(Selection of quotations, slight simplifications of style, bolding of type, and material in brackets by Alan Anderson)

Atomism, the belief that everything is made up of invisibly small, indivisible particles, was anticipated in the East by Jainism some time after 800 B.C.E., but Western atomism originated in ancient Greece with Leucippus and Democritus, as a mediating position between the views of Heraclitus, who maintained that everything is changing, and Parmenides, who held that change is impossible. In the early modern world, Galileo (1564-1642) and others revived atomism. Ordinarily, atomism is associated with materialism, but both science and philosophy have shown that the atomistic nature of reality need not be of a material nature, at least as matter usually is conceived. By the end of the 19th century, science had found that there are smaller units than the atom. The first of these to be discovered, by J. J. Thomson in 1897, was the electron. Energy is recognized as coming in momentarily-existing bursts or packets, quanta, discovered in 1900 by Max Planck. Einstein discovered the equivalence of matter and energy. Energy usually is considered essentially lifeless, and life a curious accident in the midst of the gigantic accident that the universe commonly is thought to be. Earlier belief in the discreteness of things is replaced by recognition of things as interrelated aspects of fields of force. This scientific view still is essentially materialistic. Materialism has been defined as "the denial that the most pervasive processes of nature involve any such psychical functions as sensing, feeling, remembering, desiring, or thinking" (Charles Hartshorne, Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers [1983], p. 17). Perhaps the greatest single step in recognizing atoms as psychical, rather than physical, was taken by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716). Leibniz realized, in the words of Hartshorne:

If pebbles or other perceptible inert solids are really swarms of imperceptible active singulars, it is absurd to try to describe the true and active singulars in terms of inert, hard, solid objects . . . Rather we must describe the imperceptible units in terms of the only active singulars we perceive as such: ourselves, other animals, and perhaps--though here Leibniz hesitates slightly--also plants. (Hartshorne emphasizes the importance of Plato's recognition of the soul as self-moved, self-changed.)

In other words, Leibniz was the first very great philosopher to combine (1) the atomistic insight . . . that the basic forms of change in the world are too subtle to be perceptible to direct vision or touch, with (2) the central Platonic insight that the principle of change or of dynamic unity is psychical, involving at least some of the inherently active functions of thinking, feeling, remembering, perceiving, willing. The seemingly inert masses of physical stuff Leibniz takes to be myriads of lowly souls (monads ), imperceptible as distinct individuals, which perceive only in extremely primitive fashion. . . . This was one of the greatest of intellectual discoveries, far indeed from being adequately appreciated after three centuries (Ibid., p. 131).



[MT 128] Nature, in these chapters, means the world as interpreted by reliance on clear and distinct sensory experiences, visual, auditory, and tactile.

[MT 129] The common-sense notion of the universe, which [was forming about 1500] [MT 130] expresses large, all-pervading truths about the world about us. The only question is as to how fundamental these truths may be. In other words, we have to ask what large features of the universe cannot be expressed in these terms. We have also to ask whether we cannot find some other set of notions which will explain the importance of this common-sense notion, and will also explain its relations to those features ignored by the common-sense notion.

[MT 131] The main principles of the old common-sense doctrine, which even today is the common doctrine of ordinary life because in some sense it is true[, are:]

[1] There are bits of matter, enduring self-identically in space which is otherwise empty.

[2] Each bit of matter occupies a definite limited region.

[3] Each such particle of matter has its own private qualifications, such as its shape, its motion, its mass, its colour, its scent.

[4] Some of these qualifications change, others are persistent.

[5] The essential relationship between bits of matter is purely spatial.

[6] Space itself is . . . unchanging, always including in itself this capacity for the relationship of bits of [132] matter.

This is the grand doctrine of nature as a self-sufficient, meaningless complex of facts. It is the doctrine of the autonomy of physical science. It is the doctrine which in these lectures I am denying.

[MT 130][Over the past few centuries] the development of natural science has gradually discarded every single feature of the original common-sense notion. Nothing whatever remains of it, considered as expressing the primary features in terms of which the universe is to be interpreted. The obvious common-sense notion has been entirely destroyed, so far as concerns its function as the basis for all interpretation. One by one, every item as been dethroned. . . . [Yet] this common-sense notion still reigns supreme in the workaday life of mankind. It dominates the marketplace, the playgrounds, the law courts, and in fact the whole sociological intercourse of mankind. It is supreme in literature and is assumed in all the humanistic sciences.


[MT 132] The state of [recent] modern thought is that every single item in this general doctrine is denied, but that the general conclusions from the doctrine as a whole are tenaciously retained. The result is a complete muddle in scientific thought, in philosophic cosmology, and in epistemology.

[MT 135] A dead nature can give no reasons. All ultimate reasons are in terms of aim at value. A dead nature aims at nothing. It is the essence of life that it exists for its own sake, as the intrinsic reaping of value.

[MT 136] The unexpected result has been the elimination of bits of matter, as the self-identical supports for physical properties.


[MT 137] [In the 20th Century] matter has been identified with energy, and energy is sheer activity; the passive substratum composed of self-identical enduring bits of matter [atoms, as originally understood] has been abandoned, so far as concerns any fundamental description.

[MT 145] [The] change of view occupying [the last] four centuries, may be characterized as the transition from [1] space and matter [more broadly, substance], as the fundamental notions to [2] process conceived as a complex of activity with internal relations between its various factors.


[MT 147] How do we add content to the notion of bare activity? [We recognize it as living.]

[MT 152] [T]he characteristics of life [as understood by Whitehead] are [1] absolute self-enjoyment, [2] creative activity [fusing the past and the possible in a new unity, a new creation], [3] aim. [MT 167, an additional definition of life, distinguishing it from mentality:] the enjoyment of emotion, derived from the past and aimed at the future. It is the enjoyment of emotion which was then, which is now, and which will be then. This vector character is of the essence of such entertainment. The emotion transcends the present in two ways. It issues from, and it issues towards. It is received, it is enjoyed, and it is passed along, from moment to moment. . . . In so far as conceptual mentality does not intervene, the grand patterns pervading the environment are passed on with the inherited modes of adjustment. Here we find the patterns of activity studied by physicists and chemists. In the case of inorganic nature any sporadic flashes [168] are inoperative so far as our powers of discernment are concerned. The lowest stages of effective mentality, controlled by the inheritance of physical pattern, involves the faint direction of emphasis by unconscious ideal aim. The various examples of the higher forms of life exhibit the variety of grades of effectiveness of mentality. In the social habits of animals, there is evidence of flashes of mentality in the past which have degenerated into physical habits. Finally in the higher animals and more particularly in mankind, we have clear evidence of mentality habitually effective. In our own experience, our knowledge consciously entertained and systematized can only mean such mentality, directly observed.


[MT 154] Science can find no individual enjoyment in nature: Science can find no creativity in nature; it finds mere rules of succession. These negations are true of natural science. They are inherent in its methodology. The reason for this blindness of physical science lies in the fact that such science only deals with half the evidence provided by human experience. [Science] examines the . . . superficial, and neglects the . . . fundamental.

The disastrous separation of body and mind which has been fixed on European thought by Descartes is responsible for this blindness of science. In one sense the abstraction [consideration of some things apart from other things] has been a happy one, in that it has allowed the simplest things to be considered first, for about ten generations. [continued immediately below, without break]


[MT 20] [I]mportance is derived from the immanence of infinitude in the finite.

But expression is founded on the finite occasion. It is the activity of finitude impressing itself on its environment. [21] The laws of nature are large average effects which reign impersonally. Whereas, there is nothing average about expression. . . .

We think of ourselves as so intimately entwined in bodily life that a man is a complex unityþbody and mind. But the body is part of the external world, continuous with it. In fact, it is just as much part of nature as anything else thereþa river, or a mountain, or a cloud. . . .


[22] The human body is that region of the world which is the primary field of human expression. . . .

Wherever there is a region of nature which is itself the primary field of the expressions issuing from each of its parts, that region is alive.


In this second definition, the phrase "expressions issuing from each of its parts" has been substituted for the phrase "human expression," as used previously. The new definition is wider than the former by extending beyond human beings, and beyond the higher animals. Also it will be noticed that these definitions involve the direct negation [23] of any extreme form of Behaviourism. In such behaviouristic doctrines, importance and expression must be banished and can never be intelligently employed. A consistent behaviourist cannot feel it important to refute my statement. He can only behave.

There are two sides to an animal body of the higher type, and so far we have only developed one of them. The second, and wider, definition enables us to find the distinction between vegetation and animal life. This distinction, like others, refuses to be pushed to meticulous exactness. In the animal, there is the one experience expressing itself throughout the animal body. But this is only half the tale.

The other half of the tale is that the body is composed of various centres of experience, imposing the expression of themselves on each other. Feeling (in the sense here used), or prehension, is the reception of expressions. Thus the animal body is composed of entities, which are mutually expressing and feeling. Expressions are the data for feeling diffused in the environment; and a living body is a peculiarly close adjustment of these two sides of experience, namely, expression and feeling. By reason of this organization, an adjusted variety of feelings is produced in that supreme entity which is the one animal considered as one experiencing subject.

Thus the one animal, and the various parts of its body considered as themselves centres of experience, are in one sense on a level. Namely, they are centres of experience expressing themselves vividly to each other, and obtaining their own feelings mainly by reason of such mutual expressions.

In another sense, the animal as one centre of experience is on a higher level than its other bodily centres. For these subordinate centres are specialists. They only receive re[24]stricted types of emotional feeling, and are impervious beyond such types. . . .

In the case of vegetables, we find bodily organizations which decisively lack any one centre of experience with a higher complexity either of expressions received or of inborn data. A vegetable is a democracy; an animal is dominated by one, or more centres of experience. But such domination is limited, very strictly limited. The expressions of the central leader are relevant to that leader's reception of data from the body.

Thus an animal body exhibits the limited domination of at least one of its component activities of expression. If the dominant activity be severed from the rest of the body, the whole coordination collapses, and the animal dies. Whereas in the case of the vegetable, the democracy can be subdivided into minor democracies which easily survive without much apparent loss of functional expression.

It is evident that our statement is oversimplified. . . . [25] [A]n animal body in its highest examples is more analogous to a feudal society, with its one overlord.

This final unity of animal intelligence is also the organ of reaction to novel situations, and is the organ introducing the requisite novelty of reaction. Finally, the overlord tends to relapse into the conventionality of routine imposed upon the subordinate governors, such as the heart. Animal life can face conventional novelties with conventional devices. But the governing principle lacks large power for the sudden introduction of any major novelty. . . .


When we come to mankind, nature seems to have burst through another of its boundaries. The central activity of enjoyment and expression has assumed a reversal in the importance of its diverse functionings. The conceptual entertainment of unrealized possibility becomes a major factor in human mentality. In this way outrageous novelty is introduced, sometimes beatified, sometimes damned, and sometimes literally patented or protected by copyright. The definition of mankind is that in this genus of animals the central activity has been developed on the side of its relationship to novelty. This relationship is twofold. There is novelty received from the aggregate diversities of bodily expressions. Such novelty requires decision as to its reduction to coherence of expression.

Again there is the introduction of novelty of feeling by the entertainment of unexpected possibilities. This second side is the enlargement of the conceptual experience of mankind. The characterization of this conceptual feeling is the sense of what might be and of what might have been. It is the entertainment of the alternative. In its highest development, this becomes the entertainment of the ideal. It emphasizes the sense of importance . . . And this sense exhibits itself in various species, such as, the sense of morality, the mystic sense of religion, the sense of that delicacy of adjustment which is beauty, the sense of necessity for mutual connection which is understanding, and the sense of discrimination of each factor which is consciousness.

Also it is the nature of feeling to pass into expression. Thus the expression of these various feelings produces the [27] history of mankind as distinct from the narrative of animal behaviours. History is the record of the expressions of feelings peculiar to humanity.

. . . In mankind, the dominant dependence on bodily functioning seems still there. And yet the life of a human being receives its worth, its importance, from the way in which unrealized ideals shape its purposes and tinge its actions. The distinctions between men and animals is in one sense only a difference in degree. But the extent of the degree makes all the difference. The Rubicon has been crossed.


Thus in nature we find four types of aggregations of actualities: [1] the lowest is the nonliving aggregation, in which mutual influence is predominantly of a formal character expressible in formal sciences, such as mathematics. The inorganic is dominated by the average. It lacks individual expression in its parts. Their flashes of selection (if any) are sporadic and ineffective. Its parts merely transmit average expressions; and thus the structure survives. For the average is always there, stifling individuality.

[2] The vegetable grade exhibits a democracy of purposeful influences issuing from its parts. The predominant aim within the organism is survival for its own coordinated individual expressiveness. This expressiveness has a large average character. But the nature of this average is dominated by the intricacies of its own bodily formation. It has added coordinated, organic individuality to the impersonal average formality of inorganic nature. What is merely latent potentiality in lifeless mater, has awakened into some realization in the vegetable. But in each instance of [28] vegetation, the total bodily organism strictly limits the individuality of expression in the parts.

[3] The animal grade includes at least one central actuality, supported by the intricacy of bodily functioning. Purposes transcending (however faintly) the mere aim at survival are exhibited. For animal life the concept of importance, in some of its many differentiations, has a real relevance. [4] The human grade of animal life immensely extends this concept, and thereby introduces novelty of functioning as essential for varieties of importance. Thus morals and religion arise as aspects of this human impetus towards the best in each occasion. Morals can be discerned in the higher animals; but not religion. Morality emphasizes the detailed occasion; while religion emphasizes the unity of ideal inherent in the universe.

In every grade of social aggregation, from a nonliving material society up to a human body, there is the necessity for expression, and of average reception, that the average activities of merely material bodies are restrained into conformity with the reigning laws of nature. It is by reason of individual expression and reception that the human body exhibits activities expressive of the intimate feelings, emotional and purposeful, of the one human person. . . .

[30] A tree sticks to its business of mere survival; and so does an oyster with some minor divergencies. . . . [T]he life aim at survival is modified into the human aim at survival for diversified worthwhile experience.


[MT 154] Now these simplest things [dealt with by science] are those widespread habits of nature that dominate the whole stretch of the universe within our remotest, vaguest observation. None of [the] [155] laws of nature gives the slightest evidence of necessity. They are the modes of procedure which within the scale of our observations do in fact prevail. . . . They exist as average, regulative conditions because the majority of actualities are swaying each other to modes of interconnection exemplifying those laws. . . . [T]o judge by all analogy, after a sufficient span of existence our present laws will fade into unimportance. New interests will dominate. In our present sense of the term, our spatio-physical epoch will pass into the background of the past, which conditions all things dimly and without evident effect on the decision of prominent relations.


[MT 155] All explanations of the sociological functionings of mankind include aim as an essential factor in explanation. . . . In fact we are directly conscious of our purposes as directive of our actions.

[MT 157] There is [1] animal life with its central direction of a society of cells, there is [2] vegetable life with its organized republic of cells, there is [3] the large-scale inorganic society of molecules with its passive acceptance of necessities derived from spatial relations, there is [4] the infra-molecular activity which has lost all trace of the passivity of inorganic nature on a larger scale.

[MT 161] There is no definite boundary to determine where the body begins and external nature ends.

[MT 161] The one individual is that coordinated stream of personal experiences, which is my thread of life or your thread of life. It is that succession of self-realization, each occasion with its direct memory of its past and with its anticipation of the future.


[MT 163] [I]n one sense the world is in the soul. . . . [But] the soul itself [is] one of the components within the world. . . . [My] present experience is what I now am. . . . The soul is nothing else than the succession of my occasions of experience, extending from birth to the present moment. Now at this instant, I am the complete person embodying all these occasions. They are mine. On the other hand it is equally true that my immediate occasion of experience, at the present moment, is only one among the stream of occasions which constitutes my soul.


[MT 164] Thus, as disclosed in the fundamental essence of our experience, the togetherness of things involves some doctrine of mutual immanence. In some sense or other, this means that each happening is a factor in the nature of every other [later] happening. . . . The whole antecedent world conspires to produce a new occasion.

[MT 165] The only intelligible doctrine of causation is founded on the doctrine of immanence. Each occasion presupposes the antecedent world as active in its own nature. . . . It is the reason for the transference of character from occasion to occasion. It is the reason for the relative stability of laws of nature . . . Mere existence has never entered into the consciousness of man, [166] except as the remote terminus of an abstraction in thought. Descartes' "Cogito, ergo sum" is wrongly translated, "I think, therefore I am." It is never bare thought or bare existence that we are aware of. I find myself as essentially a unity of emotions, enjoyments, hopes, fears, regrets, valuations of alternatives, decisions--all of them subjective reactions to the environment as active in my nature. My unity--which is Descartes' "I am"--is my process of shaping this welter of material into a consistent pattern of feelings. The individual enjoyment is what I am in my role of a natural activity, as I shape the activities of the environment into a new creation, which is myself at this moment; and yet, as being myself, it is a continuation of the antecedent world. If we stress the role of the environment, this process is [1] causation. If we stress the role of my immediate pattern of active enjoyment, this process is [2] self-creation. If we stress the role of the conceptual anticipation of the future whose existence is a necessity in the nature of the present, this process is [3] teleological aim at some ideal in the future. This aim, however, is not really beyond the present process. For the aim at the future is an enjoyment in the present. It thus effectively conditions the self-creation of the new creature.


[MT 168] Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains. There have been added, however, some grasp of the im[169]mensity of things, some purification of emotion by understanding. . . . Existence is activity ever merging into the future.


With references to MT, David Ray Griffin, in his Parapsychology, Philosophy, and Spirituality: A Postmodern Exploration (Albany: SUNY, 1997), p. 275, writes as follows:

Why is it not sufficient to believe that this universe contains objective values which we, through nonsensory perception, can directly apprehend? By thinking of such objective values as "Platonic forms," why could the spiritual life not be adequately supported by such a purely Platonic religion? (I use the term "Platonic" for this view only for convenience; Plato himself, at least in some of his writings, spoke of an actual deity.)

There are two problems with this type of Platonic religion. In the first place, as intimated above, the idea that the forms, ideals, or norms as such, having a purely ideal existence, could exist on their own is dubious. There has been a widespread agreement, shared by thinkers as diverse as Whitehead and Thomas Aquinas, that they can exist only as entertained by something actual, by a mind. We can believe that values exist objectively (to the human mind), then only if they exist subjectively--as entertained by a cosmic subject. Such a subject of cosmic scope is what is here meant by "God." Whitehead's suggestion, furthermore, is not only that values exist in "the primordial mind of God," but that they exist there as appetitions. God prehends truth, beauty, and goodness with the appetition that they be actualized in the world of finite beings. This is Whitehead's explanation as to why we feel values as ideals, that is, as important, as possibilities that should be actualized [reference to MT 102-13]. We do not, therefore, with our nonsensory perception simply prehend these values directly; we prehend them by prehending God. Whitehead says, accordingly, that our "experience of ideals--of ideals entertained, of ideals aimed at, of ideals achieved, of ideals defaced . . . is the experience of the deity of the universe"[reference to MT 103].

A second problem with the attempt to have a purely Platonic religion is that the fundamental religious desire is the desire to be in harmony with the supreme power of the universe. It is hard to see the trinity of Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, for all its grandeur, as the supreme power of the universe. We can accept as the supreme power only that which is the source of the stars above and the earth below as well as the call to truth, beauty, and goodness within. The supreme power can only be that which is responsible for the fine-tuned order of the physical constants of the universe, for the emergence of life, and for the human form of life.

For these two reasons, the kind of religion . . . according to which we use the term "God" for a cluster of values we have chosen to honor, will not work. We need to believe that the values we serve are discovered, not invented, and therefore we need an actual, not merely an ideal or "as-if," God [end of quotation from Griffin].


[MT 102] Finally [after Whitehead considers time and space], there is deity, which is that factor in the universe whereby there is importance, value, and ideal beyond the actual. It is by reference of the spatial immediacies to the ideals of deity that the sense of worth beyond ourselves arises. . . . There must be value beyond ourselves. Otherwise every thing experienced would be merely a barren detail in our own solipsist mode of existence. We owe to the sense of deity the obviousness of the many actualities of the world, and the obviousness of the unity of the world for the preservation of the values realized and for the transition to ideals beyond realized fact.]

[MT 110 Whitehead says that the division of experience into self and other] is primarily based on the sense of existence as a value experience. Namely, the total value experience is discriminated into this value experience and those value experiences . There is the vague sense of many which are one; and of one which includes the many. Also there are two senses of the one--namely, the sense of the one which is all, and the sense of the one among the many. . . .

[MT 111] The basis of democracy is the common fact of value experience, as constituting the essential nature of each pulsation of actuality. Everything has some value for itself, for others, and for the whole. This characterizes the meaning of actuality. By reason of this character, constituting reality, the conception of morals arises. We have no right to deface the value experience which is the very nature of the universe. Existence, in its own nature, is the upholding of value intensity. Also no unit can separate itself from the others, and from the whole. And yet each unit exists in its own right. It upholds value intensity for itself, and this involves sharing value intensity with the universe. Everything that in any sense exists has two sides, namely its individual self and its signification in the universe. Also either of these aspects is a factor in the other.

[MT 11] . . . one characterization of importance is that it is that aspect of feeling whereby a perspective is imposed upon the universe of things felt. In our more self-conscious entertainment of the notion [of importance], we are aware of grading the effectiveness of things about us in proportion to their interest. In this way, we put aside, and we direct attention, and we perform necessary functions without bestowing the emphasis of conscious attention. The two notions of importance and perspective are closely intertwined. . . . Importance is a generic notion which has been obscured by the overwhelming prominence of a few of its innumerable species. The terms morality, logic, religion, art, have each of them been claimed as exhausting the whole meaning of importance.

[MT 13-15; cf. PR 23 (15)] Morality consists in the control of process so as to maximize importance. It is the aim at greatness of experience in the various dimensions belonging to it. . . . Morality is always the aim at that union of harmony, intensity, and vividness which involves the perfection of importance for that occasion. The codifications carry us beyond our own direct immediate insights. They involve the usual judgments valid for the usual occasions in that epoch. They are useful, and indeed essential, for civilization. But we only weaken their influence by exaggerating their status. . . . What is universal is the spirit which should permeate any behaviour system in the circumstances of its adoption. . . . It does concern the general ideal which should be the justification for any particular objective. . . . Whether we destroy or whether we preserve, our action is moral if we have thereby safeguarded the importance of experience so far as it depends on that concrete instance in the world's history.

[EXCERPTS FROM Whitehead's PROCESS AND REALITY (1929), (PR, in page citations, followed in parentheses by the page citations for the 1978 corrected edition edited by David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne)]


[PR 4 (3); practically the same words are used in Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, 222; at MT 22 Whitehead says, "Philosophy can exclude nothing." ] Speculative Philosophy is the endeavour to frame a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted. By this notion of 'interpretation' I mean that everything of which we are conscious, as enjoyed, perceived, willed, or thought, shall have the character of a particular instance of the general scheme.


[PR 11 (7)] [T]he 'fallacy of misplaced concreteness' [is confusing the abstract with the concrete; see Whitehead's Science and the Modern World, pp.75-82, 85, paperback edition p. 51-55, 58].


[PR 23 (15)] Philosophy frees itself from the taint of ineffectiveness by its close relations with religion and with science, natural and sociological. It attains its chief importance by fusing the two, namely, religion and science, into one rational scheme of thought. Religion should connect the rational generality of philosophy with the emotions and purposes springing out of existence in a particular society, in a particular epoch, and conditioned by particular antecedents. Religion is the translation of general ideas into particular thoughts, particular emotions, and particular purposes; it is directed to the end of stretching individual interest beyond its self-defeating particularity. Philosophy finds religion, and modifies it; and conversely religion is among the data of experience which philosophy must weave into its own scheme. Religion is an ultimate craving to infuse into the insistent particularity of emotion that non-temporal generality which primarily belongs to conceptual thought alone. In the higher organisms the differences of tempo between the mere emotions and the conceptual experiences produce a life-tedium, unless this supreme fusion has been effected. The two sides of the organism require a reconciliation in which emotional experiences illustrate a conceptual justification, and conceptual experiences find an emotional illustration.


[PR 32 (21)] The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction. The novel entity is at once the togetherness of the 'many' which it finds, and also it is one among the disjunctive 'many' which it leaves; it is a novel entity, disjunctively among the entities which it synthesizes.The many become one, and are increased by one. ["Whitehead's novel intuition," as Hartshorne noted; see below.]

[PR 37 (24)] [The] ontological principle means that actual entities [units of experience] are the only reasons; so that to search for a reason is to search for one or more actual entities.

[PR 254 (167)] [A]part from the experiences of subjects [actual entities, occasions of experience] there is nothing, nothing, nothing, bare nothingness.

[PR 340-41 (223)] Each task of creation is a social effort, employing the whole universe. Each novel actuality is a new partner adding a new condition.


[PR 63 (39)] The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them. His personal endowments, his wide opportunities for experience at a great period of civilization, his inheritance of an intellectual tradition not yet stiffened by excessive systematization, have made his writing an inexhaustible mine of suggestion.


[PR 519 (342)] When the Western world accepted Christianity, Caesar conquered . . . Thebrief Galilean vision of humility flickered throughout the ages, uncertainly. . . . [PR 520 (342)] [T]he deeper idolatry, of the fashioning of God in the image of the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman imperial rulers, was retained. The Church gave unto God the attributes which belonged exclusively to Caesar.

[PR 520 (342-43)] [Various] strains of thought . . . fashion God in the image[s] of [1] an imperial ruler, . . . [2] a personification of moral energy, . . . [3] an ultimate philosophical principle [, and (4) the Whiteheadian process-relational-organic view, which] does not emphasize the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world, which slowly and in quietness operate by love; and it finds purpose in the present immediacy of a kingdom not of this world. Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved; also it is [520 (343)] a little oblivious as to morals. It does not look to the future; for it finds its own reward in the immediate present.

[PR 521 (343)] God is not to be treated as an exception to all metaphysical principles, invoked to save their collapse. He is their chief exemplification.

[PR 522 (344)] [God] is the lure for feeling, the eternal urge of desire. His particular relevance to each creative act as it arises from its own conditioned standpoint in the world, constitutes him the initial 'object of desire' establishing the initial phase of each subjective aim.

[PR 523, 525 (345-46)] [God is both] [1, God's primordial side or pole] the principle of concretion--the principle whereby there is initiated a definite outcome from a situation otherwise riddled with ambiguity [and, 2, God's consequent side or pole] . . . judgment on the world. He saves the world as it passes into the immediacy of his own life. It is the judgment of a tenderness which loses nothing that can be saved. It is also the judgment of a wisdom which uses what in the temporal world is mere wreckage. [PR530 (349)] The consequent nature of God is the fulfillment of his experience by his reception of the multiple freedom of actuality into the harmony of his own actualization. It is God as really actual, completing the deficiency of his mere conceptual realization of them

[PR 526 (346)] [God] is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness. [Griffin and Sherburne not that In Whitehead's copy he crossed out leading, and wrote in the margin both persuading and swaying.]

[PR 532 (351)] . . . God is the great companion--the fellow-sufferer who understands.

[EXCERPTS FROM Charles Hartshorne's "The New Pantheism" (NP) in THE CHRISTIAN REGISTER, May 20 and 27, 1936, (various omissions and combinations not noted), various writings in THE ZERO FALLACY AND OTHER ESSAYS IN NEOCLASSICAL PHILOSOPHY (1997) (ZF) "Whitehead's Novel Intuition," in George L. Kline (ed.) , Alfred North Whitehead: Essays on His Philosophy and in Charles Hartshorne, Whitehead's Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935-1970, OMNIPOTENCE AND OTHER THEOLOGICAL MISTAKES (1984) (OO), and THE PHILOSOPHY OF CHARLES HARTSHORNE (PCH) (1991).]


[Until otherwise noted, the following quotations are from NP.] A man has some awareness of the actions of his bodily cells; but what these cells do individually the man as a whole does not do, but only what these cells do in concert or together. We are cells in the body of God; for the most general bearing of our collective acts God is responsible, but not for our individual choices as such. . . . Omnipotence in the legitimate sense means all possible power over all things, but it does not mean "all the power in the universe as the power of one thing." [T]he problem of evil is met in part by admitting a real division of power between God and finite creatures. To say that we are parts of God is . . . only shorthand for saying that God feels our feelings (the same applies to our relation to our cells, except that our intuition of cellular feelings is vague and imperfect). Sympathy is the very meaning of unification in a truly spiritual philosophy.


Panpsychism [psychicalism] . . . abolishes the apparent implication of pantheism that God has a body composed of mere or dead matter. His material body is simply the minds inferior to him (as a man's cells to the man) collectively dominated by him, but also exercising influence upon him. A body is the organization of one's immediate servants. All things are the immediate servants of God, hence all nature is literally his body. But servanthood is limited by the principle of the division of power, and the action of the master is subject to reaction upon the master. This removes another paradox in the older theologies of a God upon whose action no counter-action can be exerted.


As the world acquires new content with the happening of new events, the things with which God sympathizes, the total contents of his sympathetic awareness, are added to and in this sense changed. Thus ethically God is forever the same unstinted love, but esthetically he is the ever-changing symphony of the world-process.


[God is] creative in the only sense in which creation is given any meaning by our experience. To create is to mold the course of events into correspondence with an idea. Men thus literally create each other when they mold each other's character by education and friendship. Thus the paradoxes of timeless purpose, together with those of non-sensitive ("impassive") love, and of action without reaction, are done away with once for all.


Personality is the only principle of wholeness, of integration, on a complex level such as the universe must involve, of which we have any experience. . . .[T]he scientist believes in a kind of unity or integrity of nature which he does not analyze. What could this unity be? If nature as a whole is a person of a supreme kind, then of course she will have certain ways of acting, for in such ways does personality express itself. . . .


[The attributes, characteristics, of God] were posited because they were required for an intelligible universe. . . . Atheism . . . declares that the world as a whole must forever be completely unintelligible to us [and] that there is no ultimate standard by which life can be ordered.


[OO 80] . . . our cells respond to our feelings (and thoughts) because we respond to their feelings (and would respond to their thoughts if they had any). Hurt my cells and you hurt me. Give my cells a healthy life, and they give me a feeling of vitality and at least minimal happiness. My sense of welfare tends to sum up theirs, and their misfortunes tend to become negative feelings of mine. I feel what many cells feel, integrating these feelings into a higher unity. I am somewhat as their deity, their fond heavenly companion. They gain their direction and sense of the goodness of life partly from intuiting my sense of that goodness, which takes theirs intuitively into account.


[PCH 691] Of the dualities connected with psychicalism, the key one for me is, singular and composite. Groups of sentient entities are not necessarily also sentient (fallacy of composition), nor are members of a group that as a whole does not feel necessarily insentient (fallacy of division). From whom did I first learn about this? It was not Whitehead but Leibniz, who saw it with the clarity of genius nearly three hundred years ago.


[PCH 692] Not only did I reason to psychicalism from my theism, but the converse reasoning also was important for me. If, without psychicalism, theism is incoherent, so, without theism, is psychicalism. How can many psyches, each of whom (Plato) is to some extent self-moved as well as moved by other self-movers, constitute an orderly cosmos [if there were no God]?

[GOD IS LOVE. See also the next section.]

[PCH 700] My ultimate intuitive clue in philosophy is that "God is love" and that the idea of God is definable as that of the being worthy to be loved with all one's heart, mind, soul, and entire being. This definition I owe to Paul Tillich. I conclude that therefore love in its most generalized sense is the principle of principles. It is creativity, stressing one of its aspects. Whitehead says that "Love, imperfect in us is perfect in God." It is with his help that I have been able to generalize this to apply to nondivine actualities generally[;] Peirce hints strongly in the same direction and so does Bergson.


Page references are to Whitehead's Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935-1970.

[161] It may seem that Whitehead's system is not particularly new. Thus he is a theist, an epistemological realist, a pluralist, an indeterminist, , a metaphysical idealist or psychicalist-in the sense of denying any mere matter ("vacuous actuality") irreducible to mind or experience as such-and have there not been many theists, realists, pluralists, indeterminists, psychicalists? . . .

[162] Pluralism is indicated by "the many." There are numerous realities, not just one . . . But what pluralist [before Whitehead] ever clearly stated that it is the destiny of the many to enter into a novel unity, an additional reality, which, since we are dealing with a principle, not a mere fact, must in its turn be united with the others in a further unity, and so on without end? We have here an admission not merely of emergence, but of emergent or creative synthesis as the very principle of process and reality. . . . Each item of reality has the destiny of forming material for endlessly compounded and recompounded acts of synthesis-producing new and more complex realities.

. . .The many are not one, they become one. . . . First an item is, on its own, through its own unification of its presupposed items; then it is included in, possessed by, subsequent items. In other terms, relationships to prior entities are internal to the given entity, but not conversely. . . .

Again, the "many" are not existing individuals or substances, in the usual sense, but "actual occasions" or unit-events. "Actual" is opposed to "potential," and in any individual thing or person there are always both the actual individual past and the potential individual future. In an occasion, however, there is only the actuality, so far as that unit of reality is concerned. It is indeed a "potential" for subsequent becoming; but the actualization of this potentiality can never be the possession of the occasion itself, but only of later occasions. The occasion is, it does not have, the potentiality, and it is contradictory for a potentiality to be or have its own actualization.

In other language, it is not the items of actuality which change; change is merely successive becoming . Here Whitehead takes a step beyond Leibniz . . .

[168] It is my conviction that in Whitehead Western metaphysics moved appreciably closer than ever before to a technical language capable of formulating without inconsistency the content of the ancient saying, "God is love." This could not be accomplished so long as the magnificent achievements of the Greeks blinded men to the grave limitations and defects of the platonic (or perhaps pseudoplatonic) exaltation of the fixed and impassible. The "many become one" only because the new unity is one of "feeling of feeling," sympathetically appropriating the feeling content of the previous entities. Experience is never merely of some insentient "object," but is always experience of others' experience. But what is the root idea of love but this, participation by one subject in the life of others? This is the very process of realization, in Whitehead's system. . . .

Almost the whole of Greek ethics is based upon the notion of substances which never overlap in their being. In one way or another the attempt is made to derive love from self-interest, for instance as a means of remedying deficiency by comparison with the absolute model of beauty. But if value is essentially found in participating, in living the life of another, then supreme value must be the supreme form of such integration of the many into one, and then there cannot be an absolute case, for there can be no final stage. There can only be an inexhaustible progress of the divine life as summing up ever anew the de facto actualities. . . .


The following is from Charles Hartshorne, "The Synthesis of Idealism and Realism" in The Zero Fallacy and Other Essays in Neoclassical Philosophy edited with an introduction by Mohammad Valady (Chicago and La Salle, Illinois, 1997), pp. 138-39; originally published in Theoria (Sweden) 15, 1949, pp. 90-107:

1. An "object," or that of which a particular subject is aware, in no degree depends upon that subject. Principle of Objective Independence. "Common sense." Aristotle. G. E. Moore, R. B. Perry, Whitehead.

2. A "subject," or whatever is aware of anything, always depends upon (derives some of its character from) the entities of which it is aware, its objects. Principle of Subjective Dependence. "Common sense." Aristotle, Whitehead.

(1) and (2) constitute "realism."

3. Any entity must be (or at least be destined to become) object for some subject or subjects. Principle of Universal Objectivity. Berkeley, Whitehead.

4. Any concrete entity is a subject, or set of subjects; hence any other concrete entity of which a subject, S1, is aware is another subject or subjects (S2; or S2, S3, etc.). Principle of Universal Subjectivity. "Psychicalism." (I avoid "panpsychism," because it has been misused.) Leibniz, Peirce, Whitehead, etc.

The doctrine of this article is that these four principles are not in conflict or competition with each other, but are rather complementary or mutually supporting. The theory which assets all four principles as forming a coherent unity may be called, with Whitehead, "reformed subjectivism"; also "societism," for it amounts to a social theory of reality.

From "Psychicalism and the Leibnizian Principles," in The Zero Fallacy (originally in Studia Leibnitiana 8 (2), 1976, pp. 154-59), pp. 134-35:

The permanently valuable part of Leibniz's theory of matter can be summed up in what I call the True Leibnizian Principles. There are four of them.

(a) Nature consists of active singulars;

(b) What seem to our perceptions mere masses of inert, continuous stuff are really composites or assemblages of active singulars too insignificant, taken one by one, to register distinctly on our senses;

(c) The only singular activity we can directly and distinctly experience as such is our own subjectivity or experiencing;

(d) Consequently, our sole hope of understanding nature is to conceive it as a vast society of active singulars, each of which has some analogy with ourselves as sentient individuals, to the extent at least of possessing some form, however different from our own human form, of feeling or experiencing.

From "The True Physicalism" in The Zero Fallacy, p. 150:

Generalizing the idea of mentality completely is the same as generalizing the idea of actuality completely. . . . Mind (Peirce) is "the sole self-intelligible thing." Nothing can be simply other than mind, but there are innumerable ways and degrees in which this mind or experience can be other than that mind or experience. Language in no sense about mind is language idling, doing no useful work. After three thousand years of trying to find something simply other-than-mind to talk about why not try to talk adequately about mind in its inexhaustibly various possible forms?

To Charles Hartshorne's Psychicalism

To Process Philosophy and the New Thought Movement, with links to other process sites.

To Healing in a Process New Thought Perspective

To New Thought Movement Home Page

Created Feb. 2, 1997
by Alan Anderson
Contact Info.

Latest update Feb 6, 2002