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Panpsychism in the West: From There to Here

Panpsychism: The position that all things, to some degree, think, or cogitate, or experience, or feel

I neglected to note the spur of my interest for the post Spinoza’s Degrees of Being: A History. For some time I had been tracking the sources of Spinoz’a conception of degreess of privation and power, and when I came to read David Skrbina’s Panpsychism in the West I was pleasantly surprised to find such an informing history. In it professor Skrbina attempts to locate all historical Western Panpsychic positions, and to show their relation to each other, up to contemporary times.

What was missing in his story I thought was the vital link between Plotinus and Augustine (he would I believe agree), which helped bridge Scholasticism to Neo-Platonism, until Plotinus was retranslated by Ficino in the early Renaissance. This period of history simply remained under-addressed. In my thinking it really is this Plotinus-Augustinian connection which puts Campanella and Spinoza into conceptual relation, and more so, it is the epistemological answer, in particular how the skeptical question is resolved in degrees of being, as degrees of power, that provides the fulcrum of most panpsychic approaches.

The book is highly recommended for those interested in the position of panpsychism, as there really is no contemporary example of such a study. Of note he characterizes the existing contemporary positions to be:

1) Process Philosophy (stemming from Bergson and Whitehead: Hartschorne, Griffin, DeQuincy and Clarke).

2) Quantum Physics approach (Bohm, Hameroff).

3) Information Theory (Bateson, Wheeler and Chalmers).

4) Part-whole hierarchy (Cardano, Koestler, Wilber).

5) Non-linear Dynamics (inspired by Peirce: Skrbina).

6) Real Physicalism (Strawson).

To these I would add a seventh:

7). Neo-Spinozist, Onto-politicism (Deleuze and Guattari, Negri, Hardt, Balibar, Montag, Gatens).

 

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