Abstract Details

Jamesian Neutral Monism: All of the Perks of Panpsychism with None of the Headaches  Michael Silberstein (Philosophy, Elizabethtown College, Lancaster, PA )   C3

In my recent chapter entitled "Neutral Monism Reborn: Breaking the Gridlock Between Emergence and Inherence" in The Routledge Handbook of Panpsychism (William Seager ed., 2019), I argued that neutral monism of the Jamesian variety is a viable and underappreciated alternative to both strong emergence and panpsychism. I argued that the latter two views are each so problematic precisely because they are merely patches for physicalism. In this talk I want to further argue that neutral monism of the Jamesian variety is a distinct and superior alternative to panpsychism of all flavors. The best way to make good on this claim is to show That neutral monism has none of the problems that collectively plague various forms of panpsychism. I will do this by arguing that neutral monism has the following virtues: 1) It provides a truly neutral and fundamental base for which so-called physical properties and qualitative properties are but nondual aspects. Neutral Pure Presence and its various nondual properties (i.e., "pure experience") are all that exist. 2) It's fully monistic. Dualistic appearances are a cognitive illusion. 3) Nothing remains of the problematic primary/secondary property distinction, thus fully correcting "Galileo's error." Both so-called physical properties and qualitative properties, being nondual, are fully relational. 4) Neutral Pure Presence and its nondual properties are indeed fundamental and ubiquitous, because this is what all of spacetime is. James posits "a radically pluralistic monism of pure experience" (Taylor and Wazniak, xiv, 1996). All that exists is pure experience and pure experience is all that exists. This is what makes James' view monistic. But it is also "radically pluralistic in that -pure experience" is infinitely variegated in its nature. It is as James says, simply "made of that, of just what appears, of space, of intensity, of flatness, of browness, of heaviness, or what not". It is "the instant field of the present - plain, unqualified actuality or existence, a simple that." (Taylor and Wazniak, xv, 1996). 5) There is no eliminativism of subjects or subjectivity. These features of the world are relational, but not an illusion. The same is true for the so-called objective or external world. As Taylor and Wozniak put it, "The metaphysics of pure experience". Jame's metaphysics of pure experience is aimed directly at the dualisms of mind and body and knower and known (subject and object, thought and thing, representation and represented, and consciousness and content (1996, xiii). Subject-object, internal-external, two-sides of the same-coin. 6) It doesn't collapse into panpsychism, dual aspect monism, strong emergence, etc. 7) There are no puzzling unexperienced qualitative properties or free-floating qualia without subjects. That is, James' pure experience isn't panqualityism, because there is no experience without a subject. 8) It grounds the 4E cognitive science paradigm, because its radical nondualism entails a kind of direct realism. As James puts it, the thing represented and the thing being represented are one in the same. 9) There is no possibility of zombie worlds. 10) There are no worries about exclusion or causal closure.