The Mind-Body Problem and Whitehead’s Nonreductive Monism

Journal of Consciousness Studies 19 (9-10):40-66 (2012)
Authors
Anderson Weekes
Fairfield University
Abstract
There have been many attempts to retire dualism from active philosophic life, replacing it with something less removed from science, but we are no closer to that goal now than fifty years ago. I propose breaking the stalemate by considering marginal perspectives that may help identify unrecognized assumptions that limit the mainstream debate. Comparison with Whitehead highlights ways that opponents of dualism continue to uphold the Cartesian “real distinction” between mind and body. Whitehead, by contrast, insists on a conceptual distinction: there can no more be body without mind than mind without body (at least at the level of ultimate constituents). Key to this integration is Whitehead’s understanding that mind, at its most rudimentary, is simply the intrinsic temporality of a physical event. Thus, the resulting form of “panpsychism” is more naturalistic than commonly supposed, and it solves both the composition problem (traditionally fatal to panpsychism) and the “hard problem.”
Keywords Whitehead, Alfred North  panpsychism  qualia  time and temporality  naturalizing mind  non-physicalist monism
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