Mind Stuffed with Red Herrings: Why William James’ Critique of the Mind-Stuff Theory Does not Substantiate a Combination Problem for Panpsychism [Book Review]

Acta Analytica 25 (4):413-434 (2010)

Authors
Itay Shani
Sun Yat Sen University, Zhuhai Campus
Abstract
There is a famous passage in chapter six of James’ Principles of Psychology whose import, many believe, deals a devastating blow to the explanatory aspirations of panpsychism. In the present paper I take a close look at James’ argument, as well as at the claim that it underlies a powerful critique of panpsychism. Apart from the fact that the argument was never aimed at panpsychism as such, I show that it rests on highly problematic assumptions which, if followed to their logical consequences, are just as inedible to contemporary critics of panpsychism as they are to its present-day supporters. Hence, a naïve employment of the argument, as a critique leveled by physicalists against panpsychism, is counterproductive and even self-defeating. After examining the metaphysical shortcomings undermining James’ position , I conclude with some reflections on what needs to be done in order to obtain a better perspective regarding the explanatory prospects of panpsychism as an alternative approach to mainstream physicalism in the study of conscious phenomena
Keywords Philosophy   Philosophy of Mind   Epistemology   Metaphysics   Logic   Philosophy
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DOI 10.1007/s12136-010-0095-8
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References found in this work BETA

Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness.David J. Chalmers - 1995 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 2 (3):200-19.
The Principles of Psychology.William James - 1890 - Dover Publications.
Can Panpsychism Bridge the Explanatory Gap?Peter Carruthers & Elizabeth Schechter - 2006 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 13 (10-11):32-39.
Two Conceptions of the Physical.Daniel Stoljar - 2001 - Philosophical and Phenomenological Research 62 (2):253-281.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Combination Problem for Panpsychism.David Chalmers - 2016 - In Godehard Brüntrup & Ludwig Jaskolla (eds.), Panpsychism. Oxford University Press.
Real Acquaintance and Physicalism.Philip Goff - forthcoming - In Paul Coates & Sam Coleman (eds.), Phenomenal Qualities: Sense, Perception and Consciousness. Oxford University Press.

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