of world and experiencer processes that are causally modulated across Markov blankets (which are conditionally independent and may be nested: cf. M. Kirchoff, et. al., 2017, 2018; and T. Burge, 2010, re: anti-individualism). Though they may, it is not accepted that phenomenally conscious states must be targets of higher-order representations (cf. A. Byrne, 2004). (shrink)
This book compares Hindu nondual philosophy to that of Baruch Spinoza, demonstrating the similarity of Spinoza’s ideas to Kashmiri Pratyabhijñā Shaivism. The book is well researched, but it is written in an informal style suitable for both scholars and the educated general public. There is already some scholarly literature comparing Spinoza’s philosophy to Śaṅkara’s Vedānta, but none of it has focused, as this book does, on philosophy of mind, and none of it has included nondual Kashmiri Shaivism in the comparison. (...) Among other things, the important distinction between Śaṅkara’s Vedānta and nondual Kashmiri Shaivism is brought to the fore by looking at those two philosophies through the lens of Spinoza. “I liked James H. Cumming’s The Nondual Mind a lot. It is beautifully written, thoughtful, and very clear.” (Prof. Yitzhak Y. Melamed, Charlotte Bloomberg Professor of Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University) “James H. Cumming’s scholarly interpretation of Spinoza’s works, persuasively showing how 17th century European ideas that ushered in the Enlightenment find a precursor in 10th century Kashmir, is a masterpiece of reason and philosophy that will leave the reader with profound thoughts on the meaning of history, God, and life itself. As a senior staff attorney in my chambers for many years at the California Supreme Court and a top scholar of ethics and philosophy of law, Mr. Cumming never ceased to amaze me with his outstanding research and intellect. This scholarly book is a must read for all who want to know why Spinoza continues to influence contemporary philosophy and how his work is still relevant in today’s challenging, interconnected world.” (Hon. Ming W. Chin, Associate Justice (Retired), Supreme Court of California, 1996–2020). (shrink)
What is the temporal structure of conscious experience? While it is popular to think that our most basic conscious experiences are temporally extended, we will be arguing against this view, on the grounds that it makes our conscious experiences depend on the future in an implausible way. We then defend an alternative view of the temporal structure of experience from a variety of different objections. Along the way, we hope to illustrate the wider philosophical ramifications of the relationship between experience (...) and time. What one thinks about the temporal structure of experience is, we believe, deeply interconnected with issues concerning whether consciousness is vague or precise, whether conscious states can be reduced to physical states, whether phenomenal properties are intrinsic properties, and whether phenomenal consciousness can “overflow” access consciousness. As we will see, even seemingly unrelated metaphysical questions, such as the debate between Humean and Non-Humean accounts of natural necessity, bear on questions about the relationship between experience and time. (shrink)
Erik Banks does several things in this slender yet substantial book on realistic empiricism (aka neutral monism). First, he encapsulates the main ideas of this tradition. While he goes into greater depth on some of these ideas than other introductions do, these pages are still accessible to nonspecialists. Second, he traces the the history of this tradition through the Austrian scientist, Ernst Mach, the American psychologist, William James, the British philosopher, Bertrand Russell, and others. These four chapters are a valuable (...) source for readers seeking to understand neutral monism in depth. Third, he develops his own version of neutral monism to deal with problems in the philosophies of mind and science. Most of my commentary will pertain to his own theory, which has some similar roots to my own. (shrink)
The essential proposal of this text is that psychedelic-induced metaphysical experiences should be integrated and evaluated with recourse to metaphysics. It will be argued that there is a potential extra benefit to patients in psychedelic-assisted therapy if they are provided with an optional, additional, and intelligible schema and discussion of metaphysical options at the integrative phase of the therapy. This schema (the “Metaphysics Matrix”) and a new Metaphysics Matrix Questionnaire (“MMQ”) stemming therefrom will be presented, the latter of which can (...) also be used as an alternative or additional tool for quantitative measurement of psychedelic experience in trials. Metaphysics is not mysticism, despite some overlap; and certainly not all psychedelic experience is metaphysical or mystical—all three terms will be defined and contrasted. Thereafter psychedelic therapy will be presented and analysed in order to reveal the missing place for metaphysics. Metaphysics, with epistemology (theory of knowledge) and axiology (ethics and aesthetics), is a defining branch of Philosophy. Metaphysics, in contrast to mysticism, is considered to be based on argument rather than pure revelation. Thus, in psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy one sees here the potential bridge between reason-based philosophy and practical therapy. (shrink)
This article introduces the concept of ‘hyperdimensional neutral monism’ as an elaboration and exploration of neutral monism. Neutral monism states that there is a single type of neutral, ontologically primary ultimate, which both the physical and the mental supervene on (Banks Philosophical Psychology, 23(2), 173-187, 2010). Hyperdimensional neutral monism (HNM) states that these ultimates exist in a more-than-4-dimensional realm and that the physical world of spacetime is a 4-dimensional aspect of this realm. Consciousness is the localized protrusion of spacetime into (...) more than four dimensions. In order to explain these concepts, I utilize an aquatic metaphor of vortices appearing within a physical ocean. I compare HNM to panqualityism, which is another version of neutral monism (Coleman, Erkenntnis, 79(1), 19–44 2014 & Panpsychism: Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Godehard Bruntrup and Ludwig Jaskolla (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017), pp. 249–282 2016), and cosmopsychism (Shani Philosophical Papers, 44(3), 389-437, 2015, Shani & Keppler, 2018) which relies on a similar aquatic metaphor. I argue that HNM is a viable means of addressing the mind–body problem and the hard problem of consciousness (Chalmers, 1996, 2015, Panpsychism: Contemporary Perspectives, 179(214), 2017, Chalmers, 2019). (shrink)
According to panqualityism, a form of Russellian monism defended by Sam Coleman and others, consciousness is grounded in fundamental qualities, i.e. unexperienced qualia. Despite panqualityism’s significant promise, according to David Chalmers panqualityism fails as a theory of consciousness since the reductive approach to awareness of qualities it proposes fails to account for the specific phenomenology associated with awareness. I investigate Coleman’s reasoning against this kind of phenomenology and conclude that he successfully shows that its existence is controversial, and so Chalmers’s (...) critique is inconclusive. I then present a critique of panqualityism that avoids this controversial posit, arguing that the panqualityist treatment of awareness faces an explanatory gap, failing to account for the intimate cognitive access to qualities which we are afforded, i.e. for our ‘strong awareness’ of qualities. The real worry for panqualityists is thus not the contested phenomenology of awareness, which Chalmers relies on, but rather the special way in which we are aware of qualities. (shrink)
In the marketplace of opinions concerning the metaphysics of mind and consciousness panqualityism (PQ) occupies an interesting position. It is a distinct variant of neutral monism, as well as of protophenomenalism, and as such it strives to carve out a conceptual niche midway between physicalism and mentalism. It is also a brand of Russellian monism, advocated by its supporters as a less costly and less extravagant alternative to panpsychism. Being clearly articulated and relatively well-developed it constitutes an intriguing view. Nonetheless, (...) the present paper takes a decisively critical stance towards PQ. In particular, it challenges it on two principal grounds. First, I argue that PQ's analysis of experience, and of the qualities tasked with constituting the phenomenal character of experience, is fundamentally flawed. Second, I argue that PQ's attempt to explain phenomenal consciousness as a function of reflective awareness is equally misguided. Along the way, the paper also points the shortcomings of previously established critiques of PQ. All in all, the discussion identifies some difficulties that are likely to generalize beyond PQ's specific circumstances, raising concerns regarding the viability of a "middle of the road" solution to the mind–body problem. (shrink)
[This is a commentary article on Michel Bitbol's TA: "The Tangled Dialectic of Body and Consciousness: A Metaphysical Counterpart of Radical Neurophenomenology".] -/- A summary of the major metaphysical positions reveals them to be variable enough that they do not deny experience to the researcher. Further, Merleau-Ponty’s intra-ontology and related terms are fleshed out.
I examine Michel Bitbol’s proposal of a metaphysical counterpart of neurophenomenology, arguing that such a metaphysics should address the issue of the origin of consciousness. This can be accomplished through panqualityism, which conceives of the subject and object of experience as grounded in a flow of pre-phenomenal qualities. I conclude by framing this view in terms of a critical metaphysics that is consistent with the pragmatic and existential dimension of neurophenomenology.
The father of neutral monism, Ernst Mach, argued that the fundamental constituents of the world are neither mental nor physical and that the distinction between the mental and physical ought to be erased. This article offers a reconstruction of Mach’s view. There is a “pure drive for knowledge” (reiner Erkenntnistrieb), and satisfying it, Mach argues, requires abandoning the mental/physical distinction. The reconstruction given will help to articulate and assess the differences between Mach’s position and Russell’s neutral monism, in which the (...) distinction between the mental and physical is preserved even in the unified science of the future. (shrink)
Neutral monism is the view that both ‘mind’ and ‘matter’ are grounded in a more fundamental form of reality that is intrinsically neither mental nor material. It has often been treated as an odd fringe theory deserving of at most a footnote in the broader philosophical debates. Yet such attitudes do a grave disservice to its sophistications and significance for late nineteenth and early twentieth-century philosophy of mind and psychology. This paper sheds light on this neglected view by situating it (...) within broader historical monist debates about the mind and bringing attention to one of its central internal disputes regarding ‘mental chemistry’. By taking a closer look at how Ernst Mach, William James, and Bertrand Russell address the question of whether and how our mental episodes are composed of more basic elements, it highlights deep differences among their conceptions of the fundamental ‘neutral stuff’ and its relations to ‘mind’ and ‘matter’. (shrink)
The metaphor proves reality, and observation, all of it (the human mind) (and, therefore, a universal mind), is unified, made possible, and controlled, by the conservation of a circle. Metaphorically 'speaking'…pi in mathematics is the technical term for the word 'mind' (any context): the stairway to heaven (and-or hell)… (See, Also: Magical Thinking).
There are few philosophers who have been so influential in their own lifetimes and had so much influence, only to be subsequently ignored, as Henri Bergson (1859-1941). When in April 1922, Bergson debated Einstein on the nature of time, it was Bergson who was far better known and respected. Now Einstein’s achievements are known to everyone, but very few people outside philosophy departments have even heard of Bergson. Following Friedrich Schelling and those he influenced, Bergson targeted the Cartesian dualism that (...) permeates the culture of modernity. In doing so, he challenged deep assumptions rooted in and cemented in place by Descartes’ philosophy. It this article I will argue that Bergson made considerable progress in this attack on Cartesian dualism, and diverse philosophers subsequently built on his ideas. However, failure to appreciate the source of these ideas has weakened their impact, being scattered among different disciplines by diverse philosophers and scientists who drew upon Bergson’s work while forgetting details of his philosophy. This article is an effort to rectify this situation. (shrink)
Bertrand Russell’s writings on neutral monism continue to exercise a profound influence on much work on panpsychism. In fact, many interpret his neutral monism as ultimately constituting, entailing, or strongly suggesting some form of panpsychism. But the relationship between Russell’s theory and contemporary panpsychism is complicated. On one hand, his analysis of matter has a number of features that are congenial to panpsychism. On the other hand, his naturalistic analysis of mind is largely at odds with panpsychism. Though Russell agrees (...) that mental phenomena are likely present to some degree wherever there is biological life, he takes the overall evidence to suggest that mind and experience are neither ubiquitous nor fundamental features of the natural world. (shrink)
The chapter discusses the rejuvenation of an interest in Mach in the recent metaphysics and philosophy of mind. In the early twentieth century, Mach had been interpreted as a phenomenalist, but phenomenalism fell out of favor in the 1950s. In the later decades, he received praise for his naturalism, but his contributions to metaphysics or philosophy of mind were regarded as misbegotten or irrelevant. With the search for a monistic alternative to both materialism and dualism in the recent philosophy of (...) consciousness, however, Mach attracts a fresh attention. For example, the contemporary philosopher Sam Coleman develops a version of a monistic metaphysic called “panqualityism,” which resembles Mach’s view to a large extent. Like most contemporary monists, however, Coleman works much more closely from Russell’s The Analysis of Matter, than Mach’s The Analysis of Sensations. The chapter details the circumstances that have led to the recent rise of monism; the varieties of Russellian monism; Coleman’s panqualityism; and the similarities and differerences between panqualityism and Machian monism. (shrink)
Neutral monism aims at solving the hard problem of consciousness by positing entities that are neither mental nor physical. Benovsky has recently argued for the slightly different account that, rather than being neutral, natural entities are both mental and physical by having different aspects, and then argued in favour of an anti-realist interpretation of those aspects. In this essay, operating under the assumption of dual-aspect monism, I argue to the contrary in favour of a realist interpretation of these aspects by (...) showing that the anti-realist interpretation collapses into neutral monism and that the realist interpretation is an interesting alternative. I close with a discussion of the realist interpretation of the aspects and its relation with panpsychism. (shrink)
The thesis that follows proffers a solution to the mind-matter problem, the problem as to how mind and matter relate. The proposed solution herein is a variant of panpsychism – the theory that all (pan) has minds (psyche) – that we name pansentient monism. By defining the suffix 'psyche' of panpsychism, i.e. by analysing what 'mind' is (Chapter 1), we thereby initiate the effacement of the distinction between mind and matter, and thus advance a monism. We thereafter critically examine the (...) prevalent view, antithetical to a pansentient monism, that mind is not identical to matter but emergent therefrom (Chapter 2). This anti-emergentist critique acts also as a fortification of the Genetic Argument for panpsychism: if mind is not emergent (nor distinct) from matter, mind must always have existed with matter. But what is 'matter'? Chapter 3 investigates what we understand by 'matter', or 'the physical', and exposes it as a highly deficient concept and percept that in concreto points to its identity with that denoted by 'mind'. This also acts as a fortification of the Abstraction Argument for panpsychism, employing a new taxonomy of physicalism and a new taxonomy of the varieties of abstraction. Thus do we reach a monism that is a parsimonious psycho-physical identity theory. But here we face what can be called The Identity Problem for Panpsychism: if our panpsychism is a psycho-physical identity theory, how can it respond to the powerful objections that beset the identity theory of the twentieth century? In Chapter 4 it will be argued that, like emergentism, this psycho-neural identity theory presupposed a deficient concept of 'matter', down to which mind was reduced away, let alone identified. But to identify down phenomena to what is actually an abstraction is to commit failure of explanation. When the theory is amended accordingly, we move from a psycho-neural identity theory to a genuine psycho-physical identity theory that as such can overcome the aforementioned identity problem. Furthermore, as Chapter 5 clarifies, our pansentient monism has, in addition to parsimony, the explanatory power to resolve the problem of mental causation that afflicts both the reductive physicalism of psycho-neural identity theory and the non-reductive physicalism of emergentism, by genuinely identifying physical and mental causation. Jaegwon Kim considers the place of consciousness in a physical world and the nature of mental causation to be the two key components of the mind-matter problem. Through the critical analysis of our prosaic understanding of mind and matter in this thesis, which incorporates the thought of both classical and contemporary thinkers through a novel fusion, it is hoped that both components are addressed and redressed. That is to say that I present this pansentient monism as a plausible, parsimonious, explanatory, and thus, I think, powerful position towards this ever-perplexing mind-matter mystery. -/- [This thesis was passed in January 2019 with viva examination from Galen Strawson and Joel Krueger. (shrink)
Neutral monism claims that both mind and matter are categories derived froma single underlying realit y that is univocally identified with none of them. In this paper atheoretical outline is presented from the neutral-monism perspective on the different configurations of reality referred to as “mind” and “matter”, while also discussing its consequences and the approaches it could give raise.
In this book, Jiri Benovsky takes a stand for a variant of panpsychism as being the best solution available to the mind-body problem. More exactly, he defends a view that can be labelled 'dual-aspect-pan-proto-psychism'. Panpsychism claims that mentality is ubiquitous to reality, and in combination with dual-aspect monism it claims that anything, from fundamental particles to rocks, trees, and human animals, has two aspects: a physical aspect and a mental aspect. In short, the view is that the nature of reality (...) is 'phental' (physical-mental). But this does not mean, according to the author, that rocks and photons think or have conscious experiences, in the sense in which human animals have experiences. This is where pan-proto-psychism enters the picture as being a better theoretical option, where the mental aspects of fundamental particles, rocks, and trees are not experiential. Many hard questions arise here. In this book, Benovsky focuses on the combination problem: in short, how do tiny mental aspects of fundamental particles combine to yield macro-phenomenal conscious experiences, such as your complex experience when you enjoy a great gastronomic meal? What makes the question even harder is that the combination problem is not just one problem, but rather a family of various combination issues and worries. Benovsky offers a general strategy to deal with these combination problems and focuses on one in particular – namely, the worry concerning the existence of subjects of experience. Indeed, if standard panpsychism were true, we would need an explanation of how tiny micro-subjects combine into a macro-subject like a human person. And if panprotopsychism is true, it has to explain how a subject of experience can arise from proto-micro-mental aspects of reality. Benovsky shows that understanding the nature of subjectivity in terms of the growingly familiar notion of mineness in combination with a reductionist/eliminativist view of the self, allows us to have a coherent picture, where this type of combination problem is avoided, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater. (shrink)
The main focus of this paper is the mind-body problem in its relation to the doctrine of ‘neutral monism’ and the question who can be considered its proponents. According to Bertrand Russell, these are Ernst Mach, William James, and John Dewey (to name a few). This paper aims to clarify whether Russell himself was right in his conclusions or not. At first, I start with the clarification of the relation between ‘neutral monism’ and ‘dual-aspect theory’. Secondly, I analyze the ‘big (...) three’ of the neutral monism: Mach, James and Russell. My starting-point here is Russell’s very understanding of Mach and James positions. In the end, it appears that neither Mach, nor James as well as Dewey can be considered as neutral monists. It was rather Russell’s misunderstanding of the both James’ radical empiricism and Mach’s analysis of sensations, which led him to the creation of his own original version of ‘neutral monism’ (or ‘Russelian monism’). (shrink)
The paper critically discusses the treatment of Russellian monism in Tomáš Hříbek’s monograph Jaké to je, nebo o čem to je? (What It’s Like, or What It’s About?). According to Hříbek, Russellian monism, the approach to phenomenal consciousness inspired by the insights of Bertrand Russell, is not a real alternative to materialism, dualism and idealism. I argue that Russellian monism, on the contrary, can be viewed as a self-standing philosophical position which, moreover, avoids the main problems of these traditional approaches. (...) I first address the objection that the fundamental entities of neutral monism have a mental, rather than neutral nature. In connection with neutral monism, I also express some worries concerning Hříbek’s via negativa definition of physicalism. Thereafter I explain why the causal closure of the physical which poses a serious difficulty for dualism is not a problem for Russellian monism and emphasize that Russellian monism is able to tackle challenges, such as the conceivability argument and the knowledge argument, better than materialism. While then Russellian monism has certain affinities with materialism, dualism and idealism, it avoids the most serious challenges for these approaches and we therefore have a good reason to view it as a self-standing and promising approach to phenomenal consciousness. (shrink)
In this paper, I develop a comparison between the philosophies of Husserl and James in relation to their concepts of experience. Whereas various authors have acknowledged the affinity between James’ early psychology and Husserl’s phenomenology, the late development of James’ philosophy is often considered in opposition to Husserl’s transcendental phenomenology. This is because James’ radical empiricism achieves a non-dual dimension of experience that precedes the functional division into subject and object, thus contrasting with the phenomenological analysis of the dual structure (...) of intentionality. However, I argue that the later “genetic” development of phenomenology converges with some central aspects of James’ radical empiricism. This is because genetic phenomenology leads us to conceive of the flow of primal impressions as a fundamental dimension of experience that precedes the subject-object duality and is at the base of the process of co-constitution of the subject and the object in reciprocal dependence. At the same time, Husserl conceives of the impressional core of experience as structured by formal conditions that depend on the concrete constitution of an embodied subject. For this reason, I argue that Husserl’s genetic phenomenology can complement James’ radical empiricism, thus leading to the development of the doctrine of pure experience as a form of empirical and not metaphysical realism. (shrink)
Russellian physicalism has the promise of answering all the typical challenges that non-physicalists have issued against standard versions of physicalism, while not giving up physicalism's commitment to the non-existence of fundamental mentality. However, it has been argued that Russellian physicalism must endorse the existence of physically unacceptable protomental properties in order to address these challenges, which would mean giving up on a core physicalist tenet of keeping the fundamental realm untainted by a special relationship to mentality. Against this, I argue (...) that a plausible version of Russellian physicalism can be constructed, which does not posit fundamental properties that are at all protomental in any problematic sense, yet which can explain the existence of subjective experience. This non-protomental Russellian physicalism, which is the only properly-physical version of Russellian physicalism, offers a satisfying solution to the mind-body problem -- including an answer to the conceivability argument -- without sacrificing any of its physicalist credentials. (shrink)
The first half of this book argues that physicalism cannot account for consciousness, and hence cannot be true. The second half explores and defends Russellian monism, a radical alternative to both physicalism and dualism. The view that emerges combines panpsychism with the view that the universe as a whole is fundamental.
Panpsychism has often been motivated on the grounds that any attempt to account for experience and consciousness in organisms in purely physical, nonexperiential terms faces severe difficulties. The “combination problem” charges that attributing phenomenal properties to the basic constituents of organisms, as panpsychism proposes, likewise fails to provide a satisfactory basis for experience in humans and other organisms. This paper evaluates a recent attempt to understand, and solve, the combination problem. This approach, due to Sam Coleman, is premised on a (...) distinction between mere aggregates and genuine unities, and the purported inability of subjects to constitute a unity. In response, I first argue that it may not be incumbent upon the panpsychist to explain how microphenomenal properties could constitute a unity in the way that Coleman supposes. I then argue that even if such a burden does fall on the panpsychist, it is far from clear that a plurality subjects cannot constitute such a unity. Finally, I argue that if one adopts a functionalist account of macrosubjects, as Coleman does, there is little reason to think that a plurality of subjects could not constitute a macrosubject. In these ways, I argue that the force of the combination problem does not turn on whether microphenomenal properties require minds or subjects that have them. (shrink)
It seems certain to me that I will die and stay dead. By “I”, I mean me, Greg Nixon, this person, this self-identity. I am so intertwined with the chiasmus of lives, bodies, ecosystems, symbolic intersubjectivity, and life on this particular planet that I cannot imagine this identity continuing alone without them. However, one may survive one’s life by believing in universal awareness, perfection, and the peace that passes all understanding. Perhaps, we bring this back with us to the Source (...) from which we began, changing it, enriching it. Once we have lived – if we don’t choose the eternal silence of oblivion by life denial, vanity, indifference, or simple weariness – the Source learns and we awaken within it. Awareness, consciousness, is universal – it comes with the territory – so maybe you will be one of the few prepared to become unexpectedly enlightened after the loss of body and self. You may discover your own apotheosis – something you always were, but after a lifetime of primate experience, now much more. Since you are of the Source and since you have changed from life experience and yet retained the dream of ultimate awakening, plus you have brought those chaotic emotions and memories back to the Source with you (though no longer yours), your life & memories will have mattered. Those who awaken beyond the death of self will have changed Reality. (shrink)
This is an important collection in that it fleshes out the vague postulate of panpsychism with a detailed analysis of how it might be understood (if not exactly what it might mean). For the many skeptics who simply dismiss the very idea as ridiculous, there is much here to demonstrate that a good deal of serious thought has gone into this ancient proposal. There are many ways to interpret panpsychism, and they are well represented in this group of philosophers, each (...) speaking for a unique take on the subject or one of its variations– from cosmopsychism to panprotopsychism to panexperientialism to neutral monism, etc. The combination problem is fully interrogated, as is panpsychism associated with dualism, idealism, physicalism, theism, etc. Anyone reading this book is bound to gain some respect for the complexity of such subject matter and the compelling logic for approaching it. (shrink)
This paper discusses and evaluates a recent argument for the conclusion that an attractive variety of Russellian monism ought to be regarded as a form of physicalism. According to this line of thought, if the Russellian’s “inscrutable” properties are held to ground not only experience, but also the physical structure of the world—and in this sense are not “experience-specific”—they thereby have an unproblematic place in physicalist metaphysics. I argue, in contrast, that there can be a sense in which the Russellian’s (...) inscrutables are experience-specific in a way that a physicalist probably ought to find objectionable, even if they play some role other than grounding experience. This will be the case, I argue, if certain worlds are taken to be possible, as they sometimes have: worlds of “bare structure” and worlds with what might be called “swapped inscrutables”. In this way, I claim that accepting certain possibilities has consequences for how one should understand the nature of the Russellian’s inscrutables and the place they have in physicalist metaphysics. (shrink)
I endorse a 12-word metaphysics.  Stoff ist Kraft ≈ being is energy.  Wesen ist Werden ≈ being is becoming.  Sein ist Sosein ≈ being is qualit[ativit]y.  Ansichsein ist Fürsichsein ≈ being is mind. – are plausible metaphysical principles and unprejudiced consideration of what we know about concrete reality obliges us to favor , i.e. panpsychism or panexperientialism, above all other positive substantive proposals. For [i] panpsychism is the most ontologically parsimonious view, given that the existence of (...) conscious experience is certain and that panpsychism doesn’t posit the existence of any kind of stuff other than conscious experience. [ii] A question also arises about why metaphysicians have posited the existence of something for which there is zero evidence: non-experiential concrete reality. The question is the more pressing because of the silence of physics: physics with its numbers and equations is perfectly silent on the question of the intrinsic non-structural nature of reality. (shrink)
On the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's current affairs program "7.30 Report" (29/01/2015), presenter Leigh Sales asked Canadian psychiatrist and author Norman Doidge "What is the difference between the mind and the brain?" Dr. Doidge's reply - "Well, the brain is thought to be roughly three pounds of physical material and nobody, to my mind, has adequately defined and established what the contours of mind are - and that includes all the neuroscientists I know, with respect." -/- I’ve recently read interesting thoughts (...) by mathematical physicist Roger Penrose and anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff; as well as by 20th-century Austrian physicist Wolfgang Pauli, Austrian theoretical physicist Erwin Schrodinger, Discover Magazine’s writer Shannon Palus and philosopher/neuroscientist Eddy Nahmias. I’d like to weave these thoughts together (with a few of my own) to hopefully find a satisfactory definition of mind. (shrink)
In this article, I am interested in dual-aspect monism as a solution to the mind-body problem. This view is not new, but it is somewhat under-represented in the contemporary debate, and I would like to help it make its way. Dual-aspect monism is a parsimonious, elegant and simple view. It avoids problems with “mental causation”. It naturally explains how and why mental states are correlated with physical states while avoiding any mysteries concerning the nature of this relation. It fits well (...) with our ordinary picture of the world, as well as with the scientific picture. It gives its rightful place to the phenomenal, qualitative, subjective character of experience, instead of reducing it or eliminating it. It does not unnecessarily multiply ontological categories. It can come in many versions, and is compatible with other interesting views, such as panpsychism. (shrink)
From the perspective of many philosophers of mind in these early years of the 21st Century, the debate between dualism and physicalism has seemed to have stalled, if not to have come to a complete standstill. There seems to be no way to settle the basic clash of intuitions that underlies it. Recently however, a growing number of proponents of Russellian monism have suggested that their view promises to show us a new way forward. Insofar as Russellian monism might allow (...) us to break out of the current gridlock, it's no wonder that it's become "hot stuff." To my mind, however, the excitement about Russellian monism is misplaced. Though some version of Russellian monism might well be true, I do not believe that it enables us to break free of the dualism/physicalism divide. As I will argue, once we properly understand what's required to flesh out an adequate monistic story, we will see that we are in an important way right back where we started. (shrink)
In recent decades, Russell’s “Neutral Monism” has reemerged as a topic of great scholarly interest among philosophers of mind, philosophers of science, and historians of early analytic philosophy. One of the most controversial points of scholarly dispute regarding Russell’s theory concerns how it best fits into standard classificatory schemes for understanding the relationship between mental phenomena and physical reality. The task of classifying Russell’s Neutral Monism is made all the more difficult by the fact that his conception of it evolves (...) in significant ways over the roughly four decades that he advocates it. In this paper, I contend that during this period, Russell holds (at least) three different, but related, ontological views, all of which he labels as “neutral monism”. This paper begins by considering key aspects of Russell’s early dualism which continue to play important roles in his Neutral Monism, especially his views about acquaintance, knowledge by description, structuralism about physics, and the construction of our physical knowledge. I argue that Russell revises, rather than abandons, his notion of knowledge by acquaintance in 1918 (when he gives up the act-object distinction) and contend that his resulting “neutral monism” remains a partial dualism until his 1921 The Analysis of Mind (hereafter AMi). Next, I explain how changes in physics leads Russell to re-conceptualize his Neutral Monism in The Analysis of Matter and An Outline of Philosophy, while challenging the relatively widespread view that his new position is a nonstandard version of physicalism. Finally, I argue that after 1940, Russell’s mature Neutral Monism—as presented in Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limits, My Philosophical Development, and elsewhere—is very plausibly interpreted as a version of “Russellian Physicalism”. (shrink)
The book revives the neutral monism of Mach, James, and Russell and applies the updated view to the problem of redefining physicalism, explaining the origins of sensation, and the problem of deriving extended physical objects and systems from an ontology of events.
Taking their motivation from the perceived failure of the reductive physicalist project concerning consciousness, panpsychists ascribe subjectivity to fundamental material entities in order to account for macro-consciousness. But there exists an unresolved tension within the mainstream panpsychist position, the seriousness of which has yet to be appreciated. I capture this tension as a dilemma, and offer advice to panpsychists on how to resolve it. The dilemma is as follows: Panpsychists take the micro-material realm to feature phenomenal properties, plus micro-subjects to (...) whom these properties belong. However, it is impossible to explain the generation of a macro-subject (like one of us) in terms of the assembly of micro-subjects, for, as I show, subjects cannot combine. Therefore the panpsychist explanatory project is derailed by the insistence that the world’s ultimate material constituents are subjects of experience. The panpsychist faces a choice of giving up her explanatory ambitions, or of giving up the claim that the ultimates are subjects. I argue that the latter option is preferable, leading to neutral monism, on which phenomenal qualities are irreducible but subjects are reducible. So panpsychists should be neutral monists. (shrink)
The core insight of neutral monism is that there might be something underlying both mind and matter which is neither and of which mind and matter could be seen as particular manifestations. In this paper, I shall present some directions for developing neutral monism as a metaphysical position on the mind-brain problem and argue that its core insight may be applied to other debates in philosophy of mind, in particular debates about the metaphysics of phenomenologies, such as the phenomenology of (...) thought and cognitive phenomenologies. (shrink)
Consider (i) the humility thesis that we only know the causal natures of the external world and (ii) the thesis we are directly acquainted with the intrinsic natures of our phenomenal experiences. The conjunction of these two theses has motivated a version of panpsychism, which states that the intrinsic nature of all matter is phenomenal. Contemporary panpsychists, such as Lockwood (1991, 1993), Rosenberg (1999, 2004) and Maxwell (2002), have taken it upon themselves to flesh out a plausible story of how (...) this is so. Moreover, the story they tell involves the physical depending on the phenomenal. Now, most of us these days, including such contemporary panpsychists, acknowledge that our phenomenal experiences are, in some sense, representational. That is, when we introspect our phenomenal experiences, it seems like there are certain properties represented in these experiences. The aim of this paper is to use this well-conceded point that our phenomenal experiences are representational to cast doubt on contemporary panpsychism. (shrink)
We argue that human consciousness may be a property of single electron in the brain. We suppose that each electron in the universe has at least primitive consciousness. Each electron subjectively “observes” its quantum dynamics (energy, momentum, “shape” of wave function) in the form of sensations and other mental phenomena. However, some electrons in neural cells have complex “human” consciousnesses due to complex quantum dynamics in complex organic environment. We discuss neurophysiological and physical aspects of this hypothesis and show that: (...) (1) single chemically active electron has enough informational capacity to “contain” the richness of human subjective experience; (2) quantum states of some electrons might be directly influenced by human sensory data and have direct influence upon human behavior in real brain; (3) main physical and philosophical drawbacks of “conventional” “quantum theories of consciousness” may be solved by our hypothesis without much changes in their conceptual basis. We do not suggest any “new physics”, and our neuroscientific assumptions are similar to those used by other proponents of “quantum consciousness”. However, our hypothesis suggests radical changes in our view on human and physical reality. (shrink)
Dual-aspect monism and neutral monism offer interesting alternatives to mainstream positions concerning the mind-matter problem. Both assume a domain underlying the mind-matter distinction, but they also differ in definitive ways. In the twentieth century, variants of both positions have been advanced by a number of protagonists. One of these variants, the dual-aspect monism due toWolfgang Pauli and Carl Gustav Jung, will be described and commented on in detail. As a unique feature in the Pauli-Jung conception, the duality of mental and (...) material aspects is specified in terms of a complementarity. This sounds innocent, but entails a number of peculiarities distinguishing their conjecture from other approaches. (shrink)