The Birth of Life & the Future of Consciousness

UPDATE. Here's a video of our dialogue: https://youtu.be/9jlVjOILsCU Next Tuesday, October 22nd at 7pm, I'll be in dialogue with astrobiologist Bruce Damer about his hot spring hypothesis of the origins of life. For Bay Area locals, the event will take place at the Mission Street campus of California Institute of Integral Studies and is free [...]

Physicalism and Its Discontents: A Study in Whitehead’s Panexperientialist Alternative [draft]

UPDATE: Here is a PDF of the final draft accepted for publication under the revised title "The Varieties of Physicalist Ontology: A Study in Whitehead's Process-Relational Alternative." I've just finished drafting this article, which will hopefully be featured in a special issue of the Journal of Philosophy, Theology, and the Sciences focused on panpsychism. It still [...]

On the Matter of Life: Towards an Integral Economics

I'm posting a revised version of a long essay I wrote a decade ago. It draws on thinkers including Sri Aurobindo, Jean Gebser, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, William Irwin Thompson, Francisco Varela, Alfred North Whitehead, and Alf Hornborg in search of a more integral approach to economics. I had not yet encountered the social ecology [...]

Genes v. Organisms in Biological Explanation (responding to the Dawkins v. Weinstein debate)

Here's the recent debate between Richard Dawkins and Bret Weinstein on the relationship between cultural and biological evolution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYzU-DoEV6k Here are two response videos from me arguing for the relevance of Francisco Varela and Evan Thompson et al.'s theory of autopoiesis and Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jx06_OY6gU https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DnL0_fydic   Some relevant essays that [...]

Lectures on Timothy Morton’s “Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People”

Process and Difference in the Pluriverse (opening lecture) My Spring course at CIIS.edu finishes up this week with a set of modules on Timothy Morton's book Humankind: Solidarity with Nonhuman People (2017). Earlier in the semester, we read works by Plato, William James, Catherine Keller, William Connolly, Bruno Latour, Anne Pomeroy, and Donna Haraway. Below, I [...]

What is Life? (Part 2)

Continuing a dialogue in the comments of my last post, particularly the question of whether rocks have agency... An organic realism would suggest that some processes within rocks do have varying degrees of agency. Crystallization is telic. Atoms are self-organizing ecopoietic agents. The periodic table of elements is a taxonomic hierarchy that sorts different species [...]

What is Life? (Response to Joe Norman)

Sharing my reply below to a brilliant series of thoughts concerning the essence of life at Joseph W. Norman's blog (CLICK HERE TO READ IT). Joe, Thanks for pointing out the relevance of N. Taleb's distinction between randomness and an agent's exposure to randomness for the question of "life." Much to ponder here... My friendship with [...]

“Retrieving Realism: A Whiteheadian Wager” published in IJTS

Retrieving Realism: A Whiteheadian Wager (PDF) Published in International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, Volume 36, Issue 1 (2017) Abstract: This essay argues that the organic realism of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) provides a viable alternative to anti-realist tendencies in modern and postmodern philosophy since Descartes. The metaphysical merits of Whitehead’s philosophy of organism are unpacked in [...]

The Place of Life in the Cosmos (draft of 11th International Whitehead Conference paper)

Below is the draft of a paper I'll present at next week's International Whitehead Conference in the Azores. Feedback appreciated! 2017 International Whitehead Conference   Matthew T. Segall   The Place of Life in the Cosmos: Feeling the Origin of Organism   “A philosophic outlook is the very foundation of thought and of life. The [...]

response to R. Scott Bakker on transcendental phenomenology and BBT

Anyone who posits some form of efficacy or constraint outside the natural order on the basis of some kind of interpretation of ‘experience’ has the same argumentative burden to discharge: How do you know? What justifies such an extraordinary (supernatural) posit?...What makes the question so pressing now is that their instrument, reflection, has finally found [...]

The Ecology of Ideas: Enacting Worlds Worth Living In

"Every scientific man in order to preserve his reputation has to say he dislikes metaphysics. What he means is he dislikes having his metaphysics criticized." -Alfred North Whitehead Over at Knowledge-Ecology, Adam Robbert has thrown a few fantastic posts up unpacking his vision of the ecology of ideas. Concepts are capacities skillfully enacted in ecological contexts. [...]