Existence and Actuality: Conversations with Charles Hartshorne
by John B. Cobb, Jr. and Franklin I. Gamwell (eds.)
Chapter 3: On the Language of Theology Hartshorne and Quine by R. M. Martin
R. M. Martin is retired professor of philosophy at Northwestern University and presently research associate at the Boston University center for the Philosophy and History of Science.
Let me confess straightway that knowing Charles and Dorothy Hartshorne was one of the rare privileges of my youth. They are, in my opinion, one of the great couples of academe. It was my pleasure to meet them for the first time at a meeting of the Aesthetics Society of America in the early fall of 1944 at a reception in the Wade Park Manor Hotel in Cleveland. I was on my way to Chicago, more particularly to the University of Chicago, to teach in the newly formed college program in mathematics. In Dorothy I instantly recognized a woman of extraordinary intelligence, charm, and warmth. Charles’s work was already known to me to some extent -- he was a famous metaphysician even then -- and I had heard him speak on perception at Harvard, when I was an undergraduate there, in a talk that was followed by an interesting exchange with C. I. Lewis. In Chicago, the Hartshorne home became my second home, and the kindness and warm hospitality shown me there are of the sort that one can never be sufficiently grateful for or repay. I had been a student of Whitehead’s at Harvard during the very last year of his teaching there. So of course Charles and I had a close bond in our love and admiration for Whitehead. I had already read a good deal of Peirce’s writings, especially his logical works, but under Charles’s stimulus came to see in him a much richer and variegated philosophic mind than I had seen theretofore. The joy of talking about Peirce and Whitehead with Charles off and on during these intervening years has never ceased, even when we have not been able to see eye to eye about some niceties of detail.
It was my good fortune to be present at Charles’s rencontre with Van Quine at Boston University the evening of October 17, 1979. What Charles and Van said that evening seems to me to provide excellent summaries of their respective overall philosophical views. My remarks today will be concerned almost wholly with this rencontre, subjecting it to a careful reading and appraisal. Although my remarks will seem largely critical, the underlying intent is constructive, to help do the job better. Philosophical theology is still in its infancy, a swaddling babe scarcely 2,000 years old, and the best is yet to come. My own view is that it cannot be brought to maturity, at this tail end of the twentieth century, without taking into intimate account the lessons the new logic has taught us.
In a very perceptive, but as yet unpublished, paper devoted to evaluation and to evaluating those who evaluate, Paul Weiss has called attention to the highly practical character of the theoretical work of logical analysis, thereby helping to verify Whitehead’s famous dictum that the paradox is now fully resolved which states that our most abstract concepts are our best and most useful instruments with which to come to understand concrete matters of fact and practical affairs. In philosophical theology par excellence these three items are welded together indissolubly -- abstract concepts, concrete matters of fact, practical affairs -- so that Weiss’s comments are of special relevance for us in our discussion at this conference. He notes that (MS. p. 13) ‘most of our inferences do not begin with premises known or accepted as being certainly true. Often we fail to move straightforwardly to necessitated conclusions. We begin with what is dubious, merely believed, or supposed. We backtrack and qualify to end with what is only tentatively accepted. Rules governing the legitimate moves [emphasis added] are today being formulated by modal, intentional, and multi-valued logicians, with the result that logic is more pertinent today to the [analysis of the] reasoning of actual men than it ever had been before. So far as what logicians have achieved is ignored, [no benefits result]."
It is interesting that Weiss mentions modal, intentional, and multi-valued logics, but not the very one that is perhaps the most suitable. What one needs is an all-inclusive logic -- a "grand logic," in Peirce’s phrase -- in which the positive achievements of these various alternative logics can be accommodated without having to pay the high, inflationary prices they usually demand: excessive ontic commitment and involvement, "fuzzy’’ semantics, excessive and perhaps unsound or at least dubious axioms and rules, and failure to achieve the kind of "maximum logical candor" that should be aimed at. It has been contended elsewhere, and to some extent shown, that the approach via an event-logic seems to provide the kind of unified outlook required and at a reasonable price. Weiss is surely correct in thinking that logic, as construed in a sufficiently broad sense, is nowadays of greater practical, as well as philosophical, utility than ever before. The more it is used the greater its helpfulness is seen to be in assuring correctness of statement and of inference, and adequacy of assumption needed for a given purpose, in bringing to light unforeseen relationships and interconnections, in leading to new insights and new problems to be investigated.
In speaking of the burgeoning literature on evaluation, Weiss comments (MS, p. 12) that the subject "suffers from two unexamined limitations; it explicitly recognizes only a few of the methods that it actually uses, and it misconstrues the import of what it does acknowledge. It is not alone [in this]. Every practical [and, indeed, theoretical, scientific, and philosophical, it would seem] enterprise . . . suffers from the same defects, though usually in different places [and ways] and with different results." On one item, however, almost all types of enterprise, whether practical or theoretical, seem to share the same defect at the same place, namely, in inattention to the logical character of the basic vocabulary needed or being used, to its syntax, its semantics, its pragmatics.
The language of philosophical theology seems not to have been subjected to any very searching logical analysis in the recent literature. The reason in part is that logic itself had not yet developed to the point where this could take place fruitfully. In the past few years, however, this situation has been changing radically. Three items stand out as of especial relevance for such purposes, the systematic development of syntax, semantics, and pragmatics already mentioned, the formulation of a suitably sensitive and delicate theory of intentionality, and the articulation of the all-embracing logic governing events, states, acts, and processes, already referred to. We now seem, for the first time in history, very close to being able to examine without distortion any theological vocabulary, however subtle, and all types of reasoning, however delicate and complex, that enter into theological discussion.
A word more about the inner character of the event-theoretical framework, which consists of (1) the usual quantificational theory of first order, extended to include the theory of virtual classes and relations, (2) the theory of identity, (3) Lesniewski’s mereology or calculus of individuals, (4) logical syntax in its modern form, (5) a semantics or theory of reference both extensional and intentional, (6) variant renditions of systematic pragmatics as needed, (7) the theory of events, states, acts, and processes, and, finally, (8) a theory of structural or grammatical relations of the kind needed for the analysis of natural language. Nothing short of this eightfold kind of theory would seem to be adequate, and, once available, it may be seen to provide appropriate foundations for modal, multi-valued, and other so-called "alternative" logics.
All criticism presupposes a background theory of some sort as a basis. The event-theoretic framework is presupposed in the following comments, where, however, the attempt has been made to keep technical matters at an absolute minimum.
Let us turn now to the formal part of this paper.
Professor Hartshorne believes that ‘‘there are rational grounds for theism, or the assertion of the existence of God, if the word ‘God’ is suitably defined."1 Perhaps we should say here rather that theism comprises an entire theory of which statements to the effect that God exists are logical consequences of the theory’s axioms, given definitions of ‘God’ and ‘exists’. Suitable definitions of either, however, are not easy to come by, as everyone would no doubt admit. It is probably best to introduce ‘God’ as a logically proper name in terms of a suitable Russellian description, as Bowman Clarke has well noted.2 Descriptions fail of their mark, however, unless postulates or theorems are forthcoming assuring the existence and uniqueness of the entity described.
Hartshorne is interested in "rational grounds" for the existence of God, or "valid reasons" or ‘‘arguments’’ or even "formal arguments." He never quite tells us precisely what he means by these phrases -- it is very difficult to do so -- but one key item about them seems to be overlooked entirely, namely, their relativity to a system. All such phrases are, strictly, meaningless except in terms of some system of notions or concepts. The very words ‘rational’ and ‘valid’ are delicate words that must be handled with the greatest care and precision before they yield their nectar. Also these words interanimate each other, the behavior of each contributing to the very ‘‘meaning" of the other. If separate arguments are given within separate systems, this is a significant fact to be noted. If they are all given within the same system, or some in one, some in another, this too is a circumstance of some significance. In any event, it is only by keeping "tabs on our tools" that we are able to be clear as to precisely what it is that we are saying. Philosophy, after all, needs precision of statement, more even than mathematics and natural science do.
Hartshorne lists some qualifications on theism that are to him essential: a principle of dual transcendence" and a belief in certain "a priori" arguments (actually six of them) that are claimed to be "free from obvious fallacy" and that are suitably arranged disjunctively. Let us examine these arguments and worry a little about the kind of language-structure within which they are presumed to be formulated. Nothing is more profitable in philosophical study than worry of this sort. And nothing here looms so important as details. Gott wohnt im Detail, as an old German adage has it. Neglect of detail almost always leads to a sloppy vocabulary, blurred premises, inarticulate reasoning, and inconclusive conclusions.
"Dual transcendence," Hartshorne tells us, "holds that God surpasses other beings, not by being sheerly absolute, infinite, independent, necessary, eternal, immutable, but by being both absolute, independent, infinite, etc., and also, in uniquely excellent fashion, relative, dependent, finite, contingent, and temporal. This combination of traits is not contradictory, since there is a distinction of respects in which the two sets of adjectives apply to God.’’ These interesting adjectives all need a careful analysis in their various uses in ordinary contexts as well as in the highly special ones in which they may be attributed analogically to God. It is to be feared that adequate analyses of either kind have never been given. It is one of the future tasks of logicolinguistics, on the one hand, and of logico-theology, on the other, to provide them. Nonetheless, Hartshorne is probably on the right track in holding that the notion of a "distinction of respects’’ is needed here. God may be said to be "absolute" in one respect but "relative" in another, "infinite’’ in one respect and "finite" in another, and so on. But we must immediately ask: in what respects is God one or the other? Without a clear articulation of the respects, dual transcendence relative to any given pair of adjectives is not very informative. Also we must worry here as to how respects are to be handled. What kind of an object are they’? Are they values for variables?
In my paper "On God and Primordiality," a notion of God was put forward that turns out to be closer to that of St. Thomas Aquinas than to that of Whitehead or Hartshorne.3 Whether the conception there is precisely that of ‘classical" theism remains to be considered. But in any case, it is akin to it, closer to it no doubt than that of the process theologians. However, dual transcendence -- not perhaps in Hartshorne’s sense but in the sense of the "six antitheses’’ concerning God’s nature that Whitehead puts forward in Process and Reality -- is shown to apply to it. God, in the sense of the "On God and Primordiality" paper, is explicitly shown to be both ‘‘permanent’’ and ‘‘fluent," "one" and "many," "actual eminently" but also actually deficient, and so on. but of course in different senses. Thus dual transcendence, in Whitehead’s sense, can hold for notions of God not based on process theology, for notions more akin to that (or those) of the very "classical" theism that Hartshorne thinks is not only "false a priori" but also "a tragic error." I shall urge below, however, that neither of these contentions appears to be justifiable.
What view is it that opposes the principle of dual transcendence? It is to contend that deity is "in every respect absolute or infinite" and so on, and this is "either to empty the idea of any definite and consistent meaning or to make it a mere abstraction. Concrete actuality cannot be merely infinite, independent, or necessary. Hence to deny any and every sort of finitude, relativity, or contingency to God is not to exalt him." What Hartshorne refers to as "classical" theism is apparently precisely the view that denies dual transcendence in this strong sense. But does it? To establish that it does would require a considerable spelling out of the view or views. Has it really been contended that God is infinite, absolute, etc., in every respect? Think how strong the quantifier ‘in every respect’ here is. It must cover all the respects of which the language at hand can speak. Any language adequate for theology must be of a very considerable breadth and expressive power; it must include modes of expression for mathematics and science, for describing our moral behavior, our values, our hopes, fears, and loves, and so on. It is doubtful that any serious theism has ever denied the principle of dual transcendence in the very strong sense in which Hartshorne states it.
How, in a strictly logical way, are the quantifiers over respects to be handled? Hartshorne does not tell us, nor does Findlay, who makes a good deal of essentially the same notion.4 In several recent papers attempts have been made to provide a logic of aspects using different Fregean Under-relations to allow us to say that a given object x is taken under a given predicate-description in a given intentional context e.5 There are several alternative relations here to be considered. One or more of them holds every promise of providing the theologian and metaphysician with the tools for making all the distinctions concerned with aspect that will ever be needed.
Note that, in the passage just cited, Hartshorne shifts attention to "concrete actuality," which, for him, God must exhibit. The dichotomy of "concrete" and "abstract" is a tricky one, and a good deal of clarification is needed to specify the sense or senses in which any conception of God may be said to be one or the other. Additional clarification is then needed to spell out the sense or senses in which God is said analogically to be or not to be "infinite,’’ "independent," or "necessary." Howsoever these matters be arranged, God is of course to be "exalted" above all else. This is to be done, not just by ascribing or withholding, analogically, certain adjectives of him, but rather primarily in making him the sole object of religious devotion in accord with whose will we seek to direct every act of our lives, however small, and whom we seek to love with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.
Hartshorne makes much of the a priori, as having something to do with "conceivable experiences," the empirical then consisting of what is not a priori. This hoary set of terms, however, has been the subject of considerable debate in recent years, and it is safe to say that the dichotomy has never been sufficiently clarified or even justified for analytical purposes.6 At best it is a remnant of the past and probably should be buried forever. It has done its harm in contributing to philosophical confusion, and should now be allowed to rest in peace. It would seem to be a general weakness of Hartshorne’s methodology that he makes so much depend on it.
The six arguments for God’s existence that Hartshorne accepts are all "equally a priori," and against them he thinks there are no valid "empirical" reasons. One of them is a form of the ontological argument. However, no one of the six is "so evidently cogent that there can be no reasonable ground for rejecting it." This last can be said, however, without recourse to the a priori. Also it can be said of any hypothesis of theoretical science, for example, or even of mathematics. There are almost always reasonable grounds for rejecting any scientific hypothesis.
Now what is a "formal argument" for Hartshorne? It is, he tells us, "a set of options claiming to be exhaustive. If p entail q then the options are; accept q or reject p." There appears to be a category mistake here between the semantical notion of an entailment and the pragmatic reactions to it of accepting or rejecting its premise or conclusion. The formal argument is one, the options the other. Let us bear in mind this distinction and move on. Hartshorne’s very next sentences state that ‘merely rejecting p is negative and rather vague as to what the rejection positively imports. Hence, in my formulation of the six arguments, the blanket negation, not p. where p is theism, is analyzed as a disjunction of the possible more or less positive forms the negation could take. If the disjunction is finite and exhaustive, then one must either accept the negative disjunction as a whole or accept the theistic conclusion -- unless one chooses to take no stand, to be merely agnostic." These are rather obscure sentences to fathom. Let us follow the spirit if not the letter of what they are supposed to say in order to understand what the six proofs really amount to.
In the first place, a formal argument is not in any strict sense a set of options. One may accept the premise or premises of an argument; then, if the argument is valid, it is eminently ‘‘rational" to accept also the conclusion. Suppose now that sentence a entails the sentence b, i.e., that a is the conjunction of the premises logically implying, so to speak, the conclusion b. And suppose this entailment is accepted by some person. The options for such a person are then that he does not accept a or that he does accept b. We see this by recalling the so called Modus Ponens principle of pragmatics.7
(1) (p) (a) (b) (t) (p Acpt (a b) t p Acpt a,t) p Acpt b, t).
(2) (p) (a) (b) (t) (p Acpt (a b)’t ( p Acpt a, t v p Acpt b, t)).
Here of course ‘p Acpt a, t’ expresses that person p accepts or takes-as-true the sentence a at time t. But for a person not to accept a is not the same as his rejecting b. To reject a, in the most natural sense, is to accept the negation of a rather than merely not to accept a.
Hartshorne equates these two meanings of ‘rejects’ uncritically. The result is that his first ‘‘proof,’’ in the form in which he presents it, is not valid. To infer from (1) or (2) that
- ((p Acpt (a b),t . Sent a) (p Acpt’ ~ a t v p Acpt b, t)
is not valid in general. The reason is that
(4) (p) (a) (t) (p Acpt a, t ~ p Acpt ~ a, t),
(5) (p) (a) (t) (p Acpt a, t ~ p Acpt’> ~ a ,t),
but not conversely, provided p’s acceptances are consistent. From the converse of (4) or (5) we can validly infer (3), if Sent a, but not from (4) or (5). It is (3), however, that Hartshorne needs as a basis for his discussion of options. Nevertheless, the germ of the proof can be reconstructed without bringing in acceptance or any talk of options. To begin with, then, let us attempt to reconstruct the proof in terms of provability.
Let ‘a1’ express that "there is cosmic order," ‘a2’ that "there is a cosmic ordering power," and ‘a3’, that "the cosmic ordering power is divine." Hartshorne assumes that the words occurring in these sentences are all suitably available either as primitives or are defined. This is a dangerous assumption which will be discussed in a moment. Let ‘A" now be ‘ ~ a1’, ‘All’ be ‘(a1 ~ a2)’, and ‘A"’ be ‘(a1a2. ~ a3)’. Let ‘T’ be ‘(a1. a2’ a3)’. T is thus the thesis of theism, that there is cosmic order, and an ordering power, and the power is divine. The relevant entailment is
(6) ‘( ~ (A1 v A11 v A111) T)’,
which is merely the statement of the theoremhood of the tautology
(7) ‘(~ (~ a1 v (a1. ~a2) v (a1. a2. ~a3))’
If we could prove the antecedent, we would then, of course, have a proof of theism in the sense of Hartshorne’s first proof.
How could we "prove’’the antecedent? By proving ‘ ~A", ‘ ~A11’, and ‘ ~A11’ separately. Presumably the system in which the proof could be carried out would be such that all of these would be forthcoming. In any case Hartshorne thinks ‘A" is "scarcely attractive to anyone," and that ‘A11’ is "not obviously false" for "we know that order can be at least partly brought about by an ordering power, as in political affairs." For ‘A11" Hartshorne states that he "can give reasons, cogent to . . . [him], for thinking that what gives an ordering power its capacity to order is some intrinsic merit or value. . . . In the case of cosmic order, this principle takes its supreme form."
Hartshorne does not think of this "proof" in terms of provability, however, but in terms of acceptance, as I have already noted. His "proof’’ is thus really a pragmatic one, and moreover one relative to the person whose acceptances are under consideration. Consider a person, CH, say, whose acceptances are such that
(8) (( ~ CH Acpt b,t. Sent b) CH Acpt ~ bt).
For such a person, assuming he accepts the tautology (7), and in general is "rational" with respect to his acceptance of the principles of logic, his "options" are then to accept T or to accept ‘(A1 v A11 v A111)’. But for him to accept this last is for him to accept ‘ ~ a1’ or to accept ‘(a1. ~a2)’ or to accept ‘(a1. a2. ~ a3)’. There are just these four possibilities. One’s only option, then, if one rejects these three (in either sense of ‘rejects’, for (8) assures that the two senses are the same for the person CH) is to accept theism. In the approach in terms of options, however, theism is not proved, but merely listed as one of the options. For a proof, as already noted, proofs of ‘ ~ A1’, ‘ ~ A11’ and ‘ ~ A111’ must be supplied. No such proofs, however, are forthcoming. A specific person may accept them, of course, and he may have reasons, even "cogent" reasons, to do so. But such reasons do not constitute a proof. We conclude then that Hartshorne ‘ s first "proof" -- even if there were no problems remaining concerning the vocabulary of its premises -- is not a strict proof but merely a tautological disjunction of ‘‘options."
The problem of the analysis of the inner vocabulary of the premises remains an insistent one, however. The "logic" Hartshorne uses is merely Russell’s theory of "unanalyzed propositions," an extremely narrow domain of logic that tends to shackle thought rather than to give it the freedom it needs. Note that nowhere in Hartshorne’s proof is attention given to the quantifiers needed, nor is any sensitiveness shown as to how ‘exists’ (or some synonym) is handled. Nor does Hartshorne attempt any analysis of what "cosmic order" is, whether ‘‘approximate" or "probabilistic."8 As to what an "ordering power" is, we are left to infer that an ordering power for the cosmos is like one shown in political affairs, on the one hand, as well as like one with which "a waking human consciousness partly orders the behavior of its human body." (Note the interesting use of the possessive ‘its’ here; we are allowed to infer that it is a human consciousness that "possesses" a human body.) As to ‘divine’, we are told that it means: "maximal in every respect logically permitting such a maximum, and in those respects of value (and there are some) that do not permit a maximum, it means unsurpassable except by itself. . . ."
This last "definition" cries out for a good deal of clarification. What are the values that "logically permit’’ a maximum? What is the logic of the scales of value presumably invoked here? Is there a single notion of being greater than in terms of which these scales are constructed, or are there many? How is the logic of "respects" here handled’? Can this be done satisfactorily in terms of the Fregean Art des Gegebenseins?9 Or in terms of the relation Under spoken of above? How is ‘unsurpassable’ defined? Where is the delineation of the vocabulary needed for the definiens to be found? (Some attempt has been made to deal with this last question in my paper on Anselm.10) Specific answers to these and many further questions must be given before any clear notion emerges from Hartshorne’s definition of ‘divine.’ Definitions given in isolation are strictly meaningless. They must always be given in the context of a system of notions, some of which are taken as primitives. Whitehead called attention to this important fact about definitions years ago, but his warnings have been largely disregarded.
Hartshorne thinks that his argument is not empirical on the grounds that "the idea of a merely chaotic world . . . [is] a confused notion Any world in which the theistic or any other question could arise would have an order. . . . Some order or other is a presupposition of inquiry and of all thinking.’’ (Even chaos might be thought to have its order, namely, precisely the one that, as a matter of fact, obtains.) Are these "grounds,’’ if they be such, sufficient to maintain that Hartshorne’s argument is not empirical? Both the premises and the conclusion are surely empirical, but the tautology (2) is not. The argument is thus in part empirical and in part not. Should not a kind of principle of dual transcendence be invoked here? In any case it would be a fundamental error to contend that the premises are principles of logic. Rather are they very complicated statements -- those of logic are always simple -- containing essential or nontrivial occurrences of such (presumably defined) words or phrases as ‘cosmic order’, ‘ordering power’, ‘unsurpassable’, ‘divine’, and so on. And concerning whatever ultimate primitives are adopted, suitable meaning postulates (or nonlogical axioms) must be assumed to enable us to prove the existence and uniqueness of some one divine, unsurpassable entity, as has already been suggested.
Hartshorne’s second argument is a "revised version of the ontological argument" aimed to "discredit the idea that the theistic question is an empirical or contingent one." The argument is given a modal form. Hartshorne lets ‘MT’ express that ‘T’ is "logically possible, where ‘logically’ means taking into account certain meaning postulates about ‘God’ and about the relation between the logical and ontological modalities." However, no such meaning postulates are ever given. If ‘God’ is a defined term, the various properties God has should be forthcoming as theorems rather than as postulates. Meaning postulates are always ultimately "about" the primitives, although of course some defined terms may occur in them to shorten their length. If ‘God’ is a primitive, how are we to construe ‘T’ as stated above? The expression for which it is an abbreviation contains ‘divine’ but not ‘God’ In any case, whatever postulates are needed to clarify what Hartshorne means by the quasi-modal ‘M’, they should surely be given.
Hartshorne formalizes his version of the ontological proof by taking
(10) ‘( ~ M v~ M ~ M v~ T)’
as premises, with
(11) ‘ ~ M ~T’ and hence ‘T’
as conclusions. The two premises are "not derivable from logical constants [principles?] alone. . . . They are metaphysical principles." If so, are they provable from other prior metaphysical principles, or are they metaphysical axioms? Presumably the latter, for it is remarked parenthetically that "the comparison of them with axioms of set theory might be worth exploring." If they are metaphysical axioms, then of course the conclusion follows, provided
(12) (~M ~ T T)
is also forthcoming as a logical or metaphysical axiom or theorem.
Hartshorne also states this "argument" in terms of options, but this adds nothing to the "proof" beyond what has already been said about the first one. The problems remain, however, not only of justifying the two premises, but of justifying as a whole the metaphysical system in which they may be stated.
One may perhaps construe (9) as stating that ‘T’ is not internally contradictory in the sense of logically entailing a contradiction. But, as Hartshorne observes, "consistency is not easily judged where, as here, the claim to have an actual case would beg the question. We know from the Russellian and other paradoxes how easily a verbal formula can conceal a contradiction." Even so, we might be able to prove that ‘T’ has no contradiction as a logical consequence without invoking an actual case. Such a proof would be elaborate and would have to take into account all the meaning postulates adopted. Hartshorne notes that "without the premise of consistency, no ontological argument can prove its conclusion." This statement is obscure, but it should be pointed out that if the premises are inconsistent, then of course all statements of the language follow from them. If the premises are inconsistent, "this does not mean that . . . [the argument] proves nothing." Quite; it rather proves too much. Hartshorne then adds that "if the argument is rejected because of the possible or actual falsity [not contradictoriness (?)] of (9), the implication is that the theistic question may, or must, be nonempirical.’’ It is difficult to see just why this "implication" is drawn. Hartshorne explicitly takes (9) and (10) as metaphysical principles and thus presumably as nonempirical. Thus, presumably also, (II) is nonempirical -- unless, of course, the meaning postulates leading up to (9) are taken as empirical, which, presumably again, they are not.
The premise (10) is said to be "implied by Aristotle’s dictum" that with eternal things, to be possible and to be are the same. Hartshorne symbolizes this as
However, (10) does not follow from Aristotle’s dictum and may obtain even if it does not. (10) can be given the equivalent form
‘(MT ~M ~ T)
but we cannot then correctly conclude ‘T’ without also using (12), which neither logically implies nor is logically implied by Aristotle’s dictum. Where ‘N’ stands for ‘is necessary’, (12) may of course be given the equivalent form
Note incidentally that if Aristotle’s dictum holds, together with (9), this second proof becomes trivial in the extreme.
In my paper on Anselm, an attempt was made, not only to spell out the full vocabulary needed for stating the -- or at least a -- ontological argument, but also to list in full the premises needed. The vocabulary included a predicate ‘Cncv’ for expressing that a person conceives such-and-such under a suitable linguistic description, a predicate ‘Able’ enabling us to express that a person has the ability to do so-and-so under a given description, and a predicate ‘Gr’ enabling us to express that one entity is greater than another in what is presumed to be Anselm’s sense. In terms of these three predicates, together of course with suitable logical devices, a definition of ‘God’ mirroring the id, quo maius cogitari non potest can be given. Concerning these notions suitable meaning postulates were laid down. Whatever the internal inadequacies of that paper, the attempt there was apparently the first to spell out in full detail the logical structure of the ontological argument -- an attempt similar to that of Jan Salamucha with respect to the ex motu argument of St. Thomas.11 Hartshorne has not built upon the basis of these attempts, both of which would have helped him to see how easily a mere verbal predicate like ‘M’ can conceal the need for a full and careful delineation of vocabulary and for an explicit need for spelling out the postulates needed. It is to be feared that Hartshorne’s version of the ontological argument has not carried the matter forward.
The notions ‘possible’ and ‘necessary’ are of course extremely troublesome ones, and Hartshorne makes the most of them. Whitehead was much clearer in construing the necessary in terms of universality, more particularly, in terms of the universality of what he took to be necessary metaphysical principles. Necessity and possibility are thus context-relative notions, on such a rendering. Hartshorne, however, seems to use these notions not only as context-free but also in a kind of epistemic sense. He wants to contend that "God could not just happen to exist, or just happen not to exist. This is an incoherent idea." Again, he states that he sees "no coherent meaning for the idea of deity as possibly existent and possibly non-existent, and . . [he sees] no consistent way to reject theism except by rejecting its logical possibility or coherent conceivability." There is confusion in these statements between "logical possibility" and "coherent conceivability," "coherent idea" and the like. The relations between these needs to be spelled out. Hartshorne makes use not only of logical and ‘‘ontological" modalities -- he nowhere tells us what these latter are -- but of epistemic ones as well. But even if these could be suitably clarified somewhat, there is no getting around the fact that for any ‘‘argument’’ premises are needed. No argument for the existence of deity can be given in any other way.
Arguments for or against theism are very much like arguments in theoretical science, even in mathematics. If you want certain theorems to follow, make suitable assumptions. If you are hesitant about the assumptions, try your best to get along without them. If, for example, you do not like the Axiom of Choice for some reason or other, see how far you can go in the theory of functions of a real variable without it.
Hartshorne chastises those who have upheld the ‘‘traditional" version (or versions) of the ontological argument for failing to distinguish sufficiently existence and actuality. The existence of an "essence" or "coherent idea" involves that this latter is ‘‘somehow actualized or instantiated,’’ the actuality of an essence involving the "how or in what concrete form, if at all’’ it is actualized. Most writers, it is contended, have "missed . . . [this] distinction between abstract and concrete, or mere existence of a defined essence and the concrete how of this existence.’’ This is not the occasion to appraise Hartshorne’s critique of his predecessors on this point. Rather we must ask him for a much fuller and more exact account of this distinction than he has given.
Hartshorne goes on to make some rather obscure observations concerning definite descriptions. "The sense in which ‘the present King of France’ is a definite Russellian description differs logically from that in which the definition of ‘God’ is such a description. Ordinarily an essence is one thing, and the existence of that essence is another and additional thing or truth. This is because ordinary beings are produced by the creative process. . . . Any production is always partly contingent, might go this way or that. The actuality is how it goes. In the case of God the being itself, as identified by its essence, could not he produced but is defined as eternal. This means that it is essential to the creative process rather than one of its conceivable products."
This passage and its sequel summarize the gist of Hartshorne’s view better perhaps than his purported ‘‘proofs" do. It is important therefore to unearth the difficulties that lie hidden beneath the verbal surface.
In the first place, we should query the logical difference between ‘the present King of France’ and the Hartshornean ‘the one unsurpassable [or divine] being’. That there is a nonlogical difference is undeniable. In each case the description (or essence or coherent idea) is one thing, and that of which the description is a description is another. The description is, strictly, an inscription, and neither the present King of France nor the divine unsurpassable are inscriptions. Each of these inscriptions -- for the moment we may assume we are talking about just two of them, one for each of the shapes cited-functions as a proper name of (or designates) a given entity, provided the postulates are sufficient to guarantee the existence and uniqueness of these entities. Corresponding to each of these entities, assuming that there are such, there are corresponding concepts of them, namely, the entities taken under the respective modes of linguistic description or Arten des Gegebenseins.12 The entities of course are not to be identified with these concepts. All three are toto coelo different in each case: the inscriptions, the entities purportedly described, and the corresponding concepts. To distinguish these three is essential, it would seem, to clear thought, and has no more to do with the contention that "ordinary beings are produced by the creative process" than with some opposing contention. Suppose we grant Hartshorne this contention, however, along with the additional one that any "production . . . might go this way or that.’’ We would not wish to say that actuality is how it goes, construing ‘is’ in the sense of the ‘is’ of identity, but only that actuality is the result of how it goes, so to speak. There is all the difference in the world between the how and the result.
Hartshorne’s ambient theory must of course contain a theory of processes of production, but it must also contain terms for the how of these processes as well as for their results. It must contain in addition a theory as to who or what produces what. Somewhere along the line, in his theory, a principle will be forthcoming that God is not "produced’’ by anything. This principle will be a "necessary" metaphysical one in the theory assuring that God is not one of the "products’’ of the creative process. Somewhere along the line it will obtain also that the present King of France is or is not one of those products. There is nothing at all remarkable that these two principles should obtain, the one as a metaphysical necessity, the other as a factual contingency. But God’s being "defined as eternal" does not rule out that he might be one of the conceivable products in the creative process, namely, as self-producing. It is surely a ‘‘coherent idea" that an eternal entity could ‘‘produce" itself as well as all temporal entities.
"Insofar contingency does not apply," Hartshorne goes on to state, in this crucial passage. "But the noncontingency of an essence only means that there can be no such thing as the essence simply unactualized." But if contingency does not apply, neither does noncontingency. What now is the ‘‘noncontingency of an essence’’? Is ‘the present King of France’ contingent because the statement that there is or is not such an entity is contingent’? Similarly, is ‘the divine unsurpassable entity’ necessary because the statement that there is such an entity is a metaphysical principle? lf so, very well, but this is the case, then, merely because we have formulated the metaphysics in such a way that it does obtain. In what sense now does this "mean that there can be no such thing as the essence simply unactualized" ? Here of course we must distinguish existence from actuality, in accord with Hartshorne’s own admonitions. But how can we legitimately pass from the statement that God exists to one that says that he is actualized? To be actualized is presumably somehow to be in the creative process, that is, to be produced. But no, we have been told that although God is ‘‘essential to the creative process’’ he is not ‘one of its conceivable products." Some additional "principle" is needed here to substantiate this contention. It is that "the divine is eternally somehow actualized, or the supposed idea fails to make sense and could not be actualized." This disjunction, however, is not strictly one in the metaphysical language employed thus far, but rather in a metalanguage for it, and the second disjunct we are expected to reject. To convince us that we should, Hartshorne needs to put forward a cogent theory of what ‘‘making sense" means, from which it must follow logically that nonsensical ideas cannot be actualized. The grounds for such a theory would be epistemic rather than merely metaphysical or theological. It is doubtful that such a theory will ever be forthcoming, however. The domain of what is nonsensical has no clear-cut boundaries, and varies greatly from person to person, from time to time, from one social group to another, from one language to another.
But let us go on. The "how, or in what concrete form, it [God] is actualized, can only be contingent." Let ‘Actlzd’ be the predicate for being actualized. Hartshorne wants then
(13)‘Actlzd God’ or ‘(Ee)(Actlzd,God)e’
to be a necessary metaphysical truth. Let
‘e How F’ or e InManner F’
express that the process e takes place in the manner of the productions of the virtual class F (of productions). To say now thatx is actualized in the manner of some F is to say that
‘(Ee) ((Actlzd,God) e InManner V’
All statements of this form, with suitable proper names put in place of ‘x’, are presumably contingent or factual truths. Can we assert an analogous statement concerning God, that
(14) ‘(Ee)((Actlzd,God) e . InManner V’
is contingent, where V is the universal class of "productions’’ constituting the cosmos and its history? No, this statement is presumably also a necessary metaphysical principle in the theory on a par with (13).
Hartshorne uses ‘contingent’ and ‘non-contingent’ ambiguously, as object-language words or as metalinguistic ones. It is essential, however, to be unambiguous at every point and not to shift meanings in any given context. Only thus can we avoid fallacies of equivocation.
Although (14) is presumably a necessary metaphysical truth, it contains a contingent element, we might say; namely, reference to V, the contingent cosmos consisting of all past, present, and future happenings. Hartshorne seems to think that "there can be no wholly necessary yet fully actual reality." Of course God is both necessary and actualized in view of (13), but not "fully" so perhaps in view of(14). The use of ‘fully’ here is not a happy one, suggesting as it does a notion of degree of actualization. It would perhaps be better to say here that God is both necessary in the theory, in the sense that (13) obtains, and also contingent in the sense that (14) does also. This would of course be in accord with the principle of dual transcendence.
Note the use of ‘V’ in the notation, V encompassing future happenings. The language is such that it can contain now a virtual-class expression denoting "future contingencies," as Hartshorne would call them. The very phrase ‘the cosmos’ likewise. It is difficult to see how Hartshorne could even state his metaphysical view without words or phrases of this kind. The point is an important one and I shall return to it inn moment.
Presumably because ‘‘there can be no wholly necessary yet fully actual reality," we are told that "classical theism was like belief in the class of all classes." This contention seems rather strained, however, as indeed does the earlier one that the comparison of the metaphysical principles (9) and (10) "with axioms of set theory might be worth exploring." As to this last -- perhaps it would be. A very considerable difference would emerge, and what a difference it would make methodologically! Most notions of set theory are defined ultimately in terms of a relation (or relations) of set- (or class-) membership, and it is an extraordinary mathematical achievement to have shown that this is the case. Axioms of enormous mathematical power are then framed characterizing membership. By comparison, (9) and (10) do less well. They are stated in terms of an unanalyzed expression, ‘M’, and no attempt is made, as already noted, to analyze the constituent expressions (or ideas) contained in the sentences (or propositions) to which it is applicable. Thus there is none of the almost spectacular conceptual reducibility of the kind found in set theory. Also (9) and (10) are at best rather meager sentences, with (11) only as their one logical consequence of interest. As a consequence, (9) and (10) contain little metaphysical or theological power, so to speak, beyond what is contained in (11).
Can it justly be maintained that classical theism is like "belief in the class of all classes"? Only, it might be answered, if any formulation of it would lead to contradiction. That this is not the case has been shown to some extent elsewhere, in terms of a formulation based upon relations of primordial valuation.13 In any case, Hartshorne has nowhere shown that suitable formulations of the classical theist view all lead to contradiction. What a task it would be even to attempt to show this! And anyhow, it is surely not the case. Hartshorne contends that ‘‘it was never the God of religion that classical theism defined." How can he be so sure? There is no one God of religion, and there is no one religion. There are many religions, some of them having no God or gods at all. Further, it is doubtful that there is any one view of classical theism. There are several, with significant family resemblances.
Hartshorne does not tell us what his third argument is, other than that it "is a revision of the old cosmological argument" and "is closely related to the ontological [one], but starts from the idea of reality in general." For this, presumably, essence, existence, and actuality must be suitably distinguished from "reality in general." But just how, we are not told, even in summary. The other three arguments are normative and ‘‘turn on ideas of value: value first as aesthetic goodness or beauty, second as ethical goodness or rightness, the third as cognitive goodness or truth." Only the ethical argument is discussed in detail. It is presented only in terms of options and not in a deductive form. However, it is easy to see what the argument in deductive form amounts to, for its structure is similar to that of the first proof. Again, the key formula needed is a tautology of essentially the same form as (7) above, but with ‘a,’, ‘a2’, and ‘a3’ differently construed. And of course an option may be accepted or rejected or found "as obviously false as any belief I know," or "incomparably more credible to me than the . . [others]" in true pragmatic fashion. There may well be good autobiographical reasons as to why one or more of these options appeal to one, but such reasons are not to be mistaken for metaphysical principles. That an option has certain logical consequences is also of interest but should not be mistaken for a metaphysical "argument" for deity.
Hartshorne contends that his third argument "was one of Whitehead’s arguments for theism." Of course there are many ways of reading Whitehead, and one can ‘‘read into his discussions" all of the other arguments, save the ontological one, if one wishes and as Hartshorne does -- but only at the price of distortion. Actually Whitehead presents no "arguments’’ for God at all of the Hartshornean kind. He merely presents a view in which the primordial and consequent natures play a fundamental role. God for Whitehead, it should be recalled, is the "[ultimate] limitation for which no reason can be given: for all reason flows from it. . . . His existence is the ultimate irrationality. . . . No reason can be given for the nature of God, because that nature is the ground of rationality."14 To attempt to give ‘‘rational grounds for theism," as Hartshorne does, does violence to a most fundamental tenet of the Whiteheadean view.
Let us turn now to the matter of timeless truth, which actually turns out to be a tempest in a tea pot. Hartshorne believes "that there are new truths from moment to moment, and that the biographical truths about an individual have not always or eternally been true. This does not mean that prior to a certain time there were no truths or falsehoods With new subjects come new predicates of subjects, new possibilities of truth about the world. The idea of timeless truth about temporal things seems to me [Hartshorne] the ghost of medieval theism." Let us look at the matter closely for a moment.
Truth in the sense of the semantical truth-concept is always system-bound. It is always true in L that we must speak of, even where L is a full metaphysical or even a natural language. Let ‘TrL’ be the truth-predicate for the system L. Suppose the object-language sentences contain variables and constants for times. Let ‘ -- t -- ’ be some such sentence or sentential form with ‘t’ as a parameter for a time. As an example, suppose it is ‘snow is white at time t’. To say that snow is white, with the ‘is’ construed in the present time, is to say that snow is white where t is the deictic now. To say that snow was or will be white is to say that snow is white at some t where now is temporally before now or now is temporally before t, respectively. This way of handling past, present, and future is to make use of the timeless form t -- ’ or ‘snow is white at t’. The idea of the tense of timelessness (or the time of tenselessness, or the time of tenselessness) was first recognized by apparently both Peirce and Frege. When we turn to the truth-predicate, there is no need to construe it other than as a timeless predicate, all mention of time being now in the sentences said to be true. Thus ‘TrLa’ is defined to state that a is true in L timelessly.
What is it precisely that Hartshorne is contending when he insists that "there are new truths from moment to moment"? What is meant here by new’? New to you or to me? Or to God? If this last, the word is being used analogically and must be explicated. Or cosmically? Well, of course there are "new’’ truths cosmically, and relative to any given now, in the sense that now is temporally before the t’s involved in the statement of those truths. Wherever this obtains, the truths are new. And of course with ‘‘new subjects" come "new predicates," and "new possibilities [and actualities] of truth about the world." The doctrine of timeless truth does not deny any of this. We can go a step further. We can frame a general definition so that snow is white’ is TrueL now’ would be defined as ‘TrL ‘snow is true now". In this way even the truth-predicate can be tensed. Our common language does in fact condone such a form.
Here is an important point, of which Hartshorne is perhaps fully aware: however we develop the theory of tense, some timeless forms must be admitted anyhow, if only to handle mathematical principles, sentences containing only quantified time-parameters, and the like. Or consider some of Hartshorne’s metaphysical statements such as ‘T’, a tautology, or (9) or (10) or (II) or (13). Are we not supposed to construe (9) in the tense of timelessness? Are we supposed to say rather that ‘T’ was logically possible, is now logically possible, or will be logically possible? Do we also have to admit iterated forms for saying that it was logically possible that ‘T’ will be logically possible, and so on? Such forms are not needed if ‘logically possible’ is taken as a timeless predicate. And similarly for ‘true’ itself.
Consider also the very phrase ‘the cosmos’. This is a proper name, presumably, and not a description. In the meaning postulates characterizing it temporal parameters will occur. It is thus in part a temporal word, and statements containing it are in part about ‘‘temporal things." Perhaps the cosmos itself is even a temporal thing. All factual statements about the cosmos are thus in part temporal statements. According to what seems to be Hartshorne’s view, however, there are no timeless truths to be stated about it. If so, all the statements he makes about the cosmos -- as well as about order, about an ordering power, about being divine, about being unsurpassable, and so on -- cannot then be given in the tense of timelessness, but all must be tensed. If this is the case, we should have to go through Hartshorne’s paper, reading each sentence tensewise, in the past, present, and future, and all subsentences, dependent clauses, and so on, similarly. There are not just six proofs for God’s present existence, there are proofs for his past and future existence as well. Surely at some point one will wish to call a halt. These comments, of course, do not apply to Hartshorne if statements about the cosmos are taken tenselessly.
Hartshorne’s critique of timeless truth, the truth of eternity, seems ill-founded. Everything he wishes to say about truth, and about dual transcendence also, can be better said in terms of the standard kind of semantical truth-predicate. If the idea of timeless truth is "the ghost of medieval theism," let us welcome it back with open arms. We all have much to learn from it even now.
At several points Hartshorne claims that his view is in essentials that of Peirce and Whitehead. That this contention is a very considerable oversimplification of the views of those writers will be urged elsewhere.
Hartshorne comments that not "all truth can be stated in timeless terms, and he seems to attribute to Quine the view that they can be. As already noted, there are timeless truths concerning temporal things, but that this is the case is very different from what Hartshorne’s comment seems to state. ‘Truth’ is a timeless predicate, or it can be handled as such, and it is a predicate applicable to all truths. However, this is not to contend that truth about time or times cannot be stated in timeless terms. It almost seems that Hartshorne is confusing these two contentions. "From the standpoint of eternity," he goes on, nothing concrete or particular can be seen, only eternal necessities, and these are all abstract. Assigning dates is possible only within time. The eternal is an extreme abstraction from the temporal." It is good to be told how ‘eternal’ is related to ‘temporal’, but alas we are not told enough. And why can "nothing concrete or eternal be seen" from the standpoint of eternity? Nothing in the logic of these terms prevents this. One can "see" a temporal object without assigning a date to it; even we paltry mortals can do this. There is too much slack here in Hartshorne’s use of these various words ‘eternal’, ‘abstract’, ‘concrete’, and ‘seeing from the standpoint of eternity’ for a coherent, convincing doctrine to emerge. And unfortunately it is upon this very slack that most of the diatribe against classical theism is based.
Note that the rejection of timeless truths is a special case of the rejection of the tense of timelessness. If there is no tense of timelessness there is no locution ‘TrLa’ but only ‘a was true in L’, ‘a is now true in L’, and ‘a will be true in L’. Presumably one could reject the tense of timelessness in just the special case of ‘TrL’, but accept it for all other predicates. Such a position would require justification, however. Good reasons would have to be forthcoming as to why ‘TrL’ must always be tensed -- at least as applied to sentences about ‘‘temporal things’ ‘ -- and why other predicates need not be.
In his "Comments’’ on Hartshorne’s paper, Quine suggests that he will play the role of a "devil’s advocate" and emit "an odor of sulphur, not of sanctity." One might have expected him to have played the role of a critic of Hartshorne’s use of logic, logic itself being the work of the devil according to Petrus Damianus and Martin Luther. However, in this we are disappointed
Quine is content merely to "see fairly definitely what the differences between us [him and Hartshorne] are,’’ and to make a few remarks about them, especially as concerns freedom, truth and time, necessity, extensionalism, and the status of values. Quine does not attempt "to prove the worth’’ of his views on these matters nor ‘‘to disprove the worth" of Hartshorne’s. The result is a rather pallid juxtaposition of Quine’s form of physicalistic set-theoreticism, let us call it, with Hartshorne’s six proofs and their ambiente.
Quine’s physicalism is such as to exclude an ‘ordering power," in the sense of Hartshorne’s first proof, let alone one that is also "divine." ‘‘Cosmic powers, or forces, there surely are,’’ Quine says, and these are perhaps all reducible to gravitation, magnetism, and strong and weak interaction. ‘‘Taken together . . . [these forces] do constitute a cosmic ordering power in the sense that all the order there is, and all else, is an effect of them.’’ This is of course a very strong hypothesis, transcending by far anything the physicists themselves tell us. At best it is a statement about the physical order only, and it is doubtful that all other kinds of order, let alone "all else," can be regarded as an "effect’’ of such forces. Quine is surely stretching ‘effect’ here to the breaking point. Further, a very difficult problem is concealed in the phrase ‘taken together’. Physicists would like to get the four kinds of force "down to one," as Quine puts it. If this is ever achieved, taking them together will then presumably be tantamount to the one basic force. The enormous conceptual difficulties in bringing the various areas of physics into harmony with each other, let alone into a unified theory, suggests that as philosophers we should not be too hopeful in this regard. At best we can stand by the wayside and watch -- and perhaps hope and pray. And even if these forces are taken together in some logically acceptable sense, there are other types of order, and perhaps also entities other than physical ones, that are left out of this extreme physicalist view. Quine relies upon physics, it would seem, much more, even, than a sophisticated philosophy of physics should condone. There are other forms of scientism also, that is, other sciences to rely on exclusively, biology, or psychophysiology, even -- perish the thought -- economics and sociology! That all "forces" and "order’’ at work in the subject-matters of these various sciences are physical forces, is a view for which there is no more evidence of a strictly scientific kind than for opposing views.
There is also mathematics, of course, in some set-theoretical garb, which is at the very center of Quine’s conceptual scheme. So fundamental are sets for his view that even God, if admitted at all, has to be construed as the "unit class [seti of God.’’ Classes or sets Quine does not object to calling ‘abstract universals’ and ‘necessarily existing’. The divine universal for him, if there is one, must thus be a class and not an individual. This is of course a far cry from nominalism, which Quine seems to have left behind years ago. Quine’s love of sets or classes, like his physicalism, arises from another facet of his scientism, this time with respect to mathematics.
The importance of set theory depends wholly upon its role in the foundations of mathematics. Just suppose set theory, however, in any of its various axiomatizations, is not an adequate way to found mathematics. The point is a moot one, and never more so than recently, in view of deep work done on the continuum hypothesis, on questions of consistency, and so on. Eminent mathematicians have more and more been defecting from the set-theoretic fold. The attitude seems to be developing that set theory has turned out to be an utter failure in pure mathematics, and is of no interest or help in mathematical physics (which has always used only ‘‘baby’’ mathematics anyhow) and other areas of application. To base a cosmology on a set theory is to cling to the past and to give hostage to future research. We see then that both strands of Quine’s scientistic set-theoretical physicalism do not intertwine into a viable philosophic thread. Quine thinks no doubt that he does as the scientists do, and that his view is firmly founded scientifically. Precisely the opposite, however, seems to be the case. He does not write about the sciences ab intra, so to speak, as Peirce, Whitehead, Carnap, and Reichenbach, for example, have done. Likewise his versions of set theory are remote from the inner workings of mathematics itself as well as from the really central problems concerning metamathematics and its foundations.
Another point Quine raises against Hartshorne concerns truth. ‘‘No difference can be drawn,’’ he notes, ‘‘between saying that it will be true that snow is white and that it is true that snow will be white.’’ This too is a strong contention. Of course there is a difference, but is it a significant one? Quine is saying that it is not. But is he correct in this’? A good deal of grammatical theory is involved here, that far transcends anything of a technical kind that Quine has written. Even so, the gist of his contention is probably correct. Quine goes on, however, to remark that ‘calling a sentence true adds nothing to the sentence. The truth predicate is superfluous except for an important technical use. It is needed when we want to affirm some infinite lot of sentences that we can demarcate only by talking about the sentences. ‘ Surely; but there are other needs also. The truth predicate and its ambient theory are also useful for proving consistency, and relative consistency, for certain systems. Also, truth in the semantical sense has a most intimate connection with the ways in which language is related to the nonlinguistic world. Truth, designation, denotation, satisfaction, and determination all dance together hand in hand. Take one away and semantics collapses. It is thus not adequate to say that "calling a sentence true adds nothing to it." It adds an interpretation, it transforms a sentence into a statement, it leads us from mere syntax to semantics.
A word now about values. Hartshorne’s fourth proof is based on values such as "meaning (or supreme purpose)," "happiness, welfare, and goodness of oneself,’’ ‘‘welfare of some group or society. or all sentient beings (excluding God), either in this life alone, or also in some posthumous mode of existence,’’ and meaning or purpose "as somehow permanently enriching the divine life and its happiness.’’ For the other two normative proofs analogous values must no doubt be considered. Quine objects to Hartshorne’s aesthetic and ethical values On the grounds that for him (Quine) they are human, and for Hartshorne cosmic. This difference aside, Quine is not satisfied with Hartshorne’s list. ‘‘Welfare considerations [for all creatures great and small] do not exhaust the purposes we find in ourselves and regard as laudable,’’ he notes. "There is a drive for creativity, achievement; also for social esteem and friendship." Earlier he has mentioned ‘‘our ethical standards, and the degree to which other people share them and conform to them, . . our comfort and security and ... good fellow-feeling.’’ Add these to Hartshorne’s list, or subsume them under items in it and exclude all reference to the divine, and our two authors’ lists are in virtual agreement. But what paltry lists they are, concerned with only a handful of lower values, and quite leaving out those most espoused by some of the choicest spirits in human history. A detailed comparison of these lists with that in Nicolai Hartmann’s second volume of his Ethics, would not be without interest.15 Also the great Pauline virtues of faith, hope, and charity are left unaccounted for -- to say nothing, for example, of joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, humility, and temperance, or of the Vedantic Sat, Chit, and Ananda.
Hartshorne’s sixth proof is based on "cognitive goodness’’ or truth. It would be interesting to see this proof spelled Out in detail in terms of the semantical truth-concept. Any spelling out of it not taking account of this would surely be inadequate.
Here is an interesting question. Are there predicates for aesthetic and ethical goodness analogous to ‘TrL’ for cognitive goodness? If so, to what are they applicable’? What principles of a logical kind govern them’? Deontic logic and my "On Some Aesthetic Relations"16 contain responses, to some extent anyhow, to these questions -- or at least the beginnings of responses.
One more comment, concerning evil. Hartshorne writes, about his first proof, that "if the world is cosmically and divinely ordered, why is there suffering and evil’?" His answer is in terms of dual transcendence. Also, "the creatures must have some initiative in relation to God and one another. They partly decide details of the world." All this is placed in contrast to classical theism, which ‘‘reduces the creatures . . . to nothings. They decide nothing; God decides everything." These contentions provide only a parody of the classical theist view, however, which takes account of how God "decides," what it means for him to "decide,’’ in accord with what he decides, and so on. It would be interesting to compare Hartshorne’s comments here with those of Maritain in his little book on evil, and with the Thomistic doctrine that homo prima causa mali.17 It is rather to be feared that Hartshorne does not take account of the full complexity of the view he parodies. Also his linking together of suffering with evil seems unfortunate. Suffering is more intimately connected with goodness than with evil. He who has not learned the function of suffering in his life has lived in vain.
The foregoing is not to be construed as claiming that neither Hartshorne nor Quine subscribe to important and viable philosophical views, but only that neither seems to have stated them in a sufficiently cogent fashion to carry us forward in theology. This latter is thought to be a much more serious matter, from the logical point of view, than either is willing to concede. Now, in the closing decades of the twentieth century, logical tools are being forged which have the necessary refinement to handle these delicate theological matters adequately for perhaps the first time, as already remarked above. It is no longer philistine to lay the rude hands of logical analysis upon them -- and they need not come out the worse for so doing, as Peirce noted so well in his paper ‘‘Neglected Argument’’ years back! No viable theology, however, will ever be forthcoming, on the one hand, without a very considerable logico-linguistic propaedeutic, and, on the other, within so narrow and club-footed an affair as physicalistic set-theoreticism. Like humility and good will in social intercourse -- better, like profound love of God and genuine love of neighbor -- adequate logical methods in philosophy have scarcely ever been tried. And wherever they have been, they have never been found wanting.
Let us close with a famous comment from Whitehead, dating back to 1936.18 "We must end with my first love -- Symbolic Logic. When in the distant future the subject has expanded, so as to examine patterns depending on connections other than those of space, number, and quantity -- when this expansion has occurred, I suggest that Symbolic Logic, that is to say, the symbolic examination of pattern with the use of real [bound] variables, will become the foundation of aesthetics. From that stage it will proceed to conquer ethics and theology.’’ The distant future of which Whitehead speaks is now close upon us. In aesthetics progress is being made in the exact study of aesthetic relations, and in ethics in new and improved foundations for deontic logic. One of the high merits of Hartshorne’s methodology is that he has seen this distant future approaching in theology, although he has not welcomed it with the open arms that would have been appropriate.
1. In Hartshorne’s "Grounds for Believing in God’s Existence," presented at the Boston University Institute for Philosophy and Religion, October 17, 1979, together with ‘‘Comments on Hartshorne on God," by W. V. Quine.
2. Bowman Clarke, Language and Natural Theology (The Hague: Mouton, 1966), p. 98.
3. In R. M. Martin, Primordialitv, Science, and Value (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980), pp. 3 and 10.
4. See especially the author’s ‘‘On Philosophical Ecumenism: A Dialogue,’’ in Primordiality, Science, and Value.
5. See especially "On Virtual-Class Designation and Intensionality," in Primordiality, Science, and Value.
6. Cf. Hilary Putnam, Mathematics, Matter and Method, Philosoph ical Papers, vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), passim. See also ‘A Memo on Method: Hilary Putnam," in Logico-Linguisric Papers (Dordrecht; Foris Publications, 1981).
7. See Toward a Systematic Pragmatics (Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co., 1959), pp. 41 ff.
8. Recall R. Carnap, Logical Foundations of Probability’ (Chicago University of Chicago Press, 1950), pp. 178 ff.
9. See Gottlob Frege, "Uber Sinn und Bedeutung,’’ second paragraph, and Begriffsschrift, §8.
10. R. M. Martin, "On the Logical Structure of the Ontological Argument," in Whitehead’s Categoreal Scheme and Other Papers (The Hague Martinus Nijhoff, 1974).
11. Jan Salamucha, "Dowod ‘ex Motu’ na Istnienie Boga, Analiza Logiczna Argumentacji Sw. Tomasza z Akwinu," Collectanca Theologica 15, Lwow (1934), pp. 53-92, trans. in The New Scholasticism 32 (1958): 334-72. See also F. Rivetti-Barbò, "La Via ‘Dal Divinire’ per Provare I’Esistenza di Dio,’’ Sapienza 32 (1979): 396-419.
12. On concepts, see especially Events, Reference, and Logical Form (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1978), pp. 15 ff.
13. In Whitehead’s Categoreal Scheme and Other Papers.
14. A. N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Macmillan, 1925), p. 257.
15. Nicolai Hartmann, Ethics, vol. 2 (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1932).
16. In Primordiality, Science, and Value, chap. 14.
17. Cf. ibid., chap. 4.
18. A. N. Whitehead, Essays in Science and Philosophy (London: Rider and Co , 1948), p. 99.
Response by Charles Hartshorne
Of all the critics of my philosophy none that I can recall has been more severe philosophically, or more friendly and charming personally, than R. M. Martin. As I have written him, I find myself lucky to have such a severe critic. Most elderly people are left to die with their errors uncorrected. But, alas, and this is not without its significance as showing the nature of the philosophical task, the result of Martin’s critique is not to shake my confidence in my side of the basic issue that divides us. Rather the contrary, I have been so stimulated by Martin that I have thought of new arguments supporting my position.
The basic issue is whether truths about specific historical events are timeless or -- but only in a certain way, not just in any old way -- temporal. Thinking about this, I have become aware, as never before, how isolated in space and time the belief in timeless omniscience really is. It was not in ancient Greece, unless one attributes it to the Stoics. It was not the classical Hindu position or the standard Buddhist position or, I think, the classical Judaic position. It was the medieval Christian and Islamic position, also held by some medieval Jews. The last great Western defender. of it was Leibniz, the last near-great defender Royce. Hume and Kant in different ways give reason to question it. German idealism has at most given it ambiguous support. Heidegger will have none of it, and he has German predecessors in this. French philosophers began parting company with it a century and more ago; Sartre and Merleau-Ponty reject it; Berdyaev, the Russian immigrant to Paris; scornfully rejected it in favor of a definitely changing God who acquires new truths and values endlessly from the world. Croce and Varisco in Italy reject the idea. In England, Russell and G. E. Moore of course did so. In this country, Santayana, who affirmed timeless historical truths, denied timeless knowledge of them; James and Dewey would have nothing to do with such knowledge. Peirce strongly hints at its falsity, as I take Whitehead to do. I know the texts that Martin could cite to the contrary and am satisfied that his interpretations are not valid. (What Peirce said before he adopted his tychism would not be decisive since he changed his position then, at about the age of forty. But he does say that God is not omniscient in the traditional sense, and that even a divine purpose cannot be simply immutable.) Even in Islam, the most important Islamic writer in Pakistan, Iqbal, was a Bergsonian who took a process view of God. In Hinduism a modern sect in Bengal holds that God, though in a sense perfect, yet "grows without ceasing."
None of this refutes Martin’s position. Nevertheless, I hold definitely that historical considerations of this nature are not irrelevant. It seems to me implausible that all these people, and so many more, who have made a negative judgment on the medieval idea of God, were less competent than those who now wish to return essentially to the medieval perspective. In addition I am in some ways closer to Aquinas than Alston and Martin are; for I agree with Aquinas that potentiality, contingency, change, and something like temporality go together, so that if any one of these applies to God the others do also. And in this I am agreeing with Plato and Aristotle, as I interpret them.
I accept a number of logical distinctions Martin makes, but they are compatible with my position. I am disconcerted that he supposes otherwise. There are a number of dissertations that do not attribute to me the opinions in question, and I am not as yet convinced that the trouble comes merely from my lack of skill in formalization. I am not generally found hopelessly obscure.
One distinction that I make, and Martin does not see the importance of, is between eternity and everlastingness, or immortality. Objective immortality is one thing, objective eternity is another. Properly and adequately stated, all truths except mathematical, purely logical, or metaphysical ones are immortal or everlasting, but not eternal; they do come into being. Once there they cannot go out of being. Becoming is creative, but not destructive, of truth. Cumulative creation is an ultimate principle and is what Whitehead means by creativity. It is a clarification of what Bergson, G. T. Fechner, and W. P. Montague held before Whitehead, who probably knew only about Bergson.
Martin has exacting standards for method in philosophy. I, too, have some standards. I can put them in the form of maxims. One is: in debate with another thinker try at least as hard to find agreements, common ground, as to find disagreements. A related one is Popper’s maxim: defend your view against rival views in their strongest and most intelligent form, not in their weakest or least intelligent. Also, when confronted with a doctrine that is logically extreme in the sense of having a polar opposite or, in the terms of propositional logic, a contrary extreme, compare the merits of each extreme not primarily with those of the opposite one, but with a moderate view sharing something of both extremes, a higher synthesis. Hegel was partly right about this. Thus, given the proposition, "all relations are internal," rather than debating the merits of this extreme against its polar contrary, "no relations are internal,’’ look for a reasonable principle according to which some relations are internal and others are external. Martin weighs the merits of his "all truths are timeless," or can be so formulated without loss of truth, against what he takes to be my view (for no reason in my writings that I can see) that all are time-bound; he ignores the moderate or less extreme view that some (namely, truths about extremely universal and abstract, eternal and necessary things, including the essential structure of time as such) are timeless, and others (those about less universal and abstract, also non-eternal and contingent things) are time-bound, but this not in every way a careless thinker might suppose but in a definite and logically intelligible way. The precedent here is Aristotle; also, less explicitly, Plato. Martin does not discuss the view in the form I give it. Again, Martin holds what I find to be an extreme form of the suspicion of ordinary language and takes me to hold an extreme form of trust in that language. Neither fits my theory or my practice. For example, I hold that expressions like "will be’’ or ‘‘is going to be" are loosely or ambiguously used in non-philosophical contexts (and also in a sentence Martin quotes with mild approval from Quine) and should be precisely defined if used in philosophy. I have suggested how this is to be done. On the other hand I hold that the technical expression so many philosophers have used as though it were self-explanatory and unambiguous -- "the absolute" -- is viciously ambiguous and that the more nearly self-explanatory term "independent" is safer, provided one makes explicit what the entity so described is independent of, whether everything else or only some other things, and according to what principle the distinctions are made.
Martin finds a lack of system in my philosophizing. However, I do systematically test my doctrines by the above and other principles. Notably, Martin says that his discussion is largely based on an encounter he heard me have with Quine. But can a philosopher make an entire system explicit in one talk? I do not doubt that it would have been possible for me to make references to various parts of my writings to provide the context of my statements or arguments. I am somewhat lazy about the rereading of my writings that this requires. But I almost get the impression from Martin’s comments that he expects every sentence to somehow do the job of chapters or volumes.
Martin’s emphasis on the all-important role of details is only partly justified, in my opinion, but this does not mean that I go to the opposite extreme. I do not. I am systematically nonextremist.
Although in my view contingent truths become true, rather than timelessly being true, this does not mean that having become true they may then cease to be true. Inadequate, elliptical formulations may be first true and then again untrue. Properly related to time, positive truths or facts remain true forever after. Thus "born in Kittanning at time t" will never cease to be true of me, but a hundred years ago it was not true. There was then no truth about me.
Quine as well as Martin misunderstands the sense in which I take (some) truths to be time-bound. First, I accept the Tarski truth definition, and therefore I agree that "no difference [or at least none of major importance] can be drawn between saying that it will be true that snow is white and that it is true that snow will be white.’’ In both cases the meaning of "will be" is for me the point at issue, not the meaning of truth. Carnap agreed with me that the Tarski criterion is neutral to the issue between my view and the view that all truths are timeless. Second, I have long emphasized that metaphysical truths (supposing we can find them) are necessary and that the necessary is eternal. Hence all metaphysical truths are eternal; they do not become true but timelessly are true. Mathematical truths I suppose to be included; and I contrast them with metaphysical only in their being noncategorical, if-then necessities, not direct necessities, of existence. Of course logical possibilities are tense-less, if they are purely logical. Could a cow jump over the moon? Logic alone cannot tell us what a cow is or could do. Nor can metaphysics do this. The phrase ‘logical possibility’ has long seemed to me somewhat ambiguous. Among truths that are metaphysical are truths about time, but about time as such, extremely abstract truths, not truths about specific events or classes of events as actually occurring.
I hold what Arthur Prior called the Peirce view of extralogical, non-metaphysical truths in relation to time. Such and such ‘‘will’’ occur has for me a strict meaning and truth if and only if the occurrence in question, call it O, is common to every real causal possibility for the future time in question. Otherwise the truth is either: some of the possibilities include O and some do not (in which case the true assertion is that O may or may not occur) or else none of the real possibilities include O, in which case O will not occur. The doctrine is that will, will not, and may-or-may-not form an exhaustive trichotomy; whichever one is true, the other two are false. Thus they are related as, you must do X, you must not do X, you may do X or refrain from doing it. Because of human ignorance, we must largely content ourselves with probabilities rather than with completely definite will be’s, may or may not be’s, or will not be’s; and even God does not eternally know or temporally foreknow events in their full definiteness or concreteness.
In all this I am taking a position stated clearly enough by the Socinian theologians in the seventeenth century. They believed in a future partly indeterminate even for omniscience. If God does not know what I am going to do tomorrow it is because there neither now nor eternally are such things to be known as my tomorrow’s deeds. The reality now is certain possibilities or probabilities for tomorrow. In eternity there is much less to be known. When tomorrow has become yesterday, then there will be definite deeds of mine for tomorrow’s date for God to know. This is the idea of a growing knowledge and a growing world to be known. I have yet to get a clear, cogent argument from logicians against this view.
Carnap appealed here to common sense but admitted this was not a conclusive argument. It is not hard to show that common sense is less than unambiguous on the point. "What will be will be’’ is a tautology that either has no definite application or else begs the question as to how far the future consists of will-be’s rather than of may-or-may-not-be’s. Carnap no doubt had mainly in mind the argument from simplicity or convenience in semantical theory which Martin has urged. Of course this also is inconclusive. Without going all the way with Bunge in his Myth of Simplicity’ I do go part way. Simplicity is one thing, truth another. Must I give up a central tenet of my metaphysics to make things easier for logicians? I would like to encourage them in their valuable work, but the price at this point looks high. Metaphysicians, too, have their problems and conveniences, and eternal truths about specific or particular temporal facts have, in my judgment, been causing a mess in metaphysics since Aristotle made his splendid beginning in developing a semantics that takes time properly into account. The theory of timeless knowledge of temporal facts (a theory the Greeks lacked, and all the better for them) has made endless trouble for theology. Gradually since the Socinians, modern metaphysics has been struggling to develop a different theory. I am convinced that three of the greatest philosophical logicians that ever lived, Aristotle, Peirce, and Whitehead are on my side in this. Martin does not agree.
I wonder if the sense in which I affirm the time-boundedness of contingent truths would really make as much trouble in semantics as Martin fears. It would not affect mathematical or metaphysical truths, and this includes whatever is essential to worldly or divine time as such. If physicists assume the constancy of the laws of nature since the big bang, then these laws, if we get them right, will have been true for as long as physics seems to feel a need to talk about, say 15 billion years, and will remain true (by hypothesis) for as long as physics wants to talk about them. As for observations, they will always thereafter have occurred as they did, and they may in principle have been possible long before. I have in my article in Mind (74 : 46-58) discussed the relation of all this to Popper’s doctrine that we falsify proposed laws rather than strictly verify them. Will and will-not statements are falsifiable, but may-or-may-not statements are unfalsifiable and are, not verifiable, but corroborated, so far as we can derive them from our assumed knowledge of laws and (never complete or infallible) knowledge of initial conditions. For many purposes not much change in semantics would be required, if the Peirce view were adopted. Peirce himself said, "Logic is not yet ready to deal with the relation of truth to time." Perhaps it is about ready now.
I agree with Martin that theistic arguments, and philosophical arguments generally, belong in a system. I have tried to put mine into a system. One of my objections to Anselm is that he seems almost to think his ontological argument could stand all by itself. My six theistic arguments are said to form a system stronger than its separate parts, and the chapter in which I expound them is imbedded in a book (Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method) which attempts to give the Wider context for them. For example, when I find Martin distinguishing "inscription," "concepts," and the reality conceived, I find this compatible with and partially parallel to the distinction I make in the previous chapter among formula or definition, idea, existence, and actuality, except that I think my fourfold distinction more adequate than his threefold one.
I agree that truth, designation, denotation, satisfaction, and determination belong together, though no doubt Martin has some technicalities in mind here that I am not aware of. But I suspect we differ as to how designations of particulars are possible. All designation of strictly particular or concrete realities is retrospective, on my view. Peirce regarded as a false nominalism the idea that the future consists of particular entities. The class human beings, taken as definite existents, gets new members each moment. In the sense in which there are deceased members there are no merely future members.
Martin’s long paper is so densely packed with critical comments, queries, objections, that a real answer would require a large book. ("Long is art, short is life.’’) In some cases the relevance of Martin’s comments to my position (as expounded, for example, in Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method, the most philosophical of my books) seems slight. I do indeed stand on the distinction between a priori (or metaphysical) and empirical in the sense given this distinction by Popper, except that, whereas Popper defines empirical as ‘conceivably falsifiable by observation’ and apparently limits observation to certain forms of human perception, I sometimes include divine perception (in Whitehead’s language, God’s physical prehensions). It would still be true that some important propositions are nonempirical in the defined sense. Even God could not prehend anything incompatible with the existence of God, nor -- in my view, as in Whitehead’s -- could God prehend the total nonexistence of the world, that is, prehend the total absence of nondivine beings. I heard Quine and Carnap argue about the distinction between empirical and a priori and, like many of the others at Chicago, thought Carnap more right than Quine. I do hold that all knowledge is experiential, uses experience as positive evidence. The Popperian question is, could experience conceivably show the negative? Any experience shows that experience exists, none could show a world devoid of experience.
It sometimes seems that Martin’s keen eye for logical technicalities and for skill in their use is made an obstacle to communication rather than a means thereto. The fault is no doubt partly mine. If I had made more effort to meet him on his own ground through the years, he might have made more effort to really learn what my position is. Martin wonders, for example, what contradictions I could show in classical theism. One I have shown is the denial of unactualized potentiality in God (God as ‘pure actuality," or as the "sum of all perfections" or possible positive values) with the assertion of the contingency of the world, or the religious proposition that we should live to enhance the divine glory, to serve God. If the world could have been otherwise, then God’s knowledge could have been otherwise; it is knowledge that Napoleon existed, it could have been knowledge quite lacking in this feature. If our living well and helping others to do so serves God, then, by any reasonable analogy in the use of ‘serves,’ God acquires a value God would otherwise lack. That God loves all creatures is similarly either unmeaning or contradictory of the total lack of dependence asserted by numerous theists of God. As Martin well says, that God is infinite, absolute, or independent in all respects is a very strong statement. But that a multitude of theists made such a statement, or else engaged in extreme double-talk, I stand ready to show.
In general I find Martin giving strained interpretations of philosophers. Thus he says that Whitehead gives no reasons for theism, citing a passage in which Whitehead says there are no reasons for God’s nature. I see here (and in some other passages) ambiguity (Martin is austere about the need for unambiguity, and so am I). "No reasons for God’s existence or nature" does not imply "no reasons for our believing in that existence." Reasons for theism are one thing, reasons for God another. Whitehead clearly gives some reasons for his belief in God, one being that otherwise (without God to objectify our experiences) "all experience would be a passing whiff of insignificance." This is not a reason for God’s existing; God exists no matter what. But (for some of us) it is a reason why the idea of a Godless world is unacceptable.
To my saying that God exists necessarily because what exists contingently is produced by the creative process, which might not have produced it, Martin objects that God may be self-produced. In a sense yes, and the Whiteheadian proposition that every actuality is a "self-created creature" includes God, who is cause and effect, creator and creature, both in uniquely excellent senses. This is one corollary of the doctrine of dual transcendence.
But there is still a sense in which God is unproduced. A contingently existing being exists in that its nature is realized in actualities the first of which was produced out of a reality that previously did not actualize that nature at all. Each phase of the divine existence, on the contrary, is produced out of a previous phase of the creative process, which also involved the essential divine characteristics. Each phase is self-produced in that its subjective forms are free acts of prehending previous phases; it is produced by the previous phases in that it has to utilize them as its given data. The freedom is in the precise how of the prehending, not in what is prehended. The creative process might not have produced my present actuality, it might not have produced, and until 1897 did not produce, my first actuality; in the divine case there could not be a first actuality; eternally there is some divine actuality or other. This is indeed a timeless truth. Nothing in my writings implies otherwise, I believe.
I agree with Martin that it might be a good idea for me to try to state my primitive terms, as such. I say it might be, because I’m not sure. In a given exposition or explanation something is taken without explanation or definition; but I’m not clear how far this must be true of a philosophy. A philosophy is not a mere formal system. Being "better than" is close to primitive (I follow Brogan here in preferring an asymmetrical relation to a mere seemingly nonrelative term like "good"). God is such that no being could conceivably be better, except in the sense in which God can be better than God (self-surpassing is not excluded insofar as there are dimensions of value that do not logically admit of an absolute maximum). One has to take into account the distinction between being better for some extraneous purpose and being better intrinsically. On my view nothing can be better than God intrinsically, since God and God alone adequately appreciates and enjoys all actualities. Any rival to God would contribute its own value completely to God, who would also have all other actual values.
It may be that everything I have written could for some purposes be made clearer. But I am one of many who have doubts about the idea of "clearer" for all purposes. Only God knows clearly in an unqualified sense. If, as I suspect is the case, few of my readers find me as unclear as Martin seems to do, what follows? Perhaps I am not the best judge of what follows. That using formal methods as elaborate and demanding as Martin’s will for some purposes be useful, I believe. Beyond that I am open to conviction.
I agree that my theistic proofs should rather be called arguments. I do not believe that philosophical questions are open to proofs, if that means that, from premises any rational person will accept, issues so vital to people as the existence of God will be rigorously decidable. I intended my "tautologies’’ to make clear what the issue about God’s existence was, not to decide it. Martin talks of disproving all the nontheistic options. We shall see how well he or others succeed in this. I think the matter remains somewhat personal and pragmatic. What reason can do is to make as clear as possible what by implication one is rejecting if one rejects the theistic conclusion. One is accepting the disjunction of the nontheistic options. The rest is up to the individual.
True, one can set up formal arguments against the options, but one must stop somewhere.
Concerning the meaning of "order’’ in my cosmological argument, all that my view requires is that the order be nonstrict in such a fashion and degree as to allow for a real distinction between causally possible and causally necessary, or between the totality of necessary conditions and a strictly "sufficient" condition, and that this be true in every concrete case. It must never be so that what actually happens is the only thing that then and there could happen. This is to allow for universal creaturely freedom or genuine decision-making, implying an aspect of real chance, such as quantum theory seems now to permit. Perhaps I should say also that it must be that the higher levels of life involve greater freedom than the lower levels. With Wigner and Bohr I imagine quantum theory to be incomplete.
I do not concede that I have left the respects in which God is finite rather than infinite, or vice versa, contingent rather than necessary, and so on, in total darkness, as seems to be implied. My table of ultimate contrasts (in Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method) is supposed to throw light on the matter. It is unique in the history of ideas, and is something like my substitute for the Hegelian dialectic of the unity of contraries. God, as I have explained, is absolutely infinite in potentiality but not in actuality. I have also explained that potentiality here does not mean what most have meant by omnipotence, as though God could, as it were, say "Let there be such-and-such," and there would be such-and-such. I meant that God has potentially whatever could occur or exist. This is not true of any individual being other than God. I have explained too that the divine actuality, so far as I can grasp the relevant concepts, must involve a numerically infinite number of past creatures, but the creation need not, and I think must not, be spatially infinite. Here I agree with G. E. Moore.
I concede that "abstract’’ has various meanings, but about this, too, I have had some distinctions to make. All concepts abstract from details, particulars; but the physicist abstracts also from ideas as universal as those of structure and quantity, which he uses, whereas the philosopher should seek ideas that are not abstract in this sense. In metaphysics the important distinctions are perhaps two. First there is the distinction between specific conceptions of kinds of actualities whose existence is contingent, as is shown by their restricting the positive possibilities for other kinds, in contrast to conceptions so generic that they do not restrict the positive possibilities. Thus Creator or Divinity, simply as such, and also creature or nondivine existent, simply as such, alone have the degree of abstractness compatible with necessary or non-competitive existence. The second metaphysically important distinction is between any abstraction and a fully concrete actuality, the latter being one that no mere concept can fully express, and which can be given only in perception, and adequately given only in divine perception. Concrete in this complete sense are not individuals or substances but only what Whitehead calls actual entities, momentary states, of which a single human experience is a paradigm example.
Martin does not convince me that my distinction between existence and actuality is hopelessly unclear. I think it is fairly clear and immensely important. I exist, for example, so long as my individual identifying traits are somehow exemplified in actual entities. My actuality now is how, or in just what states, this exemplification has, up to now, occurred. I am unenlightened by the objection that the how is distinct from the result, partly because of White-head’s principle of process, that the being is not abstractable from the becoming, and partly because of my stipulation, how or in what, in contrast to, somehow or in some actual state or other. I fail to see what is left out in this formulation. I exist now, experiencing myself typing, I could have existed now not typing. The somehow is less definite than the how or in what.
Applying the distinction even to God enables me to say that instead of the dogma that all existence is contingent, the true statement is, all actuality is contingent. God necessarily exists somehow or in some state, but the actual state is contingent, for instance, knowing me now typing, which might not have been there to be known. So the divine actuality is contingent but not the divine existence. I rather hope to be remembered for this distinction.
A serious objection to the temporal view of contingent truths is that physics seems to rule out any cosmic meaning for the present, the now after which various truths will continue to obtain. Both relativity and quantum theory seem relevant but no one seems to know just how the two are to be reconciled or combined. The physicist Henry Stapp has a "revised Whiteheadian" theory here which seems to solve the problem in a way 1 could accept, but the matter is immensely difficult, especially for one so incompetent mathematically as I am.
Martin is correct in saying that "new to God" must be analogical in meaning. I may not have said enough about the theological analogies. I do hold with Plato that God is to the cosmos as our consciousness is to our bodies, and that the other principal analogy is with person-to-person relations. If there were no difficulties here the ontological argument would indeed prove theism.
The point of "new to God" is that our decisions decide something for God, enrich the divine life, give God actual value that was previously unactual. I hold with Berdyaev that this means a divine kind of time. And this for me is the point of religion, that we contribute to God’s consequent reality, which as Whitehead says is "always moving on or in flux." What this means without a divine analogue to time I have no idea, just as Spinoza had no idea, which is why he felt it necessary to deny the contingency of the creatures so that the whole of time could be eternal in God. With Aquinas and Aristotle I see time, becoming, potentiality, contingency as belonging together, but unlike both I put them in God as well as in creatures, and indeed, as Whitehead says, God is both creator (poet of the world) and creature. God is not temporal simply as we are but still is so in an eminent way or (as Whitehead says) "in a sense" temporal. And as for the whole of the temporal process, there is no such whole, complete once for all. There is no the cosmos, but a partly new creation each moment.
Creation-with-preservation is the ultimate or transcendental category, with God the eminent form of this. In God no positive truth is lost, but additional truths are gained. W. P. Montague held this view before Whitehead; doubtless both were partly influenced by Bergson. I take Peirce to point, with some hesitation, in this direction. If temporal meant that actuality and truth were being lost as well as gained, then God is "timeless.’’ But this refers to our inferior form of temporality, supposing we can really conceive a higher form. This is the theistic question in one formulation.
For Martin’s remarks about values I have only praise, except so far as they are presented as a criticism of me. Is it fair to look to my fourth theistic argument to provide my list of values, when the point of that argument was not to answer the question,. What are values? or What is the good life? but rather, for whose sake is the good ultimately to be sought? One’s own sake, the sake of people generally, animals generally, insentient beings generally, or for the sake of the imperishable and all cherishing One whose life inherits from the creatures and evermore preserves all their joys and sorrows, all the actual beauty of their experiences?
I end with a profession of faith written for another occasion than this and not as a response to Martin’s criticisms.
By one interpretation Plato’s absolute beauty as what ultimately inspires human love becomes acceptable. Absolutes, like other partly negative terms, are abstractions. But they have a positive aspect. In the unqualified sense, absoluteness or independence is coincident with eternity and necessity, as Aristotle saw so well. What then is the value of the absolute? It cannot have a negative value, cannot be bad, regrettable, unfortunate, or wicked. For all these terms connote the appropriateness of prevention, avoidance, alteration, replacement; and these ideas make sense only with contingent things. The eternal and necessary framework of existence cannot have a negative value. Can it have a positive value? If this meant that someone ought to have, or appropriately could have, tried to produce or preserve the absolute, then this would imply dependence, contingency, and noneternity. But positive value, unlike negative value, has an aspect that is compatible with necessity and eternity. This is beauty, that the thing is good to contemplate. There can and there must be an eternal and absolute beauty. It is the beauty of the perfect abstraction. As an abstraction it has no defect and it makes no sense to wish it had been better. Since it is an abstraction it is not the all-inclusive value. It is only the eternal standard and principle of possible achievements of value, not any actual achievement.
Plato was right that this principle cannot be love in the merely human sense of feelings and attitudes of a localized animal. It must be cosmic and superhuman in principle. What can it be if not the abstract principle of the cosmos as besouled and cherishing of all sentient actualities? And what is this but the love that "moves the sun and the other stars"? (Dante). I have believed in this, with temporary hesitations, almost as long as I can remember. This came from my pious upbringing, and also, I believe, from an early reading of Emerson’s most Platonic essay, the one on love. And Emerson too was brought up in a religion of love. By that religion he lived.
No word or combination of words can be guaranteed to communicate the absolute principle. In some respects music is a superior medium for this purpose. A substantial argument could be given for the proposition that music such as one finds in Mozart’s last opera, La Clemenza di Tito, puts one, more directly and intimately than metaphysics can do, in intuitive contact with the kind of thing which reality on its higher levels is, and, on various levels, universally manifests. Etienne Gilson was right, art is superior to metaphysics.
One reason for ending this reply to Professor Martin with the foregoing paragraph is that besides being a speculative philosopher of broad interests and a highly skilled and sophisticated logician, he is also a musician. Such a combination is remarkable and must be admired.