Process Philosophy and the Emergent Theory of Mind: Whitehead, Lloyd Morgan and Schelling

Concrescence 3:1-12 (2002)
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While some process philosophers have denigrated the emergent theory of mind, what they have denigrated has been ‘materialist’ theories of emergence. My contention is that one of the most important reasons for embracing process philosophy is that it is required to make intelligible the emergence of consciousness. There is evidence that this was a central concern of Whitehead. However, Whitehead acknowledged that his metaphysics was deficient in this regard. In this paper I will argue that to fully understand the emergent theory of mind and its relation to process philosophy it is necessary to recast the whole history of modern philosophy in terms of efforts by philosophers grappling with the relationship between mind and body, or more broadly, consciousness and nature. This will involve granting a central place to Schelling’s philosophy, the ideas that influenced it and how Schelling’s insights were developed by subsequent philosophers. Process philosophy will then be seen as the tradition generated by efforts to transcend the opposition between idealism and materialism, and its promise in this regard, apart from anything else, is what makes it the most promising philosophy for the future.

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Arran Gare
Swinburne University of Technology


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