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Charles Hartshorne by Alan Gragg


Published by Word Books, Waco, Texas, 1973, as part of the series "Makers of the Modern Theological Mind," edited by Bob E. Patterson. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.


Chapter 1: The Career of Charles Hartshorne
Hartshorne’s dependence upon Whitehead finds clearest expression in his enthusiastic adoption of Whitehead’s view of the universe as essentially one of perpetual change and becoming, in opposition to the dominant views of traditional Western philosophy and theology that the basic realities of both God and the universe endure permanently without essential change.

Chapter 2: What is Really Real?
There is something logically arbitrary about every detail of the universe which the determinist cannot eradicate. Hartshorne goes as far as to say that "the world as a whole is a matter of chance." In the final analysis, things happen just because they happen; there is no sufficient reason why things are as they are, and "preference is ultimate." Thus human conscious experience is our only reliable key to unlock the mysteries of reality.

Chapter 3: What Is Man?
Hartshorne reasons that man is more than his cellular processess and is as much a "single dynamic unit" as any of the electrons or cells that constitute his body. A particular man is the common denominator of a connected series of experiences. "Social" is the coordinate processes of weaving one’s own life from strands taken from the lives of others and giving one’s own life as a strand to be woven into their lives. Love is the supreme ethical standard. And the experiences of the dead are all everlastingly preserved in their total value, exactly as originally experienced, in the everlasting and omniscient memory of God.

Chapter 4: What Is Supreme Reality?
Hartshorne examines the shortcomings of humanism, classical theism, and explains the differences between pantheism and panentheism (meaning "all-in-God"). Every possible argument for God must show that doubt of God is doubt of any and all truth, renunciation of the essential categories of thinking.

Chapter 5: A Critical Evaluation of Hartshorne’s Philosophy
Hartshorne has very little to say about Christology and is genuinely perplexed by such traditionally Christian ideas as individual survival after death and petitionary prayer.

Selected Bibliography

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