Thursday, May 26, 2011

(5) Vitalism, Panpsychism, Emergentism

Albeit boasting ancient philosophical sources, these three
above "isms" remain speculative right into our own modern
day. Academic philosophers have written reams about these
particular positions about Mind, pro and con. And mostly
they tend to separate these three concepts, one from the
other. And beyond separation, sometimes there's contrast
and competition between the three, even denial of one
over the other.

So I can only dare to tiptoe into these categories about Mind.
Starting out, we should at least give a minimal definition to
these categories--though I have no wish to delve deep in
such. Otherwise we would be writing tomes!

• Vitalism: In its simplest form, vitalism holds that living
organisms differ from non-living forms, in that there is an
energy--or "elan vital"--that sparks their "soul" or living spirit.
This vital energy is a substance that infuses and gives life
to more sophisticated forms.

• Panpsychism: Basically panpsychism is a doctrine that
maintains that Mind is suffused throughout the universe.
Mind is everywhere!

• Emergentism: Here we move into "complex systems" that
are not reducible "to those of their constituent elements."
And emergentism--as it involves Consciousness and Mind--
relates to a complex system that is more then the sum of the
"properties" of its parts.

Perhaps odd on my part, but I don't in the least feel the
need to pit any one of these three categories over against
the other. Rather I tend to see the possibility of a
fascinating *connection* linking all three of these "isms."

I tend to think that there must be a Creator of this particular
universe in which we live. Scientists talk about Natural Laws
incorporated into our universe. Theologians talk of God, or
more specifically the Spirit that gives us the universe, its
power to move, to exist. Hence the "elan vital." One can
look at this from a more natural perspective, or assume
the theological perspective. Could be that our presumed
Natural Laws serve as the inputted pulse of the Spirit.

In turn, this special energy, this vital pulse, quickens Mind
that could have been embedded in the universe since its
creation. It's perhaps an Intelligible Force spread throughout,
waiting to be awakened.

And possibly this is where emergent minds come into the
picture. Underlying everything, everywhere, is Potential
Mind, slowly evolving, cropping forth in those complex
life forms (or systems).

[A selection from Item 42 in my "Seeker's Sojourn" site.]