Personal Identity

Human persons change a lot during their lives: they are born, grow up, learn and mature, engage in numerous and diverse activities, sometimes radically change their way of life, age and finally die. How can we make sense of these changes as in each case belonging to one single person?

Am I Today the Same Person I Was Yesterday?

Process Biology

Life is precarious. If you stop eating, you will die. Surprisingly, philosophers tend to downplay, or even ignore, this fundamental truth about organic existence. Organisms are believed to be substances, i.e., ontologically independent things whose default state is stasis. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Organisms are processes.

Are Organisms Things or Processes?

Dispositions

This cat is a bit sleepy right now. But this could quickly change if a little mouse came along. We know what would happen then. The cat would play with the mouse and finally kill it. Cats tend to do this. And because this is so, we regularly see the meetings of cats and mice followed by the mice's death. Causation is more than regularity then - it's a story about causal powers. Isn't it?

What Is Causation and How Does It Come About?

Metaphysics of Pregnancy

We like to see ourselves as autonomous individuals. This is why we don't really fancy talking about how we started out: in our mother's womb. It's time to break this taboo and to investigate the metaphysics of pregnancy. It's a fascinating new topic prompting a healthy revision of all sorts of so-called orthodoxies in metaphysics. No need to mention that it is also of vital relevance to feminist philosophy and ethics. 

What Are Pregnant Individuals? How Does a Foetus Relate to the Gestating Organism?

Bio-Agency & Natural Freedom

Free will scepticism is on the rise. If humans are natural beings (and it looks like that), then (it is assumed) they are determined by the laws of nature. However, latest research in biology draws a rather different picture of nature. Humans are in fact naturally free. And so are many other animals.

Are We Free To Want What We Do When We Do What We Want?

Taking Process Seriously

Heraclitus famously stated that one can't step into the same river twice. Taken literally, this is obviously false: while the water molecules change, the river stays the same - exactly because of the flow of water. The river needs to change in order to continue existing. And this turns out to be true not only for rivers. "Panta rhei" - everything flows, according to Heraclitus. Reality is a process. 

What If Reality Is A Process?

Meta-metaphysics and Existential Philosophy

A single human life is short and vulnerable as long as it lasts. Also, there's all this bad stuff happening everywhere. How can we make sense of this in an intellectually honest way, i.e., without lapsing into (bad) ideology?

What Is This (Life) All About? And How Does Metaphysics Help Us Find Out?

 
 
 
 
 

Personal Identity

Am I Today the Same Person I Was Yesterday?

Human persons change a lot during their lives: they are born, grow up, learn and mature, engage in numerous and diverse activities, sometimes radically change their way of life, age and finally die. How can we make sense of these changes as in each case belonging to one single person? 

Existing theories either appeal to some empirical continuity relation(s) that tie(s) together disparate person stages (Complex View) or insist that personal identity is a primitive, non-empirical fact (Simple View). Both options are unsatisfactory: personal identity is either explained away or mystified.

I think this dilemma ultimately stems from the assumption shared by both sides that a person is some sort of thing, i.e., entity for whose identity change is not essential. If we conceive of persons as processes instead, we can understand personal identity as a form of diachronic stability actively brought about by a person as an agent, namely through constant interaction with her natural & social environment.

This entails taking seriously that having - and occasionally being - a personality is an integral part of what it means to be a human person, and it has important implications for understanding the human mind as being embedded in social environments.

I am a member of the scientific network "Ontologies of Personal Identity" (pontology) which is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).

Publications

Monograph

Meincke, A. S. Auf dem Kampfplatz der Metaphysik. Kritische Studien zur transtemporalen Identität von Personen. (On the Battlefield of Metaphysics. Critical Studies on the Transtemporal Identity of Persons). Münster: Mentis Publishing Company, 2015 (333 pp.).

Reviewed in:

Philosophisches Jahrbuch 123, 2 (2016), 602-604.

Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

Meincke, A. S.: “Personale Identität ohne Persönlichkeit? Anmerkungen zu einem vernachlässigten Zusammenhang” (“Personal Identity Without Personality? Reflections on a Neglected Relation”). Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 123, 1 (2016), 114-145.

Meincke, A. S.: “Körper oder Organismus? Eric T. Olsons Cartesianismusvorwurf gegen das Körperkriterium transtemporaler personaler Identität” (“Body or Organism? Eric T. Olson’s Charge of Cartesianism Against the Bodily Criterion of Transtemporal Personal Identity”). Philosophisches Jahrbuch 117, 1 (2010), 88-120. 

Book Chapters

Meincke, A. S.: “How to stay the same while changing. Personal Identity as a Test Case for Reconciling ‘Analytic’ and ‘Continental’ Philosophy Through Process Ontology”, in: Analytic-Bridge-Continental + (ABC+) Process Philosophy, ed. by R. Booth & O. Downing, Berlin et al.: de Gruyter (de Gruyter book series Process Thought, ed. by J. Seibt), forthcoming.

Meincke, A. S.: “Human Persons – A Process View”, in: Was sind und wie existieren Personen? Probleme und Perspektiven der gegenwärtigen Forschung (What Are Persons and How Do They Exist? Problems and Perspectives in Contemporary Research), ed. by J. Noller, Münster: Mentis, 2019, 57-80.

Meincke, A. S.: “Processual Animalism”, in: Meincke, A. S. & Dupré, J. (Ed.): Biological Identity. Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology, (History and Philosophy of Biology), London: Routledge, forthcoming.

Meincke, A. S.: “Persons as Biological Processes. A Bio-Processual Way Out of the Personal Identity Dilemma”, in: Everything Flows. Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology, ed. by D. J. Nicholson & J. A. Dupré, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, 357-378.

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Persönlichkeit und personale Identität. Zur Fragwürdigkeit eines substanztheoretischen Vorurteils” (“Personality and Personal Identity. On a Dubious Substance Ontological Prejudice”), in: Persönlichkeit. Neurowissenschaftliche und neurophilosophische Fragestellungen (Personality. Questions in Neuroscience and Neurophilosophy, ed. by O. Friedrich & M. Zichy, Münster: Mentis Publishing Company, 2014, 163-187.

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Ohne Metaphysik, bitte!? Transtemporale personale Identität als praktische Wirklichkeit” (“Without Metaphysics?! Transtemporal Personal Identity as Practical Reality“), in: Personale Identität, Narrativität und praktische Rationalität (Personal Identity, Narritivity and Practical Rationality), ed. by G. Gasser & M. Schmidhuber, Münster: Mentis, 2013, 241-265.

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Substanz, Relation oder beides: Augustinus und Heidegger zur Frage ‘Was sind Personen?’” (“Substance, Relation or Both: Augustine and Heidegger on the Question ‘What are Persons?’”), in: Crossing Borders. Grenzen (über)denken. Beiträge zum 9. Internationalen Kongress der Österreichischen Gesellschaft für Philosophie in Wien, ed. by A. Dunshirn, E. Nemeth & G. Unterthurner, 2012, 839-847, URL = <https://phaidra.univie.ac.at/detail_object/o:128384>.

Online Publication

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Zwischen Selbigkeit und Veränderung: Personen und ihre transtemporale Identität” (“Between Sameness and Change: Persons and their Transtemporal Identity”), Talk at the 22th German Congress for Philosophy, September 11-15, 2011, Ludwig Maximilian University Munich, Open Access LMU (2012), URL = <http://epub.ub.uni-muenchen.de/12565/>.

Book Reviews

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: Review of: Cordula Brand: Personale Identität oder menschliche Persistenz? Ein naturalistisches Kriterium, Paderborn: Mentis, 2010, Philosophisches Jahrbuch 119, 2 (2012), 418-424.

Meincke, A. S.: Review of: Michael Quante: Person, (Grundthemen Philosophie), Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2007, Philosophisches Jahrbuch 116, 1 (2009), 221-225.

 
 
 

Are Organisms Things or Processes?

Life is precarious. If you stop eating, you will die.

Somewhat surprisingly, philosophers, from the early beginnings of Western philosophy in Ancient Greece up until today, have largely been downplaying, or even ignoring altogether, this fundamental truth about organic existence. The predominant view has been that reality most fundamentally consists of so-called substances, i.e., of self-contained discrete particulars that ontologically depend on nothing but themselves.

With the recent rise of systems biology, this is now changing. Systems biology describes organisms at all levels of organisation, taking into account the interdependence and diachronic profiles of these levels of organisation. There is increasing evidence that one cannot understand what organisms are, and how they function, if abstracting away from their genuinely and fundamentally dynamic nature.

Taking seriously these lessons from biology, I contend that organisms have to be ontologically categorised as stabilised higher-order processes, namely as ones that possess the ability to stabilise themselves through constant interaction with the environment. The most basic form of this interaction is metabolism, the exchange of matter and energy with the environment. Agency - sensorimotor behaviour - is another, more sophisticated form.

On the process view of life that I defend, organisms are the opposite of self-content, independent things. They are deeply dependent on favourable environmental conditions, including other organisms, as well as on their ability to modify the environment according to their needs (niche-construction). This opens up new avenues for understanding biological autonomy, biological identity and living boundaries - and for understanding autonomy, identity and boundaries in general too. 

I started my work on (a) process (philosophy of) biology as a Research Fellow in the ERC-funded research project "A Process Ontology for Contemporary Biology" (PROBIO).

 

Edited Volume

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Meincke, A. S.: “Autopoiesis, Biological Autonomy and the Process View of Life”, European Journal for Philosophy of Science 9:5 (2019), published online on 26 October 2018, https://doi.org/10.1007/s13194-018-0228-2 (Topical Collection: EPSA 2017: Selected papers from the biannual conference in Exeter).

Invited Journal Article

Meincke, A. S.: “Systems or Bodies? On How (Not) to Embody Autopoiesis”, Commentary on Villalobos, M. & Razeto-Barry, P. (2019): “Are living beings extended autopoietic systems? An embodied reply”, Adaptive Behavior, forthcoming.

Publications

Meincke, A. S. & Dupré, J. (Ed.): Biological Identity. Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology, (History and Philosophy of Biology), London: Routledge, forthcoming (with contributions by John Dupré, Arantza Etxeberria, Adam Ferner, Philippe Huneman, Elselijn Kingma, Anne Sophie Meincke, Alvaro Moreno, Matteo Mossio, Stuart Newman, David Oderberg, Eric T. Olson, Paul F. Snowdon, Denis Walsh, David Wiggins).

Book Chapters

Meincke, A. S.: “Processual Animalism”, in: Meincke, A. S. & Dupré, J. (Ed.): Biological Identity. Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Biology, (History and Philosophy of Biology), London: Routledge, forthcoming.

Meincke, A. S.: “Human Persons – A Process View”, in: Was sind und wie existieren Personen? Probleme und Perspektiven der gegenwärtigen Forschung (What Are Persons and How Do They Exist? Problems and Perspectives in Contemporary Research, ed. by J. Noller, Münster: Mentis, 2019, 57-80.

Meincke, A. S.: “Persons as Biological Processes. A Bio-Processual Way Out of the Personal Identity Dilemma”, in: Everything Flows. Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology, ed. by D. J. Nicholson & J. A. Dupré, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, 357-378.

Meincke, A. S.: “Bio-Agency and the Possibility of Artificial Agents”, in: Philosophy of Science - Between the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities. Selected Papers from the 2016 conference of the German Society of Philosophy of Science, ed. by A. Christian et al. Dordrecht: Springer (European Studies in Philosophy of Science 9), 2018, 65-93.

Process Biology

 
 

What Is Causation and How Does It Come About?

David Hume thought that all there is to causation is a regular temporal succession of distinct events. The fact that meetings of cats and mice are regularly followed by the mice' deaths does not have anything to do with cats and mice in particular. It is a contingent fact that supervenes on the events in question. That is to say, meetings of cats and mice on the one hand and the deaths of mice could also be related differently - if they are related at all. In the universe, as Hume saw it, everything is entirely loose and separate.

Admittedly, it is perfectly possible that a particular meeting of, say, my neighbour's cat, and a little street mouse at 5 p.m. on the one hand and the mouse's death at 6 p.m. on the same day are indeed not related to one another. Maybe my neighbour's cat was too sleepy, and not feeling hungry anyway, as to engage in activity. Or even, if this was not the case and the cat interrupted its nap, enticed by the opportunity of playing games, maybe the mouse was bound to die anyway, due to a blood clot in its brain. However, we would say that this is not a case of causation then - as opposed to a case where the cat's attacks on the mouse clearly cause the mouse's death.

It appears then that Hume's story is at least incomplete: it leaves out crucial details about the causal players, e.g., cats and mice, that would help us determine whether or not a given temporal succession of events is a case of causation: it leaves out details about the causal powers of these players. Causation, according to the dispositionalist, is a story about the dispositions and powers of things. 

There are many open questions, e.g., what exactly dispositions are, if there are different kinds of dispositions (some scholars distinguish between 'dispositions' and 'powers', and there are more possible distinctions), if dispositions can be analysed in terms of counterfactuals (well, this questions seems to have been answered, namely in the negative), if some, or even all, dispositional properties can be reduced to non-dispositional, so-called categorical properties, and so on. I am particularly interested in the broader ontological picture entailed by dispositional realism, and the implications of this picture for other classical topics in metaphysics, such as agency and persistence. I have also started building links with topical debates in ethics on human embryo protection.

I started my work on dispositions as a Research Fellow in the research project "Powers and the Identity of Agents", funded by the Austrian Science Fund.

 

  

Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Meincke, A. S.: “Potentialität und Disposition in der Diskussion über den Status des menschlichen Embryos: Zur Ontologie des Potentialitätsarguments” (“Potentiality and Disposition in the Debate on the Status of the Human Embryo: On the Ontology of the Argument from Potentiality”), Philosophisches Jahrbuch, 122, 2 (2015), 271-303.

Invited Journal Article

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Dualität im Horizont des Physischen. Thomas Buchheims ‘horizontaler Dualismus’ als Antwort auf das Problem mentaler Verursachung” (“Duality in the Horizon of the Physical. Thomas Buchheim’s ‘Horizontal Dualism’ as Solution to the Problem of Mental Causation”), Philosophisches Jahrbuch 120, 1 (2013), 142-151.


          Reprinted in: Mentale Verursachung (Mental Causation), ed. by Wilhelm Vossenkuhl, (Jahrbuch-Kontroversen 1), Freiburg: Alber, 2014.

Edited Volumes

Meincke, A. S. (Ed.): Dispositionalism. Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, (Synthese Library), Dordrecht: Springer, forthcoming (with contributions by Alexander Bird, Steven French, Ruth Groff, John Heil, Maximilian Kistler, Anna Marmodoro, Anne Sophie Meincke, Stephen Mumford & Rani L. Anjum, Stathis Psillos, Josef Quitterer, Matthew Tugby, Neil E. Williams).

Spann (née Meincke), A. S. & Wehinger, D. (Ed.): Vermögen und Handlung. Der dispositionale Realismus und unser Selbstverständnis als Handelnde (Power and Action. Dispositional Realism and Our Self-Understanding as Agents), Münster: Mentis, 2014 (with contributions by Thomas Buchheim, Michael Esfeld, Georg Gasser, Eva-Maria Jung, Christian Kanzian, Geert Keil, Erasmus Mayr, Uwe Meixner, Edmund Runggaldier, Stephan Schmid, Markus Schrenk, Anne Sophie Spann (née Meincke), Barbara Vetter; 335 pp.).

         Reviewed in:

         Philosophisches Jahrbuch 123, 1 (2016), 299-301.

Book Chapters

Meincke, A. S.: “Powers, Persistence and Process”, in: Dispositionalism. Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, ed. by A. S. Meincke, Dordrecht: Springer, forthcoming.

Meincke, A. S.: “Haben menschliche Embryonen eine Disposition zur Personalität?” (“Do Human Embryos Have a Disposition to Personhood?”), in: Der manipulierbare Embryo, ed. by M. Hähnel, M. Rothhaar & R. Kipke, Münster: Mentis, 2017, 147-171.

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Bio-agency: Können Organismen handeln?” (“Bio-Agency: Can Organisms Act?”), in: Vermögen und Handlung. Der dispositionale Realismus und unser Selbstverständnis als Handelnde (Power and Action. Dispositional Realism and Our Self-Understanding as Agents), ed. by A. S. Spann (née Meincke) & D. Wehinger, Münster: Mentis, 2014, 191-224.

Dispositions

 
 

What Are Pregnant Individuals? How Does a Foetus Relate to the Gestating Organism?

Imagine the following dialogue of a couple: ‘Darling, how many people are coming for dinner tonight?’ – ‘It’s Thomas and Michael, both with their partners.’ – ‘So, four people, plus the two of us.’ – ‘Well, Michael’s partner is pregnant.’ – ‘OK, I’ll cook for seven then – or maybe for six and a half.’

How do we count pregnant individuals? Speaking of a ‘pregnant individual’ seems to suggest that the answer is already clear: if a pregnant individual is an individual, then this is to say that it is one individual. Individuals may have parts; but these do not count extra. If you think that a pregnant individual is exactly one individual, then you are likely to be committed to the so-called part-whole or parthood view, the view that a foetus is a part of the gestating organism. 

Now recall the above dialogue. If a pregnant individual is exactly one individual, why would anybody expecting a pregnant individual for dinner consider cooking for more than one individual (themselves excluded)? ‘Well’, you might reply, ‘this is because experience shows that a pregnant individual ‘eats for two’.’ But why is that? The answer given by most people is this: ‘A pregnant individual ‘eats for two’ because it is actually two; it is two individuals at the same place, one inside the other.’ If you think that a pregnant individual is actually two individuals, then you are likely to be committed to the so-called foetal-container or containment view. According to this view, the foetus resides in the gestating organism like in a container, that is, without being a part of it.

I think neither of these views hits the truth. Reconsider once more the dialogue imagined above. Why does it appear to be sensible when having a pregnant individual for dinner to prepare food for more than only one person but for less than two people (the host(s) and other guests not counted in)? ‘Well’, you might reply, ‘because a pregnant individual does not literally eat for two; it only eats somewhat more than a non-pregnant individual does.’ You might add: ‘The foetus in the womb is not yet a full individual; it is, as it were, less than one. Accordingly, the pregnant individual, while not being exactly one, is still less than two.’

 

This seems exactly right to me. A pregnant individual is neither one individual nor two individuals but rather something in between one and two. This is because the entity we refer to as a foetus (or embryo) is a coming-to-be individual, caught up in a process of gradual development and emancipation from the gestating organism. And, I contend, we can make even more sense of the special relation between foetus and gestating organism if appreciating the processual character not only of pregnancy but also of these organisms themselves.

I started working on this and other aspects of the metaphysics of pregnancy as a Senior Research Fellow in the ERC-funded research project "Better Understanding the Metaphysics of Pregnancy" (BUMP). The project has been highly commended in the 2018 Times Higher Education Awards; find details here and here.

Journal Article in Preparation

Meincke, A. S.: “One or Two? A Process Perspective on Pregnant Individuals"

Book Chapter

Meincke, A. S.: “Haben menschliche Embryonen eine Disposition zur Personalität?” (“Do Human Embryos Have a Disposition to Personhood?”), in: Der manipulierbare Embryo, ed. by M. Hähnel, M. Rothhaar & R. Kipke, Münster: Mentis, 2017, 147-171.

Metaphysics of Pregnancy

 

Bio-agency and Natural Freedom

Are We Free To Want What We Do When We Do What We Want?

Freedom of the will must not be confused with freedom of action. I am not free to break the laws of nature by, for instance, beaming myself to a remote place. However, I am free to want to beam myself there. Similarly, imagine you are tied to a chair. You are not free to stand up, but you are free to want to stand up.

 

This is at least what people tend to think before they start reading feuilletons and philosophical publications on the topic of free will. In everyday life we assume that there is a robust difference between acting freely and determining freely how we want to act; a difference we experience most clearly - and painfully - when our possibilities to act are restricted in exactly that respect that is relevant to how we want to act. And this entails that we normally assume that at least sometimes our will is free in the sense that we could also have willed a different thing or action, and that it is ourselves who will something as opposed to someone manipulating our will.

Many philosophers and some scientists believe in Universal Determinism, the thesis that at any moment in time there is only one possible future which is determined by previous events plus the laws of nature. If Universal Determinism is true, then there is no free will. So-called compatibilists deny this, explaining that it is sufficient if our actions flow from our own wishes, even if these wishes could not have been otherwise. But this amounts to conflating freedom of the will with freedom of action. So-called libertarians, on the other hand, aim to secure free will by denying Universal Determinism. However, they face the objection that under indeterminism exercises of free will become a matter of chance.

I am convinced that we can find a way out of this dilemma if acknowledging the biological nature of the agents whose free will is at stake. Humans are organisms that, as a species, evolved over a period of several millions of years, and that, as individuals, are situated in an environment in which they have to survive. Humans - like many non-human organisms - are bio-agents whose existence over time depends on their actions and, that is, on their inter-actions with other organisms and environmental conditions.

 

Free will, I submit, is a built-in capacity of the capacity to act and as such a biological means of survival and well-being. Given the increased range of flexibility caused by the evolution of motility, interactive self-constitution becomes quicker and more efficient if subject to an agent’s decision. Rather than a transcendental mystery, free will is just another gestalt of the plasticity which we find throughout the domain of the living and which characterises the latter's specific indeterministic constitution. Possible pathways of action are, however, restricted by the affordances and constraints of environmental niches together with the history of bio-agent - environment interactions. This is to say: there is no absolutely free will (as some libertarians might want to have it). But there is free will.

I am further investigating and spelling out these ideas in a four-year Elise Richter research project funded with € 341,176.50 by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The project ("Bio-Agency and Natural Freedom") is located at the University of Vienna, Austria, and benefits from the collaboration with an interdisciplinary team of scholars, namely John Dupré (Philosophy of Science, Exeter, UK), Helen Steward (Metaphysics, Leeds, UK), Josef Quitterer (Metaphysics, Innsbruck, Austria), Björn Brembs (Biology, Regensburg, Germany) and Johannes Jaeger (Biology, Vienna, Austria). Read the academic abstract of the research project here.

In the past I have contributed with a biological perspective as an external collaborator to the research project "Agency and (Quantum) Physics", funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation.

Publications

Book Chapters

Meincke, A. S.: “Bio-Agency and the Possibility of Artificial Agents”, in: Philosophy of Science - Between the Natural Sciences, the Social Sciences, and the Humanities. Selected Papers from the 2016 conference of the German Society of Philosophy of Science, ed. by A. Christian et al. Dordrecht: Springer (European Studies in Philosophy of Science 9), 2018, 65-93.

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Bio-agency: Können Organismen handeln?” (“Bio-Agency: Can Organisms Act?”), in: Vermögen und Handlung. Der dispositionale Realismus und unser Selbstverständnis als Handelnde, ed. by A. S. Spann (née Meincke) & D. Wehinger, Münster: Mentis, 2014, 191-224.

Book Review

Meincke, A. S.: Review of: Derek M. Jones: The Biological Foundations of Action, (History and Philosophy of Biology), London: Routledge, 2017, in: History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 40 (2018): 36, URL= https://doi.org/10.1007/s40656-018-0198-x.

 
 

What if Reality is a Process?

Heraclitus famously stated that no one can step into a river twice.

Taken literally, this is obviously false: the water molecules floating around my feet as I step into the river Exe on Tuesday are different from those that were floating around my feet when I stepped into the river Exe on Monday; but it is still the same river (the river Exe). What remains true, however, is that one does not have a proper concept of a river if not acknowledging a permanent flow of water as being essential to it. A river is something that moves, and that - by moving in such-and-such ways - makes it possible for it to be reidentified as the very same entity over time.

Like Heraclitus, I take it to be a fundamental truth about the world we live in that whatever enjoys existence over time only does so as the result of continuous and interactive efforts. Existence over time - persistence - does not come for free. It is, in fact, hard-won. Life on Earth is an impressive example, in terms of both its evolution and its realisation in individual living systems. But also inorganic matter, at the micro-level, turns out to be stabilised patterns of flow of energy. And even social entities, such as marriages, families, institutions and nations only stay in existence as long as we keep them going.

I am convinced that taking process seriously gives us a new grip onto a bunch of classic problems of metaphysics. If, e.g., persistence is not the persistence of things but of processes, it is no longer necessary to downplay, or even eliminate, change in favour of identity, as it has been happening throughout the history of Western philosophy. Instead, change becomes recognisable as constitutive of persistence in a way that is amenable to scientific investigation. 

 

Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Meincke, A. S.: “The Diasappearance of Change. Towards a Process Account of Persistence", International Journal of Philosophical Studies (2018), published online on 5 December 2018, https://doi.org/10.1080/09672559.2018.1548634. 

Book Chapters

Meincke, A. S.: “Powers, Persistence and Process”, in: Dispositionalism. Perspectives from Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Science, ed. by A. S. Meincke, Dordrecht: Springer, forthcoming.

Meincke, A. S.: “Human Persons – A Process View”, in: Was sind und wie existieren Personen? Probleme und Perspektiven der gegenwärtigen Forschung (What Are Persons and How Do They Exist? Problems and Perspectives in Contemporary Research), ed. by J. Noller, Münster: Mentis, 2019, 57-80.

Meincke, A. S.: “Persons as Biological Processes. A Bio-Processual Way Out of the Personal Identity Dilemma”, in: Everything Flows. Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology, ed. by D. J. Nicholson & J. Dupré, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018, 357-378.

 

Taking Process Seriously

 

Meta-Metaphysics and Existential Philosophy

What Is This (Life) All About? And How Does Metaphysics Help Us Find Out?

Metaphysics, as an academic discipline, is commonly said to investigate the ultimate structures of reality. That is fine as a definition; and it's great that there now is something like analytic metaphysics, marking the end of the linguistic turn. If metaphysics wasn't more than analysing ordinary language sentences, our situation would be not better than that of the people in Plato's cave who kept studying the moving shadows, mistaking them for real things.

Some philosophers have recently complained that analytic metaphysics should care more about science. I agree - adding that 'science' should here refer not only to physics but to other sciences, such as biology, as well. There is another issue, though; one that has not yet been discussed. This is that metaphysics, as it for the most part is studied and taught at universities today, abstracts away from the relevance of metaphysics to our lives. Asking the very question of why and how metaphysics relates to what matters to us humans who struggle to live meaningful lives in always less than ideal circumstances appears to be regarded as breaking the academic code.

I am convinced that a reflection on the existential motivations that draw us into metaphysics will further significant progress in the discipline and thereby, especially if integrated in curricula, consolidate the distinguished status of metaphysics as 'first philosophy'. A future analytic existential philosophy can in this respect learn from the continental tradition of metaphysics, while benefiting from the virtues of the analytic method. 

 

Publications

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Spann (née Meincke), A. S.: “Endlichkeit ohne Unendlichkeit? Anmerkungen zu Heideggers Wegkreuzung mit Hegel im Seinsproblem” (“Finitude without Infinity? Remarks on Heidegger’s Crossing with Hegel in the Problem of Being”), Philosophisches Jahrbuch 119, 2 (2012), 283-316.

Monograph

Meincke, A. S. Auf dem Kampfplatz der Metaphysik. Kritische Studien zur transtemporalen Identität von Personen. (On the Battlefield of Metaphysics. Critical Studies on the Transtemporal Identity of Persons). Münster: Mentis Publishing Company, 2015 (333 pp.).

Reviewed in:

Philosophisches Jahrbuch 123, 2 (2016), 602-604.

Book Chapter

Meincke, A. S.: “Von der Wirklichkeit des Wirklichen. Eine kritische Verteidigung der Metaphysik als philosophischer Disziplin” (“On the Reality of the Real: A Critical Defence of Metaphysics as a Philosophical Discipline”), in: Wozu Metaphysik? Historisch-systematische Perspektiven (Why Metaphysics? Historical and Systematic Perspectives), ed. by C. Erhard, D. Meißner & J. Noller, Freiburg i. Br.: Alber, 2017, 96-130.

Other Journal Article

Meincke, A. S.: “Adorno und Descartes, programmatisch versöhnt: Der wissenschaftliche Essay als Form” (“Adorno and Descartes, Programmatically Reconciled: The Scientific Essay as Form”), Merkur. Deutsche Zeitschrift für europäisches Denken 63, 11, (2009), 1077-1081.