David Ray Griffin teaches philosophy of religion at the School of Theology at Claremont and is executive director of the Center for Process Studies.
The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp. 4-27, Vol. 28,/1-2, Spring-Summer, 1999. Process Studies is published quarterly by the Center for Process Studies, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.
Dr. Griffin responds to Jaegwon Kim’s Supervenience and Mind. He shows that Kim’s acceptance of a materialist version of physicallism leads to problems.
Since the 1970s, the relation of the mind to the body has increasingly been discussed in the philosophical community in terms of "supervenience." This term, which has been closely related to physicalist views, is a variant on the older concept of "emergence." The use of this new term, however, has not brought with it a solution to the formidable problems that have always confronted those attempting to provide a physicalist account of human consciousness. For example, John Searle advocates a reductionist account of consciousness, according to which it is supervenient upon certain neurophysiological states in the same way that liquidity is supervenient upon certain states of H2 O molecules (RM 14, 87). Searle admits, however, that his account does not allow for human freedom, the reality of which, he emphasizes, he cannot help presupposing in practice (MBS 85-98). Also, many other physicalists do not think that Searle’s account even solves the problem of consciousness as such. For example, Galen Strawson, speaking of the idea that experiential properties are "reducible to nonexperiential physical properties in a way that is ultimately similar to the way in which the property of liquidity is held to be reducible to van de Waals molecular-interaction properties," says: "This reduction is very hard -- impossible -- to imagine" (MR 68). A similar judgment is tendered by William Seager, who points out that if the psychological is supervenient upon the physical, it is so in a way that is crucially different from the way in which liquidity is supervenient upon certain molecular states, because we have no idea as to why the joint activity of insentient neurons should give rise to consciousness (MC 179). On this basis, Sager cites Simon Blackburn’s statement that the supervenience of the psychological on the physical is part of the problem, not the solution (MC 180).
As this brief glance at the recent discussion shows, the concept of supervenience is at the heart of the current attempt by physicalist philosophers to provide an adequate account of the mind-body relation. It has been central both to the problem of how consciousness could arise out of the brain (which Searle believes he has solved) and to the problem of "mental action," which is part and parcel of the problem of freedom (which Searle knows that he has not solved). One of the philosophers who has devoted extensive attention to the concept of supervenience in relation to the problem of mental action is Jaegwon Kim, who has been considered one of the leading analysts of the concept, especially since the publication in 1993 of a collection of his essays as Superveniece and Mind (henceforth SM). A careful reading of this book reveals that his reputation is richly deserved. Besides being an acute analyst, he is circumspect and honest. Indeed, at the close of his book, he says that his efforts have apparently led to a "dead end." In the present essay, I will examine Kim’s position as reflected in his book. My strategy will be to show that it is the acceptance of a materialist version of physicalism that led to Kim’s problems, and that a panexperientialist version of physicalism based on Whitehead’s philosophy would overcome those problems.
I. Jaegwon Kim’s Failure to Reconcile Mental Causation with Physicalism
Kim’s writings on the mind as supervenient upon the body have revolved primarily around the effort to reconcile mental causation – "arguably . . . the central issue in the metaphysics of mind" (SM xv) -- with physicalism. His primary preoccupation, as he puts it, has been "the problem of delineating the place of mind in a physical world" (SM xv). This is such a problem, he says, because of two basic assumptions: physicalism, "the claim that the world is fundamentally a physical world governed by physical law," and mental realism, "the view that mentality is a real feature of our world," which "requires that mentality have genuine causal powers, powers to affect other events and processes of this world, whether these are mental or physical" (SM xv). The problem of reconciling mental realism with physicalism is felt more keenly by Kim than it is by some of his fellow physicalists because of a third basic assumption, "the principle of explanatory exclusion:" which says: "No event can be given more than one complete and independent explanation" (SM xii, 239). Although Kim tried, in essays written over the course of more than a decade, to reconcile these three assumptions, he confessed at the end of this period that he seemed "to be up against a dead end," with the problem of the mind appearing "intractable" (SM 367). To see what led to this conclusion, we need to unpack his three basic assumptions, to see what each entails. I will begin with physicalism.
One dimension of physicalism, as Kim defines it, was mentioned above: the belief that the world is governed by physical law. Kim more characteristically speaks of physicalism as "the view that what is physical determines all the facts of the world" (SM xv). This implies another principle: "the causal closure of the physical domain," which is "the assumption that if we trace the causal ancestry of a physical event, we need never go outside the physical domain" (SM 280). This principle is a denial of "the Cartesian idea that some physical events need nonphysical causes." That Cartesian idea would contradict yet another way of formulating physicalism: the belief that "there can in principle be [a] complete and self-sufficient physical theory of the physical domain" (SM 280).
These latter formulations, in insisting that every physical event has a physical cause, might seem compatible with the idea of an at least partly autonomous mental realm, according to which some mental events are not fully determined by physical causes. However, Kim’s physicalism, in holding that "what is physical determines all the facts of the world," rules out this possibility. A "thoroughgoing physicalism," he says, cannot tolerate "the existence of irreducible psychological features or properties." The reason for this intolerance is that physicalism entails that physical theory can in principle provide "a complete and comprehensive theory of the world" as a whole (SM 96) -- not simply of the "physical domain" understood as a limited part of the world.
In speaking of "physical theory" as that which can in principle explain everything, Kim means, essentially physics. "Not for nothing," he says, "do we think of physics as our basic science" (SM xv). This point leads to yet another, and in some respects the crucial, implication of Kim’s physicalism: ontological reductionism. All the observable behaviors and properties of things are to be understood in principle "in terms of the properties and relationships characterizing their microconstituents" (SM 96). Part and parcel of this reductionism is the claim that "macrocausal relations should be viewed as in general reducible to microcausal relations" (SM 99), meaning those that are studied by physics.
Kim suggests that we describe this reducibility by saying that macrocausation is supervenient upon the microcausation, which means that the former is entirely a function of the latter. In other words, "macrocausation is to be viewed as epiphenomenal causation" (SM 99). The reducibility of the characteristics of whole to parts is, more specifically, called "mereological supervenience." This doctrine "requires that each macrocharacteristic (including each causal relation] be grounded in some specific microcharacteristics" (SM 101). It is, in other words, a doctrine of "upward determination" (SM 353), according to which all observable properties of wholes are fully determined by their most elementary parts.
The fact that all macrocausation is to be regarded as supervenient, and thereby as epiphenomenal, Kim has insisted, does not mean that it is illusory or unreal. Offering a reductio ad absurdum of that view, he says: "To take microreducibility as impugning the reality of what is being reduced would make all of our observable world unreal" (SM 102). Kim will later have second thoughts about this claim, at least with regard to causation. But before looking at these later reflections, we need to examine his second basic assumption, which involves the reality of mentality and thereby of mental causation.
Kim takes it as virtually self-evident that eliminative materialism, with its denial of the reality of mentality, is an inadequate solution to the mind-body problem. And, on the basis of what he calls "[Samuel] Alexander’s dictum" -- namely "To be real is to have causal powers" (SM 348) -- he says that the reality of the mental entails the reality of mental causation: "What possible good could causeless and effectless entities do for us?" (SM 287) Mental causation involves not only the power of one mental event to cause another mental event, as when a pain leads to the decision to call a doctor, but also psychophysical causation, as when that decision causes one to walk to the telephone and dial it (SM 286). One’s theory should have a place for this "commonsense conviction in the reality of psychophysical causation" (SM 105). The reason we need to make room for this conviction is that it is basic to "the whole framework of intentional psychology;" in terms of which we ordinarily explain human behavior "We standardly explain actions by . . . providing ‘reasons for which’ we did what we did; and … it is difficult to evade the conclusion that the explanatory efficacy of reasons derives crucially from their causal efficacy" (SM 287). To renounce this idea, Kim says, "would render our moral and cognitive life wholly unintelligible to us, plunging us into a state of self-alienation in which we could no longer understand, or care, why we do what we do, or how our norms and beliefs regulate our deliberations and decisions" (SM xv).
The efficacy of norms, just mentioned, is central to Kim’s position; he believes that we must maintain both normative ethics and normative epistemology (SM 236). The intentional psychological scheme, "within which we deliberate about ends and means, and assess the rationality of actions and decisions," is necessary because only within this framework are our normative activities possible.
No purely descriptive framework such as those of neurophysiology and physics . . . can replace it. As long as we think of ourselves as reflective agents capable of deliberation and evaluation -- that is, as long as we regard ourselves as agents capable of acting in accordance with a norm -- we shall not be able to dispense with the intentional framework of belief, wants, and volitions. (SM 215)
Kim concludes this reflection on our need for the intentional framework with the Kantian assertion that "our need for it arises out of the demands of practical reason, not those of theoretical reason" (SM 215). Be that as it may, it is clear that this need imposes a constraint upon theoretical reason: Our theoretical reason must not affirm epiphenomenalism. Citing what William Kneale has called "the great paradox of epiphenomenalism," which arises from "the suggestion that we are necessarily mistaken in all our ordinary thought about human action" (SM 105), Kim states that we must avoid this paradox (SM 106). Kim himself formulates this paradox as a reductio ad absurdum: "if our reasons and desires have no causal efficacy at all in influencing our bodily actions, then perhaps no one has ever performed a single intentional action!" (SM 104)
The issue of epiphenomenalism arises, of course, because of Kim’s first basic assumption, physicalism, which, in contrast with mental realism, is presented as a demand of our theoretical reason. (He supports the contention that physicalism seems unavoidable with the assertion that, "if we take our science seriously -- that is, if we are concerned to base our beliefs and judgments on our best knowledge of the world -- it is difficult to resist the view that what is physical determines all the facts of the world" [SM xv].) Kim has, accordingly, a seemingly impossible task to reconcile opposing implications of practical and theoretical reason. In his own words: "The delicate task is to find an account that will give the mental a substantial enough causal role to let us avoid ‘the great paradox of epiphenomenalism’ without infringing upon the closedness of physical causal systems" (SM 106). How can this be done?
One thing we know is that Kim will not solve this Kantian problem with a Kantian solution: The idea that theoretical reason deals with a merely apparent world, largely created by mind itself is ruled out by Kim’s physicalist assumption that "the world is fundamentally a physical world governed by physical law" (SM xv). The question, accordingly is: "How can the mind exert its causal powers in a world constituted by physical stuff and governed by physical law?" (SM xv). Kantian compatibilism, accordingly, is not an option. But what about compatibilism without the Kantian rationale for it? Why not just say, with many philosophers, that mental causation is compatible with the idea that all events are fully determined by physical causes? A purely physiological, mechanistic account of human behavior, on this account, would not rule out intentional psychology, with its rationalizing explanation of human behavior in terms of beliefs, desires, and volitions, which allows norms to play a role in shaping human attitudes and actions. This resolution, however, is ruled out by Kim’s third basic assumption -- his "principle of explanatory exclusion."
Although Kim believes that this principle obtains more generally, his application involves causal explanations, and, in fact, he sometimes refers to it as the principle of "causal-explanatory exclusion" (SM 291). As such, it essentially rules out the idea that there can be two sufficient causes for any event. More precisely, it says that, if one cause provides a sufficient explanation for any event, any other causal explanation is ruled out, unless that second explanation is simply an aspect of the first or reducible to it. For example, in the case of a man climbing a ladder to retrieve his hat from the roof, there would be no incompatibility between a purposive explanation and a physiological explanation if neither is considered complete in itself. That is, if the physiological explanation were regarded as merely a partial cause of the act, needing supplementation by reference to the man’s beliefs and purposes, there would be no problem. But if, as physicalism claims, the physiological explanation is by itself a complete and thereby sufficient explanation, then there is no room for an explanation in terms of intentional psychology.1 Or, rather, that is the case if the two explanations are also considered independent, so that neither is reducible to the other. With this latter proviso, Kim provides a possible opening for a form of compatibilism: Rationalizing explanations may be compatible with physical explanations, but only if they can be regarded as reducible to them.
Kim allows, however, for no easy compatibilism, in which one simply leaves the relation between the two types of explanation a mystery. Instead, Kim adds to the metaphysical exclusion principle, already stated, an epistemological corollary "No one may accept both explanations unless one has an appropriate account of how they are related to each other" (SM 257). With this corollary, Kim has stated the task of much of his writing over the past two decades: to try to provide such an account.
The approach to take, he has suggested, is to regard the mind-body relation as a type of mereological (part-whole) supervenience (SM 168) and thereby to treat mental causation as a species of supervenient causation (SM 103). That this must be the basis for a solution, Kim believes, follows from the fact that no other alternative seems conceivable. For an example, he employs "a typical case in which we would say a mental event causes a physical event a sharp pain in my thumb causes a jerky withdrawal of my hand" (SM 103). We surely could not say that the pain, or a decision resulting from it, acted telekinetically on the muscles of the arm, causing them to contract (SM 103); rather, we must say that the pain somehow makes use of the physiological causal path from the brain. But it is also impossible, from Kim’s viewpoint, to say that the mental event somehow initiated the causal path that led to the physical motion, and this for two reasons: The first is the usual problem of understanding how a nonphysical event could influence physical processes. The second reason is that such an influence, even if conceivable, would violate the closed character of physical theory. "It would force us to accept a conception of the physical in which to give a causal account of, say, the motion of a physical particle, it is sometimes necessary to go outside the physical system and appeal to some non-physical agency" (SM 104). Having thereby ruled out mentality as an independent causal agent, Kim concludes that its causality must be dependent upon, in the sense of supervenient upon, physical causation.
Kim’s resulting analysis is that, "when a mental event M causes a physical event P, this is so because M is supervenient upon a physical event, P*, and causes P" (SM 106). In terms of the above example, to say that a pain caused you to withdraw your hand means that the pain was determined by (supervenient upon) a particular physical state, and that that physical state then caused the withdrawal of your hand.
As made clear earlier, Kim’s physicalism entails not only that no mental event can cause a physical event (except in the supervenient sense just explained, but also that every mental event must be fully explainable in terms of purely physical causation. That is, one mental event cannot directly cause another mental event, except in a supervenient sense. Accordingly; "when mental event M causes another mental event M*, this is so because M supervenes on a physical state P. and similarly M* on P*, and P causes P*" (SM 106). In terms of the above example, let us say that we thought that the pain did not directly bring about the withdrawal of the hand but only by first causing another mental event, namely, the decision to withdraw the hand. According to Kim’s explanation in terms of supervenience, to say that the pain caused the decision means that the pain was supervenient upon a physical state, and that that physical state then caused a second physical state, upon which was supervenient the decision to move the hand. (And then, of course, by the above analysis, that second physical state caused, as a third physical state, the actual withdrawal.)
Does this explanation provide what Kim needs -- an account that avoids epiphenomenalism while also maintaining physicalism’s dictum that the physical realm must be causally closed and that, in fact, purely physical theory must be deemed adequate in principle to explain everything that occurs? Kim’s explanation certainly remains true to physicalism. But does it avoid epiphenomenalism? At one time Kim evidently believed that it did. This belief is puzzling, given the fact that he was portraying mental causation as a species of supervenient causation, which he portrayed as epiphenomenal. He, in fact, explicitly described mental causation as "epiphenomenal causation" (SM 107). Although it should have thereby been clear that physicalism, as he conceives it, makes it impossible to avoid "the great paradox of epiphenomenalism," he did not then think so, saying instead that his account seemed "sufficient to redeem the causal powers we ordinarily attribute to mental events" (SM 107).
More recently, however, he has questioned the tenability of this position, asking whether it really is different from epiphenomenalism. There is, to be sure, a technical difference, as he had pointed out: The epiphenomenalist says that every mental state is caused by a corresponding physical state, whereas in Kim’s account the mental state is supervenient upon the physical state, the difference being that in the latter relationship the two levels are understood to be simultaneous whereas the epiphenomenalist’s causal relation allows for a time lapse between the physical state and its mental effect (SM 359). But Kim now, besides seeing that he had given no reason as to why this should make a difference, adds that the epiphenomenalist might be happy to think of the mental as supervenient upon the physical and even to attribute supervenient causation to the mental. This acceptance raises the question: "If ‘supervenient causation’ is something that even the epiphenomenalist can live with, might it not be ‘causation’ in name only?" (SM 359). Kim now sees that there may be only "a very fine line" between epiphenomenalism and his own view that "mental causal relations are not among the fundamental causal processes of the world but are only supervenient or dependent on them," and that "any ‘physicalistically correct’ account of mental causation must . . . expos[e] itself to the charge of epiphenomenalism" (SM 360).
The problem is that, given the two assumptions of causal exclusion and the closedness of the physical domain,
it is difficult to see how mental properties can have any rote in the causation of physical events...: If a physical event has a sufficient physical cause, what causal work is left for an event consisting in the instantiation of some nonphysical mental property? (SM 360-361)
In other words, in the account of supervenient causation, M1 is said to be supervenient on P1, which is said to be a sufficient cause of P2.
But if P1 is a sufficient cause of P2, what causal work is there for M1 to contribute in the causation of P2? . . . Given the assumption implicit in this model that fundamental causal processes occur at the physical level, the causal role imputed to M1 in relation to an event at the physical level should strike us as something mysterious, and we should wonder what purpose could be served by this shadowy ‘supervenient cause’ that accompanies the physical cause. (SM 361)
With this analysis, Kim has in effect rejected his own earlier claim that the analysis of mental causation as supervenient "does not treat mental phenomena as causally inert epiphenomena" so as to "reduce mental causation to the status of a mere chimera" (SM 107).
Kim’s (virtual) admission that his account has not attributed any real causal power to the mental is momentous, especially given his acceptance of Alexander’s dictum that to be real is to have causal powers. It means that he has not, after all, provided a basis for saving the reality of the mental from elimination.
Why should we bother to save belief and desire, or qualia, if their presence or absence makes no difference to anything else and we can’t use them to explain anything? Being real and having causal powers go hand in hand. (SM 367)
It is at this point that Kim says that he appears to be "up against a dead end."
And a serious dead end this is, given Kim’s recognition of the necessity of affirming mental causation. Without this affirmation, as he pointed out, all of our ordinary, commonsense explanations of human action, in terms of beliefs, desires, and decisions, are undermined. There is no room for normative explanations and evaluations. And Kim’s own reductio – "if our reasons and desires have no causal efficacy at all in influencing our bodily actions, then perhaps no one has ever performed a single intentional action?" (SM 104) -- reduces his own position to absurdity. Something must be amiss.
One way to state the mistake at the root of Kim’s dead end is in terms of the conflict, as he portrayed it, between practical and theoretical reason. As he sees, we in practice cannot help but presuppose the efficacy of our conscious decisions. We walk to the refrigerator, for example, because we decide to get something to eat. In Kim’s view, however, our theoretical reason, which tries to determine how the world really is, is constrained by a set of beliefs -- those constituting "physicalism" -- that are incompatible with our presupposition as to the efficacy of conscious decisions. This conflict forces a decision as to which of his two basic assumptions to modify. His choice is to take physicalism, as he has defined it, as virtually beyond question and thereby to try to redefine "mental causation" so as to make it compatible with this physicalism. In effect, accordingly; he takes his version of physicalism as more certain than our assumption as to the reality and thereby efficacy of conscious experience. I would agree with Whitehead (PR 13, 151), by contrast, that those notions that we inevitably presuppose in practice should be regarded as the nonnegotiable elements in our belief systems. We would, accordingly, have an "intractable" problem only if two such beliefs seemed to be at loggerheads. That complex of beliefs constituting Kim’s version of physicalism, however, does not belong to the inescapable presuppositions of practice. It does, to be sure, constitute the dominant opinion within contemporary scientific and philosophical communities and, thereby, perhaps within the intellectual world in the West in our time. But as such it is still a fallible, revisable opinion, so that it should not be allowed to veto any of those notions that we cannot help but presuppose in practice (because if we deny them in theory, we are implicitly violating the law of noncontradiction by explicitly denying a notion while implicitly presupposing it). The way to avoid the dead end, accordingly, is to reconsider physicalism.
One way to reconsider physicalism would be to ask whether it should, after all, be given up for some other position. Dualists take this approach, and I have elsewhere advocated panexperientialism as an alternative to physicalism as well as dualism. Another approach, however, would be to ask whether physicalism itself can be reconceived so as to overcome the problematic features of the hitherto dominant version of it. This is the approach I am taking in this essay. From this perspective, Kim’s problems arise from the fact that he has held a materialist version of physicalism. Of course, to speak of "materialist physicalism" is redundant, given the normal practice of most philosophers, including Kim (SM 266n), of using "materialism" and "physicalism" interchangeably. My proposal here, however, is that we could distinguish the two terms, enlarging the meaning of "physicalism" so that it would have two versions, a panexperientialist as well as a materialist version.
In the next section, I will show that Whiteheadian panexperientialism can plausibly be regarded as a form of physicalism. In the third section, I will show why it is the materialist version of physicalism, not physicalism as such, that created the problems that led Kim to a dead end, and why the panexperientialist version of physicalism would avoid these problems.
II. Panexperientialism as a Penn of Physicalism
Given the widespread equation of materialism and physicalism, or at least the idea that to be a physicalist is to be a materialist, the idea of a nonmaterialist physicalism will seem strange, at least initially. There is, however, no consensus as to exactly what physicalism means, partly because, as Kim points out, there "appears to be no generally accepted account of exactly what it means to say that something is ‘physical"’ (SM 340). I will show that Whiteheadian panexperientialism concurs with physicalism as portrayed by Kim on most of its basic points, although the two positions give somewhat different formulations of the various underlying intuitions. Of course, it does nor agree with the other form on all the points; if it did, there would be no reason to present it as an alternative. My twofold argument will be that (1) while panexperientialism shares most of the basic intuitions of materialist physical. ism, (2) it differs with regard to precisely those aspects that led materialist physicalism to a dead end on the mind-body problem. The second part of this argument will be reserved for the next section. In the present section, 1 will show the similarity of the two positions, while also pointing to some of their basic differences, in terms of eleven more-or-less distinct points.
1. Perhaps the basic claim of physicalism is that every actuality is physical, in the sense that it has a physical aspect. In this regard Kim quotes Donald Davidson’s statement that "all events are physical; that is, every event has some physical property" (SM 279). This definition permits at least some actualities also to have a mental aspect. What is ruled out is the notion of things, such as Cartesian souls, that are purely mental (SM 126, 340). Panexperientialism agrees: Every actual entity has a physical pole. There can be no purely mental actual entities (PR 108, 239).
2. In a closely related formulation, Kim speaks of "ontological physicalism" as "the claim that all that exists in spacetime is physical" (SM 266). Panexperientialism agrees, in that spacetime is constituted by actual entities, all of which have a physical pole. Panexperientialism does also speak of "eternal objects," or "pure possibilities," which are not physical. But such objects, such as the number 2 or the color red, exist outside spacetime. Although they, of course, become ingredient in some spatiotemporal loci, they are essentially outside the spacetime continuum, being no more bound to one spatiotemporal locus than another. These wholly nonphysical entities, accordingly, do not contradict the point that spatiotemporal entities have a physical aspect.
3. Materialist physicalism also claims that, in actualities having a mental as well as a physical aspect, the physical is prior to the mental. Kim speaks, for example, of the "thesis of primacy, or basicness, for physical properties in relation to mental properties" (SM 340). Panexperientialism agrees: the mental pole is always derivative from the physical (PR 108, 247).
4. In relation to his statement that "there appears to be no generally accepted account of exactly what it means to say that something is ‘physical’," Kim suggests that one necessary feature of a definition would be that "a physical entity must have a determinate location in space and time" (SM 340). Panexperientialism agrees. In Whitehead’s system every actual occasion has a determinate spatiotemporal location relative to all others (PR 25, 195).2 This point is applicable to the "dominant occasions" belonging to a human mind as much as to any other actual occasions.
5. One of the conditions often given for being a "physical entity" is that of being an embodiment of energy. That Kim presupposes this condition is suggested by his proposal that "physical" be defined by reference to current theoretical physics, perhaps in conjunction with chemistry and biology (SM 340). Panexperientialism, by virtue of its hierarchy of actual entities, could not, of course, accept such a reductionistic approach. It does agree, however, that all actual entities are capable of affecting, and being affected by, the entities studied by these sciences. This universal interactionism is possible because all actual entities are embodiments of "creativity," which is an enlargement of the notion of energy as understood in current physics. So, although some "physical entities" do not embody any of the forms of energy currently recognized by contemporary physics, they all do embody creative power that can be converted from or into the creative power embodied in the entities studied by physicists. In this sense the physical is defined by reference to the entities of theoretical physics.
6. While claiming that there are no purely mental actualities, materialist physicalism says that some spatiotemporal things have no conscious mentality. Kim says, for example, that "there can be, and presumably are, objects and events that have only physical properties" (SM 340). Again, panexperientialism agrees -- with one (all-important) proviso: that such things are not individual actualities but aggregates or aggregational societies of individuals. In such things (such as a rock) or events (such as a rock concert), there is no overall experience, therefore no mentality.
7. Because many materialists in speaking of "mentality" mean conscious mentality, the prior point could be taken simply to mean that some spatiotemporal things have no conscious mentality. Panexperientialism agrees with this point even with regard to individual entities, as the experience of the vast majority of them is said not to be conscious.
8. I had cited earlier Kim’s formulation of physicalism as the view that "what is physical determines all the facts of the world" (SM xv). Given panexperientialism’s view that all actual entities have a physical pole, it agrees. Indeed, at the center of Whitehead’s philosophy is his "ontological principle," according to which only actual entities can act. All explanations must finally be in terms of actual entities: "to search for a reason is to search for one or more actual entities" (PR 24).
This point holds true even with regard to aggregational societies of actual entities, as Whitehead says that they are efficient only by means of the causal efficacy of their component actual entities (PR 91). The panexperientialist version of physicalism would, to be sure, resist what Kim, as a "robust materialist," assumes to be an alternative formulation of the same point, namely, "that what is material determines all that there is in the world" (SM 63). That is, given the distinction that I am making between physicalism and materialism, the latter formulation would mean that "vacuous actualities," devoid of experience, exert all the causal efficacy in the world (which is one of the basic points that led Kim into insuperable difficulties in affirming the reality of the mental). But the two kinds of physicalism do agree that all causal efficacy is exerted by "physical entities," as characterized in points 1-5 above.
9. One of the central tenets of Kim’s physicalism, as we have seen, is the thesis of the closed character of the physical domain. This tenet is, in fact, virtually equivalent to the previous point, because this tenet insists that the actual world consists of a nexus of cause-effect relations among physical things that is not open to influence from alleged nonphysical agents. This point is affirmed not only by panexperientialism’s insistence on the "ontological principle," according to which only actualities can act (PR 19, 24, 43), but also by its rejection of both dualism and supernaturalism. Of course, in the panexperientialist version of physicalism, all individual actual entities are physical-mental actualities, and it would resist Kim’s assumption that to say that every event has a physical cause must mean "that this physical cause, in virtue of its physical property, causes the physical event" (SM 280; italics added). Panexperientialism holds that the physical-mental cause can exert causal efficacy upon subsequent events in virtue of its mental as well as its physical aspect. But both views agree that there can be no occasional interruptions of the universal causal nexus among physical things.
10. Closely related is Kim’s assertion of universal causal determinism, according to which "every event has a cause" or, more precisely put, "every occurrence has a temporally earlier determinative condition" (SM 22, 76). Panexperientialism resists the completely deterministic interpretation of this idea, according to which the temporally prior condition fully determines every present event: When the event in question is an individual occasion of experience, it has a mental pole, which is partly self-determining (In Whitehead’s words, the ontological principle "could also be termed the ‘principle of efficient, and final, causation,"’ because it says that "every condition to which the process of becoming conforms in any particular instance has its reason either in the character of some actual entity in the actual world of that concrescence or in the character of the subject which is in process of concrescence" [PR 24].) Given that (all-important) qualification, however, panexperientialism agrees that every event is (more or less) determined by antecedent conditions. In fact, in line with the Einsteinian definition of the "past" for any event as everything that causally affects it, Whitehead says: "The whole [past] world conspires to produce a new creation" (RM 109). To be sure, he also recognizes, in line with the common distinction between "conditions" and "causes," that some past events are far more important in determining the character of a present event than others. In any case, panexperientialism accepts the assumption, which lies behind the scientific search for explanations in terms of efficient causes, that d events are causally conditioned by antecedent events. It even agrees that some events (namely, those devoid of experiential unity) are fully determined by antecedent events. There are no events that have no causes; there are no events that have purely nonphysical causes; and there are no events that are fully self-caused. In all this, there is agreement.
11. Besides holding that only physical things can exert causal influence, Kim’s physicalism also maintains that all physical things do exert causal efficacy. This principle is contained in his endorsement of "Alexander’s dictum" that "To be real is to have causal powers" (SM 348). This point is central to the panexperientialism of Whitehead, who, although he was also influenced by Alexander traces the point back to Plato, citing his statement that "the definition of being is simply power" (AI 129). Accordingly, besides the fact that every occasion begins by being an effect of the past universe, every occasion also ends by being a cause (an "object" or "superject"), exerting causal power on future events. Each actual occasion is physical, accordingly, in the twofold sense that it begins with a physical pole, which means as an effect of prior events, and concludes by becoming a causal ingredient in the physical poles of subsequent events.
Given all of these points of agreement or at least similarity, accordingly. thinking of panexperientialism as a version of physicalism would not seem to involve an implausible extension of the meaning of "physicalism" as established by prior usage. Of course, nothing of substance hangs on this point. Construing panexperientialism as a type of physicalism, however, may be helpful by showing how much more materialism and panexperientialism have in common than might otherwise be readily apparent. In any case, having made this point. I will, in the next section, show how Kim’s problems, being rooted in the materialist version of physicalism, would be avoided in the panexperientialist version.
III. From Materialist to Panexperientialist Physicalism
Although materialism rejects the Cartesian dualism of two kinds of actual entities, it does accept the Cartesian view of "matter" or "the physical" upon which that dualism was based. The difference between Cartesian dualism and post-Cartesian materialism, accordingly, can be formulated in terms of the ‘material cause" of things in the Aristotelian sense -- that is, the "stuff" that is instantiated by actual things. In Descartes’ ontology, there are two fundamental kinds of stuff. Consciousness is the stuff that is instantiated by minds, while bodies, or physical things, instantiate spatially extended stuff, thereby being wholly devoid of experience and spontaneity (in the sense of final causation, self-determination in terms of ends). Post-Cartesian materialism, which I am here calling materialist physicalism, holds in effect that this latter kind of stuff; this pure matter (now sometimes called matter-energy), is that which is instantiated in all actual things. Indeed, Kim characterizes his physicalism as the idea that the world is "constituted by physical stuff" (SM xv). It is this idea that makes his physicalism incompatible with our hard-core commonsense presuppositions about our own experience.
This idea, for one thing, leads to Kim’s complete causal determinism. His "physical stuff" is, in its individual instantiations, capable of exercising only efficient causation, not also final causation in the sense of self-determination. All the causality exercised on a present event, therefore, must come from prior events; no present event, including a moment of human experience, can exert causation upon itself so as to be (partially) self-determining. Given this view, Kim must assume that "the existence and properties of an event are determined by its temporally antecedent conditions" (SM 102).
This claim, insofar as it is generalized to aLl events, conflicts with our inescapable assumption that we, at least sometimes, exercise a degree of freedom, because this assumption, upon analysis, can be seen to presuppose that an event in which we exercise this freedom is partly self-determining. The sufficient cause of the event would, accordingly, include not only its "temporally antecedent conditions" but also the event itself. Like everyone else, Kim himself presupposes a degree of freedom, as when he speaks of making choices (SM 366) and of our ability "to intervene in the course of events and alter it to suit our wishes" (SM 53). But his starting-point leads to a position that implies the denial that this freedom is genuine.
To be sure, Kim seems to consider the complete causal determinism implied by his position as a strength rather than a liability, in that it supports and is supported by theoretical (in the sense of scientific) reason. On the one hand, the thesis of causal determinism supports the scientific strategy of explaining events "in terms of their causal antecedents" (SM 77). On the other hand, this thesis is said to be supported by the success of this strategy. Kim’s statements reflect his awareness, however, that the success of this strategy is far from complete: He follows the statement about the success with the qualification, "limited though it may be"; and he says that the metaphysical thesis of causal determinism provides "an explanation of why this strategy works as well as it does" (SM 76-77, italics added). It would be preferable to have a metaphysical position that, besides doing justice to the human freedom that we cannot help presupposing, correctly predicts the degree of success that the method of explaining events in terms of antecedents would have in various domains. Panexperientialism provides such a basis.
With regard to the universal stuff embodied in all actual things, the panexperientialist version of physicalism refuses not only the Cartesian dualism of stuffs but also the choice between the Cartesian material and mental stuffs (the choice that has led to the split, among would-be nondualists, between materialists and idealists). Regarding each of them as an abstraction from an abstraction, panexperientialism in effect combines them into a more inclusive stuff,3 Whitehead’s "creativity." By virtue of embodying this creativity, individual actual entities have the capacity to exert at least an iota of self-determination before passing on the creative energy they have received from antecedent events to subsequent events. This modification of materialist physicalism provides one of the elements necessary to allow for freedom in human beings (and, to a lesser extent, other animals).
Another necessary element is the distinction between mere aggregational societies, such as rocks, on the one hand, and compound individuals, such as animals, on the other. In the latter, a higher-level of actuality has emerged, thereby giving the society as a whole a unity of experience and activity Kim’s position, however, does not allow for such a distinction: "Atoms and their mereological aggregates exhaust all of concrete existence. . . . There is no room in this picture for any concrete existent not fully decomposable into atoms and other basic physical particles" (SM 345).
This conclusion, like that of causal determinism, can be seen to follow from his assumption as to the nature of the universal stuff embodied in all actual entities or events. That is, besides being capable of exerting only efficient causation, this stuff is also, to use Whitehead’s word, "vacuous," meaning wholly devoid of experience, so that events embodying it have no "inside." Such events exist wholly as objects for other things, not also as subjects for themselves. As such, they are incapable of internal relatedness, in the sense of being partly constituted by their appropriation of influences from other things. Given this idea, it is inconceivable that evolution could lead to the emergence of higher-level actualities, to which causal power could be attributed. In Whitehead’s words:
The aboriginal stuff, or material, from which a materialistic philosophy begins is incapable of evolution. . . . Evolution, on the materialistic theory is reduced to the role of being another word for the description of the changes of the external relations between portions of matter. There is nothing to evolve, because one set of external relations is as good as any other set of external relations. (SMW 107)
Given this view, all things big enough to be directly observed would be of the same type: We could not regard living cells or multicelled animals as being, or containing, higher-level actualities to which causal efficacy could be attributed. We would have to think of them, with Kim, as ontologically "decomposable into atoms and other basic physical particles," to which all causal efficacy would be assigned. There would, in other words, be no difference in principle (but only in complexity) between living cells and living animals, on the one hand, and rocks and billiard balls, on the other. Accordingly, the former, which are more easily studied, can be taken as paradigms for understanding the causal principles involved in the latter. In Kim’s words: "the paradigmatic examples of macroobjects and properties are medium-sized material bodies around us and their observable properties" (SM 95). The implication is that all causation exerted within and by human beings must finally be reducible (ontologically if not epistemically) to the causal efficacy of the elementary particles constituting the human body. It is from this basis that Kim concludes that all mental causation must be epiphenomenal.
The argument for this conclusion runs as follows: (1) In material things such as rocks and bodies of water, the observable properties of the whole are mereologically supervenient upon (totally determined by) the powers of the microconstituents (SM 77, 96, 101). (2) In such things, therefore, "all causal relations involving observable phenomena -- all causal relations familiar from daily experience -- are cases of epiphenomenal causation" (SM 95). (3) All observable things are of the same organizational type, so that human beings are analogous to material things such as rocks and bodies of water. (4) We should, accordingly, regard the mind -- meaning that property of persons that we call mentality, which is observable in ourselves – "as an instance of mereological supervenience," meaning that its existence and properties are wholly determined by the microconstituents of the body (SM 168). (5) Mental or psychological causation, therefore, "is to be construed as supervenient epiphenomenal causation" (SM 95).
As this summary brings out, Kim’s argument involves treating two very different kinds of "observability" as if the difference between them were irrelevant. That is, in the "medium-sized material bodies" such as rocks and bodies of water, which he takes as paradigmatic for "macroobjects" in general, the "observable properties" are observable through our sensory perception, especially vision and touch. With regard to the mind or mentality, however, the "observable properties," such as conscious thoughts, images, and decisions, are not outwardly observable through our physical senses. We know of the nature and reality of the mind only by introspection. Given these radically different ways in which they are "observed," it is not self-evident, to say the least, that "mental phenomena" should be regarded as analogous to observable physical phenomena such as the wetness of water and the hardness of ice. The conclusion that they must be analogous follows not from their evident similarity, but as a deduction from the metaphysics of materialist physicalism, with its "Democritean doctrine of mereological supervenience, or microdeterminism" (SM 96), according to which all the features of all wholes are ontologically reducible to the most elementary constituents of nature, This metaphysics, according to which these elementary constituents are devoid of experience and thereby of internal relations, does not allow for the evolutionary emergence of higher-level actualities with genuine causal powers of their own.
In panexperientialist physicalism, by contrast, the universal stuff embodied in all individuals is not vacuous energy, but experiential creativity. A moment of human experience can, accordingly, be regarded as a full-fledged actuality with the power to receive and exert causal influence, not only because the brain cells are themselves regarded as centers of experience (so that there is no problem of dualistic interactionism), but also because it is the nature of actuality to be largely constituted by its appropriation of data from its immediate vicinity. The extremely rich (experiential) data provided by the human brain, accordingly, can be thought to allow the emergence of a higher-level actuality, which we call the mind. This emergence of human (and other animal) minds out of brains is not, furthermore, a unique type of emergence. Living cells themselves provide a lower-level example, in that the cell’s living occasions of experience have emerged out of the cell’s more elementary constituents. Panexperientialist physicalism, accordingly, agrees with materialist physicalism in regarding the mind-body relation as a species of a more general type of relation. It differs, however, in distinguishing between mereological emergence in aggregational wholes, in which the emergent properties and causal powers are fully a function of the properties and powers of the parts’ and the emergence of regnant occasions of experience in compound individuals, in which the higher-level emergent exerts causality -- both final and efficient -- of its own. Mental causation, accordingly, is not regarded as epiphenomenal. Besides the upward causation from the body to the mind, there is self-determination by the mind and, on the basis of this, downward causation from the mind to the body.
Could we, in the framework of panexperientialist physicalism, say that the mind is supervenient upon the body, especially the brain? On the one hand, this might be confusing, insofar as "supervenience" has become identified with the idea of microdetermination, according to which all determination that is not horizontal is upward. On the other hand, however, the term "supervenience" was first used, according to Kim (SM 134), as a variant of "emergence," and panexperientialism clearly says that the mind emerges from the brain. Also, as Kim says, "supervenient dependence does not represent a single, homogeneous type of dependence" (SM 166). In fact, advocating the attitude of "Let one hundred supervenience concepts bloom!", Kim says: "Each may have its own sphere of application" (SM 155). What I am suggesting is that the part-whole relationship involved in compound individuals is different in principle from that involved in aggregational societies, so that a radically different concept of supervenience is required. Building on Kim’s distinction between general and specific supervenience (SM 157-159), we can, with regard to the supervenience of the mind’s experiences upon the brain’s activities, make a twofold point: The general fact that this relationship occurs is (at least usually) fully determined by the brain -- by whether it is providing adequate support. But, although some of the specific experiences, such as pains, may be (at least virtually) determined by the brain (at least in what we usually consider "normal," as distinct from "altered," states of consciousness), others, such as thoughts and decisions, are not, but are based upon the mind’s self-determination. Panexperientialist physicalism, accordingly, rejects the view of materialist physicalism, enunciated by Kim, according to which all the mind’s experiences are fully determined by the brain (SM 76, 86, 278). The self-determination by the mind, furthermore, brings about effects in the brain.
This dual idea of self-determination and downward causation raises the question as to whether panexperientialism can affirm what Kim calls the core maxim of supervenience: "No difference of one kind without a difference of another kind" (SM 155). Panexperientialists certainly cannot affirm this maxim in the sense in which it is intended by materialists, namely, that any difference in the mind’s experience would depend upon a difference in the brain but not vice-versa. In other words, panexperientialism rejects the materialist doctrine that the dependence relation between brain and mind is asymmetrical, always running upward (SM 76, 86, 278,353-354). The maxim, however, can be affirmed in an interactionist sense: Not only does any change in the brain bring about a change in the mind; but also any change in the mind brings about a change in the brain. This interactionism means, furthermore, that supervenience is not distinguished, as it is by Kim, from causation as another kind of determination. Rather, to say that the mind emerges out of the brain in each new moment means that it is causally dependent upon the brain activities that occurred a fraction of a second earlier. This causal dependence is not, however, complete determination, because, as emphasized earlier, causal relations do not involve complete determination, at least when the "effect" is an individual actuality. And the human mind is evidently the individual actuality (at least on this planet) having the greatest power of self-determination. In any case, the mind’s supervenience upon the body is such that it can exert downward causation back upon the body.
With this point, we come to the different meaning given by panexperientialist physicalism to the principle of the "closedness of the physical domain." Given the impossibility of conceiving of the emergence of higher-level physical individuals, the materialist version of physicalism interprets this principle to mean that all causal efficacy must be exerted by the level of physical entities studied by physics. Affirming downward causation by the mind upon the body, accordingly, would violate this principle (SM 356). It is this rejection of downward causation, of course, that has led Kim to the recognition that his position cannot do justice to our commonsense belief that, for example, we sometimes walk to the water fountain because we want a drink. The panexperientialist version of physicalism can affirm this belief because its "physical entities" are phyk4-riseatd entities, and because there are various levels of such entities, one level of which is that of the dominant occasions of experience constituting the human mind. To affirm the existence of minds or souls is not necessarily, as Kim assumes (SM 126), to affirm the existence of things with mental but no physical characteristics. The closure of the system of physical causes to influence from nonphysical causes does not, accordingly, exclude human minds from the universal causal nexus. It does not even exclude downward causation on the body from the specifically mental aspect of the dominant occasions constituting the mind. This version of physicalism can, therefore, provide what Kim recognizes to be necessary "an account of psychological causation in which the mental qua mental has [a] real causal role to play" (SM 106). It can do this because it rejects Kim’s contrary principle, according to which, when causation is exerted by a "physical cause" with both physical and mental aspects, the causation always occurs solely by virtue of its physical aspect (SM 280). According to panexperientialism, the causal efficacy can also occur by virtue of the mental aspect of an occasion of experience, meaning that aspect in which self-determination may occur.
This doctrine of panexperientialist physicalism entails yet another divergence from the materialist version. The latter takes the closedness of the physical domain to mean that physical theory, essentially equated with theoretical physics (SM xv, 356), can in principle give a complete account of the world. For example, having said that "the causal closure of the physical domain" means that "if we trace the causal ancestry of a physical event, we need never go outside the physical domain," Kim adds:
To deny this assumption is to accept the Cartesian idea that some physical events need nonphysical causes, and if this is true there can in principle be no complete and self-sufficient physical theory of the physical domain. If the causal closure failed, our physics would need to refer in an essential way to nonphysical causal agents, perhaps Cartesian souls and their psychic properties, if it is to give a complete account of the physical world. I think most physicalists would find that picture unacceptable. (SM 280)
Indeed, both materialist and panexperientialist physicalists find dualistic interactionism unacceptable. The question, however, is the acceptability of the picture presented by materialist physicalism, according to which physics is supposed to be able, in principle, to give a complete causal account of every physical occurrence, even when such occurrences occur in human bodies, For example, Kim says, in a parallel passage, that rejecting the closure of physical theory
would force us to accept a conception of the physical in which to give a causal account of, say, the motion of a physical particle, it is sometimes necessary to go outside the physical system and appeal to some nonphysical agency and invoke some irreducible psychophysical law. Many will find this just not credible. (SM 104)
But how credible is Kim’s scenario, according to which physics can in principle give a complete account of all the motions of the electrons in, say, the hands, throat, and mouth of an American president giving a speech? We all in practice assume that, when speakers raise their hands, thereby (among other things) changing the spatial location of the electrons in them, they do so because they decided to do so; or, if we take the speaker’s hand gestures to be involuntary, we at least assume that they occurred because of points the speaker had decided to make. And we assume that, had the person decided to give a different speech, or no speech at all, the person’s mouth and throat, and thereby all the physical particles therein, would have been in somewhat different states. According to the materialist version of physicalism, however, all the states of all the particles in a person’s body would be explainable in terms of physics, which takes no account of the person’s mind -- that is, the person’s beliefs, desires, purposes and decisions.
The idea that physics by itself could predict, or even causally explain, all the movements of living human bodies is a pure pipedream. Contemporary physical theory is not even remotely close to such a capacity. The idea that physics ever will have such a capacity, or even the more modest (and completely unverifiable) idea that physics in principle has such a capacity, is radically underdetermined by the evidence. In fact, most if not all of the relevant evidence, as the previous example illustrated, counts against the idea that physics can in principle provide a complete account of the physical world, especially given the existence of human and other animals in it. This idea is almost entirely a product of faith, inspired far less by evidence than by the metaphysics of materialist physicalism.4 It can, indeed, be considered the form of superstition distinctive to the reductionistic worldview engendered by materialism.
This materialist physicalism rules out the influence of the mind’s (partially) self-determining decisions on the physical processes in our bodies for two reasons. First, from its point of vie’s given its acceptance of the Cartesian construal of the physical as devoid of experience and spontaneity, belief in "the mind" as an actuality distinct from the brain that could influence it is excluded, because this would imply dualistic influence of the experiential on the purely physical. Second, materialist physicalism’s acceptance of causal determinism, along with the correlative acceptance of the idea that "science" provides precise predictive laws,5 excludes the idea that a partially self-determining mind could affect the physical course of nature, It is these two metaphysically-based exclusions that, as we have seen, prevent materialist physicalism from doing justice to our inescapable presuppositions about the reality and efficacy of our mental life.
Panexperientialist physicalism, with its alternative metaphysics, implies a different understanding of both causality and science, one that does not conflict with our inevitable presuppositions about ourselves. To begin with, having (like materialism) rejected the early dualists’ supernatural deity who imposed absolute laws upon nature, it also rejects the notion of absolute because imposed laws.6 The so-called laws of nature are really its habits. This means that the laws of a particular domain are not prescriptive, specifying how its entities must behave, but descriptive, describing how they in fact do behave. It also means that the laws for different domains may be more or less exact if the habits they describe are more or less exactly followed in different domains.
That this is indeed to be expected follows from two other features of this metaphysical position: the distinction between lower and higher levels of individual actualities, and the distinction between genuine individuals and aggregational societies of such. The latter distinction implies that there would be two kinds of laws: First, the laws applying to aggregational societies, which by definition have no overall experience and thereby no power of self-determination, would be absolute (or virtually so), so that predictability and repeatability would be (virtually) complete. This prediction indeed fits the results of the Galilean-Newtonian science of aggregational societies, such as billiard balls and stellar masses. Second, laws applying to genuine individuals, whether simple or compound, would be statistical, because all individuals have at least an iota of mentality and thereby spontaneity. This prediction is fulfilled, for example, by the laws of quantum physics, which predictively describe the behavior of groups of particles, not that of any individual particle.
The former distinction mentioned above -- that between lower and higher levels of individuals -- suggests that the habits of the higher-level ones will be less binding, so that as scientists move to increasingly higher levels, the laws will become increasingly imprecise, gradually becoming what some would prefer to call mere "generalizations." This prediction also seems to fit the facts. For example, the laws applying to living cells are less predictive than the laws of physics and chemistry The laws discoverable about multicelled life are even more distant from the (deterministic) ideal of complete predictability. Students of animal behavior are not even remotely close to having a predictive science. And, especially since the demise of behaviorism, the idea of having such a science of human behavior seems so impossible that the very idea of "social sciences" is widely disparaged, and many -- still presupposing the notion that science must provide rather precise, predictive laws -- say that we should take a hermeneutical, rather than scientific, approach to human beings.
Although Kim is ambivalent about it (SM xiii), he seems to accept a version of this disciplinary dualism, seeing no way around Donald Davidson’s view that psychology is "a hermeneutic inquiry rather than a predictive science" because the laws of the mind "are normative rather than predictive laws" (SM 211). Kim regards this as a Kantian rather than a Cartesian dualism, because it rejects interactionist dualism (SM 214). It is, nevertheless, Cartesian in dividing the world into a purely physical realm, which is ruled by efficient causation, and a purely mental realm, in which there is only final causation, so that the mind is constrained only by "the norms and rules that guide actions and decisions, and form the basis of rational evaluations of our motives, cognitions, and emotions" (SM 211).7
Surely, however, our psychological life is constrained by efficient causation -- much of it from our bodies, in the form of hungers, thirsts, desires, pains, and pleasures -- as well as by ideal norms. Many of our decisions, in fact, notoriously involve a tension between these two constraints -- between duty and desire. The panexperientialist version of physicalism does justice to this fact by portraying the mind in each moment (that is, each dominant occasion of experience) as having both a physical pole, which is constituted by the causal influences from the physical environment, and a mental pole, which entertains ideal possibilities, including logical, ethical, and aesthetic norms. This way of regarding the human mind does not create a disciplinary dualism, furthermore, because both physical and mental poles are attributed to all animal minds and, in fact, to all individuals. Human psychology differs greatly, to be sure, not only because we have much less access to the psyches of other animals, but also because their mentality is so much less developed, so that they -- at least most of them -- seem incapable of entertaining norms as such, The difference is, nevertheless, one of degree, not of kind. This difference of degree, in fact, extends all the way down, to the simplest individuals. Insofar as a disciplinary dualism is entailed by panexperientialism, it involves not an ontological dualism between two kinds of individuals, but only an organizational duality between compound individuals, such as animals, and aggregational societies, such as rocks. In any case, from this point of view, psychology is not to be excluded from the "sciences" because it cannot provide predictive laws like those of physics, chemistry, and cell biology. Rather, the test is whether it provides true, testable knowledge about its domain, the human psyche. Part and parcel of such knowledge would be knowledge of the degree to which the mind can transcend efficient causation on the basis of normative ideals.
To those who have been informed by a materialistic, deterministic, reductionistic metaphysics, the suggestion that human psychology can in principle not discover laws as predictive as those of physics and chemistry, because there are no such laws to be discovered, will seem like defeatism. From the point of view of our inevitable presuppositions, the results of scientific studies thus far, and panexperientialist physicalism, however, it is simple realism. In fact, the primary virtue of panexperientialism is that, in spite of its initial implausibility (at least to those taught to see through dualist or materialist lenses), it enables us to coordinate our hard-core commonsense presuppositions with what we have learned about the world from the special sciences. It does this, with regard to the mind-body problem, by reconciling the truth in Cartesian dualism -- that mind and brain are distinct and interact -- with the truth in materialist physicalism -- that all actual things are physical, so that there is no dualistic interaction.
Kim has been led to a dead end because, correctly seeing that a nonreductive materialism is impossible,8 he believes that there are only three other options, all of which are extremely problematic: reductive materialism, which reduces the psychological to the physical (as conventionally understood); eliminative materialism, which, realizing that reduction is impossible, excludes the psychological from its ontology; and ontological dualism, which rejects physicalism altogether. I have proposed a fourth option: a nonreductive, panexperientialist physicalism. I thank Jaegwon Kim for the stimulation that his thoughtful book has provided, and I invite his response to this critique.
1. The idea that mental causation is a partial cause of the man’s climbing the latter, says Kim, violates the causal closure principle in that it regards the mental event as a necessary constituent of a full cause of the physical event" (SM 280). The idea that mental and physical causes are each independent sufficient causes of the effect would also violate the physical causal closure principle, as this idea would imply "that if the physical cause had not occurred, the mental cause would have occurred and caused the physical effect" (SM 281).
2. This aspect of Whitehead’s philosophy, according to which every actual entity and therefore every occasion in the life-history of an elementary particle is folly determinate, which involves its having a definite position relative to other particles (PR 25), has been used as an argument against it. Abner Shimony has said that this element of Whitehead’s philosophy is contradicted by quantum theory, which says that elementary particles have no definite position apart from being observed ("Quantum Physics and the Philosophy of Whitehead," now Chapter 19 of Shimony’s Search for a Naturalistic World View [New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993]; Vol. II: 291-309, esp. 298-299, 304; this essay was originally published in Max Black, ed., Philosophy in America [London: Allen & Unwin, 19651). That indeed has been the dominant interpretation of quantum theory. Now, however, we have the ontological interpretation provided by David Bohm and B.J. Hiley, which is equivalent mathematically and superior philosophically, and in which a well-defined position is an intrinsic property of every particle (The Unfinished Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory [London & New York Routledge, 1993], 2, 110, 113]).
3. Whitehead at one place seems to reject the term "stuff" as descriptive of the ultimate reality embodied in all actual entities, saying (with reference to the "neutral stuff" of certain realistic philosophers): "An actual entity is a process, and is not describable in terms of the morphology of a ‘stuff’" (PR 41). However, he is rejecting less the idea that "creativity" can be called a "stuff" than the idea that it can be described morphologically rather than as a dynamic process. For example, he elsewhere says: "‘Creativity’ is another rendering of the Aristotelian ‘matter,’ and of the modem ‘neutral stuff.’ But it is divested of the notion of passive receptivity" (PR 31).
4. One of Kim’s many virtues is that he recognizes the extent to which his positions are based more on metaphysical than on empirical considerations. For example, with regard to belief in psychophysical supervenience, according to which all psychological states are determined by brain processes, he says that the belief "seems to be based on broad metaphysical and methodological considerations . . . , buttressed by what empirical evidence there is for specific psychophysical correlations" (SM 193).
5. For Kim, science is nomothetic, so that, for example, if psychology cannot provide laws, it is not a science. Contained in this requirement is that the laws be precise laws, not mere generalizations (SM 194,199). Kim also seems to accept "the received view" that "events standing in a causal relation must instantiate a causal law" (SM 288).
6. That Kim still presupposes the idea of imposed laws is suggested by his statement that the world is "governed by physical law" (SM xv).
7. This disciplinary dualism is reflected in Kim’s recommendation that the right way to save vernacular psychology "is to stop thinking of it as playing the same game that ‘cognitive science’ is supposed to play -- that is, stop thinking of it as a ‘theory’ whose primary raison d’étre is to generate law-based causal explanations and predictions. We will do better to focus on its normative role in the evaluation of actions and the formation of intentions and decisions. If vernacular psychology competes against cognitive science in the prediction game, it cannot win" (SM 264 n46). Besides gratuitously granting to future "cognitive science" powers that its achievements thus far in no way support, this recommendation, in seeming to deny vernacular psychology any significant explanatory-predictive powers whatsoever, seems in strong tension with Kim’s recognition, cited earlier, that we ordinarily "explain, and predict at least in a limited way, the behavior of our fellow human beings and ourselves" within the framework of vernacular or intentional psychology, with its motives, desires, beliefs, hopes, and decisions (SM 261). Clearly what is needed is a viewpoint that allows us to combine physiological and normative factors -- efficient and final causation -- within a single explanation.
8. See especially Chapter 14 of Supervenience and Mind, "The Myth of Nonreductive Materialism."