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Disassembling the Mantra: Part/Whole Equivocation in the Category of the Ultimate

by Duane Voskuil

Duane Voskuil, former Chair of the University of North Dakota’s Philosophy Department and an advisee of Charles Hartshorne at Emery University, is also a violin maker experimenting with sound theory at 1002 N. 8th St., Bismarck, ND 58501. E-mail: dvoskuil@bis.midco.net The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp. 308-321, Vol. 29, Number 2, Fall-Winter, 2000. Process Studies is published quarterly by the Center for Process Studies, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


1. The Issue and Some Definitions

"The many become one and are increased by one" (Process 21) is a formulation of Alfred North Whitehead’s Category of the Ultimate so well-known it could be a mantra. Charles Hartshorne held it to be Whitehead’s most important insight. Yet "become" in this expression can mean either (1) the transition from a multiplicity of actual entities to a new one -- exhibiting extensive connection spatially or (2) the process of growth within one actual entity --exhibiting extensive connection temporally. Since "the one" must be a whole, the ambiguity in the meaning of "become" raises the following question: Is the creating process itself one whole with "the many" as its parts, or is the completed satisfaction of a process the whole?

"Transition" will always refer here to the first meaning of "become," to the objectifications of the many as the data in a new process, as in "the transition from particular existent[s] to particular existent. This transition . . . is the origination of the present in conformity with the ‘power’ of the past" (Process 210), or again, a "feeling -- i.e., a positive prehension -- is essentially a transition effecting a concrescence" (Process 221). The initial data are a multiplicity to be felt. As felt in a transition, Whitehead says some are prehended negatively, by "exclusions from contribution to the concrescence" (Process 220). However, it is doubtful anything (except processing contemporaries and immediately prior and noncontiguous actualized processes) can be excluded from an actual entity s positive feeling since each "instance embraces the whole [universe], omitting nothing, whether it be ideal form or actual[ized] fact" (Religion 108).

As for "the many," they do nothing on their own: "There is no emergent evolution concerned with a multiplicity. The treatment of a multiplicity as though it had the unity belonging to an entity. . . produces logical errors" (Process 30). Only unit/wholes can be influenced, and each whole is influenced by each of the many simultaneously. Only wholes are creative. Every whole extends over, or around, a multiplicity of others as objectified, and becomes objectified in many successive wholes simultaneously and successively. No temporal extension exists between the multiplicity of subject/superjects comprising the initial data to be felt and their objectification in another wherein they are felt. Only in retrospect, and in abstraction from process, can one refer to a multiplicity, since everything in existence is felt.

Unfortunately Whitehead occasionally uses "transition" synonymously with "concrescence," highlighting his ambiguous use of "becoming": "The essence of existence lies in the transition from datum to issue. This is the process of self-determination" (Modes 131). Notice, however, that Whitehead uses "datum" here, not the plural, "data," as he does when referring to the "initial data." Since all that exists are comings-to-be, there can be no (essence of) existence between satisfactions as initial data and their objectification(s) in another as its datum.

An additional ambiguity exists in the Category of the Ultimate in the second meaning of "become" in what Whitehead defines as "concrescence." Does process (2a) select from a realm of specified and discrete possibilities one to be ingressed (actualized) as the many come together into a one (a whole?), or does process (2b) create from a continuum of generic potency a determination never before specified? Again, does creativity select one possibility to ingress from among a multiplicity of previously (eternally?) specified objects, or does it create a new specification which becomes a determinate object for others?

Whitehead vacillates on which defines "concrescence." He seems to want, and probably needs, creativity to originate new specification, but he emphasizes potentiality as a multiplicity of objects specified prior to the selection. He say’s an actual entity only positively prehends some eternal objects while others are excluded (Process 219), so eternal objects must be a disjunctive multiplicity, not a continuum. Process viewed as selecting does not create objects since the objects must exist before the selection, and apparently in Whitehead’s mind, eternally so.

II. Wholeness and the Category of the Ultimate

One, many and creativity are the notions Whitehead says complete the Category of the Ultimate (Process 21). Yet, he soon adds identity and diversity to explain the generic notion of "togetherness," and later he says extensive connection is the ultimate relationship that cannot be explained or defined, and that the extensiveness of a whole and its parts are likely necessarily interdependent: "If you abolish the whole, you abolish its parts; and if you abolish any part, then that whole is abolished" (Process 288).

Whitehead gives other formulations of the Ultimate Category, but they help little to clarify the ambiguity. When he says creativity "is that ultimate principle by which the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively" (Process 21), is he saying the members of the multiplicity (that an actual entity prehends) are parts of one whole as it begins its concrescence, or is he saying they do not become parts of a whole until the actual entity reaches its satisfaction?

This ambiguity in the meaning of "becoming" is at the core of Whitehead’s system. Without knowing which is meant, much is left unclear. One would wish Whitehead used the part/whole language more often, particularly when discussing the Category of the Ultimate. He uses "whole" to refer to the life history of an enduring object or person (Adventures 190). Most often he mentions parts and wholes in his explication of coordinate division (Process 283ff.) where a whole is the superject of an actualized process. The parts of this object/whole are previous actual entities objectified for the process that created it. Since a process made this object/whole with its analyzable spatial parts, one might assume process itself is not a whole.

But Whitehead means something else by a "whole" (as an ultimate unit of reality) when he says it is "the singularity of an entity" (Process 21), or the unity of a subject (Category of Subjective Unity. Process 26), or an "ultimate individual fact" which he says "must be describable as process" (Modes 120, Adventures 199, emphasis added), or the self that determines itself (Modes 131), or the "substantial activity of individualization" (Science 123), or when he also says "the subject of the feeling is causa sui" and any feeling is impossible to understand "without recourse to the whole subject" (Process 221, emphasis added). The whole subject is the whole process from start to finish since there must be a "‘subject’ which feels [… the] ‘objective datum’ which is felt" (Process 221) as a process begins. What the concresing subject creates "is the reaction of the unity of the whole [subject] to its own internal determination. . . the decision of the whole arises out of the determination of the parts" (Process 28, emphasis added).

The actualizing of an actual entity is a subject, and the actualized result of its coming-to-be is an object. Since subjects must be concrete units (wholes), not aggregates, and since subjects include objects, it follows that the concrescing of an actual entity is a whole with its physical prehensions as determinate parts. Since an actual entity must be an indivisible unit (subject) throughout its concrescence, the meaning of "become" in the first clause of the mantra, "the many become one," must refer to the transition from a multiplicity of actualized entities to the one actualizing whole including them, and not as usually understood (seemingly by Whitehead himself) to the concrescence of a multiplicity into a whole during an actual entity’s concrescence.

III. Dipolarity and Subjective Wholeness

To deny process itself is a whole while asserting process results In a whole, would raise a serious problem with the ontological status of the multiplicity of subjects/superjects that are somehow in a process but have not yet grown together into new whole. Such entities would cleave nature into two self-sustaining ultimates: (1) So-called units that process and prehend others as objects but not as parts since these process "units" are not yet wholes to have parts, and (2) static units (the objects themselves) that must be wholes (even though they are "in" a process) since they are not yet parts of any whole. But "there can be no ‘many things’ which are not subordinated in a concrete unity" (Process 211), and all concrete units are process/wholes.

In order to maintain a dipolarity of process and permanence, rather than an incoherent dualism of these principles, whatever exists at the termination of a process/whole must be sustained by another process, that is, must be a part of some new creating whole. To be a part is to be an object, and to be an object is to be a part. All wholes have parts, and all parts are in wholes. So, if a satisfied actual entity is objectified (as it must be), it is a part in another process/whole. "Wherever a vicious dualism appears, it is by reason of mistaking an abstraction for a final concrete fact" (Adventures 192). The full concreteness is the process. Its result is not a whole, but an abstraction from, that is, a part within, superseding concrete wholes.

The mantra’s other clause, "the many . . , are [become] increased by one," refers to the internal process of temporal growth which, when it has completed its creation, dies leaving a new one, that is, a new object for the superseding world. A new whole exists as soon as the many are objectified within a new process at transition. The many become parts of one whole (one subjective unity) at the founding of the actual entity or there is no new actual entity. Though Whitehead gives considerable attention to genetic growth, how an actual entity originates at the transition from the subjectivities of the many to the new subjectivity of the superseding one, is left relatively unarticulated. Perhaps little can be said, but this transition which originates a new process/whole must be carefully distinguished from the creative process which originates a new object/part, a one of many that is objectified in others.

An actual entity must be a whole throughout its process of creating because a multiplicity cannot aim at a result (Process 30). Only wholes can extend over and prehend a multiplicity simultaneously and yet have a single aim. A whole exhibits propositional unity: The many are the proposition’s compound subject; the aim is the proposition’s simple predicate (Process 257). This comparison of an actual entity to the structure of a linguistic proposition can be misleading, however, since the concrete wholeness of a process is the creating subject (which is closer to the simple predicate linguistically) and the subject/whole’s parts are objects (the subjects linguistically). In a concrete actual entity conceived dipolarly, the one (creative subjectivity) includes the many (objectified subjects) as parts.

Just as a multiplicity cannot aim at a result, neither can an aim be a multiplicity. On this point Whitehead struggles to be consistent, because an actual entity’s oneness can only reside in the unity of its creative mentality (its subjective aim) from its initiation to its satisfaction. But insofar as Whitehead conceives of eternal objects as a multiplicity of discrete specifications among which actualities select, coherently conceiving the aim as one is problematic at best.

IV. Concrescence, Creativity and Subjective Aim

If process is a whole with parts, the meaning of "process" as temporal extension cannot be a growing together of parts into a whole, or the "concrescence of many potentials" (Process 22), because the "togetherness of things" in the occasion of experience (Adventures 234) is already established as the actual entity begins since "relationship is not a universal. It is a concrete fact with the same concreteness as the relata" (Adventures 161). An actual entity either has its objectified antecedent world (its potentials) together with its many contrasting parts as it begins creating, or it does not have them together and is never born. If a whole can only exist with its prehended parts objectified together and in contrast, "concrescence" can only determine how the old parts (as already related to each other) fit into the new specification being determined by the creativity of the present.

"‘Creativity’ is the principle of novelty (Process2l), according to Whitehead, but what would be new if "an actualization is [merely] a selection among possibilities" (Science 159) since a decision only selects among items already delineated before the decision? Whitehead also says "‘Actuality’ is the decision amid ‘potentiality"’ (Process 43), but an actuality’s creating is more radical than selecting an object to ingress: A creation results in a new specification never felt before. It is "the evocation of determination out of indetermination" (Process 149, also 226). As Charles Hartshorne says,

If possibilities have, item for item, all the qualities of the corresponding actualities, then actualization is meaningless and indeed adds no value. . . . possibilities are not to be viewed as qualitatively identical with actualities, apart from some quality-free factor of actualization. . . . merely possible qualities are lacking in individual definiteness. There ate no possible individuals, hut only possible kinds of individuals, possibilities for further individuation. (Natural 73)

Selection among eternal objects would imply the so-called unity of the subject, its aim, would be a multiplicity, not a unity. On the other hand, if the subject had to process toward only one "fully specified" aim, it would fail to do anything new. It would fail to be creative, that is, fail to exist at all. So when Whitehead says an "indetermination stands in the essence of any eternal object" (Science 162), is he allowing every eternal object to be more or less specific? Is each a more or less generic potency endlessly specifiable? Is each, perhaps, a created specification of the one continuum of potentiality?

Though the past as inherited sets the realizable limits and opportunities for the moment’s creative power, the eventual creation with all its determinate detail could never have existed nor subsisted before it is created, not even in a primordial vision of potentialities. The only eternal objects, that is, the only eternal characterizations of all actualizations, are the metaphysical Categories. All other objects have been created and inherited (physical objects), or created in the present (conceptual objects), not selected.

The objects inherited when an actuality prehends others at transition are simultaneously aspects of its own subjectivity and aim since "the subjective forms of the immediate past are continuous with those of the present" (Adventures 185), continuous, not "reproduced" as Whitehead also misleadingly say’s (Process 238). By "the principle of conformation . . . what is already made becomes a determinant of what is in the making" (Symbolism 46). An actual entity only exists as simultaneously feeling what others have done and feeling (in a somewhat general way) what might be done with what others have done. It necessarily includes others as aspects of itself, but the essence of a self, a whole, is the drive to make something new and pass it on as a determinate condition for others, not merely to make an object determinate in the actual spatio-temporal nexus already (eternally) specified conceptually. Each self must do its own specifying, and each determination must be a new specification, an object never felt before exactly as it is by anyone, neither physically nor conceptually.

V. Novel Multiplicity at Transition and the Aim’s Uniqueness

Process cannot create a novel outcome unless novelty exists at the very foundation of the process to provide a unique aim. "Complete conformity means the loss of life" (Modes 87) at the origination of an actual entity, just as "Complete self-identity can never be preserved in any advance to novelty" (Modes 146) since a whole must make something new that did not exist as it began. The novel beginning is assured because each actual entity, as it begins its life, must embrace a multiplicity never before embraced, assured, that is, if its single aim can be consistently conceived.

An aim is uniquely specified and determined by the unique many the subject inherits, yet, as Hartshorne proposes, the aim is always one continuous range of possibility, infinitely specifiable, yet not further specified until the subject/whole creates a new specific result. The actuality is unified and causally determined by its single, given aim, but since its aim is always somewhat generic, it is free to create a unique specification within the emphasis of its range.

To say the creative process within an actual entity does not create a new whole, because it is a whole, may sound heretical. But the logic of change requires actual entities be wholes that create object/parts for other wholes. These object/beings are the potentials for the new subject/becomings. A new whole is "created" or "comes to be" at transition when what was subjective for two or more preceding others, is immediately objectified for a new subject. The subject/whole uses its power to create new determination within the opportunities offered by the hierarchy of generic aspects carried within the determinate objectifications it inherits.

"The [ultimate and necessary] generic aim of process is the attainment of importance" (Modes 16, emphasis added), but the actual world must provide contingently created objects that are less general specifications of this ultimate aim in order to allow creatures with limited creative ability to accomplish a new determinate specification. This "real potentiality," provided by objectified actual entities immediately prior and contiguous to the present, enhances a small aspect of the full potential continuum (Whitehead’s "pure potentiality") each object inherits and exhibits. Whatever specifications have been determined by all previous actual entities are also presented for every originating actual entity as mediated by those it immediately prehends (including God). In this way, all of the many that have been actualized, the complete multiplicity, of the cosmos (except immediately prior and noncontiguous contemporaries) is objectified for each actual entity with some degree of importance however minuscule (Religion 108 and Process 22, Principle of Relativity).

Whitehead’s characterization of "potentiality" as generic is likely correct, but not compatible with a theory of discrete objects eternally specified and envisaged. He says "indetermination [as to how inherited objects will fit into the actuality’s satisfaction], rendered determinate in the real concrescence, is the meaning of ‘potentiality"’ (Process 23), but indeterminacy is not about which of several "modes" (Process 23) will be fulfilled; the mode to be fulfilled has not yet been exactly specified. When it has been and the actuality is satisfied with the result, the specification, with whatever clarity or vagueness, quality and pattern, desirability or repulsiveness it has, is determined and must remain changeless forever as it is in future wholes.

VI Togetherness and Inexplicable Wholeness

So when Whitehead says it "lies in the nature of things that the many enter into complex unity" (Process 21), he should be referring first of all to (1) transition -- the way the incipient whole overlaps the many of the preceding world so they "become" objects or parts of its process. But he is also referring to (2a) concrescence -- the "production of novel togetherness" (Process 21), the way the many objects (pseudo-parts) initiating a process grow together into a whole that only exists at the end of the process. He would do better to speak of concrescence as (2b) origination -- the way the process/whole creates new specification around its changeless parts as it comes to be a new determinate object.

The reason for this suggested change of language is that wholes are established at transition, and creative process (as in 2b) uses the togetherness of the many prehensions (that give birth to the new whole at transition) to make a new specification. This newness is a constant problem for Whitehead given his assumption that potentiality is an eternal multiplicity and his theory of ingression. He wants an eternal object to be "the same for all actual entities" (Process 23), and yet needs each creating subject to have its own subjective form of that object (Process 227, 232, 246), in other words, to create its own, novel "eternal" object.

The equivocation in the Category of the Ultimate permeates passages like the following on things that become: "in the becoming [transition or concrescence?] of an actual entity, novel prehensions, nexus, subjective forms, propositions, multiplicities, and contrasts, also become; but there are no novel eternal objects" (Process 22). Though some of these examples of things that become do refer to what happens within the internal life of one actual entity, still others refer to relationships between objectified actual entities at transition. How, for example, can the internal constitution of one actual entity become a multiplicity or a nexus of actual entities? But the subject/superjects of many as simultaneously objectified in one actual entity is a spatial nexus, and abstracted from their necessary inclusion in a one, they are a multiplicity.

If an actual entity is a whole from inception to satisfaction, it cannot reject any of its prehended objects nor prehend additional objects once it is established nor even alter the objective parts it has, or it would not be the same whole. An actual entity as a "self-creation is separate and private" (Adventures 198); any changes to its parts and it would not be the same actuality (Process 288). An actual entity can only bring into being a new specific object, a determinate object for others.

It is fundamental to the metaphysical doctrine of the philosophy of organism, that the notion of an actual entity as the unchanging subject of change is completely abandoned No thinker thinks twice; and, to put the matter more generally, no subject experiences twice. (Process 29)

Even though Whitehead says "the novelty received from the aggregate diversities of bodily expressions. . . requires decision" to reduce it to a coherent expression (Modes 36), still the diversities once received are determinate object/parts logically required to remain as they are in order to retain the self-identity of the process/whole. In order for the actual entity to "advance to novelty" (Modes 146), its process dies. Just as the new object is about to be born through the whole’s creative activity and to be added to itself, the whole’s life ends, leaving the result of its creative effort as a next object for other wholes. "New" means "in addition to and inclusive of" the old. It cannot mean "other than" nor "separate from" nor even "an alteration of" the old, since without the old (as the old is) to contrast with the newness, newness is meaningless; the "actual[ized] world is not destroyed. It is reproduced [embraced] and added to" (Process 238).

When Whitehead says an actual entity embraces the diversities of the whole universe and "brings them into is own unity of feeling under gradations of relevance and of irrelevance" (Religion 108), he should be referring to the unity (wholeness) required to establish an actuality at transition, but is likely expressing his belief the many grow together into a unity (whole) during concrescence. But coherence must be achieved by the whole (with its parts already in mutual relationships) adjusting the relative importance of the old diversities within the new possibility becoming realized, not by altering nor rejecting them since "an actual occasion has no history. It never changes. It only becomes and perishes" (Adventures 205). It is the same "it" from birth to death, so it must be one reality throughout its process, that is, one making, one process, one whole. Reality (the "essence of existence") moves not from disorder to order, but from presented order (however fortunate or regretful) to a somewhat new order inclusive of the old. Only from a distance do different orders appear unordered.

VIII. Creativity as Conceptual Wholeness

Creativity and conceiving (mentality) are really identical. Conceptuality is subjective feeling, and subjectivity is always appetitive (Adventures 151), always oriented towards the ultimate goal (to achieve importance) and to the continuous hierarchy of less general goals as embodied in its unique subjective aim. As Whitehead says, "the subjective forms of the conceptual prehensions constitute the drive of the Universe" (Adventures 196). But the "subjective forms ["of the total objective datum"] are merely contributions to the one fact which is the subjective feeling of the one occasion" (Adventures 254, emphasis added). The mental and physical (the new-making and the old-made) are necessarily in a dipolar contrast: The single mentality includes and responds to the many physical feelings which are the result of previous mental efforts.

There is no first nor last effort. God’s so-called primordial conceptual envisagement could never have occurred prior to all physical feelings since there cannot be conceptuality except as it grows around an inherited multiplicity of previous, determinate specifications which establishes the potentiality of the moment’s aim. "Pure conceptuality" is a myth (Modes 14), as much so as "pure matter." Both are abstractions that should not be hypostatized. Even if there could be primordial conceptuality prior to all physical inheritance, it could only contain the uncreated, metaphysical conditions of all creative specifications. All other specifications of potency are unique, created beings that become "universalized" by being prehended by others. They are the potentials for others; "it belongs to the nature of a ‘being’ that it is a potential for every [successive] ‘becoming"’ (Process 22). If the interpolation of "successive" is not required, and every potency is, and has always been, specified and influencing every process, there is no reason for process to create anything; but such a block universe is not what Whitehead wants to describe.

Conceptuality does embrace the primordial, created past (which does include the eternal Categoreal Conditions) as mediated by the immediate past, but in itself, abstracting from its necessary physical base, abstracting from its dipolar contrast with the dead conceptuality of the past it begins with and includes, conceptuality is that which makes new specifications. This new-making is necessarily subjective (conceptual) and must include the objective (physical) as that aspect of its whole, growing self that is stubbornly, necessarily unalterable. Conceptual feeling is necessarily vectored always more or less specified, oriented toward an ought or worth to be fulfilled and an enrichment to be enjoyed by others in the future just as it now enjoys or suffers those in its past. Its aim is based upon the many that come vectored from the past that the wholeness of the present has embraced and is carrying into the future for others.

When Whitehead says, "Fact includes in its own nature something which is not fact, although it constitutes a realized item within fact. . . . This is the conceptual side of fact" (Modes 167), he misleadingly equivocates on the meaning of "fact" and misstates the dipolarity involved. His first, third and fourth uses of "fact" mean, or should mean, a process/whole. The second use of "fact" refers to what has been objectified, so the conceptual, of course, is "not fact" since it has not yet been objectified. The conceptuality of the present is obviously not in the objectified facts, but neither is it in the full reality of the present whole. Conceptuality is not in the whole because it is the whole. As the whole reality, it includes all previous conceptuality as objectified within the conceptual subjectivity of its present.

IX. The Category of the Ultimate Reformulated

Let me suggest a better way to express the Category of the Ultimate: Each of many wholes becomes a part in many wholes. The word "becomes" is still ambiguous, but taken either way, it functions meaningfully: (1) Each (of many wholes) becomes, that is, each grows and creates a newly specified determination within the range of its inherited hierarchy of generic possibility; (2) Each becomes a part in many wholes, that is, each whole’s result is inherited by many other wholes, immediately and successively forever. This formulation not only sorts out the part/whole issue, it also puts the same emphasis on the one-becoming-many as it does on the many-becoming-one. Not only do many (as objects) flow into one (subject), but one (as object) flows into many (subjects).

X Creating particulars and universals

A whole’s new determinate specification becomes at transition a part in others’ specifying and determining processes. A newly specified quality arises from an occasion’s internal creativity; a new pattern arises from contrasts of qualities inherited at transition as it originates (Adventures 253). Herein resides the dipolar difference between (1) aesthetic judgments which are concerned with both (a) contingent relationships of patterned qualities and (b) necessary relationships (both those conditionally necessary, found in the given patterns, and those metaphysically necessary, found in all possible givens) and (2) logical judgments which are only concerned with the necessary aspects of relatedness. Even though the determination which a whole creates begins as a unique, once-in-a-universe object, it becomes universalized as it is endlessly embraced by others.

"Eternal" objects are not eternal, but created and everlastingly inherited by many others -- by all successive others when divine mediation is included (see "Hartshorne, God and Metaphysics"). "Expression is the diffusion, in the environment, of something initially entertained in the experience of the expressor" (Modes 29); or better, created and determined in the expressor, and not first (or eternally) in God unless some moment of God is the expressor. A creation becomes the small end of endless abstractive sets as the multiple strands of spatio-temporal order advance. An "eternal" object is the same for all who prehend it because it is the same object. There is only one object; it is never reproduced (copied). Superseding others just conform to it, even though (except for God) it must be perspectivally prehended and usually mediated by others in closer proximity, exhibiting the H. A. Lorentz spatiotemporal transformation inherent in perspectival prehensions, that is, those necessarily including only some of all the immediately prior, objectified contemporaries.

Such objective characteristics will define societies when they are inherited and passed on as dominant characteristics by the members in the society. But the object does not ingress into the world eternally pre-specified. It is created from the generic aspects of previous creations in a way "inexplicable either in terms of higher universals or in terms of the components participating in the concrescence" (Process 21). "Potentiality is the characterization of Actuality, either in fact or in concept" (Modes 96, also Adventures 199 and Symbolism 39). This is the sense in which "a fact can harbor potentiality" (Adventures 138): All objects that exist are actual either (1) as determinate, satisfied processes physically felt, or (2) as indeterminate objects created in the present and conceptually felt in the present -- by what Whitehead would call Valuation (also Reproduction and Conformity) and Reversion -- as the present whole weighs somewhat general and indeterminate alternatives for its satisfaction.

A "concept" is an aspect of one’s inclusive conceptual actuality; it is born as a unique, "nonactual[ized]" (Process 22) characteristic of the actuality that first created it conceptually before being diffused into its superseding world physically. Whitehead would agree all concepts are in actuality as long as all concepts which have not yet ingressed into the world (by reversion and/or satisfaction) are held in God’s conceptuality as a discrete, infinite multiplicity, some of which we prehend when we have a "new" conceptual feeling; his version of reversion. But each moment of divine conceptuality can only entertain possibility as a continuum (which is always generic) and can only create one determinate result, a result that includes all the generic aspects of all previously specified determinations by including the determinations themselves, the "abstract is in the concrete, [so] any concrete contains the entire unlimited form" (Divine 144).

Every determination is incompatible with any other that could have come to be at that moment, but nothing is excluded from God since all past determinations are included and all possible future specifications for determination have not yet been created to be excluded. The present does not select among "completed specifications" for determinations, leaving the others excluded. Actual entities create new specifications. Conceptuality does create and entertain alternative possibilities for determinations, but only as more or less generic and indeterminate. A determination freezes a new specification forever. Each actuality must create its own specification to be determined, a unique result not found anywhere in its full detail, not even in God, until it is accomplished.

God’s own creative accomplishments must also be determined sequentially, not primordially nor eternally, since a "fully specified" object only occurs when it is determined, and the possibilities for new (and simultaneously incompatible) determinations are endless. "By means of process, the universe escapes from the limitations of the finite . . . [it] escapes from the exclusions of inconsistency. . . . In process the finite [and, Whitehead should say, as yet unspecified] possibilities of the universe travel towards their infinitude of realization" (Modes 75). All objects characterizing subject/superjects are everlasting and changeless, as Parmenides said, but only those who have not escaped the full Parmenidean mind-set assume all objects have always been as well as always will be.

XI. Theism, modality and the Category of the Ultimate

Even though Whitehead seems to have developed his Categories in response to issues in the philosophy of nature, still nothing in reality can be an exception to the Categories, especially the Category of Categories, so how does the Category of the Ultimate intersect with Whitehead’s theism? "Any instance of experience is dipolar," Whitehead clearly states, "whether that instance be God or an actual occasion of the world" (Process 36). He expressly says God is not to be an exception to the principle of dipolarity, so why is Whitehead so vague on the necessity for divine experience to exhibit the epochal dipolarity of coming to be and passing into objective immortality in others? Perhaps it hinges on a confusion between (1) the necessity for there to be a modal dipolarity between God and the World and (2) the necessity for there to be an epochal dipolarity within God, that is, for the moments of God to exhibit the fundamental dipolarity (expressed by the Category of the Ultimate) between the present moment of God-as-creating and all previous moments of God-as-created which the present contains.

Modal dipolarity concerns the difference between the actual entities of God’s series that must exhibit the Categoreal Conditions (when they are adequately expressed) without qualification, and all others that must exhibit the Categories restrictively, in quantity and quality: Those who do not know all, exist within the reality that does; those who objectify some others in transition, must be contrasted to (and within) the one wherein all others are objectified; those whose creations could have been richer are contrasted within one whose actions are impeccable.

A dipolar modal contrast is within the all-inclusive or supreme pole. But this does not excuse the reality that is the unsurpassable, modal exemplification of the Categories from first being an epochal instance of the Categories. Modal dipolar contrasts are built upon epochal dipolar contrasts, and in every case upon the Ultimate Categoreal Contrast between coming-to-be and come-to-be. That which has come to be and now is (by the principle of dipolarity) must be within that which is coming to be (since that which is, is absolutely changeless and cannot, therefore, contain that which is coming to be). All comings-to-be are finite: Temporal extension is always epochal. All actual entities die, either by failure or satisfaction: all beings (that have come to be) become parts of other becomings.

The dipolar modal contrast between finite life and eternal life is not to be found in one actual entity who is an exception to the meaning of "actuality" by never dying satisfied (nor being born). It is found in the way actual entities are together. Ways of being together exhibit the modal relationships of necessity or contingency. Though all moments of creative process (including those of cosmic inclusiveness) are created facts which are necessarily not necessary, that is, necessarily contingent in some aspects, still all contingent facts must exhibit necessary factors. Necessary wholes could not exhibit nor contain contingencies, but contingent wholes must exhibit necessities. One ubiquitous necessity all actual entities exhibit is the Category of the Ultimate. Every whole is born in response to others’ deaths, comes to be and dies when it does. Every being ("dead datum") (Process 164) is in others’ comings-to-be "to the crack of doom" (Process 228).

How God is necessary and how necessity is secure within contingent actualities is answered by understanding why there must be ever-new contingent lives in the divine personal series, not by positing one "necessary life," one whole that illogically alters or remains eternally static. Reality, especially at the unsurpassable level, is necessarily social (Divine 26ff).

XII. Summary

To recapitulate, a whole is a self-powered reality, both embracing and feeling many unalterable and objectified others simultaneously, and creating a new specification (inclusive of the many felt) to be felt as a changeless determination by many superseding wholes. The specifications determined by wholes are not wholes. Once the actualizing is accomplished, the result is no longer self-sustaining or "self-moved." Others do, and some others must, take this dependent reality into themselves and sustain it as a part of their creating wholes. Once a process/whole is established, it cannot be altered by the addition of new physical prehensions, nor by the elimination or modification of any already embraced. A whole somewhat adjusts the relative importance the embraced many will have in the newly specified determination it brings into existence as it dies satisfied. In so doing, the present partly determines forever the feelings of those who must conform to its unique creation.

 

Works Cited

Hartshorne, Charles. The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God. New Haven: Yale UP 1983.

____A Natural Theology for Our Time. La Salle: Open Court, 1967.

Voskuil, Duane. "Hartshorne, God and Metaphysics." Process Studies 28.3-4 (1999): 212-28.

Whitehead, Alfred North. Adventures of Ideas. 1933. New York: Free Press, 1967.

____Modes of Thought. 1938. New York: Free Press, 1968.

____Process and Reality. 1929. Corrected Edition. Ed. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne. New York: Free Press, 1978.

____Religion in the Making. 1926. New York: Fordham UP, 1996.

____Science and the Modern World. 1925. New York: Free Press, 1967.

____Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect. New York: Macmillan, 1927.


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