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Panexperientialism

By consigning materialism to the sidelines, I am now subscribing to the view that a person and its associated mind are different aspects of a single entity - a view known as dual aspect theory - and turning my attention to the idea that objects are nothing more than constituents of minds (i.e. nothing more than objects for a mind or for minds). That is to say that there are no “things in themselves”, or objects having a mind-independent existence. By virtue of the appearance of people as constituents in the minds of other people, and by virtue of the assumption that body and mind are different aspects of a single underlying entity, human minds may now be considered to include each other in a manner that accounts for their inter-relatedness - i.e. entities that exhibit the dual aspects of body and mind may now be considered immanent within each other by virtue of bodies (other people) appearing in minds. They can be said to be mutually immanent. But this does not yet provide a sufficient account of the existence of the shared objective world as it appears in the field of experience, firstly because that world also includes objects other than people, and secondly because any particular mind would frequently be devoid of other people. This calls into question any assumption that the only class of objects to be associated with minds is that of people. The next step, then, is to consider what kinds of object may be associated with minds.

There is nothing contentious about accepting on face value the instinctive conviction that all people are associated with minds, and perhaps nothing too contentious about extending that assumption to all anthropoids on grounds of structural similarity. But to go much further becomes controversial. It might be argued that there must be a threshold at some point on the phylogenetic scale, the location of which would depend upon structural similarity or dissimilarity, but this claim can be nothing more than a matter of prejudice given that even our grounds for imputing minds to other people cannot be given empirical support. The bottom line is that there is no justifiable argument for denying minds to even non-anthropoids - e.g. I could extend the claim without inconsistency to all mammals, and indeed to all animals throughout the phylogenetic scale, right down to the single-celled protozoa. Furthermore, if there are no logically consistent grounds for denying minds to animal cells then why not to plant cells? I could even continue on to the cellular organelles, and further still to the molecules that comprise them. And if the argument applies to molecules then why should it not apply to atoms, and even to sub-atomic particles? The particular view to which this line of reasoning leads was championed by Alfred North Whitehead and has been given the name panexperientialism. A common argument arraigned against this view confuses mind with cognition - an argument that rejects the idea that e.g. cells might be associated with minds on the grounds that a single cell is incapable of cognition. It should be clear, however, that this is an incoherent objection - a mind need not encompass cognition, or even emotions. The constituents comprising any mind that might be associated with a single cell need not be as rich as those accompanying a person. 

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