God, Process, and Persons: Charles Hartshorne and Personalism

by Randall E. Auxier

Randall E. Auxier is Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute of Liberal Arts at Oklahoma City University in Oklahoma City, OK 73106 He is also Editor of the journal, The Personalist Forum. Email: auxier@lec.okcu.edu.

The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp.175-199, Volume 27/3-4, Fall-Winter, 1998. 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.


The author analyzes Hartshorne’s personalism and compares it to Brightman’s and others. Hartshorne gives considerable attention to the concept of God as personal, and he might well be regarded as a personalist although he doesn’t fit the idealistic mode typical of American personalism.

It has been noted from time to time in the literature that the thought of Charles Hartshorne has a number of affinities with personalism, and this is a special case of the relationship between process and personalist thought. The latter is a tangled problem at best, but it is clear that among the important founders of the process perspective -- specifically I mean James, Peirce, Bergson, Whitehead, Dewey, and Hartshorne -- it is Hartshorne’s work which comes closest to being a kind of personalism.1 Whitehead explicitly sets aside the personalist perspective in Religion in the Making, considering its claims beyond the possibility of being established.2 On the other side, a number of personalists have been sympathetic to process thought, and Brightman is surely principal among them.3 Here I will not investigate the question of whether personalism in general, or even the idealistic type, is reconcilable with process thought. It will be enough if something can be established about the first question, Hartshorne’s "personalism."

The crux of this question emerges in the epistemological disagreements that Hartshorne and Brightman slugged out in their private correspondence between 1922 and 1945.4 But before getting to that, we should first contextualize the correspondence by surveying the history of personalist influences on Hartshorne. After that we will examine some of Hartshorne’s metaphysical commitments in relation to personalism. Then we will consider the differences between Hartshorne and Brightman regarding the nature and origin of knowledge. It will be necessary always to distinguish among three levels of discourse which are generally mixed together in the correspondence. These are: (1) metaphysical convictions; (2) methodological commitments; and (3) epistemological results (although obviously these are all related). Hartshorne and Brightman agree to a great extent about what there is. They agree less about what can be known, and have profound differences regarding how we know it. With respect to metaphysics, I will estimate the effects of these differences upon the notion of "person" at three existential levels: the monadic, the datum self and the divine. The discussions of knowledge and method must be carried out within the context of this metaphysical agreement. This will lead in the end to the more interesting question of what a personalist account of knowledge and method requires. From that standpoint we will be able to assess the extent to which it is accurate or fair to treat Hartshorne as a personalist.

I. Personalist Influences and Statements of Hartshorne

We must begin by noting that Borden Parker Bowne, largely regarded as the founder of personalism, was never an important influence in Hartshorne’s thinking. The only reference to Bowne in any of Hartshorne’s books appears in Philosophers Speak of God, and that occurs in an excerpt written by Brightman which is reprinted in the book. Further, Hartshorne identifies Brightman as "the principal founder of American personalism" in an article written in 1960, which suggests that he was practically oblivious to Bowne or to the other Boston personalists older than Brightman, such as Knudson and McConnell. G.H. Howison does occasionally appear in a reference, but Hartshorne never shows any awareness that Howison is considered a personalist. Nikolai Berdyaev was also an important influence upon Hartshorne, but Hartshorne does not associate Berdyaev’s thought with personalism. This does not mean that it would be fruitless to investigate the contribution Berdyaev’s personalism may have made to Hartshorne’s, but it will not be undertaken here.

This narrows down the historical question of Hartshorne’s personalism (or at least what Hartshorne calls personalism) to his debt to Brightman. This we will discuss. But it must also be added that a commitment to personalism is not dependent upon an historical connection to those who espoused it. There is also the matter of philosophical affinity with its viewpoint, which is far and away more important. Since Hartshorne’s entire notion of what personalism is derives from what Brightman says about it, these two questions may be fairly treated together, but with the reservation that there may be more to Hartshorne’s personalism than he himself would recognize, since he chooses to understand the perspective narrowly by identifying it almost exclusively with the views of Brightman.

Let us begin by looking at some of the reasons that Hartshorne might be called a personalist.

Sterling McMurrin has recently noted:

Hartshorne claims for his dipolar (absolute and relative) metaphysics that it overcomes the traditional antinomies 0f unity and plurality, being and becoming, the infinite and the finite, eternity and time, necessity and freedom. His attempt to justify this immodest claim by logical analysis is impressive. I find it rather surprising, however, considering his habit of frequently referring to the work of others, that in this and other connections he appears to make no references to the work of Borden Parker Bowne, whose personalistic world ground was intended to serve the same purpose -- the resolution of the metaphysical antinomies. He refers on occasion to the work of Bowne’s successor, Edgar S. Brightman, but usually in consideration of Brightman’s somewhat unique finitistic theology, Of course, Hartshorne gives considerable attention to the concept of God as personal, and he might well be regarded as a personalist, though he doesn’t fit the idealistic mode typical of American personalism. It would be interesting to have his comparative commentary on Bowne’s personalistic idealism which, though in a manner different from the influence of James or Hartshorne, has had, through Brightman and Ralph Tyler Flewelling, a considerable impact on the philosophy of religion. I can see marked similarities as well as differences in comparing Hartshorne with Bowne.5

The marked similarities and differences are what I will bring out here. Unfortunately, Hartshorne does not comment on McMurrin’s question about personalism in the "Reply" to it he wrote. But if there is a crucial similarity between Bowne and Hartshorne, it lies in their negative views on materialism. Hartshorne uses a refutation of materialism in his first book which Bowne himself could have written (except that if Bowne had written it, it would have been clearer).6

As McMurrin indicates, there is certainly prima facie reason to think of Hartshorne as a personalist. At the three metaphysical levels previously distinguished, the monadic, the datum self, and the divine, Hartshorne’s panentheism commits him to the existence of increasing degrees of consciousness at each level. If, as Brightman holds, the phenomenon of consciousness is really the key to understanding "persons," and the presence of consciousness can be identified with the presence of personhood, then Hartshorne is certainly a personalist as far as this goes. Acknowledging in one’s metaphysics that personality permeates the cosmos certainly seems an important step towards personalism.

A second important metaphysical commonality is that both Hartshorne and Brightman assert a certain passivity in God and in human selves.7 Brightman refers to this as the Given, and Hartshorne is willing to accept the reality of the Given, although the two thinkers disagree about what it is, and how it is known. As a metaphysical point, however, the Given exists for both. If the Given is an indispensable feature of consciousness and personality, as Brightman holds,8 then it is significant to analyzing Hartshorne’s "personalism" that Hartshorne accepts this point.

On the negative side of their agreement, both Brightman and Hartshorne make a strong distinction between the personhood of God and the anthropomorphic conception of God, denying any mutual implication between the two.9 Whatever it means to say that God is a person, it is clearly different from saying that the divine nature is adequately understood by simply generalizing upon human nature. If anything, human consciousness is understood by the two thinkers as a lesser, contingent -- or even fragmentary -- icon of divine consciousness.10 Not much more can univocally be said about the divine/human relation. Analogically, much can be said, but such assertion is always hypothetical for Brightman, while it is both abstract and literal for Hartshorne.11 We strive for logically consistent analogies among the three levels of being, but not identities. Hartshorne and Brightman agree, then, that humans are not identical to God, and that monads are not identical to God, which is to say that both reject pantheism.12 Brightman and Hartshorne both accept the reality of the monad, although Hartshorne is much more willing to speak about the experiences had by sub-human entities than was Brightman.13 This foreshadows their epistemological differences.

Another bit of prima facie evidence that might be considered in favor of Hartshorne’s "personalism" is that in Virgilius Ferm’s 1945 classic Encyclopedia of Religion, a work to which Brightman contributed forty articles,14 and in which Brightman had particular editorial input,15 the article on "God, as personal" was written by none other than Charles Hartshorne.16 This, along with Brightman’s review of me Divine Relativity (cited below), suggests that Brightman himself considered Hartshorne a personalist. Brightman never said outright that this was his view of Hartshorne, but the indications are persuasive that he did think in this way. This, if true, is a nice complement to the fact that Hartshorne considers Brightman a process philosopher.

But to focus the issue a bit more, when asked about his commitment to the personhood of God in a 1993 interview, Hartshorne said: "God is more personal than we are.... He is the ideal of personality. He is the most excellent person."17 This shows a basic continuity with Hartshorne’s position as developed almost fifty years before in The Divine Relativity, which is the most personalistic book Hartshorne has written to date. There, in a section entitled "Divine Personality," he says:

Maximizing relativity as well as absoluteness in God enables us to conceive him as a supreme person... but it is the divine Person that contains the Absolute, not vice versa.18

In short, "personhood" provides the broadest possible conception of God, containing all God’s relations, and even the part of God which is independent of all internal relations, God’s absoluteness. Personhood is God’s mode of existence, and since God’s mode of existence, in Hartshorne’s view, encompasses all possible and actual modes of existence,19 one would think that this commitment fairly well establishes Hartshorne as a personalist, at least in his metaphysics. He has certainly never retracted this view, or even expressed any doubts about it.

Yet, Hartshorne expressed privately in the correspondence his worry that "personalism is in danger of over generalizing the specifically human type of social relation" (Letter of May 8, 1939). The question becomes, then, in what does the divine personhood consist, and how is it similar to and different from on the one hand, the human datum self, and on the other hand, the monad? What can be known of this and how? It is in the light of these three levels of "selfhood" that we must approach the letters exchanged by Hartshorne and Brightman.

II. The Correspondence

Our focus now shifts to questions of knowledge and method. When Hartshorne and Brightman began pointedly to argue about the nature of the self in the correspondence (July 19,1935), the question was "how much and what is ‘given’ to the self?" Hartshorne refers Brightman to the following passage from The Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation in an effort to convince Brightman that there is more given to the self than just the datum self:20

He who thinks that the world, without any such unity of significance as constitutes an experience, would still have been or might be a real world, and who deduces this from the fact -- which spiritualism accepts -- that the world without a particular human personality, Mr. X is perfectly possible, must also be one who thinks that if from "himself" those qualities which make him Mr. X were to be subtracted, nothing of the nature of mind would remain -- in short, he is one who does not believe that other minds are members of himself. Such sheer privacy is the essence of what I call materialism.21

Brightman’s commitment to a particular interpretation of empirical method led him to resist this idea that more is given to the self than the datum self, and that other selves can be known as "members of himself." If other selves cannot be known as being members of ourselves, then for Brightman there is no warrant for saying that they are. He insists that Hartshorne is using abstractions (e.g., "experiences" of which we are unconscious) to build his epistemological case.22 One might, according to Brightman, infer or construct such "experiences," but only on the basis of what is truly given to the consciousness of the datum self, which is nothing more or less than the datum self. On this epistemological basis, Brightman opposes Hartshorne’s claim that selves literally participate in one another’s being. In Brightman’s view, one may, by a rational process (e.g., analogy) come to the conclusion that selves literally participate in one another’s being, as Hartshorne has done, but one cannot find conclusive evidence for it. This is Brightman’s fallibilism, and it points to Hartshorne’s over-willingness to have faith in the results of his deductions.

Here the monadic and divine levels become relevant. For Brightman the monad and God are constructed concepts, a rational extension of empirical method. For Hartshorne, monads and God are realities -- which make it possible for human consciousness to emerge and construct more or less adequate ideas and accounts of them. Hartshorne does not seem either to appreciate or understand the force of Brightman’s repeated point that monads, God, and other selves are not given in our conscious experience -- which is why Brightman thinks their existence must be inferred or constructed. Brightman also holds that, even though what is given to God -- and what God knows (which is everything which can be known) -- is vastly greater than what is given in our experience, a similar limitation applies to God. God must also make inferences and constructions in confronting the Given. God does not need a method as do we, but God must both remember the past and anticipate the future, which is to say that the past and future are not given to God in the same way as is the present. To deny this is to say that God is not temporal.23 Hartshorne concurs on the point about temporality, but not on the claim that God must make inferences in order to know the past. This latter point will be addressed in a moment.

For now the question is whether all of our present experience is also a part of God’s present experience. Or must it be constructed and/or inferred by God? Does God need imagination and the capacity to reason in order to know us as we are? For Hartshorne the answer to this is a qualified no: "If God knows all the universe, then God-and-the-universe contains no more items than God (as omniscient). Omniscience means immediacy, indirect knowledge cannot, I should suppose, be perfect" (Letter of January 22, 1942). God’s present awareness is sufficiently complete to encompass all of our experience and the way in which we experience it, and although God does not believe our erroneous beliefs, God does "suffer" them, and in that sense "contains" all of our experiences as we experience them. Still God does not have to infer or imagine us, for Hartshorne.24

But Brightman is less clear on this point. For him, our experience as we experience it is not given in God’s conscious experience, it is known indirectly by God, albeit perfectly (since God’s reasoning cannot fail), and God wants it that way; "When God intuits me, I am not a part of him, but he wills that I should be other than himself, yet known by him. May not his immanence be construed as reasonably in his purpose to maintain my otherness as in the theory that I am included within him?" (Letter of December 10, 1934). Thus, Brightman favors a sustaining God over a containing God. Brightman thinks that to deny this, as Hartshorne does, forces one’s viewpoint towards monism, since it leaves no difference (to us) between God’s experience of our experience, and our experience of our experience.25

The point for the present is this; we can see that while Brightman aims to start with an empirical epistemology and to allow it to guide his conclusions about what is metaphysically real, Hartshorne starts with metaphysical convictions about ultimate reality and a transcendental epistemology to support that metaphysical account (with logical rigor trusted to support our reasonings about the conditions for the possibility of our knowing anything at all, i.e., that God first knows us). The relationship between Hartshorne’s metaphysics and his epistemology is therefore the primary problem in Brightman’s view at this early stage in Hartshorne’s career. Hartshorne believes that his method is sufficiently empirical to support his claim to having an empirical epistemology, but he does not exclude transcendental argumentation from empirical method.

Brightman resists this approach in both the correspondence and in his published discussions of method,26 but the question is whether Brightman (or personalism) can maintain consistently such a narrow version of empiricism. In any case, Brightman attempted to maintain this position to the very end.27

An example of this problem might be helpful. In a single paragraph of his important article "A Temporalist View of God," Brightman makes the following assertions; "nothing real is timeless.... Eternity is a function of time... all things change except the logos of change .... God is not an abstraction, but a concrete, living reality." In the very next paragraph he says: "The only source of evidence for God is immediate experience, what I have elsewhere called the ‘datum self’.... All of the reasons for belief in God are but interpretations, more or less trustworthy, of this datum."28 How can empirical method and epistemology, narrowly defined, ever support such a prioristic claims?

Brightman, already in his maturity during the years of the correspondence, has his view well worked out, and endeavors to abide by the limitations this places upon him, even though he is willing to admit that a gray area exists between "what is given in experience" and "the definition of the Given." This is where Hartshorne could, and in some implicit ways does, drive a wedge in Brightman’s view, because Brightman is willing as a point of method to collapse metaphysical questions into epistemological questions.29 Hartshorne is not so willing, and thinks personalism must employ both inductive (empirical) and transcendental argumentation to support its own claims. This methodological point is the key to Hartshorne’s criticism of Brightman, since it later issues in an extreme epistemological problem for the latter.

Brightman’s unwillingness to acknowledge a kind of "literal participation" of selves in one another derives basically from his epistemological conviction that we experience the datum self as separate from other selves. From this he concludes that "monads have no windows through which existences or concrete realities may interact. Only purposes may interact" (Letter of May 12, 1939). Thus, our interaction with one another and with God is not literal participation, but a co-mingling of purposes. The question Hartshorne continues to press is not whether we do or do not experience other selves as a part of us, but whether other selves must be a part of us in order for us to experience them at all. Brightman will not go beyond an interaction of purposes.

An interesting question, then, which does not come up in the correspondence (but which is crucial to the case), would be "what is the being of purposes for Brightman?" On the one side, if purposes are a part of what is given in experience (and not merely a part of its definition), then would this not constitute a kind of literal participation, since "what is given" must certainly exist? In this case, even though purposes may be a part of what is given in experience, in order to be known they must still be inferred or constructed post hoc. Yet, how could we know whether they are mere constructions (abstractions) or truly reflect something given in experience? And the case is not even this simple, because on the other side Brightman sometimes speaks as though purposes are not given in experience. This is part of what he means by "the innocence of the given" -- that what is given is neither theory-laden nor value-laden, and it is not knowledge at all until it is reflected upon rightly, which is to say, until it has been analyzed according to the proper empirical method.30 So if purposes are given, then there is literal participation (whether it can be adequately known or not), while if purposes are not given, then what are they? Mere chimeras? How are they known? Do they exist?

This makes Brightman’s view of the given incoherent, in Hartshorne’s view. Too great an attachment to the datum self as a methodological starting point commits one unwittingly to solipsism, Hartshorne holds, since one could never achieve a sound epistemological basis for inferring the existence of anything beyond the datum self by this method.31 Further, if it is true that human beings are social all the way down, resistance to a literal participation in the being of a person by others (including their literal purposes) is also a form of impersonalism, according to Hartshorne’s analysis -- a charge from which Brightman would have reeled, had he realized that this was Hartshorne’s implication. The absence of literal participation would force one to assume that the human self is not essentially social, but is rather essentially alone and capable of existing without other selves. Thus, if it is true that the social nature of the self is ‘basic," as Hartshorne believes and Brightman agrees (Letter of January 31, 1943), then the denial of literal participation isolates what is most personal about persons, which then deprives them of their essentially personal (i.e., social) character -- i.e., No man is an island unto himself; To live alone is to be a beast or a God, etc. Ergo, it is impersonalism.32

Brightman seemed to realize that he was up against a genuine problem here, and that it would be necessary to work out the ontological status of purposes. Otherwise, his "privacy of method" might end in privacy of both knowledge and existence. He could not accept that result, and so set out to provide an account of the status of purposes in his last work.33 Had it not been for Hartshorne’s repeated challenges regarding this in the correspondence, I do not think Brightman would have ever addressed the problem in detail. This leads our discussion into very complex relationships, but if I may be permitted to summarize without doing full justice to the subtlety of Brightman’s view, his mature account goes something like the following. Purposes are associated with efficient and final causes, and with substance:

All cause is purposive. All substance is purposive. This does not mean that cause and purpose or substance and purpose are synonymous. What it means is that purpose is an essential and integral aspect of every efficient cause and of every substance -- namely of every person. The fundamental empirical basis for such a telic metaphysics is, of course, to be found in the shining present.... Every moment of the present includes (along with much else) a striving, a conation, a choice, a preference, or a purpose in some stage of development.34

Not content to stop with saying that purposes are given in all conscious experience, Brightman then extends himself beyond this to that which makes conscious experience possible:

It would seem strange indeed if all experience were purposive and truly real while the ‘illuminating absent" were devoid of purpose! Further, all that can rationally be said about that absent requires it to be viewed as interacting with human purpose, as itself conforming in all respects to the purpose of order and law, and also as exhibiting telic adaptations serving the ends of life and beauty and sublimity.35

From this we learn that purposes do indeed have being in Brightman’s view, and that they are given in experience (which seems at odds with value-free "innocence of the given’), and are a part of the "illuminating absent" (that which is not given to the datum self, but may be rationally inferred from what is given, e.g., the past) as well. Thus, there are purposes which have being in spite of the fact that they are not given in experience -- and since God has a datum self, or a shining present, as well as an illuminating absent (e.g., God’s past), then one may assume that there are purposes which are not given to God (ours for example). It does not follow that there are free-floating purposes out there, but it does follow that there is no unity of purpose in the sense of a place and time where all purposes are fully related to one another. This would seem to point to a thorough-going metaphysical and moral pluralism in Brightman, but he admits no such view.

Instead, Brightman goes still further in asserting that there is a total conformity of the nature of purposes beyond our experience to purposes given in our experience. But how can one know this on the basis of Brightman’s method?36

One may rephrase this question as follows: How are purposes given? Insofar as this question is addressed by Brightman, it is with a distinction he makes in the concept of "the given." Brightman distinguishes between the Given (with an upper case "G") and what is given in immediate experience (lower case "g"). This distinction is not explicit in the correspondence, perhaps because Brightman had not recognized the necessity of making it until after Hartshorne had shown him the difficulty. Brightman says in his last work that "the ‘shining present’ as a whole is given as immediate experience, while the past, the future, and the absent are inferred, postulated or believed in. The Given, however, is discovered by analysis as an aspect or constituent of every given experience. The Given is never given by itself."37 Thus, there is an identification of the shining present (i.e., the datum self) with the given (lower case "g"), while The Given is the given plus all our hypotheses, analyses, inferences and abstractions tacked on, along with whatever else toward which we are passive.

Clearly, this has an effect upon the question of whether purposes are given; since purposes are an essential aspect of all causes and substances, and since all causes and substances are persons, and at least one person is given in the shining present, then purposes are given.38 But they are not recognized as a part of The Given without inference and construction. When given purposes come to be known, they are known only abstractly and indirectly, in spite of their immediacy in a given experience. Thus, the purposes of others may be experienced as given, but only known as Given.

Those familiar with Hartshorne may immediately notice that Brightman’s distinction between the given and The Given precisely parallels Hartshorne’s distinction between relative and absolute -- and the whole host of phenomena which may be distinguished as either externally or internally related to one another.39 In Hartshorne’s language, The Given is only externally related to the given, while the given is internally related to The Given. I do not believe that Brightman was aware of this parallel, and I have seen no evidence that Hartshorne is either. But if this is an accurate accounting of Brightman’s mature view of givenness, then he has added something significant to Hartshorne’s view of this period, in that he has shown how not only God but we (and whatever sub-human persons there are) have a dipolar nature analogous to God’s. This provides a very important point of contact between Brightman and Hartshorne, and between personalism and process thought.

In any case, this distinction between the given and The Given is anticipated in the correspondence, as seen in Brightman’s willingness to admit some degree of "faintness" in the given.40 The real difference may lie in Brightman’s methodological desire to have the self (and what is given to and as the self, the shining present) clearly defined, while Hartshorne insists that not only the self, but also the given "is more or less vague," and must be so. Brightman in turn is willing to allow distinctions of faintness and clarity in the given as experienced, but not in the definition of The Given or in the datum self. Consider the following passage from Brightman’s letter of January 1,1939:

My view must indeed take as a postulate that there is a faint givenness, so faint that it is for the most part totally absent from the given -- a given that is not given. I see no contradiction in my postulate; yours seems to play on the term given in such a way as to assert that the very faint is both given and not given. I wish you would pull [my] criticism to pieces, for I am deeply interested in the problem and in your ideas.

Insisting upon clarity in the definition of The Given and the datum self is not the same as insisting upon clarity in the given phenomena of experience, and Brightman is again charging Hartshorne with mistaking abstractions (definitions) for concrete realities -- of misplaced concreteness. In Person and Reality, Brightman takes up this problem of "the given that is not given" in tremendous detail,41 and I think it quite likely that Hartshorne’s criticisms provide one of the primary the motivations for this undertaking.

Hartshorne answers Brightman’s invitation to cut his criticism to pieces both in the correspondence, and in the 1960 essay on Brightman.42 In the essay, Hartshorne attempts to show the incoherence of Brightman’s final statement of the nature of the self in Person and Reality. He never does address the difference between The Given and the given, however. Hartshorne’s criticisms in the correspondence and the review essay are quite technical and difficult to summarize. Perhaps the best way to present them is by looking at a test case -- the question of whether the past is or is not a part of The Given. As will be seen, this has an effect upon the matter of the ontological status of purposes.

III. The Past as a Test Case

In further elucidating this view of the self, Hartshorne believes that Brightman is cutting off the datum self, the shining present, from its own past. He points out that Brightman logically must allow the past self to be given to the present self immediately:

one’s past self is not merely inferred but is given, & ... this givenness of past in present is an essential aspect of what is meant by the endurance of the identical" self.... The specious present includes all preceding presents 0f the self, but the succeeding only in the vague or outline form constitutive of futurity. (This vagueness is not merely in the givenness but in its object, though subjective & objective sides coincide only for God since our foresight is much less definite than the laws of nature, which themselves are, however, not absolutely definite.) Though past specious presents are still given they are nevertheless past, because they are the less definite parts of the present. Thus my youthful aspirations & plans are less definite than my actual accomplishments since, even to absolute (divine) memory. (Letter of July 19, 1935)

Brightman responds, some eight years later (since this remains a point of contention between them throughout the correspondence):

Of course I’d not suppose that we know the past without inferring, The specious present -- the datum self -- contains a time-span 0f present, past, future, which, by acquaintance, gives us clues to pastness, otherness, and inferential reason. Knowledge (in memory or otherwise) is an elaboration of those clues. (Letter of July 12, 1943)

Hence, for Hartshorne, the past remains vague not only as given, but as Given (i.e., reflected upon, analyzed, and known to the extent humans are capable), whereas for Brightman, the past may be vague as given, but not as Given. Not even our most heroic acts of analysis of the past can make it as definite as the present for either. Hartshorne is willing to concede that "the own-self is the only individual distinctly given. All our difference of opinion concerns vague givens" (Letter of July 19, 1935). The argument turns upon the status of what is not distinctly given to the datum self -- in this case, the past, which both thinkers agree is not distinctly given.

But if Brightman admits some vagueness or faintness of either the past self or other selves, then he abandons the clean lines of his empirical methodology and begins ranging into its metaphysical presuppositions. The Given is no longer adequate to or exhaustive of the given, nor is the definition of the Given, or some parts of it, necessarily derived from the given. Hartshorne wants Brightman to recognize and admit that empirical methodology is always based upon metaphysical convictions, and that we cannot evade talking about them, even though we must use abstractions to do so.

Thus, using the vagueness of the past self as a test case, we can also see that there is a difference of "distinctness" in the way the datum self is given as opposed to other selves.43 Yet, literal participation of the one in the other is maintained, for Hartshorne, since the present self must at least literally participate in its own past self -- otherwise, personal identity is problematic, and this threatens personalism with precisely the sort of solipsism Hartshorne indicated from the beginning. For Hartshorne, the self is continuous with its earlier states, but even the present self, although given, is still vague to some degree (for instance, the experiences of each of my cells is not distinctly given). The self is made more definite through inference and imagination, Hartshorne and Brightman agree, but the past self is constructed entirely out of the shining present for Brightman, while Hartshorne thinks that the only reason that any such construction is possible is due to the literal participation of the present self in its past states. For Hartshorne, the difference between a self and its past (and other selves) is understood as a matter of degree, and known by how much inference and imagination is required in order to make the idea of that other self distinct.

Nevertheless, what inference and imagination accomplish for Hartshorne is identical with the object to be known, insofar as they accurately represent what is truly given (albeit vaguely). Under the best epistemological circumstances (i.e., God’s) there is an identity of knowledge and givenness, when knowledge is truly knowledge, for Hartshorne; on this point he departs from Brightman who maintains a firm distinction between knowledge of the given and the given -- this is a part of the general thesis about the "innocence of the given." For Brightman, even God confronts this difference. Hartshorne is quite willing to accept the distinction, but does not see in it the same limitations as Brightman, especially regarding God. It is our limitation, as Hartshorne says:

the seeming absence 0f other selves within experience is what my theory implies would characterize human experience, since a self on that level could not conveniently manage other selves as clearly and distinctly manifest to it, but only selves on such a low level that only vague mass awareness of them would reach full consciousness, for individually taken they are too trivial to notice. (Only God notes everything consciously, however trivial44

But Brightman holds firm to his empirical method when faced with such assertions: for him knowledge must be knowledge of something; otherwise it is not knowledge at all. In Brightman’s view, that is always knowledge of the given; for Hartshorne only God can know the given with complete clarity, and the rest of us cannot be certain (due to the vagueness of the given to our consciousness) what we know when we reflect upon, imagine, and infer things from the given. Inference and imagination can go astray, but the laws of nature and logic are reliable enough, in Hartshorne’s view, to guide us in making inferences and imagining "the other" as it really is; otherwise the knowledge of nature, God, and the self could not increase through history, as Hartshorne is convinced it does. Hartshorne concludes then that "all selves are identical as well as different, and thus the cosmic identity of God (and of being) is accounted for. All real questions, as Peirce said, are questions of degree, on this view" (Letter of July 19, 1935). This may seem paradoxical unless one realizes that for Hartshorne the question of truth (and true knowledge) and the question of the existence of God are the same question. In an interview in 1993 Hartshorne gave the following analysis:

Isn’t it true that the American Indians (which have been in the Americas for at least ten thousand years, maybe a good deal longer) -- each one of those Indians must have had his or her own personal experiences? Rut what makes it true that they had these experiences? There’s nothing that you could find now in the universe that could tell you what they were. And how could there ever be anything that could tell you what they were? So the idea of truth gives you the same problem that the idea of God does, and that, to me, is the reason why I believe in God. I don’t see how without God there can be any truth. How can it be truth that they didn’t have their own personal experiences? They were persons, but the whole question of what history is about comes in. . . . Is history only about what there are present proofs of? Then it isn’t about very much of what must have happened. That’s one of my reasons for believing in God, the problem 0f God is the same as the problem of truth. How can there be truth about the past when there’s nothing in the present world which seems to tell anything about them?45

Aside from being an excellent example of Hartshorne’s commitment to transcendental argumentation, this shows the relationship between the question of the self and the nature of God for Hartshorne, and how the question of the past ties them together. Coming to an adequate view of God is a condition for properly understanding the human self, and also the monad, for whatever the truth of the lesser beings may be, it is a vague and specialized case of what the supreme being knows. This is a peculiar epistemological stance, but Hartshorne insists that it is empirical; it is merely abstract, which is not the same thing as a priori.

The tie with the past is seen in the related issue of literal participation in the being of the creator by the creatures -- which is the only way Hartshorne can make sense of the idea of creation.46 Yet, Hartshorne is at pains to distinguish his sense of "participation" from Plato’s methexis. Hartshorne later says that real creativity "is not content with actualizing ‘images’ which are antecedently, or eternally, in being, but rather produces ‘new images’, sheer additions to the ‘forms of definiteness.’"47 Both the questions of creativity and truth are modes of God’s givenness to human experience, and it is through the problem of relating to our past selves, the past selves of others, and the past of the universe that this question becomes focused.

Hartshorne insists to Brightman the following:

unless God is given I do not see how he could be inferred, for the foundation of inference beyond immediacy seems to me necessarily the reality of God as the ground of world order. If God were not given could he be constructed? Is the idea of God the expression of what is directly apprehended, though vaguely, or is it a pure hypothesis to explain data in an experience which has no immanent transcendence, which experiences only its experience? (Letter of July 31, 1937)

Hartshorne thinks this difference on the nature of the self and the nature of God is a mostly verbal dispute, and that he and Brightman do indeed share the same view. Brightman is less sure, and it is now his turn to charge Hartshorne with inviting solipsism:

The given surely does not mean my given, does it? If so, it sounds solipsistic, in spite of mutual immanence; it would have to be at least "our given." Yet the belief that any aspect of my given is also ours would be an additional postulate, akin to the postulate that what is totally absent from consciousness is really faintly given. If I were to grant that all principles of explanation are capable of illustration in someone’s given sometime, and were allowed to locate the principle of interaction in the given of God, I could follow this principle. Otherwise, not. It seems to me that my postdates are less arbitrary than the ungiven given, my absolute less absolute than yours! (Letter of January 1, 1939)

But for Hartshorne, this amounts to saying that, so far as we can know, there is no God, and no other selves, and thus Brightman is really the solipsist -- for our experience cannot just spontaneously occur; it is made possible by what is not our present selves (and this includes our past selves), whether all that is distinctly given or not. Brightman is saying, in effect, that the experience of the datum self is (or can be) knowledge, but only of what is given to the datum self. For Hartshorne this would imply knowledge of something which can (and perhaps even must) exist independently, without us, and without our knowledge of the things upon which its existence depends. Hence, Hartshorne is claiming that Brightman’s account presupposes knowledge (of independent, ungiven existences, e.g., the past) of a sort his method cannot provide -- and therefore, it requires us to know what we cannot know. That is the contradiction Hartshorne sees in Brightman’s view.

IV. Where Metaphysics and Epistemology Touch

The key may lie in understanding Brightman’s statement that "My heart is dualistic, yours monistic. For me, I am directly aware only of my own experience" (Letter of May 12, 1939). Hartshorne is willing to begin with the metaphysical reality of God and other selves (not just as a postulate, but as concrete existences), and then to use inference and imagination to provide an account of their nature and relations -- an account which can he more or less adequate to its object, given the limitations of our form of consciousness. Brightman insists that we must start with our own human experience and infer the metaphysical reality only of what reasonably follows from that experience, and the contents of these inferences will never be more than hypothetical -- and it is difficult to be certain how adequate they are to the phenomena, since those phenomena are not given as they are in themselves.

Hartshorne’ s reasoning is from the "outside in" or transcendental (metaphysical reality makes certain experiences possible) regarding metaphysics, and from the "inside out" (empirical) in epistemology (that metaphysical reality is inferred and imagined upon the basis of what is experienced, abstractly, but literally). Brightman’s reasoning is from the "inside out" (empirical) in both cases; in this regard he calls himself an "empiricist of consciousness,48 which also explains his willingness, evidently motivated by a fondness for his method, to collapse epistemological and metaphysical questions. Brightman is more Humean, then, while Hartshorne is more Kantian, methodologically speaking. Both are fallibilists, but by all rights Brightman should be more of a skeptic and naturalist than Hartshorne. Interestingly, Brightman is the one professing idealism, and Hartshorne naturalism.

In a very real sense, Brightman’s metaphysics has been reduced to his epistemology49 which he then, ignoring Hume’s skeptical warnings, tries to extend out into the metaphysical world -- building a bridge over the river of doubt with an abutment on only one side. This is why Brightman is a "dualist at heart"; he recognizes the difficulty, nay, the near impossibility of safely gaining the other side, while being convinced (for no clear reason) that there is another side. In Humean fashion, Brightman does not expect to complete this bridge, given the tools he has to build it, but what was skepticism in Hume becomes fallibilism in Brightman, and in direct proportion to their willingness to trust philosophic method -- a matter regarding which Hume had a more thorough suspicion. Hume would perhaps say that the other bank is more a useful habit of our thinking than a real bank while Brightman is not so diffident.

Meanwhile, Hartshorne’s has two starting places: he is building a bridge over the river of doubt in his epistemology, while digging a tunnel under it from the other side with his metaphysics. This is why Brightman calls Hartshorne a monist, and an absolutist -- Hartshorne is adequately convinced of the organic unity of reality as to think that such a dual strategy operates upon the same unified reality; in short, he expects to finish both the bridge and tunnel, and to be able to have conquered the river of doubt in the human way -- it remains a river, but one which can be negotiated without getting (overly) wet. We might suppose that James and Dewey are willing to try their luck at wading across the thing, while Peirce is busily building a ferry out of the somewhat flimsy materials of language. The classical pragmatists have a closer relation to doubt than do the personalists and more speculative process thinkers like Whitehead, Bergson and Hartshorne.

But Hartshorne uses his tunnel to gain an abutment on both sides of the river for his bridge, and his bridge to do the needed surveying for his tunnel. His conviction that this can be accomplished rests upon his faith in God on the one side and logical rigor on the other -- his belief that his tools are indeed adequate (for humans to have the kind of knowledge humans can have); that our knowledge of God, although partial, is really knowledge of God as God is. Hartshorne affirms neither a narrow empiricism nor wholly unempirical a priorism; yet, neither can he abide a narrow rationalism or absolutism. He says "if there is no a priori metaphysical knowledge, then I think agnosticism is the right conclusion,"50 and of course he rejects agnosticism. Yet, he also makes it abundantly clear that all a priori knowledge must be based on some kind of empirical experience.51

Brightman has serious reservations about Hartshorne’s tunnel, and the tools he is using to dig it (transcendental arguments as applied to given experience about what must be in order for us to be what we are), and he is also dubious regarding the bridge, although he sanctions the tools (reason, inference and imagination) in a more limited way. Hartshorne acknowledges that his tools are not perfect,52 but is unconvinced that the fact that probability" enters into all deduction means that we should seriously doubt the conclusions of those deductions -- any more than we should doubt the conclusions of deductive mathematics. Here it is clear that Hartshorne is working with a Peircean idea of "genuine doubt," while Brightman is taking seriously the broader hyperbolic doubt of the Cartesian tradition. In this regard, Hartshorne is probably more truly an empiricist than Brightman, and Brightman’s professed epistemological dualism was bound to expose its Cartesian heritage at some point. This is that point.

There is some measure of resolution of this issue in that the two thinkers can agree upon the fact of mutual immanence among selves, monads, and of God in relation to both. However, what they mean by this at first appears quite different. For Hartshorne this "mutual immanence is literal participation in one another’s being. For Brightman it is only mutual immanence of purpose.53 This brings us back to the all important question of the status of purpose for Brightman, for it is here that Brightman is willing to acknowledge some real interaction among the three metaphysical levels of personhood. Brightman perhaps concedes Hartshorne’s point in the following:

Starting with my actual experience, which is the datum self, I am led to distinguish between ... hypothetical entities which were once or which may become my actual experience (and which as a whole history are my total self) and those other hypothetical entities which constitute the environing universe, interacting with me yet never a part of me. Among such entities I should count my body, my subconscious, society, the natural order, and God. My fundamental category is purpose. I can understand my universe only in terms of the purpose that there shall be otherness. Hence, I deny windows through which parts of anything else can come in or go out, but not windows through which purposes may interact. (Letter of May 12, 1939)

Hence, monads, other selves, and God all have windows -- there is a positive relation between purposes on the one side and selves on the other. What then are "purposes"? We are back to the question of whether they are given to the datum self. We have seen that Brightman answers this question in the affirmative. Clearly, the datum self’s own purposes are given to it, but this cannot contain the "otherness" of which Brightman spoke, nor can it exhaust the positive relationship between God’s purposes and the datum self. In order to understand the simultaneous givenness and otherness of purpose, one may have two options: first, sometimes my own purposes conflict and I am at odds with myself, and sometimes this conflict cannot be resolved except by giving up one purpose or the other. Is this how I learn about otherness of purpose? That seems untrue to experience, and I think Brightman would have to reject it. Rather, we learn about otherness of purpose by the brute resistance of the other to our purposes – whether this is a child who has been told no, or a plant that is thwarted in its effort to grow towards the light by a pair of pruning shears, otherness of purpose is, at its ground, metaphysically other at the outset, and epistemologically other only emergently. We reflect upon what thwarts our purposes only because we have in fact been thwarted in what is given -- and this is how we come to the abstract idea of the Given -- our reflective account of our own passivity in the face of otherness. But if we are concretely impeded by something in what is immediately given, the otherness of purpose, then is this otherness the purpose of some being beyond what is immediately given? Or is it simply free-floating otherness of purpose? We have already seen that Brightman rejected the idea that we ourselves are the source of the given and of otherness of purpose. What further alternatives have we besides saying either that the otherness of purpose I experience has its source in the purposes of another being, or that purposes other than mine are somehow just loose in the universe? Brightman acknowledges that at least some of the other purposes I experience are God’s. But in this case, God must be more than inferred or constructed -- God is given in the otherness of purposes, and our awareness of the discrepancies between divine purposes and our own (the common words for this are sin, fallenness, guilt, conscience, or the moral sense). This requires that there be a moral God as a transcendental condition of my experience, and Brightman’s method cannot give warrant to such a claim.

Thus, by construing otherness of purpose as basic to his philosophy, Brightman is digging a metaphysical tunnel of his own under the river of doubt; but he digs only at night, and wearing a blindfold, and does not remember doing so in the light of day. This boils down to saying that Brightman has a metaphysical theory of providence or purpose which is not grounded in his experiential method, except post hoc, abstractly. He is caught in a vicious epistemological circle, not unlike the Cartesian circle. Furthermore, for him, God has the same epistemological problem as we do. God knows us only by inference and construction, and our purposes only as an otherness of purpose in what is given to God -- in their disvalue, their fallenness. Hartshorne says as much of Brightman in discussing him in Man’s Vision of God:

[Brightman’s] notion of the Given as an intrinsic limitation of God’s power, a passive element in his activity, analogous to sensation and emotion in us, can be defined and defended only in the context of an adequate analysis of what is or can be meant by "passivity," "sensation," etc.; and the exploration of such concepts taken in their most fundamental or general senses, as they here must be, can only amount to a metaphysical system whose defense is not merely empirical, since the very meaning of "experience," "facts," etc., will have to be grounded in this system.54

Regarding God’s part in this, Hartshorne says: "I hold that the experience of God as the principle of interaction is useless as explanation unless we can reach God on the basis of what we experience, and on this basis must rest also the knowledge of interaction between us and God which enables us to conceive Him" (Letter of January 30, 1939). This is why Anselm’s version of the ontological proof for the existence of God is so vital to Hartshorne’s thought, while Brightman never placed much stock in it (but perhaps should have). Brightman basically concurs with the point about God’s Importance, but objects to the necessitarian phrasing, and adds that

any God must confront a given. However, the nature 0f such a given must always be deduced from experience. In general, any God (as creative will) must confront within the total unity of his consciousness a twofold Given, consisting of Form (logic, mathematics, Platonic ideas) and Matter (brute fact content, a "receptacle"). What amazes me about the traditional view of God is that it admits the eternal nature of form, but will not admit this as a given. (Letter of May 12, 1939)

Hartshorne agrees:

Your notion of the ‘given’ to God seems close to what I think of as the dependence of God upon the past as the sum of acts of more or less free beings, to whose activity God is passive, since otherwise it would not be real activity. Since the past never began, as I take it, God never at any moment, or in any act, for all his acts were at a moment, had a clean slate to just make a world out of the realm of logical possibilities, but always had to make the best of a world that could have been better. (Letter of January 30, 1939)

Note that the two thinkers have emerged on the far side of their epistemological differences here, and are finding agreement on metaphysical issues.

V. Hartshorne’s Personalism?

The question this leaves is whether this epistemological dispute places Hartshorne outside of personalism in any important way. In Hartshorne’s own view it does, but I think that conclusion rests upon Hartshorne’s willingness to treat Brightman’s version of personalism as being the only real or important version of that philosophy. On the contrary, however, ought we not ask ourselves whether Brightman’s commitment to a narrow version of empirical method, his subsequent willingness to collapse metaphysical and epistemological issues, and his account of the datum self are crucial parts of personalist philosophy? These are the ideas to which Hartshorne objected. My response is that not only are these not important elements of a personalist philosophy, they are in fact Brightman’s greatest weaknesses. They expose him to the charges of solipsism which Hartshorne mentions in the correspondence, and even impersonalism (which is implied but not mentioned). Hartshorne’s charges are not proven, but he has a case. Brightman was as intellectually honest as any philosopher I know of, and the following expression of his uncertainty seems to suggest that he knows Hartshorne has raised issues his philosophy cannot handle:

Your worry about my philosophy is the idea that other selves are merely inferred but never given, you say. It is also my worry, a worry such as one experiences when one has a debt far larger than one can possibly pay. I’d like to be able to make sense out of the idea of a literal participation in other selves. But I have not yet been able to do so. Whenever I try, I find myself landed in contradiction, in epistemological chaos, and in unfaithfulness to experience -- all of which is hopelessly unenlightening, I know. (Letter of December 10, 1934)

The demand, then, that Hartshorne must meet is to give an account of literal participation which avoids contradiction, epistemological chaos, and unfaithfulness to experience. The fact that Brightman could not accomplish this (although he did not give up the effort) does not mean it cannot be done. It is interesting, to note, however, that Hartshorne has sought throughout his work to avoid precisely these pitfalls while maintaining a doctrine of literal participation. His success in this endeavor has been enormous, if not complete. In many ways this argument with Brightman can be seen as a formative moment in Hartshorne’s thinking which taught him as much about what he could not allow into his thought as about what he could.

I cannot settle the question here beyond all dispute, but my view of the matter is that Hartshorne’s approach is actually an enlargement and corrective which personalism needed55 -- that it saves personalism from tendencies which would lead it towards the reification of personality at one extreme, or a sort of solipsism which implies impersonalism at the other. In short, I am claiming that Hartshorne is a more thoroughgoing personalist than Brightman, and that any version of personalism which does not treat Hartshorne’s thought as personalistic is missing out on the most important corrective to and up-dating of personalist metaphysics and epistemology in the second half of the 20th century.

There is neither space nor time here to delve deeply into the particulars of how Hartshorne has corrected and expanded personalism, but allow me to present one final passage from the correspondence which suggests much about his expansion of personalism. The question of the literal participation of selves in one another’s being finally worked its way beyond the question of purposes and into the question of whether one mind can "contain" another mind. Hartshorne insists that it can -- because mind is dipolar. God can contain all my beliefs, including my erroneous beliefs, without believing them. Rather, God suffers my errors passively. Brightman thinks that any doctrine of that sort is pantheistic, and that no mind contains other minds, because a mind is a unitary, independent mode of being for Brightman. Any act of mind is an act of the entire mind. In this context, Hartshorne writes;

If a belief within a mind is not an act of that mind you cannot imagine what it is an act of. Of course, [it is] an act of some other mind within the first mind. This you hold to be impossible... but you argue: if any God contains my act as mine but not as his, then my act is not his in any personal sense, and contain" is impersonal or abstract. This assumes there are but two possibilities: personally containing an act by enacting it, and impersonally containing it. Naturally this only gives a verbal shift to the same old question. I hold that there are two ways of personally containing, concretely as a person containing, a belief, or an act, by believing it, and by suffering it as enacted, believed by an included mind, included by virtue of the "suffering" relation, as one’s own beliefs are included by an active relation. There is some activity in the suffering in a sense, for God’s doing is necessary to our doing, but it is not sheer doing but is also a being done in and to.56

Here we begin to get an indication of the nature of Hartshorne’s expansion of personalism. Where Brightman had remained ensnared in a Kantian view of mental activity -- and it would be difficult also to miss that his problem with the given and The Given parallels Kant’s problems with appearances and things in themselves relative to the production of knowledge, and the phenomenal and noumenal with respect to valuation -- Hartshorne has broken through. The self and God are dipolar, and to be a person is to be both relative and absolute, to act in suffering the acts of another, and to be receptive (in the sense of organic sympathy) in acting. To be a person is to be social all the way down, which means to have one’s being literally participate in the being of others. This is the advance that Hartshorne’s dipolar theory offers to personalism. There may also be an important advance which Brightman’s theory of the given and The Given can offer to process epistemology, but that question will have to be taken up in a further study.57



1. I have argued elsewhere that Dewey’s pragmatism is reconcilable with personalism at least in the domain of education. See "Is There Room for God in Education?" Public Affairs Quarterly 9 (1995), 1-13.

2. Whitehead, Religion in the Making (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926 and new edition, with the same pagination, published in New York: Fordham University Press, 1996): ‘Thus religious experience cannot be taken as contributing to metaphysics any direct evidence for a personal God in any sense transcendent or creative" (74). Cf. also page 66.

3. Hartshorne definitely thought of Brightman as a process philosopher, largely on the basis of Brightman’s "A Temporalist View of God" in The Journal of Religion 12 (1932), 545-555, which Hartshorne cites with some frequency in his writing of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Cf. Hartshorne’s statements about whom he holds to be the true process idealists in "A Reply to My Critics," The Philosophy of Charles Hartshorne, edited by Lewis E. Hahn (LaSalle, Ill.: Open Court, 1991), 712-713.

4. The correspondence is held, for the most part, in the Special Collections division of the Mugar Memorial Library at Boston University. Other parts of the correspondence, including one complete letter not available at the Mugar Library, are held by the author, a gift of Charles Hartshorne. The complete correspondence will appear in the coming year in a book edited by the present author and Mark Y. Davies. Another study of this same correspondence has been published by Robert A. Gillies, ‘The Brightman-Hartshorne Correspondence, 1934-1944," Process Studies 17(1988), 9-18. I will make use of this study (which I regard as quite good), but a few factual corrections could be made which I will not go into here.

5. McMurrin, "Hartshorne’s Critique of Classical Metaphysics and Theology," The Philosophy of Charles Hartshorne, edited by Lewis E. Hahn, 435-436.

6. Cf. Hartshorne, Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1934), 101. This passage is quoted below.

7. See, for example, Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948), 77; Brightman, The Problem of God (New York; Abingdon Press, 1930), 113; also, perhaps the clearest explanation of Brightman s notion of passivity is in Personality and Religion (New York; Abingdon Press, 1934), 82ff. In the correspondence (June 5, 1943) Hartshorne says:

Maybe it is time to list some of the things we do agree upon. They are considerable.

1) God knows all things perfectly, including all our acts.

2) What we do, our acts, are done by us not by God.

3) Would you also say that in so far as we are active God is passive, that he suffers what we do?

Gillies also notes these passages as important in The Brightman-Hartshorne Correspondence, 1934.1944," 16.

8. See Brightman, "Do We Have Knowledge-by-Acquaintance of the Self?" The Journal of Philosophy 41(1944), 694-696: "Reflection leads us to the conclusion that the given is always a datum self. That is, it is a conscious experience, connected by memory and anticipation with past and future ‘datum selves,’ as well as being connected by causal interaction with its environment" (695).

9. See, for example, Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity,59; and Brightman, The Problem of God, 116.

10. For example one may think of Hartshorne’s well-known doctrine from The Divine Relativity that we can know and love ourselves only because God knows and loves us (see 16-17). In Brightman’s case one may see the same mode of thought at work in his account of unconscious purposes in Person and Reality, edited by P. Bertocci, J.E. Newhall and R. S. Brightman (New York: Ronald Press, 1958). There he suggests that our tendency to call purposes unconscious is a misleading way of speaking, since they are in fact God’s conscious purposes (see 207-209). This will become an important issue later in this essay.

11. Brightman is very cautious about using analogies in speaking about God, particularly if they involve spatializations of the relations. Here he follows a criticism that Bowne often made of "picture-thinking." See especially Brightman’s letter of October 31, 1942. and Borden Parker Bowne, Introduction to Psychological Theory (New York: Harper and Bros., 1887), 148-149; and Metaphysics, revised edition (New York: Harper & Bros., 1898), 152. Hartshorne is much bolder about the use of analogy. See The Divine Relativity, 30-40; Man’s Vision of God, 174-211; and his letters to Brightman of November 9, 1942, and June 5, 1943. In the latter, Hartshorne responds to Brightman’s charge of "picture thinking" as follows:

I think the debate about analogy is a misunderstanding between us. My point was an analogy between our minds and the divine. You don’t avoid such analogy. The very word "mind" means it. We are agreeing here I imagine. We both seek that in our experience to which certain features in God’s experience can be thought analogous. For surely they are not identical with features of our experience. In other words analogy means generalization here.

This statement seems to settle the matter in the correspondence, and Hartshorne refocuses the issue upon disagreements about how to describe human experience, rather than its analogousness to divine experience.

12. A subject of considerable debate between Hartshorne and Brightman in the last years of the correspondence is whether Hartshorne is or is not a pantheist. Hartshorne certainly claims he is not a pantheist, and complains that Brightman does not understand or appreciate the difference between pantheism and panentheism. Gillies has treated this aspect of the debate as well as it can be in "The Brightman-Hartshorne Correspondence: 1934-1944," 14-15. I would add to Gillies’ research the following passage by Hartshorne which describes his relation to pantheism, published shortly after having it out with Brightman over this issue:

It will perhaps appear that our argument defines a "pantheistic" not atheistic position. But we have not identified God or perfect being with the totality of things in any sense which prevents him from being personal and free with respect to them; for he is the flexibly self-identical totality, which is so radically independent of its parts (and they, in another way, of it) that it will be itself, no matter how they, as contingent and more or less free beings, develop .... This view should be called "panentheism not pantheism. Many tread Brightman and secondarily Whitehead] actually define "pantheism" as the doctrine that God is impersonal; but they also intend it to mean that God is the whole. Now this double definition neatly begs the question whether or not the whole is personal. ("The Formal Validity and Real Significance of the Ontological Argument," 241-242.)

One cannot possibly understand the full reason why Hartshorne includes this passage in the article unless one has read the correspondence. This passage is also the reason that the article interested Brightman enough to "respond promptly" with his final preserved letter on May 19, 1944.

13. For Brightman the term "monad" seems almost interchangeable with the "datum self-which not only human beings have, but also God. He did not really think of monads as little bits of stuff of which the universe is made, and he was not a panpsychist. It may be the case that while Hartshorne works within the three "levels of being" set Out earlier, Brightman really has only two-the datum self and God. If that is the case, then including the monadic as a separate level in this paper already favors Hartshorne’s view. However, Brightman was quite willing to speak about "monads," and never explicitly identifies them with the datum self. It is unclear whether they constitute a different level of being, but at the least, the vocabulary is not inappropriate.

Also, in at least two instances, Brightman mentions in print that he thought there may be sub-human persons," and this suggests that perhaps he is at least open to discussing what I have been calling the "monadic level." See Brightman, ‘Philosophical Ideas and Enduring Peace," Approaches to World Peace: Fourth Symposium, edited by L. Bryson, Cr al. (New York: Conference on Science, Philosophy and Religion, 1944), 545, 570. Hartshorne gives a brief commentary on this paper by Brightman on page 557.

For Hartshorne, the term "monad" really means occasion of experience, and these must have a material aspect. They are also infused with a tiny portion of consciousness, or feeling of feeling. The needed material aspect, or more properly, sensible aspect, is what makes feeling of feeling, or mutual immanence, possible as the basic relation of all actual entities. Even God must have a body for Hartshorne, i.e., the universe. But Hartshorne, as his career progressed became less and less willing to use the term monad," and he accepted Fechner’s distinction between the two types of panpsychism (or "psychicalism," as Hartshorne came to prefer): the ‘monadic," which he associates with Leibniz and rejects, and the "synechological" which he associates with Fechner’s view and is willing to accept with some qualifications. See Hartshorne, Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers: An Evaluation of Western Philosophy, 248-249. One thing is certain: both Brightman and Hartshorne reject the Spinozistic version of pantheism.

14.This is according to the bibliography compiled by Jannette E. Newhall in The Philosophical Forum XII (1954), 27. Also, Albert C. Knudson, a far more established personalist than Hartshorne, not only contributed liberally to the same volume, but even wrote the general article on "God" immediately preceding Hartshorne’s article on ‘God, as personal." Ferm had two more established personalists to choose from, and the benefit of their editorial advice, and still asked Hartshorne to write the single article most near and dear to the personalist position.

15. See Ferm’s "Editor’s Preface," Encyclopedia 0f Religion (New York: Philosophical Library, 1945), vii.

16. See Ferm, Encyclopedia of Religion, 302-303.

17. Interview for KOCU Television, Oklahoma City, OK; December 1, 1993. Cf. Appendix III to the forthcoming book, God, Process and the Self The Philosophical Correspondence of Charles Hartshorne and Edgar Sheffield Brightman, 1922-1945.

18. Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity, 142-143. Cf. also 39-40, 88-89.

19. For example, Hartshorne’s statement in his Letter to Brightman of January 22, 1942 "in God’s immediacy is everything, everything actual as such, everything potential also as such."

20. What Brightman refers to as the "datum-self" in the correspondence and in his work in the 1930s and 1940s, is called the "shining present" in his most mature work (late 1940s/early 1950s).

21. Hartshorne, Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation, 101.

22. See Brightman’s letter of May 12, 1939.

23. See Brightman, "A Temporalist View of God," 555.

24. Cf. Hartshorne, Man’s Vision 0/God, 289.

25. In his review of Man’s Vision of God, Brightman issues the following challenge:

Does Hartshorne meet the case against pantheism? Although rejecting pantheism, he Is too sympathetic with it. He notes that the argument against pantheism is that an omniscient mind could not contain lesser minds as parts of itself without entertaining their partly erroneous beliefs (289). He then goes on to a subtly meant refutation to the effect that "the only way to contain a belief is actively to believe it. But perhaps one can passively suffer it." In thus arguing, Hartshorne omits the main point, which is that if one mind is part of another, then the former must be included as it is, with all its actively erroneous beliefs. If active error is not God’s, then something is not God, and pantheism is refuted. (99)

This is a shortened version of Brightman’s refutation of pantheism in The Problem of God, 115f. Hartshorne responds to this in his letter of January 22, 1942 as follows:

I do not say that there is nothing which is not (in every sense) God. I only say there is nothing which is not m some sense God.... what I say is not that God has no errors but that he commits none, that he suffers rather than does the doings of his parts. When I think a simple thought am I as simple as the thought? Why then must God be as ignorant as our thoughts when he also has them in a certain sense as his thoughts> the actively erroneous beliefs are "included in" God but are God’s only in the sense of beliefs he includes, not those he believes. You are saying, to include a belief is to have it in the sense of believing it.... And to include an ignorant belief is to have it in the sense of being no wiser. The ground?

26. See especially Person and Reality, 22ff., where Brightman explicitly rejects Kant’s approach as non-empirical, and then characterizes his own method, using James’ phrase, as "radical empiricism" which "will assume no source of information about the real, other than the experience of conscious persons" (23). He calls this "personalistic method," and emphasizes that "the term ‘personalistic’ is not used to anticipate the outcome of the use of the method, but to insist on the duty of the metaphysician to include all the data provided by personal consciousness" (23). Also see the defense of his method in Personality and Religion, 86-97.

27. Cf. also Brightman, Person and Reality, 35ff.

28. Brightman, "A Temporalist View of God," 544-545.

29. For example, in Brightman’s article "The Self, Given and Implied -- A Discussion, "Journal 0f Philosophy, 31(1934), 263-268, he actually says that "‘The Innocence of the Given’ treats of the fundamental epistemological situation, which is just as truly the fundamental metaphysical situation" (263).

30. The phrase "the innocence of the given" and its meaning Brightman takes from an essay by Donald C. Williams, ‘The Innocence of the Given," in The Journal of Philosophy 30 (1933), 617-628. Brightman responded to this article (cited above) early the next year; and Williams’ replied in the same issue (268-269). It is interesting that Williams’ response makes substantially the same criticism of Brightman as Hartshorne makes. In answer to Brightman’s view "that immediate experience is a part or a product of what is customarily called a self or person, Williams replies that this is "rather the apex than the foundation of a philosophy, and not properly described as ‘an experienced fact’ nor its acceptance as ‘radically empirical’" (268). In a phrase’ Williams is pointing out that Brightman’s deepest commitments are metaphysical and non-empirical. Cf. also Brightman, "Do We Have Knowledge-by-Acquaintance of the Self?" (cited above) 694-696.

31. Brightman is not unaware of this problem. Even before the discussion of this issue in the correspondence began he formulated this exact criticism of himself and attempted to answer it in Personality and Religion, 66-97. There he gives a fairly unsatisfactory account of how a strict empiricist may slowly build a reliable case that both reason and value given in experience point beyond our experience, and lead us through three stages of knowledge-other selves are known first, then nature, and finally the personal God. It is quite possible that Hartshorne’s criticisms m the correspondence led Brightman to see the partial inadequacy of this kind of defense. After the correspondence Brightman even begins to sound like a mystic whose confidence in reason is exhausted; see The Spiritual Life (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1947), especially 135-137. However, he still has not abandoned his confidence in the idea that value points beyond itself to a reality greater than is given in experience.

Brightman’s three stages in Personality and Religion are reminiscent of Descartes’ attempt in the Meditations to restore our knowledge of the world on the basis of the cogito, but there the order is self, God, other minds, and finally nature. It seems fair to say that Descartes did more for skepticism than for knowledge by attempting to escape solipsism through reason. Brightman may have re-enacted the same process, and with similar effect.

32. Brightman emphasizes the social character of human persons, but not as much as does Hartshorne. For example, Brightman puts explicit limitations on the sociality of personhood in Personality and Religion (New York: Abingdon Press, 1934), 144-148.

33. See Brightman, Person and Reality, 206ff. For a fuller treatment of this issue, see my essay, "Process Personalism," forthcoming in The Personalist Forum 15 (1999).

34. Brightman, Person and Reality, 206-207. The influence of Kant’s natural teleology in the Critique of Judgment should be noted here.

35. Brightman, Person and Reality, 207.

36. Brightman seems to recognize that this is a stretch for him, for when he asks of himself the same question after his correspondence with Hartshorne has ceased, Brightman expresses epistemological diffidence, counterbalanced only by a peculiar attitude of Scriptural faith:

A human purpose is not necessarily also a divine purpose. How then can we tell when the purposes of our life are in harmony with the purposes of God? A personalistic philosophy of life does not offer us absolute knowledge; ... we discover divine purpose in so far as our human purposes are ruled by the New Testament principles of logos and agape-reason and love. (Nature and Values. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1945, 159)

37. Brightman, Person and Reality, 56n.

38. Brightman makes the needed qualification of "the innocence of the given" to accommodate this change of view saying "the innocence of ‘the given’... does not mean that the given is always of in all respects innocent. ... The present as given is innocent. Every present can be viewed in its innocence, but the point of view of innocence is important chiefly because it acknowledges the fact of immediate experience. It is not the whole truth about any experience except the first, and perhaps even the first was too complex to be entirely innocent." Person and Reality, 47-48. There can be little question that Brightman is backing away from his earlier commitment to the innocence of the given. He must do this in order to avoid solipsism.

39. Hartshorne, The Divine Relativity, 60ff.

40. See Brightman’s letter of January 1,1939.

41. Brightman’s discussion of the "illuminating absent" in Person and Reality, 34-88.

42.Hartshorne, "The Structure of Givenness," in Philosophical Forum 18(1960-1961), 22-39. This essay was reprinted under the title "Brightman’s Theory of the Given and His Idea of God," in Hartshorne’s Creativity in American Philosophy (New York: Paragon House, 1984), 196-204.

43.In many ways this point calls to mind Descartes’ criterion of clarity and distinctness of ideas as the measure of their certainty, as well as Hume’s "force and vivacity" of simple impressions which enables us to distinguish present perception from memory. Epistemology seems to have progressed little in the past 400 years. Randall E. Auxier, "God, Process, and Persons" 199

44. Hartshorne’s letter of September 1,1943 (this letter is undated, but can be dated by context and Brightman’s response). Cf. Gillies, "The Brightman-Hartshorne Correspondence," 17.

45. Interview for KOCU Television, Oklahoma City, OK; December 1,1993. See Appendix IV to the forthcoming book, God, Process and the Self: The Philosophical Correspondence of Charles Hartshorne and Edgar Sheffield Brightman, 1922-1945.

46. Hartshorne expends a great deal of effort in clarifying this difficulty later in Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method (Lanham: University Press of America, 1983, originally published 1970). See especially page 241 on the matter of "literal participation."

47. Hartshorne, Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method, 65.

48. Cf. Brightman’s review of Hartshorne’s Man’s Vision of God, The Journal of Religion 22 (1942), 97.

49. Hartshorne seems to recognize that this reduction has taken place when he says: "I assert a duality in experience, and you and Wieman seem, though I am never sure about this, to assert a monistic view from the standpoint of modality, of contingency and necessity" (Letter of January 22, 1942). It is interesting that Brightman should insist so ardently upon his own dualism and Hartshorne’s monism, and then be charged with monism by Hartshorne, in the same sentence in which Hartshorne is declaring his own commitment to duality, if not dualism. Gillies oversimplifies this in the conclusion to his article on the correspondence; see page 18.

50. Hartshorne, "Some Causes of My Intellectual Growth," The Philosophy of Charles Hartshorne, 18.

51. See Hartshorne’s letter of January 22, 1942.

52. See Hartshorne’s letter of January 22, 1942.

53. Brightman says in the letter of January 1, 1939: "I am not able to persuade myself that my participation in the life of another self is literally immanence in that other self."

54. Hartshorne, Man’s Vision of God, 73-74. Hartshorne puts this very succinctly in the letter of July 31, 1937: "Personalism apparently accepts a conception of causality not illustrated in experience in order to transcend experience.

55. Brightman himself seems to concur in this judgment to some degree in that he recognizes in Hartshorne’s The Divine Relativity that "the idea of God as personal is retained and even enlarged." See Brightman’s review in The United States Quarterly Book List 4 (1948) under "Philosophy and Religion," 431-432.

56. Letter of June 5,1943.

57. See my essay, ‘Process Personalism" (forthcoming in The Personalist Forum 15 [1999]). 1 would like to thank Tom Buford and The Personalist Discussion Group for inviting me to speak on the Hartshorne-Brightman Correspondence before their annual session at the 1995 Eastern Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association. Without the invitation, this essay would not have been written, and it has contributed a great deal to helping me clarify my thoughts about the correspondence -- which has in turn improved my editing work. I must also acknowledge the co-operation of Margaret Goosetray of the Special Collections Division of the Mugar Library at Boston University, Robert S. Brightman for his insights regarding what motivated his father, Charles Hartshorne and Charles I. Richey for their hospitality when I have traveled to Austin for discussions and research. I must also express my appreciation for the generous comments on this paper made by my colleagues Toby Sarrge and Mark Y. Davies, and Barry Whitney, Editor of Process Studies.