(ENTIRE BOOK) The shortest and simplest introduction to Whitehead — his life, his “process thought,” and Christian Process Theology.
BOOKS BY WHITEHEAD Science and the Modern World, I 925 Religion in the Making, 1926 Process and Reality, An Essay in Cosmology, 1929 (best read in conjunction with D. S. Sherburne, A Key to Whitehead’s Process and Reality, 1965) The Adventures of Ideas, 1938 Modes of Thought, 1938 All published by Cambridge University Press. BOOKS …
Whiteheadian thought offers a different way of looking at reality that requires rethinking the way we view God. It begins with a philosophy that endeavors to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas that combines a creative and unique expression of the nature and unity of God. It can lead us to an understanding of our personal faith as well as the religious experience of mankind.
A brief biography of Whitehead’s life — his early years, his family, his writing and teaching, lectures, Process-Thought, and final years. Includes Charles Hartshorne’s interpretation of Whiteheadian thought.
Whitehead’s view of the nature of reality offers a new way of thinking about “things,” and suggest that reality is not composed of things but of self-creative events, individual units, having both physical and mental aspects, and being internally related to each other. This offers an alternative to the mechanistic view of the nature of reality, and substitutes creativity in place of determinism.
For Whitehead, the cosmic process — God — is characterized by change, dynamism, inter-relationships or “organic inter-penetration,” the presence of heights and depths of “importance,” and the quality of tenderness or love.
The author turns to Charles Hartshorne to interpret Whitehead’s concept of God as “the one who is worshiped.” Hartshorne suggests that “worship is the integrating of all one’s thoughts and purposes, all valuations and meanings, all perceptions and conceptions.” And God, the object of this worship, is “. . .the wholeness of the world, correlative to the wholeness of every sound individual dealing with the world.” This fits with the Whiteheadian world-view in which each individual entity is an integration of parts into a whole.
God himself is ‘in process’, in the sense that he is not abstractly eternal, utterly above and beyond all temporal succession. Rather, he is eminently temporal. God is seen not as primarily the ‘unmoved mover’ or ‘first cause’ or ‘absolute reality,’ but as the supremely related one. God in his consequent aspect is persuasive, sympathetic, affected by all that is not himself, inclusive of all possible good, supremely tender — indeed, God so portrayed is Love.
Relying on the work of Lewis Ford, the author traces the concept of God that emerges in the middle of Whitehead’s writings and develops from its atheistic/agnostic origins into a more fully developed conceptualization of God.
The author examines what Whitehead had to say about God in Process and Reality by dividing the discussion into two parts. First, the primordial or eternal nature of God as the principal of abstraction or originality and the source of the initial aim, and second, the consequent or temporal nature of God in which God, as part of reality, interacts with the rest of reality.
In rejecting western philosophy’s concept of the self as substance based on Aristotle, Whitehead offers as an alternative to substance what he calls "an actual entity" which is changing, self-determined and creative. The problem is not the need to explain continuity as explained by determinism, but the need to explain originality which in turn leads to the concept of God as the source of ". . .the initial aim from which self-causation starts" and evolves into people who are self-creating entities, actively participating in their own creation, capable of creating novelty and assuming responsibility.
Whitehead’s metaphysical system led to Hartshorne’s exploring the theological implications surrounding the problem of evil and the necessity to reinterpret the omnipotence of God as understood in Thomism. Whitehead suggests that the fundamental category for understanding the universe is aesthetic valuation toward order and that the richness of creativity will sometimes produce aberrations as well as serendipitous outcomes. Destructiveness is to be found in the very nature of the creative process. God is only morally good if we are to understand that his goodness does not entail being without destructiveness.
Whitehead approaches the question of man’s desire for immortality, not by following the traditional path of the soul as having substance, but that every act, every event, every realization of value has everlasting significance and contributes everlastingly to the nature of things. We are part of the universe and part of God, the universe is a part of God, and God is a factor both in our personal existences and in the universe. Our immortality lies in the everlastingness and significance of each existence as a part of the whole.
The author believes that Whitehead’s thought provides us with an unusual opportunity to examine our religious beliefs by giving us a new view of reality, and concludes that Whitehead offers not only productive insights into the understanding of the nature of God and man, but also strong arguments for both objective and subjective immortality.
To Whitehead, God is in the world, or nowhere, creating continually in us and around us.
I. I would not be here if I did not believe the answer is emphatically Yes. If I may make some bold, sweeping generalizations, I will claim the following. The religions and philosophies of India and China are full of profound insights badly needed in the contemporary world in both East and West. However, they …
Among philosophers of this century Alfred North Whitehead has been a seminal thinker for an increasingly influential concept in the theological world.
The author offers his philosophy of religion based on the thought of Alfred North Whitehead as it illuminates thinking about the nature of the world, of God and of man.
Speculative Postmodernism Although Whitehead never used the term “postmodern,” the way he spoke of the modern has a definite postmodern tone. Especially in his book, Science and the Modern World, the modern is objectified and its salient characteristics are described. Whitehead is appreciative of the accomplishments of the modern world, but he clearly recognizes its …
The encounter with Alfred North Whitehead in my student days was a revelatory event. It proved determinative of my theological career. I learned through him, gradually, a way of perceiving and thinking that was markedly different from what I found elsewhere. Once I entered into it, I could not leave it, even if I wanted …
Obviously, the comparison of one philosopher with a great tradition is awkward. Still some generalizations are possible. I will begin with some large and obvious differences. Whitehead was a mathematical physicist interested in developing as coherent and intelligible a cosmology as possible. He was certainly not indifferent to its existential and religious meaning for those …
For Alfred North Whitehead, value is central metaphysically as well as ethically and aesthetically. To be actual is to be a value in oneself and for oneself. It is also to be a value for others I. Intrinsic Value as Subjectivity For Whitehead, it would be meaningless to speak of a value apart from a …
Much of what is most important in shaping the philosophy by which thoughtful people live and think does not take place in departments of philosophy in universities. There the problematic is shaped a by a history of discussion mostly among philosophers. The problems considered are those that are generated by just this discussion. These are …
ENTIRE BOOK A helpful and understandable presentation of Whitehead’s thought, for people interested in learning how careful, reflective thinking can provide a basis for religious beliefs.