Thoughts on William James, Pure Experience, and Materialism

Idealism and panpsychism seem to me to make easy friends in the debate against materialism. They both affirm that consciousness or experience or mind in some generic sense are intrinsic to Nature. There are important differences between idealism and panpsychism, of course, and there are a variety of ways one can be an idealist or [...]

Panpsychism: a brief reply to Massimo Pigliucci

 The Side View recently published an essay by Massimo Pigliucci titled "The Stoic God is Untenable in Light of Modern Science." Pigliucci is entering into a critical dialogue with a few other Side View authors, Brittany Polat and Kai Whiting, about how best to inherit from ancient Stoic philosophy.  I don't have a horse in the contemporary interpretations of [...]

“Electrons Don’t Think” by Sabine Hossenfelder

The following is a comment I posted on the physicist and blogger Sabine Hossenfelder's blog Backreaction to a post titled "Electrons Don't Think." https://backreaction.blogspot.com/2019/01/electrons-dont-think.html Hi Sabine. I discovered your blog last night after Googling "Carlo Rovelli and Alfred North Whitehead." It brought me to Tam Hunt's interview with Rovelli. I have been studying Rovelli's popular [...]

Integrating Space-Time: Non-Dual Idealism, or Physics of the World-Soul?

Metaphysics is serious play. Serious because (if done well) it demands a reckoning with death, with limit as such, with finitude and necessity. Play because (if done well) it frees us from our perceived finitude to partake in the process of realization itself. Materialism and idealism, though mutuality exclusive as metaphysical positions, are nonetheless symbiotically [...]

Panpsychist Physicalism

[Written partially as a response to some discussion over in The Skeptical Zone]: Physicalism is the idea that the universe is fundamentally composed of entirely blind, deaf, dumb–DEAD–particles in purposeless motion through empty space. For some reason, these dumb particles follow the orders of a system of eternal mathematical laws that, for some reason, the [...]

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 [...]

Schedule for our track at next week’s Whitehead/Ecological Civilization Conference

Section III: Alienation from Nature, How it Arose Track 3: Late Modernity and Its Re-Imagining (Lebus Hall, 201) Friday, June 5 2:00 PM – 2:45 PM Track Session #1a – Tam Hunt “Absent-minded science and the ‘deep science’ antidote” 2:45 PM – 3:30 PM Track Session #1b – Christian de Quincey “A Radical Science of [...]

The Threat of Panpsychism?: A response to Bernardo Kastrup

Bernardo Kastrup, a computer engineer turned metaphysician, recently posted a short essay called "The Threat of Panpsychism: A Warning." I found the essay somewhat encouraging if only because it is another signal that contemporary philosophy (both within and outside academia) is moving beyond the tired "materialism v. anything else" debate and toward more interesting and relevant debates, like that [...]

Beyond Materialism and Idealism, a Philosophy of Organism?

Levi Bryant offered some ideas about materialism earlier this week over at Larval Subjects. I read and commented on his post while screeching through the BART transbay tube on my commute home from work. My comment, asking about "ontological constructivism," was rushed and ill formed. Now that I'm moving more slowly, and have a keyboard large enough for all ten of [...]

Evolutionary Panpsychism v. Eliminative Materialism: Towards an Anthrodecentric Philosophy of Nature

A talk I gave at my graduate program's retreat at Esalen a few weeks ago. Part 1: Part 2: A comment by media theorist and professor of communication Corey Anton about what I say around the 3 minute mark of part 2 about the death/rebirth mystery of cosmogenesis: Corey Anton: Hi Matt, Thanks again. A [...]

John Cobb, Jr: Whitehead as the ecological alternative to Scientific Materialism

Scientists like to contrast themselves with others by their faithfulness to evidence.  Sadly, they resist evidence that does not fit their pre-commitments.  Aristotelian scientists at the papal court refused to look through the telescope because they would see what did not fit their philosophical convictions about the heavenly bodies.  Modern scientists have all along ignored [...]

The Varieties of Materialism: Matter as the Play of Form

Following up on my contribution to the Latour/AIME reading group, I wanted to say a bit more about the confused concept called "matter." There are many varieties of materialism, but for the sake of time, let's follow Robert Jackson by dividing them up into two basic categories: 1) that variety of materialism which understands matter [...]