CHARLES HARTSHORNE'S PSYCHICALISM

Psychicalism is the term that Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000; obituaries here and here) prefers to panpsychism; the philosophy holding that all reality is composed of minds or experience. The terms panexperientialism, process philosophy, process theology, process thought, and the name used by Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) for his philosophy, the philosophy of organism, all are used more or less synonymously for the essence of the outlook largely shared by Whitehead, Hartshorne, and many thinkers who follow their lead. There are, of course, earlier outlooks to which some of the terms apply, especially panpsychism in relation to Leibniz (1646-1716); see, for example, Hartshorne's Ch. 35, "Panpsychism," in Vergilius Ferm (ed.), A History of Philosophical Systems, New York: The Philosophical Library, 1950.

The following material is mostly quoted (generally without clear indication of this, except for this notice) from David Ray Griffin's chapter on Charles Hartshorne in David Ray Griffin, John B. Cobb, Jr., Marcus P. Ford, Pete A. Y. Gunter, and Peter Ochs, Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy: Peirce, James, Bergson, Whitehead, and Hartshorne (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), pp. 197-231. Page numbers are shown before the extracts found on those pages. Section titles in the original are preceded by Roman numerals and are centered. Additional headings and bolding of words were added by the compiler, Alan Anderson.

198 IDEAS SHARED BY ALFRED NORTH WHITEHEAD AND CHARLES HARTSHORNE:

1. panexperientialism (current form of animism)

2. radical empiricism (unlike very superficial empiricism)

3. naturalistic theism (differentiated from the supernaturalism of early modernity and the atheism of late modernity)

I. MODERN PHILOSOPHY:

198-99
Formally: various dualisms, including:

matter and mind

determinism and freedom

facts and values

science and theology, ethics, aesthetics

objective (facts) and subjective (values) (this including the others)

199 theory and practice: scientific-philosophic theory vs. presuppositions of practice (such as interaction of mind and matter, the reality of values)

Substantively (of modernism),

three basic theories:

1. (ontology) a mechanistic, materialistic, nonanimistic doctrine of nature ("that the basic units of nature have neither experience nor the power of self-movement" or freedom).

2. (epistemology) a sensationist doctrine of perception ("that all of our experience of the world beyond ourselves is through our physical senses and hence is limited to the types of things these senses are suited to perceive--namely, physical objects.")

3. a denial that divinity is naturally present in the world.

(This "follows from the first two theories. If natural entities have nothing like mind or experience, a cosmic mind or experience cannot be present in them. . . . Modern philosophers (including modern natural and social scientists) have sought to understand the world on the basis of the theory that its normal processes are fully intelligible in principle apart from any reference to divine presence.")

201 What postmodernism does is carry through to their logical conclusions these three doctrines of modern philosophy. (For this reason, this movement should be called mostmodern philosophy instead of postmodern.)

199 These three theories largely account for modern philosophy's inability to explain the presuppositions of human practice.

1. mind-body interaction (leading to identification of mind and brain, operating deterministically, as does everything else)

200

2. knowledge of world (beginning with belief that we directly perceive physical objects, Hume showed that sense-perception "provides nothing but sense-data," nothing beyond our own experience; and Santayana added solipsism of the present moment.)

3. knowledge of values (While most intellectuals have not gone so far as to deny knowledge of the world, they have denied knowledge of values.)

Modernity has held that the natural sciences [given a special place of recognition] give us truth about the physical world, but that ethics, aesthetics, and theology are incapable in principle of delivering truth, because sensory perception provides us with no knowledge of their alleged nonphysical objects. [But] Relativistic postmodernism wants to bring science down to the same level as the other cultural pursuits by declaring it no more competent than they to discover truth. It attempts to do this by attacking the notion of truth as such, in the sense of correspondence between idea and reality.

201 HARTSHORNE'S PHILOSOPHY:

(We may give serious attention to these perhaps initially silly-sounding ideas, since it has been shown in practice that the predominant theories of modern philosophy are incoherent; they are self-destructive.)

201 As Hartshorne has emphasized, philosophy can be clear and consistent only [1] insofar as it recognizes that the general principles by which we live our lives and interpret our experience are derived from a form of perception more basic than sensory perception, [2] insofar as it affirms a postmodern animism, according to which all individuals experience and exercise self-determination, and [3] insofar as it is explicitly theistic. From this perspective, a sensationist, nonanimistic, atheistic philosophy was bound to self-destruct, and the fulfillment of this prediction provides some empirical evidence for the truth of the Whiteheadian-Hartshornean postmodern position.

In the remainder of this essay, I spell out this philosophy in terms of the three features that make it most clearly postmodern: [1] its animism or panexperientialism, which differentiates it from the dualism, materialism, and phenomenalism among which modern thought has felt constrained to choose; [2] its radical empiricism, in comparison with which modern sensationism is seen to be a very superficial form of empiricism; and [3] its naturalistic theism, which differentiates it equally from the supernaturalism of early modernity and the atheism [202] of late modernity.

II. PANEXPERIENTIALISM AND RADICAL EMPIRICISM

Whitehead and Hartshorne "begin with the hypothesis that nature is comprised of creative, experiential events."

Basic psychic qualities--such as feeling, memory, desire, and purpose--are "cosmic variables," capable of infinite scope, both above and below their human forms. . . . To say that all events are experiences is therefore not to say that they are very similar to human experience; it is only to say that they are not absolutely different in kind.

Creative says that, although all events are influenced by previous events, no event is fully determined by the past. Every event exercises at least some iota of self-determination or self-creation, and then some power to exert creative influence on the future.

203

ADVANTAGES OF HARTSHORNE'S PHILOSOPHY: (See also pp. 210-11 summary.)

1. It explains matter [p. 207: it gives us an idea of what matter is in itself]:

Modern philosophy has left the nature of matter wholly mysterious, saying that we cannot know what it is in itself, only how it appears to us. But, Hartshorne says, we should take advantage of the fact that in ourselves we have an individual piece of nature that we know from within as well as without. . . . What we call matter is then the outer appearance of something that is, from within, analogous to our own experience.

2. It solves the mind-body interaction problem:

Panexperientialism solves the mind-body problem by noting that cells and we feel the feelings of each other.

Materialism, by reducing mind to matter, forces us to deny that our own experience--the thing we know best in the universe--is really real and efficacious. Berkeleian idealism, [204] by reducing matter to mind, denies that our body is actual and efficacious. [It seems to me that if body is a group of minds it is fully efficacious.]

3. [p. 204: It is "truly nondualistic."] It overcomes the implied dualism of materialism, which must admit that there are experiencing individuals (ourselves) and claims that there are nonexperiencing individuals. Materialism can't explain how matter could produce mind.

204

Hartshorne interprets the seeming nondualism of materialism as

really dualism in disguise. Because materialists cannot fail to believe that experiencing things exist, their assertion that nonexperiencing individuals exist means that the universe contains two fundamentally different types of individuals: experiencing and nonexperiencing. This dualism is a "temporalized dualism": in its evolutionary account, it says that mere matter without a trace of experience first existed, and that then experience or mind "emerged." . . . [NOTE THAT EXPERIENCE and MIND ARE EQUIVALENT TERMS.] [But] "How could mere matter produce life and minds?" Panexperientialistic nondualism allows us to avoid this unanswerable question by speaking of "the emergence of species of mind, not mind as such."

Hartshorne explains the unpopularity of panexperientialism on the basis of usual sensory experience's failure to reveal any animation (having experience and exercising self-determination) in such things as rocks, and answers it by referring to:

(1) the distinction of knowing from within and from without.

(2) the indistinctness of sensory perception. Science has helped to show the error of believing the microscopic world to be inert.

(3) the difference between aggregates and compound individuals.

Animals have mind or soul (Leibniz's "dominant monad") that

(205)turns the multiplicity into a true individual by giving it a unity of feeling and purpose, so that it can respond as a unified whole to its environment. In mere aggregates, such as a rock, by contrast, no such dominating experience exists. The highest centers of feeling and self-determination are the molecules comprising the rock. Without a dominating center, the various movements cancel out each other, so that the rock as a whole stays put unless pushed or pulled from without. The passivity of the rock is hence a statistical effect. . . . Animism is true for individuals, while mechanism is true for aggregates of individuals. Quantum physics supports this view, Hartshorne adds, by suggesting that the complete determinism implied by the mechanistic view of nature does not hold true for subatomic events.

(4) the difference between high-grade and low-grade individuals.

205 the human mind is a series of very high-grade experiences, with consciousness, self-consciousness, and hence very sophisticated purposes, [while] the individuals constituting matter are very low-grade individuals, with feeling but no consciousness, let alone self-consciousness, and hence very short-range purposes.

The doctrine of the "compound individual" is one of Hartshorne's great contributions [underemphasized by Whitehead]. [Hartshorne says that with the "distinction between aggregates and true individuals"] "Leibniz took the

(206) single greatest step in the second millennium of philosophy (in East and West) toward a rational analysis of the concept of physical reality." . . . Just as Whitehead improved on Leibniz's idea of the compound individual (by allowing real interaction between the dominant and subservient members of the society), so did Hartshorne improve upon Whitehead's formulation. Whitehead seemed to say that all occasions of experience are spatially tiny. This view made it difficult to understand how the dominant member of society could directly influence all of its parts, and opened Whitehead to reductionistic interpretations. In Hartshorne's account, the dominant member of a society occupies the entire spatial region of the society, overlapping the regions of the lesser members. [Query: Would a thoroughgoing idealism eliminate the problem of spatiality?] Atomic occasions, for example, fill the entire region occupied by the atom, overlapping the regions of the subatomic events. The subatomic members hence live within the atomic experiences. The same principle applies to molecules, macromolecules, and cells. With regard to animals having a central nervous system, Hartshorne suggests that the mind or soul encompasses at least the region of the brain, perhaps that of the entire nervous system.

Another contribution by Hartshorne has been to make clearer than Whitehead did that there is a hierarchy of compound individuals. Although which identifiable things are to be designated compound individual is an empirical question, Hartshorne suggests that at least the following are: atoms, molecules, macromolecules, cells, multicelled animals, and the universe as a whole. Each higher compound individual embodies lower ones, and contains the universal variables to a higher degree. Among these variables is power--the twofold power [1] to determine oneself and [2] to exert influence on others. Accordingly, power and breadth of experience rise proportionately. Hartshorne thereby shows the relation between the human mind and its body to be simply one more form of a general principle characterizing the world. He thereby also paves the way for understanding God as the soul of the universe and thereby its supreme power.

Hartshorne's position provides, furthermore, an answer different from the two most dominant ones among modern philosophers on the relation between quantum indeterminacy and human freedom. [1] One of these views is that quantum indeterminacy, even if interpreted realistically to mean genuine self-determination in subatomic events is irrelevant for the question of freedom, because indeterminacy is cancelled out with large numbers of events; for example, a billiard ball's behavior is perfectly predictable even though that of its electrons is not. This argument assumes that a human being is structurally no different from a billiard ball. [2] The other dominant position is that indeterminacy at the quantum level accounts for human freedom. This position assumes that a human being is nothing but a collection of subatomic particles and the relations among them, that we contain no self-determining individuals higher than electrons and protons.

207 Hartshorne's position is that the world contains a great number of types of genuine individuals more complex than electrons and having more power of self-determination. The discovery of quantum indeterminacy, by supporting the idea that true individuals even of the most primitive sort have some degree of freedom, is important for belief in human freedom by analogy.

207 (advantages of panexperientialism, continued from p. 204)

4. It makes both time and natural law intelligible.

Dead matter would neither remember nor anticipate. We can only "conceive of a unity of the past, present and future, Hartshorne points out, through memory and anticipation." "For dualism and materialism . . . the objective temporal order is unintelligible."

Panexperientialism solves [in relation to natural law]:

the "problem of induction"--the problem of why we should believe the present laws of nature will hold true in the future. Materialists and dualists have assumed that the laws of physics will hold true throughout all time, while having no reason why they should hold through tomorrow. The Whiteheadian-Hartshornean position holds (in agreement with James and Peirce) that the so-called laws of nature are really its most long-lasting habits, the habits of those low-level societies with very little spontaneity with which to diverge from the patterns inherited from the past.

5. Panexperientialism is increasingly, if unintentionally, being supported by the natural sciences, which can discredit false metaphysical positions, through (1) undermining the view that ultimate units are inert and fully determined, (2) showing that nature is "a complex of events, not of enduring substances," (3) showing that space and time are inseparable, so everything is related to time (which process thought considers real), (4) showing that "the difference between matter and primitive life forms is merely a difference of degree," (5) showing that microscopic animals can do things without having specialized organs, and that bacteria have memory and make decisions based on it.

208-209

6. It clarifies perception and memory, with memory (as well as perception) understood as "direct prehension of antecedent events."

209 The fact that memory and perception have all been explained in terms of a common principle brings us to Hartshorne's strongest basis for advocating panexperientialism to the scientific and philosophic communities. The drive of both science and philosophy, he holds, is toward conceptual integration. The goal is to explain as many phenomena as possible in terms of the fewest basic categories. Through Whitehead's category of prehension--the nonsensory sympathetic perception of antecedent experiences--we are able to reduce several apparently very different types of relations to one fundamental type of relation. The category of prehension explains not only memory and perception, which seem different enough at first glance, but also temporality, space, [210 The spatial relation is a complication of time; whereas time results from a single line of inheritance.]

causality, enduring personality (or substance), the mind-body relation, the subject-object relation in general, and the God-world relation. 210

7. It relates theory to practice, especially in science (provides theories adequate to supporting what is presupposed in science and philosophy). A summary of eight examples given above:

(1) Panexperientialism makes intelligible the mind-body interaction we all presuppose in practice.

(2) Through the distinction between aggregates and true individuals, furthermore, we can understand how the behavior of billiard balls is fully determined by external forces while our own behavior is partly self-determined.

(3) Through the idea of a hierarchy of compound [211] individuals, we can understand how we have much more freedom than an electron, an amoeba, or even a chimpanzee.

(4) The idea of the priority on nonsensory perception explains how we know that there is an actual world beyond our own experience, even though sensory perception as such provides only sense-data and hence appearances, not actuality.

(5) The idea that each moment of human experience necessarily prehends the past as settled, hence as past, and anticipates the future as partly still to be determined, hence as future, explains our knowledge that there has been a past and that there will be a future.

(6) The idea that all enduring individuals, including subatomic particles, are analogous to human minds in this respect provides a way of accounting for something else we presuppose; that time existed before the rise of human or even animal experience.

(7) The idea that our basic way of apprehending reality is nonsensory makes it possible to explain our assumption that we have some knowledge of moral and aesthetic values.

(8) The idea that the world given to human experience is comprised of things that embody the same stuffþfeelingþthat is embodied in human experience itself, including its ideas, explains how our ideas can correspond to things.

211

8. It effects a unification of our various forms of theory.

(1) it overcomes the bifurcation between the natural and social sciences.

Human beings are natural and all things are social.

Mechanistic, nonstatistical laws apply not to the fundamental processes of nature but only to the derivative processes between aggregates. . . . natural laws have already been elevated to sociological laws.

[It] provides the basis for unifying epistemology and scientific cosmology with ethics, aesthetics, and philosophy of religion or natural theology.

. . . natural science is put on the same footing with these other cultural pursuits. Unlike relativistic postmodernism, however, panexperientialist postmodernism puts the natural sciences on the same cognitive level with ethics, aesthetics, and theology not by denying that

212 science discovers truth, but by affirming that these other cultural pursuits are also pursuits of truth, that they also are cognitive enterprises.

Panexperientialism's key notion . . . sympathetic-creative value experience is basic for understanding all fields.

III. THEISM, PANEXPERIENTIALISM, AND DEEP ECOLOGY

Hartshorne

says that most errors about God involve errors about the world, and vice versa. His theism is, in fact, part and parcel of his panexperientialism, and his panexperientialism is part and parcel of his theism. Each implies the other. . . . "Theism is not an adjunct to a world view; fully thought out, it is the most coherent of all explicit world views." . . . "The theistic question . . . (213)[is] the sole question."

a philosophy cannot be consistent unless it is theistic. . . . [T]raditional or classical theism . . . cannot be made

(214) credible.

Six ways that traditional theism "makes an intelligible, consistent, and credible philosophy impossible":

(1) By asserting that God determines or at least knows the future, the traditional idea of God conflicts with our presuppositions about human freedom and responsibility.

(2) By affirming an omnipotent goodness that can determine all details of the world, it conflicts with our presupposition about evil, that is, that not everything that happens is for the best.

(3) By combining this idea of omnipotence with an anthropomorphic dualism, according to which only human beings have intrinsic value, supernaturalists developed a view of divine design that was disproved by the facts of evolution.

(4) By buttressing this doctrine of omnipotence with a doctrine of creation ex nihilo, supernaturalism affirmed the self-contradictory idea of a beginning of time.

(5) Traditional theism attributed immutable consciousness to God, although we can think meaningfully of consciousness only as changing.

(6) It spoke of God as an impassible being who could not be enriched or pained by anything happening in the world; it thereby contradicted its own injunction to serve God, and our presupposition that our lives have ultimate meaning.

One reason that Hartshorne is distressed by this traditional idea of God is that it has led, by reaction, to complete atheism.

Modern philosophy became atheistic, however, not only because of problems inherent in traditional theism but also because the modern worldview rules out any significant idea of God [because of at least the following four reasons].

(1) A reductionism that would not allow the mind to influence the body would certainly not allow "downward causation" from God to the world, and would have no analogy for this. (2) The mechanistic view of nature allows for no divine influence in the world, because entities that interact only by mechanical impact make influence by a cosmic mind or soul unintelligible. According to the modern cosmology, it is impact, not love, that makes the world go round.

(3) This mechanistic view also makes it impossible to understand how the world could be in God.

(4) The sensationist theory of perception rules out any divine presence in human experience, and hence any direct awareness of God. Accordingly, portraying theism as a viable philosophy requires overcoming not only traditional theism but also the modern worldview.

NATURALISTIC THEISM

214 A world of finite events exists necessarily, not through the arbitrary decision of (215) the divine will. The existence of a plurality of finite experiences is as natural as God's own existence. The nature of the relations between God and the world is therefore a natural, necessary feature of reality. The Hartshornean position hence says not only that every event has a creative power--[1] the power to shape itself in part, and [2] the power to influence future events. It also says that the fact that every event has this twofold creative power is not simply a "fact," that is, not simply a contingent feature of our world. It is a necessary, natural feature of reality, not an arbitrary decree of the divine will that could have been otherwise and that could be overridden from time to time.

The presence of evil in our world and of every possible world is thereby explained. Evil results from multiple finite freedom, and any world God could have created would have had multiple finite freedom. The possibility of evil is necessary. No particular evils are necessary, but the possibility that evil can occur is necessary. . . . God does influence every event, but divine influence is always persuasion. It could not be unilateral determination.

. . . Freedom and danger necessarily rise proportionately. Because human beings have more freedom than other creatures, they necessarily are more dangerous and more capable of suffering. . . .

Besides not determining the future, God does not even know the future, beyond those abstract features of the future that are already determined by the present.

. . . Because there never was a first moment of finite existence, the creation of our world involved a creation not out of nothing but "out of an earlier world and its potentialities for transformation." Divine creative causation, analogously to ours, always involves a transformation of a previous

216 situation. No self-contradictory idea of a beginning of time is therefore implied. . . . Darwinian evidence that every species shows signs of "descent with modification" from earlier species is . . . no evidence against a divine creator.

HARTSHORNE'S DIFFERENCES FROM WHITEHEAD

1. God is not "a single, everlasting actual entity," (which God couldn't be if contemporary actual entities cannot interact), but

by analogy with the human soul . . . a "living person"--that is, a temporal society of occasions of experience.

2. Instead of God's dipolarity (which Hartshorne credits W. with being the first to recognize) being conceived as "analogous to [217] the dipolarity of an actual entity, that is, to its physical and mental poles," H. conceives of God's two poles as "analogous to the abstract characteristics and the concrete states of a human soul," e.g. God's unchanging omniscience and God's changing concrete knowing.

For example, God's omniscience is an abstract feature that belongs to every divine occasion of experience; it is the unchanging feature of knowing everything that is knowable at the time. God's concrete knowing, by contrast, changes in each moment, because there are always new things to be known. While the abstract pole or nature of God is absolutely unchanging, the concrete pole is constantly changing. A similar distinction can be made for other characteristics, such as love. God's love as the abstract characteristic of loving all creatures that have existed is unchanging, whereas God's concrete loving changes in each moment, because new creatures with new experiences are constantly arising. Thanks to this distinction between the two poles of God's experience, the incoherencies of traditional theism can be overcome. We can understand how God can know a changing world while having an unchanging nature. We can understand how God's experience can be enriched and therefore served by our lives even though God's character is beyond improvement.

217 Besides overcoming the many problems inherent in traditional theism, the panexperientialist position overcomes the distinctively modern reasons for believing divine presence in the world to be unintelligible and unnecessary. The doctrine of compound individuals . . . is generalized to the universe as a whole, with God as the soul of the universe. The general doctrine of compound individuals, in which causation runs downward as well as upward, makes downward causation from the soul of the universe to its various members an exemplification of general principles, not an exception to them. The idea that all individuals experience, and that all causation between individuals involves sympathetic feeling of feelings, shows how God can influence, and thereby be in, the world, and how the world can influence, and thereby be in, God. The idea that human perception in particular is fundamentally nonsensory shows how we can have direct awareness of God's reality. The idea that power rises proportionately with the breadth of experience and mentality makes it natural to think of the soul of the world as its most powerful member.

In short, God and we are present in each other by means of influence.

PROOF OF GOD'S EXISTENCE

Besides showing belief in God to be intelligible, panexperientialism shows it to be necessary. The idea that the world is comprised exhaustively of partially free experiences makes it clear that the order of the world can be made intelligible only through the idea of an all-inclusive soul, whose purposes order the world through becoming internalized by the creatures, somewhat as our purposes order our bodies through becoming internalized by our bodily members.

"nature as immediately given is essentially feeling."

A PRIORI (219 in relation "not to all experience but only to particular, contingent aspects of experience," but based on "the strictly general traits of experience") METAPHYSICS

218 Metaphysical or necessary truths, such as the existence of God, are to be discovered a priori, through an analysis of meanings.

If we follow Karl Popper's understanding of an "empirical fact" as "a state of affairs that might not have been"

an empirical truth is one that could in principle be falsified by conflicting with a conceivable observation. Metaphysics is not empirical in this sense because the truths it seeks are necessary truths.

219 Since metaphysical truths are

illustrated in any experience whatsoever, they need not be sought through special experiments or in special places; they can in principle be derived by reflection upon any experience.

DEEP EMPIRICISM

(Griffin's term) refers to

219 universal features at the depths of every experience, beneath the fleeting superficialities.

Relativistic [deconstructive] postmodernism, . . . which denies that there is any deep layer common to all people, follows from retaining early modernity's sensationism while rejecting its supernaturalism. Richard Rorty, for example, claims that all the "intuitions" we have are due to tradition and education, so that "there is nothing deep down inside us except what we have put there ourselves." . . . By affirming nonsensory perception as fundamental, Hartshorne's postmodern philosophy rejects supernaturalism without falling into relativism. These beliefs, in their preconceptual form, can be called knowledge, because they consist in direct apprehensions of those universal features of reality which are always present to experience.

The task of metaphysics is, hence, simply to formulate explicitly, and thereby to make us more conscious of, what we already know in an implicit, preconscious way.

229, n. 94 Hartshorne in Creative Synthesis, p. xvi, The reason to have a philosophic profession is to struggle for "the sharp vision of the whole truth."

Hartshorne says that

the basic task of philosophical theology . . . is to discover . . . "what the bottom layer of our common human thought really is." Instead of a priori and nonempirical, this approach could well be called "deep empiricism," because it seeks those universal features at the depths of every experience, beneath the fleeting superficialities. . . . Relativistic postmodernism, by contrast, . . . denies that there is any deep layer common to all people[. This] follows from retaining early modernity's sensationism while rejecting its supernaturalism.

Hartshorne's postmodern philosophy rejects supernaturalism without falling into relativism. Through our nonsensory apprehension we all share a common sense of beliefs. These beliefs, in their preconceptual form, can be called knowledge, because they consist in direct apprehensions of those universal features of reality which are always present to experience.

The task of metaphysics is, hence, simply to formulate explicitly, and thereby to make us more conscious of, what we all already know in an implicit, preconscious way.

That everyone knows or believes in the universal truths becomes evident in their [sic] action, which is the ultimate expression of what we most deeply believe.

IMPLICIT ARGUMENTS AND NEED FOR GOD

219-20 Our actions reveal our universal beliefs. We may assert incorrect ones, such as determinism, but we don't live them.

220 With the pragmatists, Hartshorne says that, if a doctrine cannot be lived, it cannot be true, and no one really believes it.

Hartshorne puts belief in God in the same class. . . . "[A]t some point [all people] betray that they know, that the object of our total allegiance is God." The difference between believers and unbelievers is, therefore, "nothing but a difference in self-consciousness and consistency in regard to what all believe 'at heart.'" "The real argument for God," Hartshorne says, "is just that every view which tries to deny him also denies . . . some practically indispensable belief."

including the reality of

[1] truth, [2] the past, [3] an inclusive ideal, and [4] an ultimate purpose to our lives.

[1] Apart from an all-inclusive perspective, there is no locus for that complete truth whose existence is presupposed everytime [sic] we criticize an inadequate perspective on reality.

[2] Apart from a cosmic memory, there is no conceivable locus for truths about the past, yet historians and the rest of us constantly presuppose that assertions about the past can be true or false.

[3] Apart from belief in a cosmic ideal and evaluation, we cannot account for our common conviction that there is a standard of importance and value in terms of which to criticize inadequate human desires.

[4] Without belief in a cosmic and permanent receiver of value-experiences, we cannot make sense of the idea, which we all presuppose at some level, that our experiences and decisions have an ultimate meaning.

MEANINGS OF GOOD, TRUTH, PAST, REALITY, AND THEISM

220 Good is that "which is good in the eyes of God."

Truth is "conformity to what is experienced by an omnipresent 'observer.'"

The past is "what unlimited or cosmic memory can never forget."

Reality is "that which God knows."

We find God in our fundamental meanings, "Hartshorne says.

Theism is hence simply "the elucidation of the full bearings of unavoidable word uses, categorical meanings. . . ."

We presuppose all these ideas, Hartshorne maintains, because God not only exists necessarily but is also necessarily present in our awareness, at some level.

Theism is, accordingly, implicitly present in our basic beliefs and meanings. A philosophy that denies theism necessarily denies at the explicit level various beliefs that it is implicitly presupposing. An atheistic philosophy, therefore, can never be consistent.

221

IV. THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF EXPLICIT METAPHYSICAL BELIEFS

SUBSTANCE AND SELFISHNESS

222 The idea that a person is an enduring substance, which would mean that our relations to our own past and future would be absolutely different in kind from our relations to other people, makes it seem metaphysically impossible that we could in principle love our neighbors as ourselves. The substance-idea of identity has in fact promoted a self-interest doctrine of motivation, according to which we cannot really care at all about anyone except ourselves. If we accept this doctrine, our relative selfishness will tend to become as close to absolute selfishness as possible.

The insight that the enduring self is really a temporal society, comprised of a series of events, shows that our identification with our past is already an example of sympathy, and that our concern for our future welfare is already a form of altruism. It also shows that our relations to our own past and future are not different in kind from our relations to other people. This insight shows that we really can, in principle, love other people in the same way as we love ourselves. This implication of panexperientialism is so important to Hartshorne that he says: "On this ground alone I would not give up the event doctrine without the most rigorous proofs of its erroneousness."

With regard to belief in God, Hartshorne offers many ways in which conscious belief in the God of his metaphysics can have practical importance for our lives. I will mention four.

[1.] First, by explicitly recognizing that God's perfect power does not and cannot eliminate, control, or occasionally override the power of the creatures, we can retain faith in the basic goodness of life in the face of its inevitable tragedies.

[2.] Second, explicit belief in God will encourage us to imitate God--both God's sympathy for all feelings and desires, and God's creativity, in which the creation of new values is combined with respect for old ones. The vision of God will also lead us to aspire to approximate that unity of love with knowledge and power that God alone embodies. [3.] Third, theism "implies that love is the supreme good, not pleasure or knowledge or power, and those who think otherwise will be disappointed." [4.] Fourth, explicit belief in God provides an answer to the final question of human life: What is its ultimate meaning, what should be our central aim? "Be the aim Nirvana, the Classless Society, the Welfare State, Self-realization," Hartshorne says, "the query is never silenced, what good is it, from the cosmic and everlasting perspective, that one or the other or all of these aims be attained for a time on this ball of rock?" Belief in God, as the One, as the One in whom we all live and who cherishes all good things everlastingly, provides an infinite aim for life--to contribute to the divine life. And this infinite aim strengthens rather than weakens our commitment to finite aims.


Compiled by Alan Anderson and entered February 14, 1997, by him.
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More on process metaphysics, including links to worldwide sites, can be found here, which site relates process insights to the healing and overall wholeness movement known as New Thought, and considered by William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience as "The Religion of Healthy-Mindedness"

See also Brief Excerpts from Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne.

For information on various types of metaphysics, see the award-winning Metaphysics: Multiple Meanings.

Latest update Oct. 14, 2000