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Panpsychism in the West

(MIT Press)

Paperback:  $35
Paperback:  $34



In Panpsychism in the West (revised edition, 2017), the first comprehensive study of the subject, David Skrbina argues for the importance of panpsychism -- the theory that mind exists, in some form, in all living and nonliving things -- in consideration of the nature of consciousness and mind.


Despite the recent advances in our knowledge of the brain and the increasing intricacy and sophistication of philosophical discussion, the nature of mind remains an enigma.  Pan- psychism, with its conception of mind as a general phenomenon of nature, uniquely links being and mind.  More than a theory of mind, it is a meta-theory -- a statement about theories of mind rather than a theory in itself.  Panpsychism can parallel almost every current theory of mind; it simply holds that, no matter how one conceives of mind, such mind applies to all things. 


In addition, panpsychism is one of the most ancient and enduring concepts of philosophy, beginning with its prehistorical forms, animism and polytheism.  Its adherents in the West have included important thinkers from the very beginning of Greek philosophy through the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to the present.

Skrbina argues that panpsychism is long overdue for detailed treatment, and with this book he proposes to add impetus to the discussion of panpsychism in serious philosophical inquiries.  After a brief discussion of general issues surrounding philosophy of mind, he traces the panpsychist views of specific philosophers, from the ancient Greeks and early Renaissance naturalist philosophers through the likes of William James, Josiah Royce, and Charles Sanders Peirce -- always with a strong emphasis on the original texts.  In his concluding chapter, "A Panpsychist World View," Skrbina assesses panpsychist arguments and puts them in a larger context.  By demonstrating that there is panpsychist thinking in many major philosophers, Skrbina offers a radical challenge to the modern worldview, based as it is on a mechanistic cosmos of dead, insensate matter.  Panpsychism in the West will be the standard work on this topic for years to come.



1  Panpsychism and the Ontology of Mind                                                                    1

1.1  The importance of panpsychism

1.2  Panpsychism defined

1.3  The question of emergence

1.4  Historical approaches


2  Ancient Origins                                                                                                                  23

2.1  Ancient Greece and the hylozoist tradition

2.2  Plato

2.3  Aristotle

2.4  Epicurus and the atomic swerve

2.5  Stoicism and the pneuma

2.6  Echoes of panpsychism in the Christian era


3  Developments in the Renaissance: 16th and 17th-Century Europe            77

3.1  Transition to the Renaissance

3.2  Four Italian naturalists

3.3  Gilbert and the soul of the magnet

3.4  Campanella

3.5  The early scientific philosophers

3.6  Spinoza

3.7  Locke and Newton

3.8  Leibniz


4  Continental Panpsychism of the 18th Century                                                  121

4.1  French vitalistic materialism

4.2  Kant and Priestley

4.3  German Romanticism and Naturphilosophie


5  Panpsychism, Mechanism, and Science in 19th Century Germany          139

5.1  Schopenhauer

5.2  Fechner

5.3  Other scientist-philosophers of the age

5.4  A survey of the field

5.5  Nietzsche and the will to power


6  The Anglo-American Perspective                                                                           173

6.1  Anglo-American panpsychism

6.2  William James

6.3  Royce and Peirce


7  Panpsychism in the Years 1900-1950                                                                   193

7.1  Bergson and the early 20th-century panpsychists

7.2  Schiller

7.3  Alexander, Lossky, Troland, Dewey

7.4  Whitehead and the emergence of process philosophy

7.5  Russell

7.6  Phenomenology

7.7  Teilhard de Chardin

7.8  Hartshorne and the problem of the aggregate


8  Scientific Perspectives                                                                                               239

8.1  Historical arguments

8.2  Panpsychism in 20th-century science

8.3  Bateson

8.4  Other scientific interpretations

8.5  Bohm and the implicate order


9  Panpsychism from 1950 to the Present                                                              265

9.1  Developments in the 1960s and 1970s

9.2  Mind in nature:  panpsychism and environmentalism

9.3  Interdisciplinary and populist treatments

9.4  Other thoughts, pro and con

9.5  Dynamical systems theory

9.6  Recent developments in process philosophy

9.7  Galen Strawson

9.8  Russellian monism


10  Toward a Panpsychist Worldview                                                                     319

10.1  An assessment of the arguments:  opposing views

10.2  Recapitulating the central arguments for panpsychism

10.3  Into the 3rd millennium


Chapter 1