Some Under-and Some Over-rated Great Philosophers

by Charles Hartshorne

Charles Hartshorne taught at the University of Texas where he was Ashbel Smith Professor of Philosophy. He had a distinguished career at several other universities, particularly the University of Chicago and Emory University. His most recent book, Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method, was published by Open Court.

The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp.166-174, Vol. 21, Number 3, Fall, 1992. Process Studies is published quarterly by the Center for Process Studies, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Hartshorne believes that Plato is the most underrated of all philosophers unless it’s Bergson. Aristotle is the most overrated of all unless it’s Kant. He discusses the differences between these thinkers.

I begin with two flat statements. (1) None of the recognized great philosophers has been more widely underrated (or more misinterpreted) than Plato, unless it is Bergson; moreover, the two have important beliefs in common. (2) None of the recognized great philosophers has been more widely overrated than Aristotle, unless it is Kant; these two also have some beliefs in common.

(1) Bergson (in his maturity) and Plato were both theists, both believed in the “self-motion” (Plato) or “creativity” (Bergson) of mind or the psychical. Both thought that all motion or change involves mind. Both explained disorder and suffering, at least partly, by the multiplicity of non-divine psyches. Neither had much sympathy with materialism, and Bergson in his maturity broke completely with the concept of mere mindless matter as a possible truth. If Plato did not do this it is because, in his time, no one had any well established theory of the ever-active atoms which Epicurus shrewdly guessed make up both organic and “inorganic” parts of nature. Also no one knew anything of cells or invisibly minute organisms. By Bergson’s time things were different in principle. The idea was already around, indeed Leibniz had already said (long before the general acceptance of cells), that visible organisms have invisibly small organisms as constituents. As someone has put it, “Big fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite-em, and little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.” Apart from the over-emphasis on parasites, the infinite regress may be dismissed as a Leibnizian extravagance. Leibniz tended to go to extremes.

In his Two Sources of Morality and Religion, Bergson wrote his masterly explanation of why speaking and thinking animals, such as we are, would have a need of religion, and why this would make possible and probable a certain amount of extravagance or superstition in manifestations of the fonction fabulatrice. I think that Plato would have seen a lot of sense in this carefully qualified appeal to religious experience. Both writers were trying to apply reason to religious phenomena. Neither Plato nor Bergson had much use for an extreme pluralism or logical atomism (or an unqualified contingentism) such as Hume’s, Russell’s, or Quine’s, or radical monism (or nessitarianism) such as those of Parmenides, Spinoza, or Bradley. In the mysterious doctrine of the “receptacle,” or cosmic subject of changing predicates, Plato seems to lean toward monism; however, in his belief in individual human souls as immortal he seems inordinately pluralistic. If Plato is interested in anything, it is the multiplicity of human individuals in their relations to one another and to deity as concerned about and aware of them. Plato also saw, as few since have seen so well, the complexity and subtlety of theoretical problems. Well did Peirce say, “Plato knew what philosophy is.” Aristotle was simple-minded by comparison, except in biology, ethics, and formal logic. In his physics and philosophy of religion, his almost good (or merely ingenious) accounts made him the dangerous enemy of the better, or really good. It was Aristotle whom the Medieval Schoolmen (partly) knew and liked. It was also Plotinus and Dionysius, not Plato, whose influence counted then. The Plotinian worship of bare unity is a far cry from Plato’s God (Phaedrus, Timaeus, Sophist, Laws 10) as all-caring Soul of the cosmic body.

In his two most mature books Bergson (like Plato) vigorously defends a dynamic, partly temporal, not merely eternalistic, mysticism. Although interested in posthumous careers for people, he eventually said definitely that this did not mean such careers would be infinite. Bergson was a scholar in neoplatonism and knew better than to endorse it in its monistic extremisms. Also, like Plato, he had seriously studied some mathematics.

(2) Kant, before the Critiques, thought of God as the Ens Realissimum, timeless, self-sufficient Reality, having in itself all that is worth having. In its most nearly consistent form, this was Aristotle’s theism, according to which the deity knows everything that is worth knowing, its own pure “thinking-of-thinking” — whatever, if anything, that is. True, Kant did attribute knowledge of particulars and individuals to God, as moral postulate and regulative idea, but what was accomplished thereby was at the cost of losing some of Aristotle’s consistency. Knowing X cannot be without X, and if X might not have been, then knowing X might not have been. So no wholly self-sufficient timeless, ens realissimum can know anything contingent. True. Kant quarrels with the view that what comes to be must therefore be contingent. Here he regresses both from Aristotle’s logical level and from Plato’s. We have in this philosophy neither Aristotle’s unmoved mover nor Plato’s all-knowing and caring World Soul, but who can say what? I think it is an example of second-rate metaphysics, trying to use language without due regard to the requirements of that enterprise.

Kant attempts to account for the failure of our knowing to tell us anything about the independent reality, the noumenon, by this very independence itself; whereas God, as ethically postulated, he implies, in knowing produces the to-be-known, which has no independent status in relation to God. I find all this, after thinking about it for some seventy years, almost ludicrous in its begging of questions and failure to make coherent sense. Aristotle was simply and clearly right in this: and to know something and by the same act make it, is an incoherent combination of words. This is even more obvious if the thing known has any freedom, makes decisions of its own. And Kant postulated our noumenal freedom. Here it was the Socinans who were simply right in postulating freedom in us and deducing some contingency in God as knowing our free acts. Socinus too was grossly under-rated. He admitted becoming as well as being in God.

Kant was right enough in saying that our categories achieve application only in terms of the temporal structure of experience. But Aristotle came closer than Kant to correctly reporting that structure. Aristotle, though insufficiently clearly, did admit freedom and chance (lack of strictly sufficient reason) in becoming. Previous events, he held, are precisely required for subsequent ones, but not vice versa. Time’s arrow is there for Aristotle but not for Kant, who takes causes to exclude any aspect of indeterminacy in effects. Excruciatingly wrongly, he thinks temporal order can be definite or objective only if particular successors in becoming are causally as necessary as particular predecessors. In short, causal necessity must hold both ways. On the contrary, the order a then b is unambiguous if a is necessary condition for b, while b is not so for a. Asymmetrical conditioning suffices for order of succession: moreover Kant seems part of the time to know this, for in dealing with the first antinomy, he argues that the future infinity of time is not a vicious regress since the infinity is only potential not actual. What that means for determinists is their problem. Some of us have no need to assume it.

On the whole it seems to me dubious whether Kant was much of a rival for clarity as to what he was doing compared to his ancient predecessor. Certainly Kant was no logician comparable to Aristotle, also not comparable to Leibniz. With William James I do think Kant has been treated with undeserved deference! In ethics and aesthetics I rate him somewhat higher than in the first Critique. However, Aristotle also contributed significantly to both normative disciplines.

That Kant’s writings called forth one of the most outrageous outpourings of not very “logical” speculations (Fichte, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Schelling [the best of the four]), I do not think irrelevant to a judgment of the clarity of Kant’s thinking and writing.

The finest single sentence Kant wrote I take to be his expression of awe before the categorical imperative (which I would formulate somewhat differently) and the starry sky. Our human obligations and the vast cosmos we faintly discern at night, yes, that combination does deserve reverence. Kant was a person, not just a thinker, and as a person I deeply admire him. But as a critic of metaphysics, he was himself too much a bad metaphysician to rate highly. Hume, Carneades, are the great critics, less pretentious, less “dogmatic” in the normal sense (not in Kant’s self-serving one) and much clearer. Hence it takes less time and effort to grasp what they say. Too much else now calls for understanding to spend a lot of our energy on Kant. I mean what I am saying. I had a Kant scholar as teacher (C.I. Lewis) and I taught Kant, reading him in German where necessary, and I knew the views of Julius Ebbinghaus, heard him lecture, talked with him often and in both languages. He was the most nearly strict Kantian in this century, so far as I know. But where are his disciples? I learned from him and admired him as a person and a scholar, but I did not unlearn my conviction that his primary message like Kant’s is unacceptable.

The primacy of practical reason and of the summu bonum or supreme aim or purpose, has some validity, but should not be allowed to belittle theoretical reason, nor should the relations between human and divine values be allowed to reduce God to a mere means for the production of human good. Nor are the other animals so non-rational and we so rational that the others are there only for our good. All feeling has intrinsic value (or disvalue). Value-for-God is the final measure, not value for us. Kant set the stage for Fichte’s and Hegel’s virtual deification of human consciousness and for Schopenhauer’s candid atheism. Also for Schleiermacher’s determinism and reduction of God to that on which we depend, rather than that with which we, in our humble roles on this planet, cooperate in creating a world worthy of an all-loving consciousness. Kant’s relegation of our freedoms to a wholly hidden noumenal realm of timeless, spaceless, totally uncharacterizable Something must be rejected. As Harry Wolf-son said, Any “sensible” person “is a Pelagean, ” not an Augustinian [or a Kantian]. Here we must, to adopt the Hegelian phrase, “Negate the negation. Time’s arrow is required not just for ethical or religious reasons but for all our basic concerns.

The definite orderliness of nature is what only God could decide. It cannot be decided by creatures mutually adapting to one another according to natural selection and mutation, for this assumes a basic physico-chemical order it does not explain. Atheists and materialists miss the truth here “as if by magic.” The mere existence of an atom for a second is an order. Order is either inexplicable or it is explained by an orderer. Once freedom anywhere is granted, an orderer is explicable as supreme or divine freedom inspiring (Plato “persuading”) all lesser freedoms to feel the attraction of the cosmic plan envisaged by the (eminent but not the only) Decider. The idea of atoms in infinite time happening to fall into the order of a Shakespearean sonnet is no more rational than a fairy tale.

The one-sided complete necessitarians, Stoics and Spinoza, have had good public relations long enough to show what they can do. The issue is, as the French say, “a thing judged.” With the new physics, even physicists are open to argument on that question. Einstein was the last great proponent of the infatuation with deductive logic mistaken as the “logic of events.” With this phrase Peirce crystallized the issue. Reason is not essentially a search for two-way necessity, but rather a search for ways to create happiness in individual freedoms sufficiently ordered to make harmony the rule rather than the exception. Every organism is a harmony of parts and activities. Only very sick organisms are hopelessly unhappy, and the sicker they are the sooner they may die unless deliberately kept alive by others, perhaps because of foolish human laws. lam on record as not wanting this to happen to me.

I have already twice mentioned Peirce. With him one rightly associates James, Dewey, and Whitehead, who read the other two. With both Peirce and Whitehead I have been closely associated. Weiss is associated with all of these. He was, as I was not, in the technical sense a pupil of Whitehead, while also helping greatly to edit Peirce. There is some agreement that, as Victor Lowe put it, I am only a “semi-Whiteheadian.” There is a dissertation, (by Vitali) arguing that I am primarily a Peircian. There is also some agreement that Process Philosophy, especially in its theology and its psychology of sensation, is partly my creation. How far are the six of us named in the first three sentences of this paragraph properly rated? I am old enough to have some objectivity in this. At 95, I see myself as in sight of the end, and (like Aristotle but unlike Plato or Kant) I mean the end of my career, not only on earth and in space-time but anywhere and anyhow. End, however, does not mean destruction, of concrete actuality. Bergson said this first, and it is one of his flashes of genius. Whitehead’s “objective immortality of the past” turns it into a fully-formed doctrine. My first reading of Whitehead on that doctrine settled the question for me. This is one of the many aspects of my incomplete but genuine “preestablished harmony” with Whitehead. Experiences are the actualities, and in God they all ‘live forevermore.” Whitehead also says they “perish,” but here he is trying too hard to agree with Locke. I never use “perish” in this odd sense. For our feeble memories, past experiences are largely lost, but we are not the final measure of truth, reality, or value.

My view is that the profession as a whole has only begun to grasp what has happened in the Anglo-American movement that we six, with many others, represent. One of my contributions is to have shown that the new metaphysics and cosmology are, to a considerable extent, also German, French, Italian, and, in addition, have parallels in India and Pakistan (via Bergson), and also, via Buddhism, in China and Japan. I consider ours the Twentieth Century position in constructive or speculative philosophy. Because of its basis in Plato, Epicurus, Aristotle, Leibniz, and nearly all so-called “idealists” (so far as the question of mind-and-matter is concerned), my term “neoclassical” has some justification.

Thanks partly to Descartes’ unambiguous affirmation of divine and human freedom, a long line of French philosophers generalized this to include all individuals or active singulars (my phrase), so that Whitehead’s “category of the ultimate” or creativity (Peirce’s “spontaneity” of feeling as such) has genuine French support. Whitehead’s great concept of “prehension” as the intuitive relation common to memory and perception — a stroke of genius second to none, and not quite anticipated by Peirce, Bergson, Tibetan Buddhism, Fechner in Germany, Varisco in Italy, and spelled out by Whitehead as “feeling of others’] feeling” — changes everything. I say everything because all actual entities — whether human, subhuman, super-human or divine — are said to prehend. Moreover, Whitehead points out, feeling of feeling is literally sympathy (with antipathy as a special distorted case), so that what we have is a metaphysics of love in its central meaning. At long last the old Hindu and Greek question — Is love the ultimate or only the penultimate concept? — has an answer. Radically superior to dog love and human (rational animal) love is only divine love. Love is the key to the one and the many, to causality, and to mind and body (we sympathize with our bodily cells, especially some of them, all our waking or dreaming lives).

Whitehead’s definite rejection of Plato’s idea of God as the Soul of which the cosmos of nondivine things is the body, I call a downright mistake. It is feebly and uncharacteristically supported by an obviously inconclusive and merely historical, non-systematic, argument. A number of scholars agree with me in taking this mind-body view seriously, and admirers of Merleau-Ponty should take note of this. My system of ideas has partial support in many countries.

If neo-classicism exalts love, it also and equally exalts freedom, self-determination, self-change, Epicurus against Democritus and the Stoics (including Spinoza) and Einstein, their last great speculative representative. Divine power “lets things be” (Heidegger), it does not simply make them be what they are. It inspires them to relate themselves to the basic cosmic scheme as in this cosmic epoch. The cosmos has an orderer, but the order is not an absolute, freedom-excluding, or eternally decided, regularity or lawfulness. It is an order of agents, none of which is completely determined in any concrete action by any previous (still less any simply timeless) action or set of actions or decisions. Omnipotence, if properly interpreted, is not too great a power to attribute to God, but unless so interpreted it is viciously ambiguous as to what it is power over. Divine freedom cannot be the only freedom, for if it were, how would we know what “free” means? “Supreme freedom” has meaning because it is not the only freedom. Creativity, the transcendental category, spells this out. All active singulars, including atoms, molecules, and cells, decide, truly make, create something of the definiteness of the cosmos. Peirce, Bergson, W. P. Montague, Whitehead, and others in various countries agree on this. The supreme creator is as far as possible from the only creator.

Whatever else God decides, it is obvious to me that — if theism makes any sense at all — the laws of nature can only have been divinely decided. To talk, as some do, as if scientists made these laws is clearly enough absurd, belonging, in New Yorker language, to the “department of utter confusion.” Our picture of nature is not, even for us if we know what we are about, all that nature is. If that were so, then my pictures of you would be you, for me. But even for me you are obviously more than I can ever know. Indeed, I know that I am myself more than and partly different from what I can ever know that I am. Do deconstructionists really take these facts, and they are facts, adequately into account in their talk about how we are shut up in a linguistic cage and can never get out? If I am not in error, they have somewhere admitted that their position needs to be deconstructed. It most certainly does.

One more underrated philosopher is Sir Karl Popper. After Whitehead, to whom he was obviously unfair, he has been, by my standards, the best recent philosopher of science. He was not unfair to me, nor I to him. I met him, even visited him. He did not, like Carnap or Wittgenstein, mis-define metaphysics as the misuse of words. Bad metaphysics is that. Good metaphysics (as I learned from Popper) is two things: (1) making verbal statements that have coherent meaning, these meanings derived of course from experience, but (2) such that no conceivable experience could be incompatible with or falsify them. They are necessary truths.

Empirical science is the making of statements that also get their meanings from experience but are such that some genuinely conceivable experiences or observations could and would be incompatible with or falsify them. Empirical truths are contingent. Popper’s example of a metaphysical statement is akin to mine, a basic realism. My version: no experience can have merely itself as datum. Even in dreams, as Bergson has shown, once and for all so far as I am concerned, two further realities are involved: some aspects of the subject’s own past experiences (memory) and (sensory awareness) of the subject’s bodily state, in whatever sense it has a body, and with the last, to some extent, the state of the environment, as well. I have verified this scores of times in my own case. Memory and bodily awareness are what waking life and dreaming have in common; the differences are the more particular ways in which memory and bodily awareness function and are interpreted in the two states.

The traditional notion of mere dream is a myth and a very misleading one. So is the Berkeleyan form of idealism, and the Cartesian form of dualism, which the myth helped to produce. Berkeley was a provincial Irishman who never dealt with Leibniz’s most creative doctrine, which was his radical realistic idealism. Monad’s were for Leibniz just as real on the subhuman, even subanimal, levels, as on the human level; they were merely much less capable of thought and definite conscious recollections and perceptions, more limited to simple feeling and extremely short-run memory of what has just happened. They have “petite perceptions,” or “sentiments,” and feel without knowing that, what, or how they feel.

In a number of ways Popper, in a group of logical positivists, was indeed a “positivist” in a more literal and good sense. He held, rightly, that observation statements are essentially positive. What we experience or observe is never nothing but always something. Thus we observe not the nonflatness of the earth but the (approximate) sphericity of it. On the sea or a sizeable lake, we can literally see something of this curvature. Popper affirmed freedom, not classical determinism, also behaviorism as method, but so that mind as well as body are thereby known.

A mistake of Popper’s (and a lapse into negativism a la Carnap) was his admission of the concept of wholly mindless matter in nature below the animal (or is it plant) level. In molecules, atoms, particles there are self-motions and all the other non-question begging requirements (Plato, Epicurus) of the presence of mind. To demand DNA for mind is question-begging. There is nothing in the idea of feeling, as minimal requirement of mind, that logically entails reproductive capacity, the essential biological ability. If it were otherwise, the idea of God as purposive, or as knowing, would be ruled out and atheism established by definition. Self-motion as libertarian freedom is allowed by quantum theory to the active singulars of “inanimate nature,” insofar in agreement with Epicurus, who (and I knew a scholar in Greek who said this) ought to have been a psychicalist. Mind-body can be mind-mind on two levels.

Wholly mindless matter can never be demonstrated, it can only be asserted. And Popper claims no certainty for his negation here. His only argument for mindless matter is that mind requires memory, and atoms can have none. My reply is that memory behavioristically is shown by the influence of the past of the individual on its present, and I wonder how physics can reduce such influence to zero while still maintaining even partial individual identity. All causality is influence of the past on the present. I feel my ignorance here and I admire Popper in that he does offer a definite argument against psychicalism. Otherwise all I ever find are vague appeals to common sense or to the “pathetic fallacy,” against which I balance the “prosaic fallacy.” Unimaginative people — and to talk about the feelings of atoms does make demands on imagination — are not going to understand nature. Physicists now know that nature is “stranger than we think, perhaps stranger than we can think.” (Was is Bohr who said this?)

One other greatly, scandalously, underrated figure is Rabbi Abraham Heschel, in my view one of the best theologians of this century. Even, sadly enough, some Jewish theologians underrate him and prefer a mediocrity. Sorry, I can see it no otherwise, but wish not to name the latter. Heschel is, of all theologians I know about, the one who most completely understands what it means to talk about divine knowledge, will, or purpose. These terms acquire human meaning from our experiences of our knowledge, will or purpose. If these are analogically to enable us to conceive radically super-human (and super-animal) forms in God we cannot simply dismiss what in our experience always goes with them. For one thing, perception goes with them. For another, memory, for another, emotion, feeling. I suggest that we know nothing at all of what knowing or willing would be like without memory, perception, and feeling. Among our feelings the most essential is, in many great traditions, taken to be love. In Aristotle’s view God perceives, knows, loves only the divine timeless self, not worldly individuals or details. Ditto in Hindu Advaita Vedantism. But not according to Plato (after The Republic) and not in the Old or New Testaments. (In Stoicism all action is by necessity, not freedom, whether in God or worldly individuals.) Heschel attributes love to God and with it the opposite of Aquinas s pure actuality,” entirely closed to influence from the world. On the contrary, God is “the most moved” of beings and observes all that happens in the world.

What then distinguishes divine love from ours? And what analogy have we to justify the vast difference between us and God if divine love is only our love at its possible best? This was Feuerbach’s question. Here Plato gave a key which Aristotle threw away and lost for many a century. Plotinus, after Philo, helped to keep it hidden. Our love is from a single body, a tiny fragment of the cosmic whole, outward. According to Plato’s Timaeus, the divine body is formed by all the actualities there are, other than the divine experiences. Nothing actual is simply outside God, as embodied mind.

“Out of space and time” or “beyond” space and time are spatio-temporal metaphors for the status of space-time itself! As Paul Weiss once put it, a superspace is being appealed to in which the space-time whole can have a locus and God another locus. Is this not a childish way to try to express the status of God and cosmos? Experiencing X is not that without X, and the subject of actually experiencing X must contain that experiencing in its own actuality when it does that experiencing. God-knowing-all-else becomes contradictory it there is anything simply “outside” God. The reason we do not grasp this easily is that our “knowledge” is largely indirect and inferential, from tiny fragments of reality to the whole.

Judaism and Islam said there can be “no graven image” of God. Well, is there a graven image of the cosmos, God’s body? Notice too that belief in God is very different from belief in fairies, ghosts, or angels. Fairies have the appearance of bodies, but of what materials are their bodies made? Have fairies’ bodies any weight? We have considerable well-founded knowledge of the Cosmos, though we know that our ignorance of its contents is vast. With fairies and ghosts, however, we haven’t a single clear clue, just talk. With angels is it any better? If theism is a superstition, it is, so far as I can see, different in principle from any other superstition. Freud knew that, in his way. There is a Cosmic Unity and we have evidence of the laws of what goes on in it. They are the same as the laws in our solar system. My (or your) genes are almost like laws peculiar to my (or your) body, the cosmic unity alone is, for our present knowledge, comparably definite and distinctive, indeed vastly more so. This unity of laws is either a mere fact, with no further explanation, or there is a further explanation. If so, physics is not giving it. What other is there than the theistic one? Astronomer Fred Hoyle long ago mentioned this in his science fiction, The Black Cloud.

We do not have all the answers, but, compared to all previous ages on this planet, we now have many definitely grounded answers where formerly there were mere guesses or hopeless vagueness. We do know how far off the moon and the sun are, we do know that determinism, taken as absolute, could not be verified and can reasonably be taken as falsified. We do know that if theism cannot be proved, neither can it be disproved, unless by theism we mean various traditional conceptions or the all-surpassing Being that recent philosophies of religion, say since Hegel, have criticized as objectionable for religious reasons. As many have described God, no such being ought to exist. Some theologies are so self-inconsistent, or so utterly vague, or ethically repellant, that they barely deserve refutation. But land others have shown how some classical inconsistencies can be avoided, and some vagueness replaced by definiteness.

Mystery will always remain. We fragments of the cosmos can never survey the cosmos from a cosmic perspective, and our tiny attention span, with even two minutes ago already vague as to fine details, can never know as the cosmic self knows. “I am not God” is one of the theist’s great resources by which to retain a becoming modesty as to our likelihood of being mistaken. Belief in God’s infallibility, even if this belief is supposed infallible, does not make us infallible in any more definite sense. Much of what God infallibly knows beyond this infallibility itself may still largely escape us.

Bergson and Plato, Aristotle and Kant, seem to some of us to have been admired not simply too much or too little but also partly for the wrong reasons. James admired Bergson for his worst mistake, his rejection of logic, and of the use of concepts, in metaphysics. Indeed, two of Bergson’s greatest contributions were in his definite revision of the concept of dreaming as it has been used in epistemology, and in his demonstration of the essential relativity of the concept of nothing. Bergson’s early books involved other serious mistakes; he tried hard to contribute to biology, whereas his greatest talents were in psychology and anthropology. His Two Sources appeared when he was 73. He was right that intellect tends toward the static view of things, or to “spatialize time,” but wrong to think becoming cannot be viewed intellectually. And he was grievously mistaken in his contention that intellect is bound to turn really continuous becoming into discrete unit-cases. On the contrary, mathematicians (for example, Benjamin and Charles Peirce) are fascinated by the subtleties of continuity, and Bergson’s example of the cinema, where in fact discrete unit-cases give an illusion of pure continuity, testifies against him. In all the history of Western philosophy the common view of becoming (Aristotle to Peirce and Bergson) has been that becoming is continuous, not in definite least unit-cases. Before Whitehead and Von Wright, and before quantum physics in the West, only some Islamic doctrines were clearly otherwise. Buddhists in Asia did indeed anticipate Whitehead, but I recall nothing about this, even in Schopenhauer. In spite of Bergson’s failure to help much in biology, he was insightful in stressing the importance of sympathy and of freedom as basic principles in nature. He was right in insisting that Newtonian physics could not possibly be the literal whole truth, but he was at least partly wrong about Einsteinian relativity.

If Bergson was better in high maturity than earlier, so was Plato. And, as Burnet said (but who took note of it?), Plato’s great discovery was not that of the timeless forms but of the soul as self-moved, and (Cornford) of God as the Soul of which all else is the unique body, the only body with no external environment.

As Freud says somewhere, reason is not a strong force in human life but it is persistent and in the long run may prevail. However, Freud’s neglect of the mother-child relation, his manifest male chauvinism, needs the correction Elie Sagan has given it. Of all social relations, the mother-child is the most basic. Preservation of acquired behaviors is primarily through it. Incidentally, here, too, Bergson was superior to Aristotle, even to Plato and Socrates, in his saying, “Woman is as intelligent as man” the difference, he rightly says, is emotional, what women care most about. On the average there is bound to be some such difference. This, too, is a fine example of Bergson’s anthropology. Paul Valerie was right: Bergson was a very “great European.” So was Plato, to whom (as Whitehead, more right than he knew, tells us) Western philosophy has been a series of (not always judicious) footnotes.

And Peirce, Whitehead, Hartshorne (who lacks the mathematical competence of the other two), how do they rate? Let me put it this way: they have been given their chance to be noticed. Time will tell. As Heidegger (and who could deny that he has been given his chance to be noticed?) said, Denken ist Danken, thinking is thanking — the final word is gratitude. It is only through countless others that any of us has had the slightest possibility of being praiseworthy.