Radical Nature: Rediscovering the Soul of Matter Paperback – April 1, 2002
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About the Author
- Publisher : Invisible Cities Press LLC; 1st edition (April 1, 2002)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1931229155
- ISBN-13 : 979-1931229158
- Item Weight : 14.5 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #3,090,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Christian de Quincey does a spectacular job in explaining Alfred North Whitehead's panpsychism, or radical naturalism, as Quincey chooses to refer to it in light of his own particular interpretation. The gist? Subjectivity is empirically factual and real as embodied in "I think, therefore I am"; therefore, its emergence must be explained in a rational manner. Since "from nothing, nothing comes", Christian de Quincey suggests that subjectivity, or subjective experience, must necessarily, via reason, have always coexisted with the material world as a separate but codependent form of reality - panpsychism. In oversimplified terms, you can't be an "I" if you don't think, and you can't "think" if there is no "I", and yet that famous phrase is essentially the foundational starting point of all logic - the a priori assumption that "I exist and am capable of knowing". Again, this is my greatly oversimplified down-to-earth street level explanation (it certainly does not treat the far superior thesis put forth by Christian de Quincey justice, but it gets the overall point across, I think).
There is consciousness all the way down to the smallest atom and quark, BUT that "consciousness" need not be the same as you and I are familiar with as humans anymore than a human body is the same as an atom, a giraffe is the same as a worm, or a butterfly is the same as a rattlesnake egg.
Christian de Quincey suggests that the solution to the mind-body problem and the mystery of emerging consciousness can be solved by changing our misinterpreted a priori assumption that the "I" which exists is merely material and furthermore, that "our capacity to know" goes beyond the typical visual and audio observations (he offers "feeling" as an alternative to be more widely used).
Read this book! You will be happy you did.
I particularly like this book because it is written in a spirit of inquiry, with respect for the sacred nature of the material world and for the importance of relationships. By that I mean, our relationship to each other, the earth and the cosmos.
I also like the book because it is not simple repetition of pop New Age chatter. Dr. de Quincey is a real philosopher who applies rigor to the position he is presenting without sacrificing his humanity on the altar of the need to be right at all costs, a fault that is not uncommon among academic philosophers. In other words, the book is rigorous, but at the same time it has heart.
Interestingly and happily, this book will appeal to both educated lay people and academic philosophers. While it might be a bit of an intellectual stretch for the average lay person, it is still challenging enough for most discerning audience in the area of philosopy and consciousness. It is also so thought provoking that even someone without a strong background in philosophy will find it difficult to put down.
While I don't necessarily agree with everything that Dr. de Quincey says, I enjoy his approach, he asks the right questions and he presents very likely stories about age old problems. His whole approach communicates his respect for the material world, the reality that is behind it and his genuine enthusiasm for his topic.
De Quincey takes us on a review of major ideas in the history of philosophy on consciousness and then beautifully describes the viewpoint of Panexperientalism with its antecedents in process philosophy and panpsychism.
Of special current interest is his discussion of the Chinese concepts of Li and Ch'i which coincide with the "patternist" view currently developed by Wolfram, Fredkin, Kurzweil and others.
Leaves one anxiously awaiting the next book in this proposed three part series.
My favorite quote from the book: "Stories Matter, Matter Stories" (also a chapter heading) says a lot about this book which is chuck-full of wisdom. His ideas are well supported and come across with the simplicity of "common sense."