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Panpsychism: The Philosophy of the Sensuous Cosmos de [Ells, Peter]
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Longitud: 227 páginas Word Wise: Activado Tipografía mejorada: Activado
Volteo de página: Activado Idioma: Inglés

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Descripción del producto


Peter Ells describes pain and suffering in a personal, humane context, much more realistically than in terms of dry abstractions, as is usual in such works. This book is a valuable counterweight to the prevailing physicalist assumptions, and it criticises especially those materialists who assert that what cannot be measured numerically cannot exist for their nihilistic effects on our culture. The book shows that it is premature to jettison our everyday assumptions of the reality of our human experiences, thoughts, sorrows and joys, and of our agency and libertarian free will. I recommend and would welcome the publication of this book. (Herminio Martins, Emeritus Fellow, St Antony's College, University of Oxford)

Descripción del producto

Materialism asserts that the universe and everything within it, including ourselves, is a deterministic machine, trapped until the end of time on the rigid tracks of inviolable laws. Only the mechanisms of physics - forces, electrical charges, and so on - are consequential; nothing else matters. Experiences, such as the taste of honey, feelings, thoughts, choices: everything concerning the mind is an illusion, or is at best a useless and absurd epiphenomenon. This accessible and engagingly-written book is a serious philosophical work, giving solid reasons for rejecting materialism, and proposing an alternative metaphysical framework that is fully consistent with science. In the sensuous cosmos, our essence is that we experience the world in all its exquisite, sensual beauty and unbearable suffering.

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  • Formato: Versión Kindle
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  • Longitud de impresión: 227
  • Editor: John Hunt Publishing (26 de agosto de 2011)
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5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas An Interesting Attack on Materialist Philosophy 19 de julio de 2013
Por Stephen E. Robbins - Publicado en
Formato: Versión Kindle Compra verificada
This book [Panpsychism: The Philosophy of the Sensuous Universe] is a profound, insightful work. The book defends what Ells terms "Idealist Panpsychism," the general idea of which is that there is a level of ontology (actual existence) that exists below that of even a "completed physics," i.e., a physics that perfectly predicts everything in terms of a set of ultimate constituents of the universe - and - assuming an interpretation of physics a la the Copenhagen interpretation where consciousness is yet required playing some role.

Ells supports this firstly with an interesting analysis of levels of existence (experiential, empirical, material, mathematical) with one of the disturbing conclusions being that physicalism "gives no clue as to what the difference between mathematical existence and actual existence is (p. 69)." Ells makes the argument for an absolute requirement for a level of existence that is consciousness or experience. Along the way, I must say that he is able to elucidate for me, for once, what Whitehead was actually about, and even casts a light on the idealist Berkeley that makes his hitherto automatically rejected idealism more respectable and his reasons understandable.

This is not to say the subsequent argument is without its flaws. Some of the flaws are simply of the kind that make the issue interesting. All "matter" in the panpsychic schema is sentient, conscious. Even the electron argues Ells has an elementary sentience, a sentience that supports its ability to feel its environment, to make a "choice" for example at the famous two-slit experiment. The nature of this sentience such that it can make a "choice," whatever "choice" means here is left very vague and a bit problematic. Nevertheless, this subject of "choice" capabilities (which Ells touches to a degree) in very low level sentience, e.g., in amoebas, opens a vast discussion that is highly related to Ells and the actual capabilities of this field of "matter" (see Gunther's Mind, Memory, Time for a remarkable discussion).

Ells discussion of quantum mechanics and his demonstration that the bizarre characteristics of quantum mechanics (six by count) fit his idealist panpsychism are interesting. Ells leans a lot on Stapp Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer (The Frontiers Collection) , at least for hope for additional explication of the relation of quantum theory to consciousness. Stapp, however, IMO, while also of interest, is rather far from being up to this task. (For those interested, check my Amazon review of Stapp's Mindful Universe).

Then there is the "hard problem," the problem which should be understood as accounting for the image of the external world, e.g., the coffee cup on the kitchen with brown coffee and white cream being stirred by a spoon. Yes, there is qualia here - the browns, the whites, the silver of the spoon - but also the forms - the cup, the stirring spoon. Form, especially when it realized that form is actually dynamic, defined over time, is also qualia and equally non-computable. All this is the (qualitative) image of the external world. Ells develops a little thought model attempting to relate sentience to form, but this is not up to the reality of dynamic form defined over flow fields, i.e., to the realities of what is going on in perception. He is led, when considering larger organisms such as humans, to hypothesize a hierarchy of sentient elements in the brain (from atoms to ever larger sentient structures), somehow, in this totality of conscious elements, resulting in this image of the coffee cup and spoon. He recognizes the difficulty of explaining this as the "combination problem" and hopes it will be solved. This I severely doubt. Ells would have been helped here were there a general recognition in the world of panpsychic philosophers, as opposed to utter neglect, that perhaps the greatest of panpsychic philosophers is Bergson, and Bergson (Matter and Memory, 1896) had a powerful solution to the hard problem. As Bergson had anticipated the essence of holography in 1896, visualizing the universe as holographic (an implication I think can be seen,, though not explicitly, in Ells) his theory of perception was not understood by his contemporaries and is still not grasped over 100 years later (one will need an explication; I can only suggest checking my Time and Memory: A primer on the scientific mysticism of consciousness).

In reality, the true core of the problem, as Bergson showed, is our current, operative (in science and philosophy) metaphysic on space and time. He offered a new one in which his model of conscious perception operates. Ells unfortunately neglects to examine this fundamental problem, in actuality assuming the validity of this classic metaphysic, time being completely unmentioned. It would be interesting to see Ells and others come to grips with Bergson, but in any case Ells rips another interesting chunk from the wall of physicalism, a chunk well worth the read.
13 de 13 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
5.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas Panpsychism vs Physicalism 18 de agosto de 2011
Por Sky - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa blanda
Ells proposes that science's claim of objectivity is false. Physicalism, some call it materialism, has achieved its extremely successful reputation off the back of the discipline of science. This is evident in the following: "Science can in principle give a complete account of all the entities in our universe." Actually, this statement is not within science but about science thus a metaphysical claim. This book sets out to challenge the many assumptions that are metaphysical in character and cannot be upheld through the success of the scientific method. Ells intends in this book to point out how a sensuous cosmos composed of living entities is a far more profound metaphor than the prevalent materialistic view cited above. Further, he criticizes the materialistic paradigm "for imposing a nihilistic helplessness on contemporary culture."
The author proposes to show that idealistic panpsychism is a superior alternative to physicalism for the following reasons. [1] It reconciles our intuitive, commonsense understanding of ourselves as persons with the revelations of science and [2] provides clarification and solutions to philosophical problems beyond the reach or remit of physicalism. As an aid to understanding, the book compares and contrasts physicalism with idealistic panpsychism finding idealistic panpsychism superior for the two reasons cited above.
Near the middle of the book is a chapter entitled résumé. Here, Ells summarizes in relaxed layman's language the contents of the preceding three chapters on existence, causation and idealistic panpsychism. I found this particularly helpful. Further, the whole tenor of the book consists of a fugue of a philosophical treatise and ordinary language. Following are chapters on pain and suffering and free will. In the last chapter, sensuous cosmos, I was reminded of the works of Maurice Merlo-Ponty and David Abram and phenomenology.
In conclusion, Peter Ells has not only spoken eloquently and with uncommon clarity but actually fired a fatal shot into the idea that the questionable marriage of science and materialism has unlocked or will ever reveal the mystery of life.
1 de 1 personas piensan que la opinión es útil
4.0 de un máximo de 5 estrellas You don't have to agree with a book to benefit from it 17 de junio de 2014
Por Andrew Westcombe - Publicado en
Formato: Tapa blanda
I like this book. Ells wears his learning lightly and eschews pretentiousness, which makes for a pleasant experience for the reader. Many of his arguments seem quite original to me, and there is no doubt that the idealist panpsychism he espouses is a fairly novel stance.
If anything, I would have liked to see a more heavy-handed approach at several points, especially in the early parts of the book, which are noticeably light on for citations. The latter parts of the book are more to my taste in this respect. I found myself wondering if this was a deliberate strategy: present as few impediments as possible to readers at the start, but to then reward the perseverance of the readers that read the book right through.
Not that much perseverance is needed: this is an unusually enjoyable book for what is essentially an exercise in speculative metaphysics. I particularly enjoyed a later chapter on Pain and Suffering, which doesn't pull its punches in decrying the hypocrisy of depicting consciousness as an illusion.
I came to this book with sympathies that overlap Ells's in several respects, but I was left unpersuaded by his arguments in those areas where I needed persuading. An Amazon review is not the place for that kind of dissection, so I'll spare you the details. But I think I'll revisit this book in a few months to give Ells another chance to persuade me, which is not something that I would normally be inspired to do.
I would like to see Ells publish a more detailed and systematic presentation of his ideas, which would inevitably result in a larger and more ponderous book, with a correspondingly narrower audience. But the presence of such a book would enhance this one, since the unpersuaded reader could cross-reference between the two whenever necessary.
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