Mind and matter
Panpsychism, dual-aspect monism, and the combination problem.
Springer, under contract, forthcoming


Abstract / back cover
In this book, Jiri Benovsky takes a stand for panpsychism as being the best solution available to the mind-body problem. More exactly, he defends a view that could be labelled 'dual-aspect-pan-proto-psychism'. Panpsychism claims that mentality is ubiquitous to reality, and in combination with dual-aspect monism it claims that anything, from fundamental particles to rocks, trees, and human animals, has two aspects: a physical aspect and a mental aspect. In short, the view at hand is that the nature of reality is 'phental'. But this does not mean, in Benovsky's view, that rocks and photons think or that they have experiences, in the sense in which human animals have experiences. This is where pan-proto-psychism comes in as being a better theoretical option – in this view, the mental aspects of fundamental particles, rocks, and trees are not experiential.

Many hard questions arise here. In this book, Benovsky focuses on the combination problem: in short, how do tiny mental aspects of fundamental particles combine to yield macro-phenomenal conscious experiences, such as your complex experience when you enjoy a great gastronomic meal? What makes the question even harder is that the combination problem is not just one problem, but rather a family of various combination issues and worries. Benovsky offers a general strategy to deal with these combination problems, and he focuses on one in particular – namely, the worry concerning the existence of subjects of experience. Indeed, if standard panpsychism were true, it would owe us an explanation of how tiny micro-subjects combine into a macro-subject like a human person. And if panprotopsychism is true, it has to explain how a subject of experience can arise from proto-micro-mental aspects of reality. Benovsky shows that an understanding of the nature of subjectivity in terms of the growingly familiar notion of mineness in combination with a reductionist/eliminativist view of the Self, allows us to have a coherent picture, where this type of combination problem is avoided, without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.