Hartshorne and Utilitarianism: A Response to Moskop

by Thomas A. Nairn

Thomas A. Nairn is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Catholic Theological Union, 5401 S. Cornell. Chicago, IL 60615. He is currently working on a book that is tentatively entitled Appreciated By God: The Ethics of Charles Hartshorne.

The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp. 170-180, Vol. 17, Number 3, Fall, 1988. 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.


One cannot do justice to Charles Hartshorne’s ethical system without taking seriously his particular understanding of experience as creative synthesis and his demand that one constantly confront the question of God.

Within the past decade, there have been several attempts to categorize ethical systems arising from process metaphysics in their relation to ethical theory in general. Although many concur in categorizing any ethical system based on process metaphysics as teleological or consequentialist, recent writings have gone beyond this, attempting to demonstrate the affinity between process ethics and utilitarianism. Whereas Richard Davis, for example, merely alludes to the "resemblance" which process ethics (in this case, Whitehead’s ethics) bears to utilitarianism (WMP 85), John Moskop attempts a detailed analysis of such a resemblance in a comparison between Hartshorne and John Stuart Mill (MH passim).

Moskop claims that there are five points of agreement between the two philosophers: both maintain that ethics is "(1) teleological, (2) having its telos in experience, (3) requiring qualitative distinctions among experiences, (4) based on an aesthetic criterion of good experience, and (5) altruistic" (MH 19). He concludes that for Hartshorne, as for Mill, the basic principle of morality is that of utility. He adds that Hartshorne’s understanding of justice, like that of utilitarianism, is derived from the principle of utility (MH 31). Finally, Moskop notes that there seems to be "the same subordination of justice to utility considerations in the divine will as is demanded of human wills" (MH 31).

Moskop thus makes at least three important claims in his brief essay: I) that the five theses adequately and unambiguously represent the framework of Hartshorne’s moral philosophy, 2) that Hartshorne’s metaphysics justifies not only a broad understanding of altruism but rather a dependence upon an understanding of the principle of utility quite similar to that of utilitarianism, and 3) that in both Hartshorne’s moral philosophy and his metaphysics the claims of justice are necessarily subordinate to those of utility. Each of these claims seems at best inaccurate, leaving his general argument unconvincing.

Moskop’s argument is unconvincing not primarily because of the five theses upon which it is based, but rather because in his interpretation of these similarities he seems to have insufficiently analyzed (1) Hartshorne’s understanding of the concrete ethical subject and (2) his notion of God. Although both concepts have significant implications for Hartshorne’s ethical enterprise, this study will suggest that if one takes Hartshorne’s understanding of the relation between ethics and theism seriously, one arrives at a notion of ethics rather different from that envisioned by Moskop.

I. The Principle of Utility.

Moskop maintains that both Mill and Hartshorne "acknowledge the utilitarian principle that morality consists in the production of the best experience for the greatest number" (MH 24). The difference between the two, Moskop contends, is that each adopts a different manner in justifying the utilitarian principle. While Mill depends upon an appeal to psychological claims of fact, Hartshorne "grounds his utilitarianism on basic metaphysical doctrines" (MH 29f). The metaphysical doctrines to which Moskop alludes are precisely those which I believe he does not take seriously enough -- the understanding of the concrete subject and the notion of God.

Moskop reached his conclusions by concentrating on two of Hartshorne’s more important articles dealing with ethics, "The Aesthetic Matrix of Value," which forms the last chapter of Creative Synthesis and Philosophical Method (CS), and "Beyond Enlightened Self-Interest: A Metaphysics of Ethics" (BES). Ethical questions, however, permeate most of the writings produced throughout the philosopher’s career, and a broader reading of the Hartshorne corpus suggests other conclusions. In fact, on several occasions Hartshorne himself is explicit in stating that his form of ethics is not utilitarian. He makes clear in several of his writings that he considers the principle of utility to be an example of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness.1 Hartshorne claims that "the greatest happiness of the greatest number is not itself an actual happiness to anyone, and so is not a value in a clearly intelligible sense" (MRM 465). He further maintains:

Each of us effectively enjoys only his own happiness and something of that of a few around him. The sum of joys is not, it seems, itself a joy. How then is it a good, if the good be joy? And what else can it be? (DR 132)

Rather than using his understanding of God to undergird a system of utilitarianism, Hartshorne rather describes it as an alternative to utilitarianism. He asks: "What . . . is to arbitrate between self and others? There seem to be two possibilities only: the good of the greatest number, self included, or some superindividual unity. Now the good of the greatest number is an abstraction. Is it really one good? Can there be value in a sum of values unless there is a valuation which summates them, which embraces them together in a single good?" (BH 321)

Hartshorne is explicit in emphasizing that the greatest happiness cannot be localized simply in the human group. There are at least three reasons for his position. In the first place, a group, as a collection of interrelated selves, "does not literally have interests that can be satisfied" (RSP 64). One is in danger of again falling victim to the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. To claim some sort of ultimate value for group-interest is necessarily to abstract from the concrete.

Secondly, according to Hartshorne, "[n]o human associates can be fully sensitive to all that passes in any one human person; and no human laws or institutions can be perfectly adjusted to any individual, to say nothing of all individuals" (RH 32). The reason for this assertion lies in human fragmentariness. According to Hartshorne, such fragmentariness affords all human beings, and even human groups, inadequate partial perspectives. He maintains that such perspectives "do not add up to definite truths" (MM 467). Furthermore, he fears that a group, motivated from such fragmentary and inadequate perspectives, can easily "simplify and impoverish in order to reduce multiplicity to unity" (BH 55). He adds: The state, or public opinion, is always more coercive than sensitive or understanding" (BH 55). Thus, not only is group-interest an abstraction from the interests of concrete individuals, but such interest also has the tendency to accomplish the opposite of what it claims to do. Rather than adequately furthering the good of the many through sensitivity and understanding, members of the group may seek coercive ways to further group aggrandizement (LP 298). Hartshorne concludes, "the consequence is that the individual is bound to claim rights against society as well as through it. He cannot admit that its will is ipso facto right" (BH 32).

Finally, any human group, and indeed the human species, will one day vanish. If it is the human group in which value resides, this value itself will perish when the species perishes. Hartshorne consequently raises the following question regarding the aim of life: "Be the aim Nirvana, the Classless Society, the Welfare State, Self-Realization, the query is never silenced, what good is it, from the cosmic and everlasting perspective, that one or other or all of these aims be attained for a time on this ball of rock?" (LP 132)

Hartshorne does acknowledge, however, the dilemma to which his questions lead. On the one hand, the greatest good for the greatest number ought itself to be a value; on the other hand, it seems not to be. He attempts a solution:

The problem is solved if the general welfare of men (as at a given moment) is, as a whole, effectively enjoyed by a single subject in a single satisfying experience. But the divine is here posited as beneficiary or recipient of created values. (DR 133)

Such a "sum of all value" can be felt concretely only by God, and therefore it is God’s prehending the various human goods that provides the unity to a multiplicity of concrete individual enjoyments.

For Hartshorne, then, one can articulate the solution to this dilemma only in theistic terms:

There is nothing about the nature of ‘the good’ which explains why enjoyment is better than suffering, or why enjoyment plus intelligence is better than simple enjoyment, or why it is better to be aware than not to be aware. Here is humanism unwittingly confessing its helplessness in theory of value. Good is indeed not satisfactorily analyzable except in theistic terms. Only the divine love and enjoyment can be finally good without the implication of an ulterior standard. (BH 63, my emphasis)

If the above analysis is correct, Moskop is inaccurate in stating that "God assumes, for Hartshorne, a role in some ways similar to that of Hume’s impartial spectator" (MH 29). Charles Reynolds, in his article, "Somatic Ethics: Joy and Adventure in the Embodied Moral Life," is more accurate in claiming that an ethics based on process metaphysics "avoids the beguiling trap of utilitarianism for an ideal participant perspective" (SE 127, my emphasis).

It is not accidental that the notion of God which forms the foundation of Hartshorne’s ethics is that of the divine receiver of value. In a sermon which Hartshorne delivered in 1956, he summarized his "divine recipient" perspective:

We may now answer our original question, for what do we live? We live to live well and to make life better for others, but this is worth while doing because we shall thereby contribute indestructible values to the one life of which we are all members . . . . It is not an alternative to humanism, but its completion, by bringing into recognition the cosmic background, the whole of things in space-time. Mere humanism renounces this attempt. But is there not a dimension of human capacity which is thereby left unexpressed? (LE 3)

It is in contributing to the one life of God that the multitude of human experiences and values in fact becomes that sort of good which is "individual, unitary, personal" (RH 32). Being so profoundly personal, this is a good which the human person is able to embrace completely. Hartshorne claims that "only through a relation to the Everlasting Itself, it seems evident, can the query concerning the aim of life have an answer which avoids giving rise to a still more ultimate query" (LP 132).

The moral life is therefore not a valuing of others simply for one’s own satisfaction or happiness; nor is it valuing others simply for their own happiness. The only ultimate motivation is the happiness or the glory of God (DR 130-132; MVG 235; LP 323). It is God, and God alone, who maintains an adequate perspective of the individual sentient unity entities which comprise the universe. 2

Hartshorne claims, however, that even the maintenance of this perspective is not most important for the discussion under question. He insists, rather, that it is more proper to say that "to be is to feel one’s value as appreciated by God" (LP 296, my emphasis). Hartshorne explains this appreciation in terms of God’s enjoyment of humans (and of all creation), and consequently in terms of the human person’s enjoyment in being enjoyed by God:

We enjoy God’s enjoyment of ourselves. This enjoyment-of-being-enjoyed is the essential factor in all our enjoyment. . . . We experience every day how much we enjoy being enjoyed by other human beings. . . . How much more is the value of living due to the secret, yet ever present, sense of being given, with all our joy and sorrow, to God! For, other men being also similarly given to God, whatever joy we impart to them we also impart to deity. And only God can adequately enjoy our joy at all times, and forever thereafter through the divine memory, which alone never loses what it has once possessed. (DR 141; see also BH 55)

I will return to this notion of enjoyment later in this study. At present it is important to see that this move is key to Hartshorne’s avoidance of utilitarianism. To be ethical for Hartshorne is to contribute positively to the God who not only is able to know of one’s dealings but also is able to appreciate them:

A human being appreciates the qualities of this or that other person -- except the qualities he does not appreciate through some limitations of his own. But God appreciates the qualities of all things. There is no envy, rivalry, fear. He wishes all creations well. (LP 141f)

Not only does God appreciate all creatures in some abstract sense, but this care or concern is directed to all concrete individuals. Hartshorne therefore concludes: "God is the only one who really sees and cares for human life correctly" (GMNR 11). This understanding of God saves one from recourse to either fragmentary individual interest or fragmentary group interest. It is not a justification of utilitarianism but rather an alternative to it.

If there is any concrete meaning to "the good of the many," therefore, it can only be understood as God’s prehending the many particular goods of creation. A process ethics cannot be used as a mere calculus for balancing the interests of one group or individual against those of others. Hartshorne demands that "there can be no greater good without particular goods" (MVG 162) since the "greater good" without these personal goods is but an abstraction. It is by means of these personal concrete goods that God is served. Thus, the aim of ethics is not the balancing of interests but rather the creating of a more harmonious world as a gift for God. It is this, and not the principle of utility, which Hartshorne’s ethics attempts to justify.

II. God and Justice.

Moskop’s second claim is that Hartshorne’s ethics subordinates justice claims to the principle of utility. He states that "claims for equal treatment for individuals may be held to depend on a doctrine of social inheritance underlying claims for the maximization of the total welfare" (MH 31).

It appears that there is a certain element of truth in this analysis insofar as Hartshorne does not seem concerned about how the sum of creaturely enjoyments which becomes the unitary enjoyment of God is itself distributed among creatures. Hartshorne does not discuss distributive justice in its narrow sense in any of his writings. There is, however, a broader sense in which one may speak of justice, and that is giving to each his or her due. In this sense, justice is opposed to partiality. That certain persons suffer (or rather that all persons suffer to different degrees and at different times) is not in itself an injustice. Rather injustice would stem from the partiality of an individual or of a group (or of God) which accepts that certain less favored groups or individuals may suffer so that more enjoyment can accrue to the more highly favored groups or individuals. Hartshorne does take into account this latter broad sense of justice as impartiality throughout his writings.

In Hartshorne’s use of this broad sense of justice there does not seem to be a subordination of justice to utility. In one of his earliest ethical writings, Hartshorne lists three concepts which, when taken together, form the foundation of any ethical theory: reasonableness, pleasure or enjoyment, and justice or duty. He goes on to emphasize:

Yet, in spite of rather extreme shifts of emphasis tending to reduce now one, now another, of the three factors, or even two of them, to a mere derivation of the remaining, the conviction has never really been disposed of that all three participate somehow in ultimate value and cannot quite be regarded as mere means to each other or to anything else. (EAP 496)

There is no conscious attempt to derive any of the three conceptions from the others. This conviction is not lost in the philosopher’s later writings.

One may ask, however, what Hartshorne means by justice. Beyond the broad sense of impartiality described above, there is an ambiguity in his use of the term. The usual sorts of descriptions, those having a basis in the concepts of merit, equality, or need, all do not seem to be totally adequate descriptions of Hartshorne’s use of the term justice.3 He simply maintains that a just person is one

. . . who will not cheat his friends to enrich himself or his mere acquaintances to enrich his friends. It is a matter of unselfishness and of adequate taking account, not primarily of the deserts of others, but of their needs and of the needs of men generally, including the need that certain things be done in certain customary and expected ways. (DR 128)

The just person is one who is unselfish, who is able to see and appreciate his or her own place in the universe, and who is able to go out to others in love. For Hartshorne, in practice love and justice coincide.

This unity between love and justice again forces one to look at the theistic foundation of Hartshorne’s ethical system. For Hartshorne, God is the coincidence of perfect love and perfect justice. This notion of God as perfectly just, a necessary move in Hartshorne’s system, raises a further question. In his discussion of God and justice, Moskop asserts:

Hartshorne holds that suffering or evil is the result of inevitable conflicts between creatures. Given such inevitable conflicts, then, it would appear that a God motivated by utilitarian aims must will that some individuals be forced to suffer in order to promote the greatest good for the greatest number. (MH 31)

This description, if accurate, would strike at the very heart of Hartshorne’s ethical enterprise. If it proves true, God would then be partial and therefore unjust. An unjust God, however, by Hartshorne’s standards, would be unloving and therefore would not be God at all. Furthermore, the motivation for humans to be ethical would be destroyed.

It is unlikely, however, that Moskop is able to demonstrate the adequacy of his claim. Hartshorne explicitly states: "God ‘cannot’ wish the weal of one while disregarding (as, to a greater or lesser extent we always do) the woe of others; for no woe is merely indifferent to God" (LP 142). He adds that those who think in the way suggested by Moskop "are thinking anthropomorphically about God, who must always relate Himself to absolutely all creatures" (LP 142).

As we have already discussed, within Hartshorne’s theory, God is the one who most adequately appreciates all individuals and who most adequately takes into account the needs of all. It is God’s receptivity which grounds this understanding of justice. He concludes:

God is the perfection of action-and-passion, who escapes the defectiveness of our passivity not by impassivity but by the all-inclusiveness, the catholicity, of his sensitiveness, which gives him the balance, the all-sidedness, the fairness, the justice, which are precisely what our passivity lacks. (MVG 273)

Consequently, Hartshorne is able to say that one finds in God not some sort of

. . . strange reconciliation of justice and mercy, each somehow an ultimate principle of value, but. . . the single aim at one primary good, which is that the creatures should enjoy rich harmonies of living, and pour this richness into the one ultimate receptacle of all achievement, the life of God. (DR 127-128)

Hartshorne does speak of conflicts, such as those between justice conceived as fairness and the principle of utility, but he does so in a way different form that which Moskop describes. Within Hartshorne’s system, there is a theory of genuine chance which accounts for conflict. His understanding of all reality as creative synthesis demands a multiplicity of truly free entities. Since these multiple unit-entities are continually creating their specific character and aims, Hartshorne concludes, such entities can only escape conflict by means of luck (MM 461).

God is related to this conflict, but Hartshorne describes this relation under the rubric of tragedy. By invoking this notion of tragedy, applicable both to creatures and to God, Hartshorne attempts to distance himself from a notion of God "willing that some individuals be forced to suffer for the good of others" (MH 31), which would be an unjust God. He emphatically denies that "tragedy is part of a divine plan which wisely decides how much and when each creature ought to suffer" (LP 314). Rather, he suggests that:

God’s ‘call to man’ is not answered by God himself or by man using solely elements which God has created in him but by man creating new realities, new qualities of experience. This, of course, is thoroughly Whiteheadian. For Whitehead, the unit-actualities are ‘experiment occasions,’ which are always in some degree ‘self-creative’ and each such occasion contributes to the divine consciousness, which regards it with ‘tenderness’ after it exists and inspires it with his ideal for its coming-to-be as it comes into existence. Thus there quite definitely is a divine call and a creaturely answer. (WP 185)

Tragedy occurs because of the incompatibility of a multitude of free creatures each freely pursuing its "creaturely answer." Hartshorne reminds his readers that "all freedom is dangerous" (MM 460). Tragedy thus finds its roots in metaphysics

Consequently, tragedy is not imposed upon creation as part of the will of God but rather inevitably arises from the multiplicity of free creatures as conflicts between noncompossible goods (See CS 312).

God enters into tragedy because of God’s love. Hartshorne explains why this is so:

[God] never has to choose . . . between his own interest and that of ‘others, for these are related as whole and parts; but he does face terrible conflicts between the interests of this other and that other or between this element and that element of his self-interest. This . is the tragedy of God. Free beings cannot be coerced or infallibly persuaded into harmony among themselves, and the resulting discord is within God, not external to him. He suffers, as well as enjoys our lives. (WP 106, my emphasis)

Because of God’s receptivity and love, disharmony in the world becomes suffering in God. God therefore is not unaffected by a world in which there exist discord, hatred, evil and suffering. Hartshorne is clear: "Indifference to suffering rather than suffering as a result of loving sympathy with sufferers should be rejected as unworthy to be predicated of God" (WP, 197).

God’s justice is demonstrated through God’s entering into tragedy and through God’s suffering with creatures. Hartshorne provides the following summary of his point of view:

The . . . notion of divine justice is as follows. God is on our side in life’s tragedy, in that he shares it with us, along with all our longing for happiness, so that this longing counts for all it is worth in the divine life, is just as real there as in us. We ‘have an advocate in the Father,’ who says for us the whole of what we have to say for ourselves, without the least omission. Only all other creatures have the same advocate; and the integrity of the divine life, which all enjoy and require, must be maintained. We are then denied nothing through divine indifference to the feelings of others. We have exactly the rights that we can wish to lay claim to insofar as we love God and our neighbor. This is the divine justice, and it is absolute. To appreciate it, we must love. . . The beauty of love is its own argument; all others are degrading or irrelevant. . . . Tragedy is inescapable, since it comes through freedom and sensitivity, and not through the cunning manipulation of deity. (PSG 111)

Hartshorne himself refutes the claim of Moskop. In the broad meaning of justice, God is just. God does not manipulate the details of the universe so that the greater number might flourish at the cost of the few. God is not indifferent to any suffering but in fact shares in all of it.

III. Moskop’s Theses.

One may now return to the five theses mentioned earlier: that Hartshorne’s ethics is teleological, having its telos in experience, requiring distinctions among experiences, which distinctions are based upon aesthetic and altruistic criteria. In evaluating these theses, it may be wise to remember the following words of Hartshorne:

But the theist may reply that the social nature of men in so far as it is a fact, can be exploited by all theories. Therefore it can be exploited by theism, and hence theism need not make morality dependent upon metaphysical beliefs except in so far as the mere sociality of man is in fact not a sufficient basis for morality. . . . What, if anything, does theistic morality add to humanistic? In a word, it adds infinity, the explicit recognition of the absolute in relation to which the relative is experienced as such, the whole of which all lesser values are parts. (BH 24f)

Without this basic explicit reference to theism, one cannot understand Hartshorne’s ethics. To the extent, therefore, that one endeavors to speak of Hartshorne’s ethics without such explicit reference to God, the understanding of his basic concepts remains at best inchoate.

The difficulty with Moskop’s theses then as adequate representatives of Hartshorne’s position arises from the fact that they fail to take the question of God seriously. Each of the five theses must be recast in theistic terms. Unless this component is recognized, the theses remain inadequate representations of Hartshorne’s thought.

The first three theses, for example, can be misleading if they refer only to what Hartshorne calls ‘naturalism" in ethics.4 These theses become meaningful only in relation to Hartshorne’s conception of God. The "ultimate good" to which they refer is not to some sort of "qualitative hedonism" as Moskop claims (MH 20), but rather to God. Hartshorne explains this by recourse to the term "contributionism."5 Hartshorne does speak of "happiness," but true happiness comes only from having a truly rational aim. He emphasizes that "a rational self, no matter how momentary, cannot be satisfied with less than a rational aim, and no aim short of some universal long-run good is fully rational" (CS 198, my emphasis). One is compelled to move to the question of God.

The remaining theses, dealing with the aesthetic and altruistic components of experience, are likewise dependent upon Hartshorne’s concept of God. When viewed from this theistic perspective, these theses can be seen as two sides of the same coin:

God "needs" only one thing from the creatures: the intrinsic beauty of their lives, that is, their own true happiness, which is also his happiness through his perfect appreciation of theirs. This appreciation is love, not something extra as a motive to love. God "needs" happiness in which to share, not because the alternative for him is to cease to be, for this is not a possible alternative, but because the exact beauty of his own life varies with the amount of beauty in lives generally. (MVG 163f, Hartshorne’s emphasis)

This emphasis on the primacy of God for Hartshorne’s ethics does not eliminate all the questions which Moskop raises, but it does serve to place them into a different context.

IV. A Theistic Teleology.

If the above exercise proves anything, it is that Hartshorne’s ethical system is necessarily and unabashedly theistic. The philosopher maintains: "ethics either formulates God as the ideal, or it leaves its basic concepts in an implicit, confused form" (BH 261). Most basically, Hartshorne’s ethics demands a teleology, but one properly understands this teleology only through recourse to Hartshorne’s use of the term contributionism. The person is a contributor to the divine life and also enjoys the beauty of the experience which he or she contributes to God. Moskop is correct in his analysis insofar as it is indeed beauty which the person gives to God.

It is only in this context of contributionism that Hartshorne speaks of the quality of human experience and individual satisfaction or happiness. Ultimate value cannot be reduced to "finite human enjoyments and loves" (MVG 63). Without God, one faces "helplessness in the theory of value" (MVG 63). Hartshorne goes on to claim, with Peirce, that the one thing true of any entity is that it "is a potential contributor to the summum bonum. and how it can do so is its meaning."6

Thus, even aesthetic satisfaction arises from the contribution one makes to God. Hartshorne states:

The aesthetic value of life is realized in relation to other individuals and to the cosmos. Moral value is realized in adopting aims for the future that transcend personal advantage. Life is enjoyed as it is lived, but its eventual worth will consist in the contribution it has made to something more enduring than any animal, or than any species of animal. The final beauty is the "beauty of holiness." (CS 321)

There is a relationship between ethics and happiness, but it is not the usually perceived relationship as found in utilitarianism. Lynne Belaief’s description of this relationship in Whitehead’s thought aptly applies to Hartshorne as well:

That satisfaction and well-being ought to accompany virtue is valuable and defensible. But the further exaggerated claim that [the] satisfaction is what makes the good act good is an unnecessary, and mistaken, inference, [the] particular notion of self-interest having been itself mistaken. (WPT 284b, Belaief’s emphasis)

Acting so as to contribute beauty to others, and especially to God, is enjoyed; but the ethical motivation for one’s decision is the contribution it makes, not the enjoyment. Hartshorne summarizes these sentiments in the following way:

It is hard for man to have the honesty and humility to admit that he is, for all his gifts, but an animal -- a localized fragment of things, a mass of specks in a vast universe, which cannot in good sense be supposed there just for him. On the contrary, he is there for the universe, for what he can contribute to the cosmic life. But since he is conscious of this contribution, he can enjoy his role, and the use of his powers; he cannot complain that he is exploited for the larger purpose. For it is his own good which that purpose asks him to achieve, and to lay upon the altar of the Everlasting -- in that treasure house where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and thieves do not break through nor steal. (LE 4, Hartshorne’s emphasis)

V. Conclusion.

Ethical concerns permeate the metaphysics of Charles Hartshorne, and writers will continue attempting to place the philosopher in relation to one or another ethical school. Yet, there will always be a danger inherent in these attempts. To the extent that one fails to take seriously Hartshorne’s particular understanding of experience as creative synthesis or his demand that one constantly confront the question of God, one cannot do justice to his ethical system.



All citations listed without an author are by Charles Hartshorne.

BES -- "Beyond Enlightened Self-Interest: A Metaphysics of Ethics" Ethics 84:3 (April 1974): 201-216.

BH -- Beyond Humanism: Essays in the Philosophy of Nature. Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1975.

CS -- Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method. La Salle, IL: The Open Court Publishing Co., 1970.

DR -- The Divine Relativity: A Social Conception of God. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1948.

EAP -- "Ethics and the Assumption of Purely Private Pleasures." The International Journal of Ethics 40:4 (July 1930): 496-515.

GMNR -- "God and Man Not Rivals." Journal of Liberal Religion 6:2 (Autumn 1944): 9-13.

LE -- "Life and the Everlasting." Unpublished sermon delivered at United Liberal Church, October 28, 1956.

LP -- The Logic of Perfection. La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing Co., 1962.

MH -- John C. Moskop. "Mill and Hartshorne." Process Studies 10:1-2 (Spring-Summer 1980): 18-33.

MM – "Mind as Memory and Creative Love." Theories of the Mind. Ed. Jordan M. Scher. New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1962.

MRM -- "Mysticism and Rationalistic Metaphysics." The Monist 54:4 (October 1976): 463-469.

MVG -- Man’s Vision of God and the Logic of Theism. Hamden, CT: Archon Books, 1964.

PSG -- Charles Hartshorne and William L. Reese. Philosophers Speak of God. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953.

RSP -- Reality as Social Process. Studies in Metaphysics and Religion. Glencoe, IL: The Free Press, 1953.

SE -- Charles H. Reynolds. "Somatic Ethics: Joy and Adventure in the Embodied Moral Life." John Cobb’s Theology in Process. Ed. David Ray Griffin and Thomas J. J. Altizer. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1977: 116-132.

WMP -- Richard S. Davis. "Whitehead’s Moral Philosophy." Process Studies 3:2 (Summer 1973): 75-90.

WP: Whitehead’s Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935-1970. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.

WPT -- Lynne Belaief. "Whitehead and Private-Interest Theories." Ethics 76:4 (July 1966): 277-286.



1This term was coined by A. N. Whitehead to explain a certain confusion which mistakes the abstract for the concrete. See SMW 51.

2This is Hartshorne’s description of divine omniscience. See, for example. LP 141,296: DR 120-124.

3Although none are totally adequate, the third option comes closest to Hartshorne’s usage. See "Individual Differences and the ideal of Equality." New South 18:2 (February 1963): 3-8.

4 Hartshorne suggests that this term should be taken in its literal sense meaning "intensely interested in nature." When taken in this sense, there is no contradiction between enjoyment and disinterested love. See Hartshorne, "Man in Nature," Experience, Existence and the Good: Essays in Honor of Paul Wiess, ed. Irwin Lid, (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press. 1961): 89-90. Hartshorne demands that this naturalistic pole of his ethics must lead one to theism and not replace it. See BH viii-ix.

5Hartshorne asserts: "All experience is vanity of vanities, unless it contributes to an abiding whole of life that not only transcends us but transcends humanity altogether" (LP 322-323).

6Hartshorne does not express which citation of Peirce he had in mind, but it might be 1.362 in which Peirce describes God as manifested by the completely evolved universe in the infinitely distant future. See CSPM 26.