Before it was formulated under the name, Alfred North Whitehead resolved the “hard problem” of consciousness—the problem of qualia, the phenomenal character of experience—by proposing a panpsychist explanation in which consciousness is fundamental to reality. That is, all “entities”, down to the most fundamental building blocks, partakes of some form of awareness. (His thinking was probably addressed to the more traditional mind/body problem—how supposedly non-material, non-extended things like minds kind have causal efficacy over extended material bodies, in more modern terms, how the mind controls the brain.)

Like Spinoza, Whitehead thought that mind and matter were two aspects of the same underlying reality, not two different substances. But as a process philosopher, Whitehead’s formulation was of mind and matter as two poles in a dynamic process. Quantum mechanics suggests that the most elementary constituents of the universe are waves. By necessity, waves have duration, with a pole in the past and a pole in the future. Whitehead identifies the pole in the past, actuality, with matter, and the pole in the future, potentiality, with mind. This duality sets up two causal streams acting in opposite directions, meeting in the present:  Matter acts from the actual past via deterministic causation, while the mind acts from the possible future via free choice.

This dissolves the mind/body problem in a way that also resolves the free will/determinism debate with a “both/and” solution.