William Seager is a Canadian philosopher who specializes in philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. He has written extensively on consciousness, emergence, panpsychism, supervenience, the mind-body problem, and physicalism. Seager wrote the Stanford Encyclopedia article on Panpsychism, where he argues that there are only two positions that appear to solve the mind-body problem by integration, panpsychism and emergence. If one does not include mind in the fundamental constituents of the world, he says, then one is an emergentist. He says:
Panpsychism's assertion that mind suffuses the universe presents a fundamental and sharp contrast with its basic rival, emergentism, which asserts that mind appears only at certain times, in certain places under certain — probably very special and very rare — conditions.Seager writes that the panpsychism of Alfred North Whitehead (in his great work Process and Reality) was the culmination of nineteenth-century panpsychism at about the same time that emergentist views were at their peak.
With his emphasis on the vitality and spontaneity of nature, Whitehead represents a culmination of nineteenth century panpsychist thinking, and probably not coincidentally its presentation was pretty much simultaneous with the culminating development of a robust and serious emergentism (as worked out by, for example, C. Lloyd Morgan (1852-1936) and C. D. Broad (1887-1971)). It may have seemed that, for a moment, the ground was prepared for another great battle between the two basic conflicting ideas about mind's place in the natural world. But history moved in another direction. Big science took center stage, and metaphysics became a bit player in a new kind of philosophical drama. The kind of radical emergentism espoused by thinkers such as Broad was doomed by the huge technological advances and theoretical successes of physical science, in particular quantum mechanics' victory in explaining how chemical complexity arises from purely physical principles, along with the rise of a logical positivist philosophy that derided any philosophical idea that was not cleanly rooted in empirical science. But all this also had the predictable effect of relegating panpsychism, which also required a philosophical extension of scientific belief, to the limbo of unwarranted philosophical intercession into domains beyond its expertise. Thus for some fifty years after the 1929 publication of Whitehead's panpsychist Process and Reality and the 1925 publication of C. D. Broad's emergentist Mind and Its Place in Nature there was relatively little interest in either doctrine.