return to religion-online

Mind in Nature: the Interface of Science and Philosophy by John B. and David R. Griffin Cobb, Jr.


John B. Cobb, Jr. is Professor of Theology at the School of Theology at Claremont, Avery professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate School, and Director of the Center for Process Studies. David Ray Griffin teaches Philosophy of religion at the School of theology at Claremont and Claremont Graduate School and is Executive Director of the Center for Process Studies. Published by University Press of America, 1977. This book was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Chapter 1: Arguments for Panpsychistic Identism by Bernhard Rensch and Response by Charles Hartshorne


Bernhard Rensch is at the Zoologisches Institut of the Westfaelischen Wilhelms-Unversitaet in Muenster, West Germany.


1. Introduction

We have not yet formed a consistent epistemological picture of the world. Many philosophers and scientists hold a psychophysical parallelism or they defend an interactionism, an idealism, a materialism or an identism. I will try to discuss some arguments in favor of a panpsychistic identism, a conception which can be regarded as a special version of materialism or as a link between materialism and critical idealism. Being a biologist who, since my student days, has been also concerned with philosophical questions, I believe that certain biological considerations may help clarify and perhaps solve some epistemological problems.

When I wrote Biophilosophie in 1968 (English edition 1971), my conception was mainly based on biological facts and classical epistemology. In this paper I will also consider some more recent publications on identism and materialism and mention my objections to psychophysical parallelism and interactionism.

2. Definitions and Methods

Discussions of epistemological problems often turn on different semantic interpretations. I believe that it is possible to avoid such difficulties to a large extent by clear definitions. It may be useful therefore to begin by briefly defining some main concepts which I will apply. As far as possible I will try to follow their classical meaning.

By psychic phenomena I understand all immediately ‘given’ conscious experiences, that is to say, sensations, mental images, feelings, thoughts and processes of volition. All these experiences are absolutely indubitable reality for each human individual. I base my philosophical deductions on these reliable facts, but I do not hold a phenomenalism which pretends that objects only exist so far as they are perceived by a sentient being.

All psychic phenomena are merged in a stream of consciousness. All psychic experience is therefore part of a process. In recent times this fact has been mainly emphasized by Wundt (1874, c.f. 1908), James (1890), Ziehen (1913) and Whitehead (1929). Ziehen called the basic elements of consciousness ‘gignomena,’ which means ‘something which is becoming.’

Consciousness or awareness should not be confused with self-awareness. The latter concept supposes the existence of a concept of one’s own self, which is only developed in man and apparently in apes, who are able to recognize themselves in a mirror.

Feigl (1958, 1967) called psychic phenomena ‘raw feels.’ He could choose this concept because the verb ‘to feel’ is often used for perceiving and connected mental processes. But ‘to feel’ has a twofold sense. The word is also used for positive and negative feeling tones accompanying sensations, mental images or more complex thoughts. As we need a clear concept for these ‘real’ feelings, it seems better to avoid the term ‘raw feels.’

Sometimes, mainly introduced by psychoanalysts, the word mental is used to include unconscious brain processes. But this contradicts the meaning of ‘mental’ which always means ‘conscious.’ The wrong use of ‘mental’ obscures the fundamental difference of immediately ‘given’ psychic phenomena and scientifically deduced physiological brain processes.

The term identism will be used in my lecture in the sense of a factual identification of mind and matter. This means for instance: the sensation ‘red’ is a certain brain process. If we would admit that the properties of the physiological and the psychological side were not the same, we would still have to do with a kind of dualism, at least what Kim (1966) called a ‘dualistic materialism.’

It is certainly desirable to use the principle of parsimony (economy) corresponding to Occam’s razor: "entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem." However, its value sometimes seems to be overestimated (Smart 1966; Hinton 1970). The parsimony of the components of an explanation cannot be regarded as an argument for truth (economy argument), for there are too many cases in which initial explanations proved to be much too simple. The former conceptions of atoms, of gene action and of contraction of muscles are typical examples. And all monistic philosophical tendencies finally lead to a whole series of irreducible ultimate entities and laws (cf.. Rensch 1971 a, 1974).

3. Critique of Psychophysical Parallelism and Interactionism

Although recent epistemological literature shows an increase of discussions on materialism and identism, dualistic views are still prevalent.

As I already pointed out in a previous symposium on reductionism at the Villa Serbelloni (Rensch 1974), there are objections to dualistic views. This is particularly true with regard to psychophysical parallelism.

A. Parallelism

Biological analyses of brain processes lead to the conclusion that they are causal events like all physiological processes. We always find a sequence of biochemical and physical processes, including changes between kinetic and potential energy. It is therefore very probable -- and at least demonstrable for the single sections by electrophysiological methods -- that a human brain-guided action, which is released by a sensation, is a gapless sequence.

Let me demonstrate this by the following simple example. A person sees a candlestick, and grasps it. In this case, light rays from the candlestick stimulate the sense cells in the retina and release excitations which run to the visual center of the forebrain. There these excitations release further excitations which -- possibly mediated by fibers of associative regions -- run to the motoric center of the right hand and from there to the muscles of the right hand, where they cause contractions, so that the hand moves towards the candlestick and grasps it. The excitations of the sensoric and the associative regions normally correspond to conscious processes. The statement that we have to do here with a continuous process, without a temporal gap between physiological and conscious components, led to the conclusion that the latter run parallel. But this means that the psychic phenomena were only epiphenomena, apparently not necessary for the described action. And we know that they can really fail. When we are used to grasping the candlestick every evening, corresponding sensations and thoughts can be totally lacking. The same is the case when we climb well-known stairs, play a well-known melody on the piano and so on. Such often-performed actions gradually become unconscious, run off ‘mechanically’ as a continuous process.

However, if psychical processes are not necessary, but are only epiphenomena, then they would be superfluous events. They would not have any selection value, and it would not be understandable why they have been developed, maintained, improved and have become more and more complicated during phylogeny.

Running parallel also means that mental processes must be synchronized by innumerable specific laws, for all kinds of sensations -- red, sweet, cold, painful and so on -- all mental images, feelings, thoughts and acts of volition must have a special physiological correspondence. And these supposed laws (Ziehen: laws of parallelity) could not be reduced to a general principle like the many causal laws which are consequences of general causality. Geulincx and Leibniz compared the psychophysical relations with two running clocks regulated in a parallel manner by divine influence. But this figurative comparison does not explain anything.

B. Interactionism

Philosophers like Lotze, Rehmke, James, Becher, Popper, and many others, brain physiologists like Adrian, Sherrington and Eccles, and most psychoanalysts suppose that mind and matter are totally different, but that a psychophysical interactionism takes place. They assume that sensory excitations ‘cause’ sensations, and volition ‘causes’ excitations of brain neurons.

The assumption of interactionism has the advantage that it explains why increasingly complicated psychic phenomena evolved and why they must not be regarded as epiphenomena. When psychic processes are capable of directing the behavior of animals, it becomes understandable that they successively improved by natural selection. These conclusions of Huxley (1962) and Thorpe (1966) are plausible on the basis of a dualistic conception.

However, the hypothesis of interactionism meets with difficulties. The law of the conservation of energy would be infringed if psychical phenomena would ‘cause’ physiological brain processes, for they would yield additional energy, and if physiological brain processes would ‘cause’ psychic phenomena, energy would get lost. This objection was already discussed at the end of the nineteenth century. The German philosopher Rehmke (1905) tried to find a way out of the dilemma. He assumed that this interactionism means that kinetic energy of excitations would be transformed into potential energy of psychic processes and vice versa. However, psychic processes are not something inactive like potential energy. And the supposed transformation is not compatible with a dualistic conception which assumes that psychic phenomena are ‘immaterial’ and fundamentally different from material processes. Ostwald (1902) believed that the energy of excitations would be transformed into ‘psychic energy.’ This would mean that psychic phenomena are only regarded as a new kind of physiological process and not as something totally different. Only a panpsychistic identism would avoid such difficulties.

My main objections to all dualistic opinions, however, still remain to be given. Parallelists as well as interactionists presuppose the existence of two totally different kinds of realities. They regard scientific facts as primary reality. However, this is not true. Primary facts are only the experienced psychic phenomena, and all scientific ‘facts’ are the result of conclusions, drawn by logical processes of induction and deduction.

Moreover we must ask: If psychic phenomena were something immaterial, fundamentally different from matter -- although having figurative qualities and spatial and temporal characteristics -- occuring point-like in the brains of animals and man, whence should they have come? Dualists must suppose that they did not exist on our planet, and probably in the whole solar system, before animals and man existed. We will come back to this decisive question when the arguments for panpsychistic identism are discussed (Part 6).

4. Different Versions of Identism

The objections against dualism suggest the preference of a monistic conception, and this means an identistic opinion. As many and partly contradictory versions of such epistemological views exist, it would be going too far to discuss these conceptions and their historical roots in more detail. I will therefore restrict my statements to some characteristic examples.

The main founder of identism -- partly anticipated already by Parmenides -- was Spinoza. His epistemological conception was based on purely rationalistic deductions. In his Ethics (1677; cf. 1914, Proposition VII, part II) he wrote that the ‘thinking substance’ and the ‘extended substance’ are one and the same, which is comprehended now through this, now through that ‘attribute.’ But this ‘substantia’ did not mean ‘matter,’ but something neutral, comprising both matter and mind. He did not clearly speak about the mode of connection between both attributes. In part I of Proposition XXIX he only mentioned that all is determined by necessity of the ‘divine nature’ (for correspondence to modern panpsychistic identism, see Rensch 1972). Later on, the detailed analysis of psychical phenomena allowed more exactly founded identistic views.

Fechner (1907), physicist and founder of psychophysics, emphasized that matter, space, time and laws are abstractions from conscious processes. He called his view ‘materialistic,’ in so far as "it does not allow the possibility of any human thought without a brain and a movement in this brain." However, he concludes that it is a conception of identity "in so far as both, body and soul, are only two modes of appearance of the same essence which it is possible to attain from an inner or an outer point of view." The philosophers Avenarius (1888-1891), Mach (1922, p. 255) and Ziehen (1913, 1934, 1939) also held a panpsychistic identism. Schlick (1925) held a similar opinion. He wrote (p. 267, my translation): "The world is a richly varied configuration of interdependent qualities; some of these are given factors in my (or another’s) consciousness, and I call these subjective or psychic, others are not directly given to any consciousness and these I term objective or extramental -- the concept of the psychical does not arise in this connection." This view comes very near to my own conception; however, it differs, because Schlick also writes (p. 293): "Consciousness cannot be the essence of the brain particles for they are present even when consciousness is absent, as in death or sleep." I would object that in death and sleep the biochemical compounds may be identical, but not the type of electric potentials and fields which is necessary for the stream of consciousness. It would be possible and more consistent to assume that all ‘matter,’ including electrical fields, has a protopsychical nature, but can only become experienced when it is integrated in certain complicated physico-chemical systems and pertains to a stream of consciousness (cf. Part 6).

Whitehead’s, considerations (1929) also led to a panpsychistic view. He wanted to make the results of scientific findings compatible with metaphysics. He supposed that our mental phenomena are derivative modifications of primitive elements and that even elementary particles have a certain mental quality. He therefore spoke of ‘physical feelings.’ This term may perhaps lead to misunderstandings, because ‘feeling’ normally means human or animal perceiving, or it denotes only the positive or negative feeling tones which accompany sensations and mental images. I prefer to speak of the ‘protopsychic nature or essence’ of the so-called ‘matter,’ the ‘ultimate last.’ When phylogenetic and ontogenetic considerations led me to coin this term (in 1968), I was not yet aware that it corresponds more or less to Whitehead’s ‘physical feeling.’

Among present philosophers, apparently Feigl (1967) is a prominent representative of those identists who deduce their conception from the experienced psychic phenomena. He characterizes his view in the following manner (p. 107): "It shares with certain forms of idealistic metaphysics in a very limited and ([ hope) purified way, a conception of reality and combines with it the tenable component of materialism, viz., the conviction that the basic laws of the universe are ‘physical.’" This conception of present psychophysiological knowledge allows the assumption that certain types of cerebral processes are identical with the experienced ‘raw feels.’ I share this view, but I disagree on an important point. Feigl emphasizes that he rejects panpsychism which "pervades all of physical reality" (p. 84). I believe that this restriction is contradictory. Feigi identifies certain physiological brain processes with psychic phenomena in a panpsychistic sense, but he seems not to consider the fact that all the basic elements of brain processes, the molecules, atoms, ions, particles, electric currents and electric fields, can also occur outside the brain and in non-living conditions. In any opinion the identification of physiological brain processes and mental processes inevitably leads to the consequence that all matter must have a protopsychic nature, a prestage of consciousness in its most general sense. I share this opinion with Hartshorne (1967). Among present scientists, Wright (1953, 1964) and Birch (1974) hold a panpsychistic identism.

Some strict materialists deny in effect their own mental processes and only recognize chemical and physical processes. But in so far as materialists also discuss sensations, mental images and thoughts as experienced realities, they could perhaps more correctly be called materialistic identists. But all types of identism, including the panpsychistic version, which is more justified in my opinion, allow a physiological, chemical and physical analysis of the relevant brain processes and can lead to a ‘physicalistic’ picture of the world, provided that one agrees that ‘matter’ must not only be characterized by energy or mass, spin, charge and spatial and temporal characteristics, but also by the protopsychical nature of these characteristics. The question, whether such identism can be based on facts, depends to a large degree upon our knowledge of physiological brain processes. It will therefore be useful to review briefly some main findings of this fascinating science.

5. Support for Identism Based Upon the Relation of Brain Processed and Conscious Phenomena

One consideration supporting identism is the precise correspondence between many physiological brain processes and psychic phenomena. At present, brain physiology is one of the most exciting fields of biological research. Skillful cytological, biochemical, electrophysiological, autoradiographical and psychological methods, brain operations and psychiatric observations have led to a rapid advance during the last two decades. However, in spite of all progress, our knowledge of the relations of physiological brain processes to conscious phenomena is still quite limited and not yet sufficient to come to a definite decision for a dualistic or an identistic opinion, particularly interactionism or factual identism. But I believe the arguments for identism already prevail.

The correspondence of certain psychic processes to physiological brain processes could be proved by many observations and experiments. I will mention only a few. (I) The destruction of single forebrain-regions often leads to the loss of corresponding sensations or mental images. (II) All kinds of brain operations alter the personality of a patient to some degree; many pharmaca, particularly lysergic acid, alter the brain functions to great extents; and the male and female sexual hormones cause the psychic differences between man and woman -- injections of the opposite hormone can alter the sexual mentality to a high degree. (III) Recent investigations have shown that neurons in the sensory regions seem to be biochemically specialized for transmitting particular sensations. (IV) A close correspondence exists between stimuli and sensations. Those stimuli, and only those, which can be arranged in unidimensional series like light rays, sound waves or degrees of temperature correspond to sensations which can also be arranged in a continuous series. The same holds good for the intensities of stimuli and sensations. (V) Long-term memory, which is based upon material memory traces and therefore (unlike short-term memory) cannot be extinguished by electric shocks, can be prevented by the injection of compounds which prevent the formation of proteins. (This indicates that protein-compounds are involved in material memory traces.) (VI) Innumerable electrophysiological investigations have proved that the oscillations of action potentials in the brain are different when different conscious processes occur. The electroencephalogram (EEC) of a relaxing person mainly shows regular alpha-waves; when the person begins to calculate, finer beta-waves are superimposed on the alpha-waves. (VIII) In non-narcotized patients Penfield (1955, 1968) could raise mental images of known persons and of voices by electrical stimulation of the temporal lobe of the forebrain.

In spite of all our knowledge about direct correspondence of physiological brain processes and psychic phenomena, some modern philosophers and psychologists still doubt that any kind of localization could be possible. They do not deny that our consciousness is connected with our body and head. But Nagel (1970, pp. 217-218) believes that "a thought has no location at all"; Feigi (1967, p. 39) writes: "it is simply nonsense to ask about the location of a concept"; and Polten (1973, p. 55) even pretends "that physiologists certainly have not shown any necessary connection of memory with brain tissues and it is arguable that it cannot be done in principle." I hope that my brief remarks about the correspondence of physiological brain processes and psychic phenomena sufficiently show that such skepticism is not justified.

Certainly, we are only beginning to understand the psychophysiological correspondence. However, most brain physiologists are already convinced of a correspondence of material brain processes and conscious phenomena and their research is guided by this idea. Much further investigation will be needed, but the hypothesis of an identity of psychic phenomena and corresponding physiological brain processes already has a sound basis.

6. Arguments Supporting the Panpsychistic Version of Identism

Kant (1787) assumed that something extramental exists, but in his time physics and chemistry had only analyzed this ‘matter’ in a very insufficient manner. He therefore argued that the ‘thing in itself’ is inscrutable and developed a philosophy which is termed ‘critical idealism.’ At present, we have quite detailed knowledge about molecules, ions, atoms, elementary particles, electromagnetic waves, electric fields and all kinds of material processes, but we are still not yet able to say what ‘matter’ ultimately is like. As I tried to show in the preceding part, we also know something about the structure and function of that part of brain matter to which psychic phenomena correspond.

This psychophysically acting brain substance is, however, composed of the same atoms, ions and elementary particles which we find outside living beings. And the same holds true for oscillations of electric currents and electric fields which the brain produces. All this psychophysical substrate is developed during embryogenesis from compounds of the blood stream coming from the placenta, and that means that it ultimately derives from the food of the mother. After birth the brain cells in question are nourished by the food of the growing child. Some weeks later the brain cells no longer divide, but they show an almost frequent turnover of many of their protein compounds. Hence, there is no particular ‘psychophysical matter’ involved in the brain cells and their functions. Only a special systemic order of atoms in certain molecules of different types of brain cells, steady activity of these cells and excitations coming from sensoric nerves and running to associative and motoric centers are the basis of the peculiarity of brain function. We must therefore ask: Whence can the correspondent psychic phenomena come, if they should be something totally different from matter?

This question seems to be unanswerable. Sherrington (1940) raised it, but did not find an answer. However, when we attribute a protopsychic nature to all matter, then conscious phenomena become understandable. When atoms form a molecule, absolutely new chemical and physical characteristics arise in consequence of new systemic relations. For instance, by combination of the light metal sodium with the gas chlorine, salt arises, the characteristics of which are totally different from the characteristics of its atoms. If we now ascribe a protopsychic nature to atoms, the protopsychic characteristics, too, could produce new protopsychic characteristics by these new systemic relations. The much more complicated integration in large molecules of neurons and of neurons in an active brain would lead to still more complicated systemic relations and not only to protopsychic ones, but also to real psychic phenomena, to sensations and mental images. Panpsychistic identism assumes that the physical characteristics are also the psychic characteristics. But they can only be experienced if they belong to a complex physiological process in a human or animal brain, which we call the ‘stream of consciousness.’ Motoric excitations and many excitations in the brainstem and the cerebellum do not belong to this process.

This panpsychistic conception may appear to be nothing more than a bold hypothesis. However, it can be supported by other considerations (Wright 1964; Rensch 1968, 1969, 1971, 1974). In the first place the phylogenetic development of psychic processes suggests this assumption. Certainly, sensations, mental images, feelings and thoughts are private experiences of each human individual. But they are indubitable reality. We can be informed about corresponding phenomena of our fellow men by language, and it would be absurd to hold a solipsism. It is more difficult to judge about psychic phenomena of animals. We can do it only with conclusions from analogy. But these conclusions are very cogent in higher animals. In a little lesser degree the behavior of lower vertebrates allows the conclusion that these animals have sensations, feelings and memory. Fish can learn different optical or acoustical tasks. Large species master up to six successively learned visual discriminations simultaneously. Fish are subject to the simultaneous color contrast and to optical illusions in the same manner as man. Of course, we can never exactly know what kind of sensations, feelings and mental images they experience. But it is sufficient for our questioning that the conclusion is justified that fish, too, absolutely behave as if they have psychic phenomena. Moreover, electrophysiological investigations show continuous, changing oscillations of electric potentials. This allows the conclusion that their perceptions and mental images are united in a stream of consciousness in waking conditions.

However, some higher invertebrate animals also show similar achievements. Bees, bumblebees and cuttlefish like the Octopus have well-functioning eyes. Their brain is divided in regions with different coordinated functions, and it is composed of several hundred thousands of nerve cells (the honey bee has about 800,000). They can learn to discriminate colors and black and white patterns and can master all 3 or 4 learned tasks on the same day. Bees are also subjected to simultaneous color contrast. It is therefore possible and even probable that they experience sensations and memory, that is to say, conscious phenomena, but surely not in the sense of human experience which is connected with a concept of one’s own self. It is natural to assume that they also experience positive and negative feeling tones, because they prefer certain tastes and reject other ones. The satisfaction of all feeding, copulating and cleaning drives in animals is probably guided by such feeling tones.

In animals of still lower levels of organization the conclusions from analogy are much vaguer. However, the lowliest worms have sense organs, nerve cells and nerve centers, and these cells function more or less in the same manner as those of higher animals. And these animals can learn at least in the sense of conditioned reflexes. The same is possibly the case in coelenterates. If we suppose that the lowest multicellular invertebrates would also have sensations, these would be separated events -- they would not belong to a ‘stream of consciousness.’

Protozoa have no nerve-like fibers (as formerly assumed), and they cannot learn. However, unicellular organisms show positive and negative ‘sense reactions’ to chemical stimuli, particularly to those which indicate food or a partner for copulation or conjugation. It seems therefore to be possible to assume that they have single sensations or prestages of sensations. Such speculation can only be based on the fact that all animal evolution was a continuous process and that sensations of multicellular animals must have some phylogenetic prestages.

If we regard sensations as immaterial things which are totally different from all material, physiological processes, it would be difficult to imagine from where these psychic phenomena should have come. Wright (1964, p. 113) wrote: "Emergence of mind from no mind is sheer magic." But when we suppose that all matter has a protopsychic nature -- an assumption which was already suggested by our considerations of the brain functions -- then the phylogenetical development of sensations and other mental processes would become understandable. The integration of certain atoms and complicated molecules into neurons in the course of phylogeny, and further on into nervous systems and brains, could produce psychic processes. These would arise by new systemic relations, beginning with protopsychic prestages of sensations and leading to real sensations, memory and all higher psychic phenomena.

This assumption has a particular advantage. It would mean that the whole evolution of our earth and of life could be regarded as a continuous causal process. At present it is increasingly probable that life originated gradually from inorganic matter due to causal biochemical processes. In prebiological times, prestages of organisms, at first so-called protobionts, developed in the ‘primeval soup.’ About 3 billion years ago true unicellular organisms had already developed (cf. Fox 1965, 1971; Oparin 1968; Buvet and Ponamperuma 1971; Kaplan 1972). This continuous development suggests the assumption of a corresponding development of protopsychic and psychic phenomena of organic matter in the sense of a panpsychistic identism.

The panpsychistic hypothesis becomes perhaps still more convincing when we consider the individual development of mental processes of man. A fertilized human egg and the following multicellular stages do not indicate sensations or other psychic phenomena. Only after sense-cells, nerve-cells and a brain have been developed can the fetus have sensations, and after birth the behavior of the young child shows that it surely experiences sensations with positive and negative feeling tones and begins to develop associations and memory. If these phenomena would be something immaterial, fundamentally different from material physiological processes, we must ask again:

Where do these psychic processes come from? Should we believe that a ‘soul’ has been ‘inserted’ in some stage of the ontogenetical development? And how can it happen that this ‘soul’ shows characteristics of parents and grandparents? Twin research has clearly proved that many psychic characteristics are inherited.

All mental characteristics are ultimately transmitted from parents to children by the germ cells and by the arrangement of genes on the threadlike molecules of desoxyribonucleid acid (DNA), the general chemical structure of which is well known. As these molecules are capable of transmitting psychic characteristics from one generation to the next one, it is natural to assume that molecules have a protopsychic nature. And as they are composed of atoms which also compose other types of molecules, it becomes probable that all molecules, atoms and their elementary particles have such a protopsychic nature. This allows the conclusion that sensations and mental images arise by the integration of protopsychic characteristics of ‘matter.’

When we now ask what physics knows about ‘matter,’ we can state that the present concept no more means something ‘solid,’ ‘substantial.’ Mass is equivalent to energy and can become radiation. ‘Matter’ can only be defined as a complex of relations between energy, charge, spin, speed and spatial and temporal relations. And all these concepts do not mean something ‘solid.’ This fact allows us to try a description of ‘matter’ by a mathematical ‘world formula.’ It was an unnecessary former hypothesis that all these components must have a ‘carrier.’ Our present conception of matter is much more compatible with panpsychistic identism than all former conceptions.

Summing up, we can state that many considerations speak in favor of a panpsychistic identism:

(1) the precise correspondence between many physiological brain processes and psychic phenomena; (2) the fact that the psychophysical substrate of our brain contains the same atoms, elementary particles and fields of energy which can occur outside the brain; (3) the phylogenetic development of psychic phenomena can be understood best when we suppose a protopsychic nature of all ‘matter’; if we assume that mental phenomena would be something fundamentally different from physiological processes, it would be difficult to conceive whence it should have come in the course of evolution; (4) the ontogeny of psychic phenomena is a still stronger argument in favor of panpsychistic identism, particularly because DNA-molecules are able to transmit mental characteristics to the next generation; (5) present physics no longer defines matter as something ‘solid,’ but as a complex of relations between energy, charge, spin, speed and spatial and temporal characteristics; this definition is compatible with panpsychistic identism, when we assume that matter is something protopsychical. One final comment: The assumption of protopsychic matter is no more revolutionary than our epistemological knowledge that all objects which we see have no color, because color only arises in sense cells and brain.

 

LITERATURE

Avenarius, R. 1888-1891. Kritik der reinen Erfahrung. 2 vol. Leipzig: O. R. Reisland

Birch, Ch. 1974. "Chance, Necessity and Purpose." In Ayala, F. J., and Dobzhansky, Th. (eds.), Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, pp. 225-239. London: Macmillan.

Buvet, R. and C. Ponamperuma. 1971. Molecular Evolution. Vol. 1. Chemical Evolution and Origin of Life. Amsterdam & London: N. Holland Publ. Co.

Eccles, J. C. 1970. Facing Reality: Philosophical Adventures by a Brain Scientist. New York, Heidelberg & Berlin: Springer Verlag.

Fechner, G. Th. 1907. Uber die Seelenfrage: Em Gang durch die sichtbare Welt, um die unsichtbare zu finden. 2. ed. Hamburg & Leipzig: Leopold Voss.

Feigl, H. (1958) 1967. The "Mental" and the "Physical": The Essay and a Postscript. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

Fox, S. W. (ed.), 1965. The Origin of Prebiological Systems and their Molecular Matrices. New York & London: Academic Press.

Fox, S. W. 1971. "Selfordered Polymers and Propagative Cell-like Systems." Naturwissenschaft 56:1-9.

Hartshorne, Ch. 1967. "Psychology and the Unity of Knowledge." South. J. Philos. 5:81-90.

Hinton, J. M. 1970. "Illusions and Identity." In Borst, C. V., (ed.), The Mind-Brain Identity Theory, pp. 242-257. London: Macmillan.

Huxley, J. 1962. "Higher and Lower Organization in Evolution." J. Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh 7:163-179 (quoted from Thorpe 1966).

James, W. 1890. Principles of Psychology. New York: H. Holt & Co.

Kant, I. (1766) 1922. Traeume eines Geistersehers erlaeutert durch Traeume der Metaphysik.

Koenigsberg: Johann Jacob Kanter, 1766. In Cassirer, E. (ed.), Werke, vol. II, pp. 329-390. Berlin: Cassirer.

Kant, I. (1787) 1923. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. 2. ed. Riga, 1787. In Cassirer, F. (ed.), Werke, vol. III. Berlin: Cassirer.

Kaplan, R. W. 1972. Der UrsprungdesLebens. Stuttgart: G. Thieme.

Kim, J. 1966. "On the Psycho-Physical Identity Theory" Amer. Philos. Quart. 3:227-285 (reprinted in Rosenthal 1971, pp. 80.95).

Mach, E. 1922. Die Analyse der Empfindungen und das Verhaeltnis des Physischen zum Psychischen. 9. ed. Jena: G. Fischer.

Nagel, Th. 1970. "Physicalism." In Borst. C. V., (ed.), The Mind-Brain Identity Problem, pp. 214-230. London: Macmillan.

Oparin, A. J. 1968. Genesis and Evolutionary Development of Life. New York: Acad. Press.

Ostwald, W. 1902. Vorlesungen ueber Naturphilosophie. Leipzig: Veit & Comp.

Ostwald, W. 1908, 1919. Grundriss der Naturphilosophie. Leipzig: P. Reelamjun.

Penfield, W. 1955. "The role of the temporal cortex in certain psychical phenomena."J. Ment. Sci. 101:451-465.

Penfield, W. 1968. "Engrams in the Human Brain." Proc. Roy. Soc. Med. 61:831.

Plato. 1940. Theaitetos. In Saemtliche Werke, vol. II, Berlin: L. Schneider.

Polten, F. P. 1973. Critique of the Psycho-Physical Identity Theory. The Hague & Paris: Mouton

Popper, K. R. 1972. Objective Knowledge. An Evolutionary Approach. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Rensch, B. 1968. Biophilosophie auf erkenntnistheoretischer Grundlage. Stuttgart: G. Fischer.

Rensch, B. 1971a. Biophilosophy, transl. by C A. M. Sym. New York & London: Columbia Univ. Press.

Rensch, B. 1971b. Problems der Gedaechtnisspuren. Rheinisch-Westfaelische Ak. Wiss. Vortraege N 211. Opladen: Westdeutsch. Verlag.

Rensch. B. 1972. "Spinoza’s Identity Theory and Modern Biophilosophy." The Philos. Forum 3:193-207.

Rensch, B. 1974. "Polynomistic Determination of Biological Processes."In Ayala, F.J. and Dobzhansky, Th. (eds.), Studies in the Philosophy of Biology, pp. 241-258. London: Macmillan.

Rosenthal, D. M. (ed.). 1971. Materialism and the Mind-Body Problem. Englewood Cliffs, N. J.:Prentice-Hall.

Schlick, M. 1925. Allgemeine Erkenntnislehre. 2. ed. Berlin: Springer.

Sherrington, C. 5. 1940. Man on his Nature. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Smart, J. J. C. 1966. Philosophy and Scientific Realism. 3. ed. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul; New York: The Humanities Press (1. ed. 1963).

Sperry, R. W. 1964. "The Great Cerebral Commissure." Scient. American 210:42-52.

Sperry, R. W. 1966. "Hemispheric Interaction and the Mind-Brain Problem." In Eccles, J. C. (ed.), Brain and Conscious Experience, pp. 298-313. Berlin, Heidelberg & New York: Springer.

Spinoza, B. de. (1677) 1914. Ethics.

Thorpe, W. H. 1966. Science, Man and Morals. Ithaca, New York: Cornell Univ. Press.

Whitehead, A. N. 1929. Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology. New York: Macmillan.

Wright, S. 1953. "Gene and Organism." Amer. Naturalist 87:5-18.

Wright, S. 1964. "Biology and the Philosophy of Science." In Reese, W. L. and Freeman, E. (eds.), Process and Divinity, pp. 101-125. La Salle, Illinois: Open Court.

Wundt, W. 1908. Grundzuege der physiologischen Psychologie. Vol. 1,6. ed. Leipzig: Engelmann (I. ed. 1874).

Ziehen, Th. 1913. Erkenntnistheorie auf psychophysiologischer und physikalischer Grundlage. Jena: G. Fischer.

Ziehen, Th. 1934, 1939. Erkenntnistheorie. 2. Aufl. 2 vol. Jena: G. Fischer.

 

RESPONSE TO RENSCH’S PAPER

By Charles Hartshorne

Charles Hartshorne has taught philosophy primarily at the University of Chicago, Emory University, and the University of Texas; at the latter he is now Emeritus Ashbel Smith Professor of Philosophy.


There is an apparent contradiction between the mutual influence between mental and bodily events and the doctrine (which I hold) that the data of experience are independent of that experience. The contradiction is removed by the following theory, derived from Whitehead, and so far as I know, first clearly stated by him. If mind, call it M, and body (physiological process), call it B, interact, then any mental state M at time t, which influences a bodily state, say B at time t1, will be temporally prior to that bodily state, and it will be temporally subsequent to any bodily state which influences it. Then, assuming that events depend only upon their temporal predecessors, the independence of the data will be preserved. In Whitehead’s system, all influence is taken to have the temporal structure of antecedent and independent condition and subsequent dependent result.

Rensch cites experiments in which electrical stimulation of the cortex produced, without detectable time interval, psychical phenomena. He admits (in conversation) that strict simultaneity is not absolutely proved. Since the causal concept above explicated says nothing about the extent of the time difference between condition and its most immediate results, it is not clear how such observations or any others could show the invalidity of the concept. Here, too, the issue seems logical, not factual.

Viewed 169010 times.