“The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.”
–Alfred North Whitehead

Tag: organism

  • A Cartoon Intro to Whitehead’s Organic Cosmology

    A Cartoon Intro to Whitehead’s Organic Cosmology


  • Science and the Soul of the World: Participatory Knowing in Goethe and Whitehead

    Science and the Soul of the World: Participatory Knowing in Goethe and Whitehead

    I’m teaching for Schumacher College again, this time online. This course focuses on two towering exemplars of the organic approach to science, the German poet and naturalist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) and the British mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). The course will run via live video conference on Saturday mornings (PST) for […]


  • Panpsychism: a brief reply to Massimo Pigliucci

    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 […]


  • Physics of the World-Soul, a short course on Schelling and Whitehead at Schumacher College next week

    >More information on this course<< Recommended Readings (PDF)


  • Schumacher College summer course update: “Physics of the World-Soul”

    Schumacher College summer course update: “Physics of the World-Soul”

    https://www.schumachercollege.org.uk/courses/short-courses/physics-of-the-world-soul Schumacher College has decided to make my week on Schelling and Whitehead a stand alone course called “Physics of the World-Soul.” It will take place June 18-22. More information available at the link above.


  • 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 […]


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

    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 […]


  • Organic Science in Schelling and Whitehead

    Organic Science in Schelling and Whitehead

    A lecture from last week’s class Brief History of Western Thought on Romanticism and the crisis of modern science as it played out in the organic nature philosophy of Schelling and Whitehead.


  • 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 Difference Between Kant’s and Schelling’s Philosophies of Nature

    A lecture I gave earlier this week in a class at CIIS on Spirit and Nature.


  • Ecologies of Space-Time in Organic Ontologies

    Adam over at Knowledge-Ecology threw a great post up concerning ethology, ecology, and time. Here is a sneak peek: “The organism is not an entity acting from within space and time; rather, the organism is an active generator of space-time, enfolding both into a complex ecology that flows from organisms and their behavior. The ecosystem, […]


  • Robert Rosen and Friedrich Schelling on Mechanism and Organism

    I’ve been reading some of the theoretical biologist Robert Rosen‘s essays on the relationship between biology and physics and can’t help but compare him to Friedrich Schelling. Rosen writes: [Contemporary physics embodies] a mechanistic approach to biological phenomena, whose only alternative seems to be a discredited, mystical, unscientific vitalism. [It] supposes biology to be a […]


  • On the need for mediating concepts…

    I posted this on FaceBook in a thread about humanities departments needing to get over Aristotle’s biology and was told to stop spamming, so I suppose I’d better just post it here instead. …………….. If contemporary biology is going to throw out “purpose” and “essence” as concepts, it needs to throw out correlate concepts like […]


  • Responding to Michael about Root Images in the Philosophy of Nature

    Several months ago, Michael (who blogs at Archive Fire and contributes to synthetic_zero) posted a comment on a post of mine about philosophical vitalism. I’m just now getting around to responding to what for me were really helpful questions as I try to further flesh out my thoughts on etheric imagination. Michael writes: I like […]


  • Is the Universe Alive?

    In this episode of the “Through the Wormhole” series put together by Discovery Channel, Morgan Freeman asks, “Is the Universe Alive?” He builds on the ideas of a motley crew of scientists in order to learn to see life at multiple scales, including the computer scientists Juergen Schmidhuber (machines are alive) and Seth Lloyd (atoms think), […]


  • [Whitehead’s Ontology of Organism] The Relevanceof Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism to Contemporary Scientific Cosmology

    Whitehead’s Ontology of Organism “Lo! keen-eyed towering science, As from tall peaks the modern overlooking, Successive absolute fiats issuing. Yet again, lo!, the soul, above all science,…For it the entire star-myriads roll through the sky…For it the partial to the permanent flowing, For it the real to the ideal tends. For it the mystic evolution…” -Walt […]


  • Returning to Whitehead…

    After finishing my first comprehensive exam on Schelling, its now time to dive back into Whitehead. For starters, Adam over at the new minimalist Knowledge Ecology has recently been posting brilliant snippets of what I believe is a longer tract he is writing about the ecology of ideas. Here is one titled “The Alien Light“: On […]


  • Formal Causality and Materialism

    There have been a flurry of responses recently to an exchange between Michael/Archive Fire and I regarding formal causality (also, be sure to read Adam/Knowledge Ecology‘s comments over on Archive Fire for a nice defense of Whitehead). Jason/Immanent Transcendence posted some of his reflections, relating the issue to the old debate between realists and nominalists. […]


  • Tilting at windmill materialism: Towards an Ontology of Organism (OoO)

    Adam at Knowledge-Ecology has posted some reflections on the issues at stake in the confrontation between philosophical realism and philosophical materialism. Levi Bryant (Larval Subjects) and Michael (Archive-Fire) place their bets on materialism, while Graham Harman (Object-Oriented Philosophy) and Steven Shaviro (Pinocchio Theory) prefer realism. This isn’t the whole story, however. When we shift to […]