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Whitehead's philosophy of organism, satisfaction, and mental health

Delafield-Butt, Jonathan (2012) Whitehead's philosophy of organism, satisfaction, and mental health. In: Mental Health and the Disciplines Symposium, Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, The University of Edinburgh, 2012-02-17.

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Abstract

The panpsychism of Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy offers a refreshing view from which to consider the mind and our human experience of mental processes. Whitehead broke rank with British analytic philosophy to pursue a course of reasoning that led to a new processual metaphysic, coined the 'Philosophy of Organism'. This view saw perception, feeling, and intention as the primary mental components of any existence and that deliver one along one's 'life' toward satisfaction and completion. It is only at the end, or 'death', of the process that the thing 'objectifies' and becomes available to others, to be appropriated by them as sense datum. This philosophical position sheds light on a number of human psychophysical processes, from sensorimotor control of intentional action to shared narrative projects in social engagement. This paper will examine Whitehead's mind-matter unit to shed light on the multitude of 'life processes' occurring within and between persons, and will suggest ways in which these may be disrupted in mental illness.