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Actuality, Possibility, and Theodicy: A Response to Nelson Pike

by David Ray Griffin

David Ray Griffin teaches philosophy of religion at the School of Theology at Claremont and is executive director of the Center for Process Studies. David Ray Griffin is Executive Director of the Center for Process Studies and professor of philosophy of religion at the School of Theology at Claremont, Claremont, California.


 I appreciate Professor Pike’s lengthy critique of a central chapter of my book, God, Power and Evil: A Process Theodicy (henceforth GPE) and the invitation by the editor of Process Studies to respond to it. Of the numerous issues his critique raises, I will respond to those which seem most important.

Theodicy as Hypothesis

Pike’s summary of my position in parts I and II of his paper is quite accurate. But it, along with later comments [under III (2) (ii)], suggests a distorted understanding of the spirit in which my theodicy was offered, so I will begin with a clarification of this. The theodicy is offered as a hypothesis, with this question: Does not this hypothesis do justice to and even illuminate the reality of evil while portraying a God who is believable and worthy of worship? The metaphysical claims that are made are made within this context of hypothesizing. One of my central aims within the chapter Pike critiques is to point out that other discussions of the problem of evil, both theistic and antitheistic, make metaphysical assumptions, usually implicitly. The central one is contained in what I labeled Premise X: "It is possible for one actual being’s condition to be completely determined by a being or beings other than itself." The metaphysical assumption is that there can he beings who are actual who nevertheless have no power of self-determination that cannot be completely controlled by something other than themselves. If the theologians and philosophers would explicitly make that claim, it could be seen as the very dubious metaphysical claim that it is. How does anyone know that such actualities are possible? Has anyone encountered one? If not, why make such a metaphysical claim, with its far-reaching consequences for the possibility of believing that we and our world are in relation to a creative spirit whose intentions and activities are beyond reproach?

Then beyond pointing out that most philosophers and theologians (including Pike) who have dealt with the problem have made this dubious metaphysical assumption, I suggest that we see what would happen if the contrary metaphysical idea were true, viz., that any world would necessarily be composed of actual beings having two-fold power such that their self-formation and their influence on others could not in principle be totally determined by anything other than themselves. Furthermore, I presented some reasons why we should consider this metaphysical claim true. One of these is the fact that we experience ourselves as having this two-fold power, so we know at least that actualities with this two-fold power are possible. Also, Whitehead has shown us how we can understand our world as composed exclusively of actualities that can be understood in analogy with an occasion of human experience. Finally, the theodicy itself, insofar as people found it successful, was to be a verification of the soundness of the original hypothesis. In sum, I was not proceeding a priori, I did not claim to know all sorts of metaphysical truths, and I did not by my definition of actuality imply that those who have given contrary definitions were guilty of semantic confusion.1

In the next three sections I will discuss three issues raised by Pike: a historical question about traditional theodicy, the relation between logical and metaphysical possibility, and the relation between individuals and their activity. In the concluding section I will comment upon the approach to theodicy that Pike finds "more promising."

Traditional Theodicy

One of the claims I make is that traditional theodicy said, either explicitly or implicitly, that God has a monopoly on power. Pike disputes this, saying the view that God has a monopoly on power has "no theological significance," since the claim in Christian theological texts that God is all-powerful never means that God "has all the power." The idea it does is a "misconstrual on Hartshorne’s part." That is a rather serious charge, for it would mean that Hartshorne, I, and other process thinkers (and others besides) had been battling against straw opponents all these years. And if anyone could so misread the tradition, it would throw his or her analytical acumen into serious doubt.

What I find especially puzzling about Pike’s claim is that he makes it in critiquing a book a good portion of which is devoted to an analysis of traditional Christian theologians and which gives ample evidence for the claim in question, and yet Pike makes no reference to any of this evidence. The claim was: "The traditional theodicy has said in effect -- although often denying it verbally -- that one being could simply have all the power" (OPE 268). I deal with Augustine and Aquinas as ones who deny it verbally, for the most part, and Luther and Calvin as ones who affirm it quite openly. Luther, for example, says that we have no power of free will, since God predestines and does all things. Power belongs to God’s nature, and free will is no more properly attributed to us than is divinity (GPE 103-05). And Luther’s famous assertion of the Alleinwirksamkeit Gottes (sole efficacy of God) is echoed in the description of God by Emil Fackenheim, the contemporary Jewish theologian, as the "sole power" (GPE 221). Calvin argues that no creatures have any intrinsic power with which they can harm us -- God is the cause of their motion (GPE 117).

Pike likes to distinguish between the possession of power and its exercise, and he assumes that this belongs to the "standard view" of omnipotence that he holds along with the traditional Christian theologians. But I had cited Calvin’s rejection of the view of omnipotence as an ability to do all things which sometimes sits idle (GPE 116); and Calvin rejects any distinction in God between "doing" and merely "permitting," saying that those who make this distinction "babble and talk absurdly" (GPE 116f.). Also, the doctrine that God is "actus purus" is a denial that there is any unactualized potency in God. Furthermore, the doctrine of divine "simplicity" counters Pike’s contention that his is the standard view. This doctrine entails that there is no distinction in God between, say, knowing and doing; hence Thomas points out that God’s omniscience causes all things (OPE 76); Karl Barth echoes this view in our century (GPE 151).

So much for this historical point. But I should point out that it has more than historical importance. The force of tradition is such that the assumptions these traditional theologians made about the meaning of such terms as "God," "power," and "actualities" greatly condition the current discussion of the problem of evil. Pike claims that the polemic against the monopolistic view of power has no relevance to the "positions taken in the contemporary, philosophical literature on the problem of evil." My chapters on John Hick and James Ross, and the discussions I cited by Flew, Pucetti, and Hoitenga (GPE 159f), show this to be untrue.

Metaphysical and Logical Truth

One of the differences between Pike and me that becomes clear only at the end of his essay, but whose influence runs throughout, involves the relation between metaphysical and logical truth. Because of his different understanding, he thinks I waver on whether Premise X is logically or metaphysically false -- two possibilities which he considers contradictory.2 He has misunderstood my argument. My whole point in the passage which he found unclear (GPE 265f) is that logical possibility about actualities cannot be discussed apart from some metaphysical assertions as to the nature of actualities. For example, if the question is whether it is "logically possible" for one actuality’s activities to be totally determined by some other being, one simply cannot answer the question apart from some account of what one means by an "actuality." And to give such an account is a metaphysical task. There are not two kinds of possibility involved here. If one answers the question in the affirmative (saying, "yes, it is logically possible for one actuality’s activities to be totally determined by some other being"), one has already, willy-nilly, given a metaphysical answer to the nature of actuality. And if one begins, as I do, by explicitly taking a metaphysical position on the nature of actuality, there is no further question of "logical" possibility to answer. That is, logical possibility involves the absence of contradiction among propositions. If the propositions are biological ones, dealing with the nature of living things on our planet, logic tells us what is possible for living things on our planet, given the initial propositions about the nature of earth life from the science of biology. If the propositions are metaphysical ones, dealing with the nature of actual beings qua actual beings, then logic tells us what is possible for actual beings in this and any world, given the initial metaphysical propositions about the nature of actuality. Logic tells us which arguments are valid; but whether or not we think the argument is sound depends upon our judgment as to whether the metaphysical propositions are sound.

So, one cannot ask simply whether Premise X is logically false as opposed to metaphysically false. If it is the conclusion of a valid argument, it is "logically false" if and only if one of the premises ms metaphysically false.3 This all seems very elementary. It therefore came as a shock to see Pike assuming I meant that Premise X is "only metaphysically false (and not logically false)." On this basis he concludes that, from my contention that it is (only) metaphysically impossible for the activities of any actual being to be totally determined by some other being or beings, it does not follow that a being with perfect power could not completely determine the activities of all the actualities in the world. God can do things that are metaphysically impossible as long as they are not also logically impossible.

How could Pike assume that something could be metaphysically impossible and yet really possible? Evidently because of two beliefs, which he evidently thinks I share. First, he thinks that the class of "logically possible worlds" is wider than the class of "metaphysically possible worlds." This is affirmed on the grounds that a metaphysical principle is logically contingent since its negation is not self- contradictory. Second, he evidently holds that what is really possible is defined by what is logically possible; it is not limited to what is metaphysically possible.

Regarding the first belief: I have already stated my reason for rejecting the notion that one can talk about worlds that are logically possible apart from talking about metaphysical possibility. Also, I do not agree that metaphysical statements are contingent. Here I follow not only Hartshorne but also Whitehead (PR 258/ 441) and others in holding that metaphysical propositions are without conceivable alternative. Of course, we must distinguish between properly formulated metaphysical propositions and our feeble attempts; also, we must bear in mind our great fallibility in being able to determine what is genuinely conceivable and what is not (ESP 133). Only an Omniscient being could formulate them accurately -- and clearly intuit that they are without conceivable alternative. But metaphysical statements, as I use the term, are in intention not contingent. (Whether or not this means they are logically contingent, I will leave up to Pike.)

Regarding Pike’s second belief: I would reject it even if Pike could defend the first. If metaphysical truths are truths that hold in any world that could be actualized, then nothing is really possible that is metaphysically impossible. If something is metaphysically impossible, it cannot be done by an omnipotent being, no matter how "omnipotence" is defined (unless it is defined as the power to do what is impossible, and here all discussion would have to stop).

Given Pike’s understanding of the difference between logical and metaphysical possibility, his interpretation of my position in the introduction and part II of his paper needs modification. He interprets my position to be that God has the "logical limit of power." If that is taken in Pike s sense of having the power to do things that are "only" metaphysically but not logically impossible (whatever that might mean), then it is not my position (or Hartshorne’s). From Pike’s point of view I have taken the straightforward route he expected process thinkers to take, that of simply saying that "God has limited power so that "although God is perfectly good and thus would prefer a world devoid of evil, it is not within his power to bring such a world about." But from my (Hartshornean and Whiteheadian) point of view, according to which things that are metaphysically impossible are not somehow really possible (even to perfect power), it is not correct to say that God’s power is "limited," as if it were somehow less than it could be. It is because I think it important to maintain the perfection of God, including God’s power, that I have to maintain that it is impossible in principle for any conceivable being to guarantee an evil-free world. That is the importance of rejecting Premise X. Hence Pike is right to say I reject the suggestion that God’s power is limited; he is wrong if he is suggesting that I endorse the idea that God has the "logical limit of power" in Pike’s sense.

Actuality and Power

In the first section I argued the historical point that Pike’s view of omnipotence is not really the "standard view." But the possibility remains that it might be a perfectly acceptable view. His central claim is that an actual being can have power and yet be completely determinable by another being. Accordingly, one need not embrace the monopolistic view in order to say that an omnipotent being can totally determine the activities of all worldly beings. Pike tries to support his central claim (which is a rejection of Premise X) by giving some examples. The examples reveal that he employs, evidently without realizing it, a different notion of actual being than the Whiteheadian notion I lay out.

For Whitehead, a good deal of our metaphysical problems have resulted from what can be dubbed the "fallacy of misplaced individuality." The error consists in taking things that are really societies of individuals to be the genuine individuals (or actual entities) themselves. This would be a type of "category mistake." It is extremely serious, since our ideas of "power" and "action are usually correlated with our ideas of individuals -- individuals (actual entities, substances) are the things that act and exercise power. Since societies of individuals may have quite different characteristics than the individuals themselves (e.g., a crowd of people does not have the unity of experience or the power of self-determination possessed by the individual members), quite erroneous notions of the characteristics of individual actual entities and all sorts of philosophical difficulties can result from this confusion. For example, Descartes took visible material objects such as rocks to be examples of actual entities or substances (in the formal sense of res verae, finally real things). Since he also took his own soul as providing an example of an actual entity, and since souls and rocks quite obviously have different characteristics, this gave him an insoluble problem of explaining how these two ontologically different types of actual entities could relate to each other. Had he anticipated Leibniz in thinking of the rock (and his own body) as composed of actual entities (monads) conceived in analogy with that one and only individual he knew from direct experience, his own soul, he would not have had the insuperable problem of understanding the power relations between the soul, on the one hand, and the body and the surrounding world, on the other hand. At least this would have been the case if he had not defined actual entities as totally independent of each other and consequently would not have made his monads windowless.

Another modification Whitehead suggests to Descartes is that the soul itself should not be considered a single actual entity, but a serially-ordered society of actual entities. The momentary occasions of experience are the most concrete individuals; it is the present moment that I directly experience and which has indivisible unity. In his "working hypothesis," Whitehead takes a moment of his own experience as the standard of actuality. If anything else is to be considered an actuality, it must be conceivable in analogy with this experiential basis from which the meaning of "actuality" is derived. Accordingly, in his conjectures about the world in which we find ourselves, Whitehead lists as possible further examples of individual actual entities only those things whose behavior suggests that they have a unity of response to their environments. That is analogous to that self-determining and anticipatory response which one moment of our experience makes to its environment -- in the first place to God and its body. Accordingly, he conjectures that cells, molecules, atoms, electrons, and protons are analogous to the soul, with the cell being composed of a series of cellular occasions, the atom a series of atomic occasions, and so on.

Whitehead’s understanding of power and activity are correlated with this understanding of individuals. Consequently, he does not think of individuals as essentially existing independently from acting and exercising power. An individual is its activity, and its activity is its exercise of power. This powerful activity is two-fold: the power of determining itself out of the influences upon it from previous individuals, and then the power of acting upon subsequent individuals which, willy-nilly, will have to take account of it in their own self-determining activity.

Now to bring this Whiteheadian understanding into relation to Pike’s apparent views. The crucial issue here concerns the status of the whole human being: is this entity an individual, a serially ordered society of actual entities, an aggregate (like a rock), or something else? It is something else, what Whitehead calls a structured society with a dominant member (the soul). Because of this dominant member, which receives data from all parts of the body in each moment and in turn exercises a partial but quite dominating control over the rest of the body, the total psychophysical organism does in each moment have an overall unity of responsive action that rocks and plants lack. By virtue of the dominant occasions of experience constituting the soul, the total human being (along with other animals, especially those with a central nervous system) is, especially in moments of conscious awareness, an individual in a much fuller sense than either rocks or plants. Nevertheless, in the strictest sense it is the dominant occasions themselves that are the individuals, the actual entities. They are ontological individuals relating to neighboring individuals -- first of all God (who is in everyone’s neighborhood) and the brain cells, and through these cells to the rest of the bodily members and through them the surrounding world. The body, in other words, is simply the most intimate part of the world for the soul. The activity of one of its occasions is, first of all, its activity of self-determination by which it constitutes itself in response to its own past occasions, God, and the data pouring in from the bodily members. This is the activity Whitehead labels "concrescence," as the occasion is becoming a concrete individual. In this activity the occasion determines, among other things, its emotional responses to the influences upon it, and it decides how it will try to influence future individuals. Its secondary activity is called "transition," which is its influence upon subsequent individuals. This influence, insofar as it depends upon the occasion itself, will depend upon how the occasion formed itself during its concrescence; it does not now make additional efforts to be influential in particular ways. What its influence actually is will depend partly upon factors beyond its control: first, the subsequent individuals will also be influenced by myriad other actual entities that were determining themselves contemporaneously with the actuality in question; second, the subsequent individuals will have their own power of self-determination, by which they can be somewhat selective in allowing things to influence them.

Pike seems to oscillate between two views of the human being and hence between two views of human action. He sometimes seems to think of the total psychophysical organism as a unified agent which acts upon the exterior world. He is this total organism. Hence, he says, "It is within my power to shatter the glass on my desk." At other times he seems to think of himself as an agent distinct from his body whose primary activities consist in moving his bodily parts. His favorite activity seems to be moving his arm. My main point in making this comparison is not that Whitehead’s ontology is superior to the one implicit in Pike’s discussion (although I do believe this). Rather, the problem is that Pike, evidently being unaware that his understanding of an individual and hence of activity and power differs considerably from the Whiteheadian understanding I was employing,4 overlooks in his arguments precisely the issues that are most crucial from my perspective. They are also, incidentally, ones that have been crucial in the debates down through the centuries about divine power and human responsibility. I will illustrate.

Pike wants to support the claim that one entity (B) could be completely determinable by another entity (A) without thereby being devoid of power to determine its own activities. One case of this, he says, would be when B has the power to determine its own activities but chooses not to. For example, a father has the power to move his arm, but allows his daughter to move it. Does this provide an illustration in which A is able "to completely determine the activities of B"? Not by a long shot. In the first place, "moving an arm" is a very abstract description of all the processes going on in the body when that arm is moved. The daughter would have to be able to determine, for example, all the activities of the muscles, the blood vessels, and their constituent molecules, etc., in her father’s arm and the rest of his body. In the second place, and more importantly, we are told that the father "chooses" not to exercise his arm-raising power, and "allows" his daughter to raise it for him. That decision-making power is the primary kind of power Whitehead has in mind when speaking of the inherent power of an individual. Only if the daughter could control her father’s choices would we have an example of one individual’s being able "to completely determine the activities" of another actuality. Because of the model of individuality and hence activity Pike uses, he fails to include as an "activity" precisely that kind of activity that was uppermost in mind in my discussion.5

Pike’s model also leads him to distinguish between "having" and exercising" power. He sees an individual as being able to have power without exercising it, since one can have the power to raise an arm without exercising it. But from a Whiteheadian point of view, individuals are essentially active; it belongs to their essence to exercise their power of self-determination. They must use the power of choice, as Pike’s example unwittingly shows: whether the father chooses to raise his arm, or chooses not to, he is still choosing. (As the poster reminds us: "Not to decide is to decide.") What Pike takes as a primary example of self-determining activity, from which he concludes that such activity is optional for an individual, is from a Whiteheadian perspective an example of efficient causation, i.e., an example of one individual (the dominant occasion) influencing other things (the arm muscles via the central nervous system). Although this power to influence others is inherent in individuals, the nature of the influence is somewhat optional, especially for the high-grade individuals constituting the human soul which can consciously decide upon the power they want to exert on others. I can decide either to tighten my arm-raising muscles, or keep them relaxed. So, I am not deciding whether or not to exercise power on others, but only how to exercise it. From this perspective, if one’s activities were totally controlled by another being, one would not have any power. The ontological individuals are the momentary occasions of experience whose very actuality consists in their activity.

Pike provides another case designed to show that one entity could be completely determinable by another without being devoid of power. In this case, A may have the power "to completely determine the activities of B" but choose not to exercise it, thereby leaving B the power to determine its own activities. His example is that a father may have the power to restrain his daughter’s arm and may yet allow her to move it. The same problems arise here as with the previous example. Restraining an arm hardly constitutes completely determining all her bodily activities. And the really interesting question would be whether he could control her desire to move her arm, and this not with threats but by causing her not to want to move it. If the father could really control all her activities -- all her desires, all her emotional reactions to events, all her decisions, as well as all her bodily movements -- we would not attribute to her any power of her own, at least not while he was controlling her. And, if he had the power to turn her off and on like that, we would be reluctant to say she had power of her own even in those times when he was not controlling her. All the power in the relationship would essentially belong to him; the situation would be essentially monopolistic. While he was not completely controlling her, she would not be operating under inherent power but under bestowed or loaned power. She has no power of her own if it can be totally turned off by another, and if she has no power over when she "has" power. Accordingly, I argued: "If one holds that B’s condition can be totally determined by A, this implies that B really has no power in relation to A. And if B represents the totality of the world, and A represents God, this means that God has all the power, while the world has none" (GPE 268). (It is possible that Pike’s rejection of the analysis here is based on not seeing that the claim is that, if God can totally determine our activities [including our very willing and desiring], we have no power in relation to God.)

Pike’s central contention is to maintain that there can be an intelligible doctrine of omnipotence that says God can completely determine our activities but that does not deny that we have power. His key idea is that God can overpower our power.

He states that the following "strengthened version of Premise X" is presupposed in his view of omnipotence: "It is possible for A to completely determine all of the activities of B even in the case where B is making whatever effort it can to determine its own activities for itself’ (Pike’s italics). Pike rightly assumes that I will find this premise contradictory. But this is not because it contradicts some other principle I would affirm, as he suggests, but because it is self-contradictory. From my perspective, if A is completely determining all of B’s activities, then B cannot be making any effort of its own to determine its own activities for itself. Any "effort" it exerted would be part of its "activities" and hence by hypothesis would be completely determined by A. Since Pike says that this "strengthened premise is presupposed by his so-called "standard view" of omnipotence, I can only consider that view incoherent.

Pike’s "strengthened premise" reflects as clearly as possible the differences between our ontologies, in particular the different understandings of the relation between actuality, power, and activity. Pike evidently thinks an individual’s activities are nonessential to its actuality. Hence the individual’s activities could be completely overpowered and hence restrained by some other being and yet that individual would still be an actuality. It has its actuality in some kind of being that preexists its activity. And in this being it has power that may or may not be exercised; it is power in the sense of potency. Accordingly from Pike’s perspective it is not worrisome to think of God as being able completely to control our activities, and even doing this from time to time. We still have our actuality, and even our power. There is no suggestion that God’s omnipotence means monism, or even a monopolistic concentration of power. At least Pike can think this way as long as he distinguishes between an individual’s "activities" on the one hand and its "choice" on the other. If he would include an individual’s choices in its activities, he perhaps would not be so certain that our actuality and power could survive our being overpowered by God.

From my Whiteheadian point of view, an individual is its activity, and its activity is its power. To think of God as (per impossible) completely determining its activities would be to think of God as obliterating its power and hence its actuality. There is no "substance" underlying the activity that would remain, waiting to exercise its power once God quit butting in.

The contrast can be clarified in terms of the notion of the "material" cause of things, in Aristotle’s sense. If all things are thought to share in "being" which is distinct from creative activity, then it seems intelligible to attribute being to us even if our activity can be totally controlled by God. And this being can be thought to have its power, just waiting to be exercised. But if the material cause of all things, including God, is creative activity, so that that is the very stuff of which we are made, then a system that says that God can completely determine our creative activity is saying that God is essentially all in all.

To some extent all of Pike’s argumentation, that we can still be said to have power even if God can overpower us, is beside the point, since part of what I meant by the metaphysical hypothesis that all actualities have inherent power of their own is precisely that their activities cannot be totally determined by some other being, even God. To say that some other being or beings could completely determine their process of concrescence would be to deny that they had any "inherent power of self-determination," as I intended that phrase. Accordingly, although some important issues have surfaced in this discussion, and hopefully some illumination as to why Pike’s intuitions run counter to mine, the issue may be finally semantic. Perhaps Pike, even if he were to see the distinction between one’s "choosing" and one’s "activities" to be untenable, would want to maintain that we would have "power of our own" even if God could completely determine all our activities (including our choices). But, if so, he would not be talking about "power of our own" as I understand it, so there would be no substantive conflict on that point.

The only conflict would be on whether a being with perfect power could completely determine every aspect of any other actuality. Since Pike says yes, an approach to theodicy on the basis of his metaphysical position would have to be totally different from mine. I turn now to this issue.

Pike’s "More Promising" Approach

Our perception of the worthwhileness of the approach someone else takes to a problem is often colored by whether we think we already have an acceptable solution of a different sort. My approach is to focus on the question of power, asking what even perfect power might not be able to do. Pike believes that the more promising approach is the more traditional one of focusing on the question of goodness. The premise to attack, he holds, is that "God is opposed to evil in such a way that a (perfectly) good being always eliminates evil if it can." One should follow Augustine in holding that God permits or causes evil to exist because it contributes to "the ultimate good." Pike says that this theodicy is free of any logical contradiction between "God exists" and "evil exists."

Of course it is, because it denies that there is any genuine evil; the "evil" that "exists" is said merely to be apparently evil. Since I spent a good deal of my book (including the chapter on Augustine and the chapter that Pike critiqued) pointing out that this was the major tendency of the traditional theodicies (GPE 21-23,69-71,252-54,256,260, and passim), I will say nothing more about it here. Except this: the task of philosophical theology is presumably not merely to find positions that are free from logical contradiction, but to find positions that are also believable and livable. In the face of Auschwitz, of burning and starving children, of agonizing lingering deaths, of brutality to children and minorities beyond belief, of animal suffering uncompensated for by any possible moral growth, of lives stunted from childhood from inadequate protein -- in the face of all these and countless other forms of evil, can Pike really believe, and live in terms of the belief, that everything that happens contributes to the ultimate good? If so, that is the ultimate issue on which we diverge.

 

Notes

1 Pike asks if my (substantive) "definition" of actual being as involving the power of self-determination implies that Descartes. who thought there were material actual beings without such power, was guilty of semantic confusion about the meaning of "actual being." No, since the semantic issue involves the formal meaning of actual being (res vera, substance). Descartes, of course, had his own substantive definition of substance (as "that which requires nothing but itself to be").

2 Pike also initially says my claim that the term "powerless actualities" is meaningless (because not rooted in direct experience) is contradictory to the claim that any statement presupposing this term is false. But Pike then provides a resolution based on the distinction between the "surface meaning" and the "ultimate meaning-status" of a term. In other words, one can understand what someone means by a term without agreeing that that term is ultimately a meaningful one. Also, if it is correct that metaphysical truths are without conceivable alternatives, as I state later in the paper with clarifications, then there is no tension involved in saying of metaphysical statements that they are false and meaningless -- these would ultimately (i.e., for omniscience) be identical.

Pike, in calling my view of meaning "naively empirical," seems to assume that by "experience" I mean only sense perception, which, of course, I do not. And my view is not un-Whiteheadian. For example, Whitehead said Hume’s claim that ‘causation" had to be experienced to be meaningful, was "entirely justifiable" (PR 166/ 253). Pike’s suggestion that a "powerless actuality" might be reached by a method similar to that of the extensive abstraction which Whitehead used to arrive at the meaning of a "point" founders on the irreducible difference between actuality and possibility.

3 It is because the argument about metaphysical impossibility is not distinct from the argument about logical possibility that Pike finds no separate argument for it in the text.

4 In the chapter Pike criticized, I explained that whenever! said "a being" I meant "an individual actual being" (GPE 268). What exactly this means in a Whiteheadian context was explained on another p age to which Pike refers (GPE 277).

5And, in theological debates about "grace and free will," the central question has been whether we have any freedom vis-á-vis God to decide for or against God’s will. According to Luther, for example, we cannot even choose to believe the gospel unless God has predestined us to believe it (GPE 106). Augustine said that "God works in the hearts of men to incline their wills whithersoever He wills, whether to good deeds according to His mercy, or to evil after their own deserts" (GPE 64f.).


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