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Panpsychism in the West (MIT Press) Paperback – January 26, 2007
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Panpsychism is a rarely named but nevertheless perennial and influential subcurrent in the history of Western philosophy. David Skrbina does us a crucial service by offering a wonderfully comprehensive historical overview of an idea whose time is, perhaps, about to come.(Freya Mathews, School of Philosophy, LaTrobe University, Australia)
...a very interesting and I think important, book....very impressive. It raises a number of very important questions...and it suggests a number of important directions for important research.(Philosophical Reviews)
...a valuable, readable work. I liked the book very much and recommend it highly to any reader interested in pondering alternatives to our depersonalizing, dehumanizing, mechanizing, scientistic, disenchanted and disenchanting worldview and practices.(Metapsychology Online Reviews)
...a very comprehensive treatment, worthy of five stars. Skrbina writes about my favored panpsychists: C.S. Peirce; A.N. Whitehead, Teilhard de Chardin, and C. Hartshorne. He makes a very impressive case for panpsychism, taking us into modern time. His book is must reading.(Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research)
As Skrbina shows in this book, panpsychism is one of the oldest of all philosophical doctrines extant and was put forth by the ancient Greeks, in particular Thales and Plato. Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz who laid down the intellectual foundations for the Age of Englightenment argued for it, as did Arthur Schopenhauer, William James, the father of American psychology, and the Jesuit and paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin. Skrbina's volume gives a great introduction to this doctrine and its reception in the west, from ancient times until today.(Christof Koch)
Skrbina argues that panpsychism is nearly everywhere in the history of philsophy of mind, a startling view we might call 'panpanpsychismism.' This rollicking history tour is detailed and complete enough both to school philosophers of mind, and to provoke historians of philosophy of mind. In assembling many historical and contemporary arguments, it also sets the agenda for contemporary friends and foes of panpsychism.(Eric Lormand, Department of Philosophy, University of Michigan)
Panpsychism in the West provides a long overdue and much needed reexamination of this age-old doctrine, one which still retains some fascination for modern philosophy of mind. Skrbina's brisk, no-nonsense approach reveals the amazing influence panpsychism has had throughout the history of philosophy as a persistent counterweight to the rise of mechanistic science and scientistic philosophy. This book will be of immense use to students and of great interest to anyone who cares to see the full range of philosophical opinion as it has evolved over the centuries.(William Seager, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto at Scarborough)
About the Author
David Skrbina is a Lecturer in Philosophy in the Department of Humanities at the University of Michigan at Dearborn.
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Skrbina presents a developed historical review and remains on-track without glossing important topics. A knowledgeable reader will be rewarded but not taxed and a novice might find themselves led to a rather glorious conclusion.
The deanimation of Nature was a great sleight of hand of the Enlightenment. There is progressively more evidence that the notion that the whole Universe is comprised of nothing but cleverly arranged inanimate objects is fundamentally flawed. This fine book does not present us with a definitive answer or solution: it is rather an examination of the concept that Mind exists in some form throughout the phenomenal world and beyond it. It emphasizes that this apparently heretical concept is a legitmate field of inquiry.
This book is well written and deserves a wide readership, particularly amongst those who have enjoyed the insights of Ken Wilber, Ervin Laszlo and Christian de Quincey. I wish that it would also be read by some of my friends and colleagues in the scientific community, but I fear that is a vain hope!
Science has had a hard time finding a focus for mind and awareness under its microscope. After a decade of having the spotlight of science on this subject area, there is still no agreement even on what consciousness is, and that is the self admission of the leaders in the field of consciousness studies.
It's my (lonely) view that science as now understood is not up to this task, is not itself well understood, and that a radical change of view and approach is needed to place mind in nature. My long standing openness to Panpsychism has recently led to incorperating it into an integrated view of nature. This view requires better "nontranscendental" science.
There are other recent voices who would approach this through quantum mechanics, emergence etc. etc. With the historical emphasis of this book, I dont think it had the scope for an in-depth coverage of what has been happening the past 25 years related to Panpsychism. My hope is that Skrbina is working on a sequel to clarify the current state of the art in addition to working on his own solutions in his research interests.
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