In Onflow, Ralph Pred supplies an account of the nature of consciousness that grapples with "the raw unverbalized stream of experience." Unlike other recent philosophical accounts of consciousness, Pred's analysis deals with the elusive and commonly neglected continuities in the stream of consciousness. Pred offers a general characterization and analysis of experience as well as a highly detailed interpretation of experience from within. Determined to make "conceptual contact" with the immediacy of actual experience, Pred carries forward the radical empiricism pioneered by William James (who coined the term "stream of consciousness") and draws on the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.
To help readers apprehend the formation of conscious thoughts, the intertwining of perception and action, and the working of consciousness in onflowing experience, Pred applies methods of analysis developed in John Searle's theory of intentionality to James's views, thereby showing how intentional states are embedded in the stream of consciousness. Then, calling on Whitehead's treatment of lived moments as acts of experience, Pred provides an account of consciousness that at once deals with conscious thoughts as they emerge from and function in embodied, socialized experience and illustrates how language distorts our understanding of experience and subjectivity. Finally, he details striking parallels between this account and Gerald Edelman's biological theory of consciousness, and, in contrasting the two, argues for a revitalized version of the experiental monism originally formulated by James.