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After Nature: On Bodies, Consciousness, and Causality

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Within John Dewey's pragmatic naturalism, consciousness, meaning, and value were conceptualized as ontologically real phenomena. During the century that has passed since Dewey's time, naturalism has come to be dominated by physicalist and realist perspectives within which the reality of consciousness, meaning, and value are problematic. Given this historical tension in naturalism, the present paper does the following: (1) describes why consciousness, causality, and the body were all at home in Dewey's naturalism, and why Dewey’s naturalism fell out of favour during the century that followed, (2) describes a sample of unsuccessful twentieth-century attempts to get consciousness back into naturalism, including the contemporary embodiment movement, (3) presents a recently developed holist, post-naturalist philosophy of embodiment (i.e. Wild Systems Theory) that challenges the physicalist and realist assumptions at work in most contemporary forms of naturalism, and (4) presentsWST as an intra-disciplinary framework for scholarship, and as a potential means of addressing the scholarship-culture tensions that have emerged during the zeitgeist of naturalism.
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Keywords: aboutness; autocatalysis; emergence; metaphysic; ontology; self-sustaining system; shamanism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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