Panpsychism—A Neglected Jamesian Alternative?

Journal of Philosophical Research 32:319-347 (2007)
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This essay examines the speculative metaphysical doctrine of panpsychism, which some (though only a few) philosophers regard as a plausible solution to the problem of explaining the possibility of conscious experience. After a survey of some of the main arguments for and against panpsychism, the metaphysically realist background assumption of the doctrine is uncovered and questioned. A pragmatic reinterpretation of panpsychism, drawn from the work of William James,is then proposed. In order to be treated truly pragmatically, panpsychism—like any other metaphysical position—ought to be subjected to Jamesian pragmatic pluralism. Something like “panculturalism” follows as a result: both panpsychism and its metaphysical rivals are, in the end, cultural posits arising fromhuman practices of engaging with reality.



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Sami Pihlström
University of Helsinki

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