Eleonora Mingarelli, MPhil (Ms)
SToRE member since 01 Oct 2012
advisor: Prof. Dr. Christoph Kann
Process Theory of the Self
In my doctorate project, I wish to investigate the topic of the self, and in particular how the self constitutes him/herself as a unity. In order to do it, I will examine the process approach to the self, drawning in particular on the work of the British philosopher and mathematician Alfred N. Whitehead. The novelty of his approach lies on the fact that self unity is not pre-existing but is build in the passage of time, through a process of unification. In a process framework, then, personal unity is thought neither as a subjective projection nor as a an a priori form, but rather as a “unifying unity”, always in the making and never entirely realised.
In this project, I will also explore those experiences where the self comes to a unity with him/herself. In this part, attention will be given to the American philosopher and psychologist William James, who is often considered as a process thinker. Besides his relation with process philosophy and with Whitehead, the reason for such a connection is motivated for James’s detailed description on certain extraordinary experiences of “self unity”, such as conversion, saintliness and other forms of religious experience. James’s contribution in the field can be summarized in three conceptual resources, which do not substitute but rather integrate Whitehead’s methodology: pluralism concerning the psychological structure underlying experience, non-reductivism, where experience is not reduced to its physiological or neurological basis, and a evaluation concerning the truth-value of experience.
Thus, whereas Whitehead provides a strong metaphysical framework through which looking at the experience of self-unity, James provides the psychological material to support Whitehead’s theory.
Mingarelli E. 2013. “Is personal identity something that does not matter? An inquiry into Derek Parfit and Alfred N. Whitehead”. Process Studies vol. 42.1 (Spring/Summer): 87-109. ISSN: 0360 65503.
‘A pragmatic interpretation of Whitehead’s analysis of religious experience’, in ‘Experience and Reality: Thinking with Whitehead and American Pragmatism’, Myers, Bill, and Joseph John (eds.), Lexington Books (forthcoming)
Conference presentations (5 most important)
2013. Personal Identity in Question. 9th International Whitehead Conference: Process and Society – from Theory to Practice. Pontifical University John Paul II (Krakow, Poland), 9-12 September.
2013. William James and the immortality of the soul. The Soul Conference. St. Anne’s College (Oxford, UK), 28 June-1 July.
2013. Re-thinking the self: process philosophy in Murray and Morgan’s Personology. Whitehead Psychology Nexus Workshop (Fontareches, France), 3-5 April.
2012. A Pragmatic interpretation of Whitehead’s analysis of religious experience. Experience and Reality: Thinking with Whitehead and American Pragmatism. Claremont Graduate University (California, US), 29 November- 1 December.
2010. Enzo Paci and Alfred N. Whitehead on Epistemology. Second Applied Process Metaphysics Summer Institute (Paris, France), 26-28 July.
Prizes and fellowships
International Process Network Young Scholar Essay Competition (award 1000 $)
Visiting Fellowship SToRE Graduate Program 2012-2013
Erasmus Grant 2010-2011