Centering and Extending

An Essay on Metaphysical Sense

By Steven G. Smith

Subjects: Metaphysics, Philosophy
Paperback : 9781438464244, 232 pages, January 2018
Hardcover : 9781438464237, 232 pages, April 2017

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Table of contents


1. Metaphysical Sense

World and Life
Sense and Meaningfulness
Sense, Success, and Satisfaction
The Metaphysical Kind of Sense
The Parmenidean Topic of Being
Metaphysical Sense and Meaningfulness

2. Platonism

Lessons of Platonism

3. Cartesianism

Cartesian Dualism
Spinozan Duality
Leibnizian Monadology
Monadology and Meaningfulness
Bergsonian Dualism
Bergsonism and Meaningfulness

4. Centering and Extending

The Way In: Concepts of the Right Kind
The Proposal
A Note on Nonreductive Physicalism
A Note on Panexperientialist Physicalism
A Note on Deleuze and Guattari’s Metaphysics

5. Naturalism and Mind

Consciousness and Actuality
The Causal Relevance of the Mental
Soul as Natural

6. World Order

Richness, Complexity, and Organization
Levels of Being
The Harmony of the World
Ultimate Sense and Meaningfulness

Works Cited

An original metaphysical proposal building on classical and contemporary sources.


In Centering and Extending, Steven G. Smith retrieves and refashions some of the best ideas of classical and early modern metaphysics to support insight into the natures of mental and material beings and their relations. Avoiding what he critiques as distortive paths of idealism, materialism, repressive monism, and overly permissive pluralism, Smith builds his framework on centering and extending as universal principles of formation. Identifying the basic consistency of being with these principles in symmetrical partnership enables a naturalist process view that, unlike Whitehead's, does not overbalance toward the subjective and teleological and, unlike Deleuze and Guattari's, does not overbalance toward the material and chaotic. This view supports useful conceptions of mind and matter, form and energy, reason and cause, and a layered world order without relying on a blind concept of supervenience or emergence. It also respects and reinforces a division of roles between metaphysical sense-making and spiritual determinations of meaningfulness.

Steven G. Smith is Jennie Carlisle Golding Professor of Philosophy at Millsaps College. He is the author of several books, including Worth Doing, also published by SUNY Press.


"The original style and voice is coupled with an impressive grasp of a wide range of texts in the history of Western philosophy and the ability to draw out new aspects from them … This is a rich, learned and complex book deserving of careful study and close reading." — Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This book will be a great boon for advanced students in philosophy." — San Francisco Book Review

"This is a highly original, speculative, and deeply learned metaphysical treatise on the basic categories of existence needed to account for human experience of the world. It contributes to the contemporary metaphysical discussion in Western philosophy by adding a new, intelligent, and interesting voice." — Robert Cummings Neville, author of Ultimates: Philosophical Theology, Volume One