Russell’s critique of substance monism is an ideal starting point from which to understand some main concepts in Spinoza’s difficult metaphysics. This paper provides an in-depth examination of Spinoza’s proof that only one substance exists. On this basis, it rejects Russell’s interpretation of Spinoza’s theory of reality as founded upon the logical doctrine that all propositions consist of a predicate and a subject. An alternative interpretation is offered: Spinoza’s substance is not a bearer of properties, as Russell implied, but an (...) eternally active, self-actualizing creative power. Eventually, Spinoza the Monist and Russell the Pluralist are at one in holding that process and activity rather than enduring things are the most fundamental realities. (shrink)
Although panpsychism has had a very long history, one that goes back to the very origin of western philosophy, its force has only recently been appreciated by analytic philosophers of mind. And even if many still reject the theory as utterly absurd, others have argued that it is the only genuine form of physicalism. This paper examines the case for panpsychism and argues that there are at least good prima facie reasons for taking it seriously. In a second step, the (...) paper discusses the main difficulty the theory has to face, the . This is the problem of explaining how the primitive experiences that are supposed to exist at the ultimate level of reality could give rise to the unified experience of a human being. What assumptions as to the nature of experience generate the composition problem? Is mental composition impossible in principle or do we simply lack at present any understanding of phenomenal parts and wholes? (shrink)
This paper provides an interpretation and evaluation of Spinozaâs highly original version of the ontological proof in terms of the concept of substance instead of the concept of perfection in the first book of his Ethics. Taking the lead from Kantâs critique of ontological arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason, the paper explores the underlying ontological and epistemological presuppositions of Spinozaâs proof. The main topics of consideration are the nature of Spinozaâs definitions, the way he conceives of the relation (...) between a substance and its essence, and his conception of existence. Once clarity is shed upon these fundamental issues, it becomes possible to address the proof in its own terms. It is then easy to see that Kantâs objections miss their target and that the same is true of those advanced by another of the ontological argumentâs most famous critics, Bertrand Russell. Finally, several interpretations of Spinozaâs proof are proposed and critically evaluated; on all of them, the argument turns out to be either invalid or question-begging. (shrink)
This book introduces the reader to Whitehead’s complex and often misunderstood metaphysics by showing that it deals with questions about the nature of causation originally raised by the philosophy of Leibniz. Whitehead’s philosophy is an attempt at rehabilitating Leibniz’s theory of monads by recasting it in terms of novel ontological categories.