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Chris Meyns: Cavendish’s Panpsychism

Lecture by Chris Meyns (Utrecht), organized by the Department of the History of Philosophy

Margaret Cavendish holds that it must be the case that each part of nature has sense and reason, to explain how there can be order in the world. Cavendish accepts a form of panpsychism. However, several starkly different ways to interpret Cavendish’s claim have thus far not been systematically distinguished. Here I contrast a centralized and a distributed account of panpsychist order. A distributed order account, I argue, best captures Cavendish’s work. Only it can properly account for how Cavendish takes nature to be divided into parts, and takes those parts to have agency, sense and perception. Order in nature, then, is coordinated between nature’s parts. After responding to a potential worry about how parts could inform one another, I conclude that Cavendish takes there to be distributed basis to order in the natural world.

Chris Meyns

Chris Meyns is an Assistant Professor of Early Modern Philosophy at Utrecht University. Before coming to Utrecht, they were a research associate in the New Directions in the Study of the Mind Project at the University of Cambridge and a postdoctoral by-fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge. They have written on the analysis of imagination, sympathetic action, and Leibniz’s views on probability. Their main work is in early modern philosophy, philosophy of mind, and metaphysics, with associated interests in data ethics and philosophy of information.

When & where

Wednesday, 18 January 2017, 3.15 - 5pm
Faculty of Philosophy, room Omega

Last modified:09 January 2017 10.26 a.m.