Pluralistic Idealism:
Only Mind, Many Minds

Alan Anderson

Page numbers in brackets indicate the pages on which the material following them is to be found in Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion, 4:1 (Spring 1998). [p. 23]

This article was originally presented as the plenary address at the third regional conference of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion in Clearwater, Florida, October 17, 1997. Beginning with a detailed survey of various philosophic understandings of idealism and different types of pluralistic idealism, the author further develops his argument for the virtues of process theology generally, and specifically as a helpful corrective to what he cites as an "inconsistency" between the "practical assumptions" of most New Thought participants of today and the "absolutism" of the movement's founders.


The central philosophical foundation for the New Thought movement as well as for any other metaphysical religion is idealism,1 which holds that all is mind, or at least mind-dependent. What most people apparently do not realize is that there is more than one type of idealism. Therefore, idealism deserves more careful scru-tiny on our part.

Last year in this lecture series, John H. Miller, III, provided us with what he appropriately called "Prolegomena to Philosophical Idealism."2 My remarks today also are prolegomena -- introductory or preliminary statements -- to help us to gain a better understanding of the various options available to us within philosophical idealism. I see us today as somewhat like potential buyers walking around an automobile dealer's lot, noting [p. 24] the available makes and models, kicking a tire here, opening a door there, but scarcely reading all the owner's manuals, to say nothing of the consumer guides.

In our little tour, we shall be wearing our philosophers' hats. This means that we'll be seeking explanatory power rather than dealing with the mysteries of mysticism, appropriate and valuable though they are. I assure you that what I outline as philosophical knowledge can harmonize perfectly with knowledge gleaned through science and through contemplation. Explanatory power is the first of two criteria that I as a philosopher use for judging the adequacy of any philosophical position: here, particularly, how well it explains (in as much detail as possible) how creation -- or emanation, or whatever sort of differentiation or individualization or other way of achieving newness -- comes about.

My second criterion for judging the adequacy of any philosophical position is how well it fits with the reality of God, freedom, and personal immortality,3 Kant's postulates of practical reason. Much written by founders of New Thought groups can be taken as falling within a form of idealism known as absolutism. However, in practice and in the practical assumptions that are essential for daily living, most New Thoughters probably rise far above an absolutistic outlook, or at least proclaim principles that are inconsistent with absolutism because they include a God of love, personal freedom, and personal immortality. Although I will not be dealing with New Thought in much detail, what I propose will show a way of removing this inconsistency.

In this paper I offer the following theses:

1. There is no universal agreement on what idealism is.
2. Mind can be understood intelligibly only as experience.
3. In classifying types of idealism, both quality and quantity need to be included. [p. 25]
4. There are several overall types of idealism. Idealism is not to be identified exclusively with pantheism -- God is all -- nor with idealistic absolutism, which could be called a philosophical approximation of pantheism, generally substituting Absolute for God.
5. Idealistic absolutism, in trying to express an essential and commendable commitment to unity, over-shoots it, thereby ending up in incoherence.
6. Pluralistic idealism eliminates any notion that in order for everything to be mind there must be only one mind. There are various types of pluralistic idealism, the most satisfactory of which is a Leibnizian-Whiteheadian-Hartshornean panpsychism, which is realistic, processive, personalistic, and panentheistic. In other words, reality is a collection of minds (experiences), the earlier-developed of which exist without depending on the later-developed ones, which are aware of them (include them), and God is the ultimate person, who most clearly includes everything else, without being those things.
7. Pluralistic idealism of a process-panpsychist-panentheistic sort has many practical values.

Definitions of Idealism

My first concern is with the definitions of idealism. G. Watts Cunningham, in his notable 1933-published study of 13 prominent then-recent idealists tells us that "a satisfactory answer is not readily to be had....idealism shows itself to be a very complicated doctrine...."4 He concludes that

Idealism is that philosophical doctrine which undertakes to show that, in order to think matter or the spatio-temporal order of events in its ultimate nature, we are logically compelled to think mind or spirit along with it as in some sense foundational to it.5 [p. 26]

He also simply refers to "the general idealistic conclusion 'that nothing exists but spirit.'"6

By 1995, the situation had become more confusing. In a book published in that year, A Companion to Metaphysics, Nicholas Rescher presents what he considers "two principal alternative forms" of idealism:

(1) causal idealism: everything there is, apart from minds themselves, arises causally from the operations of minds; and (2) supervenience idealism: everything there is, apart from minds themselves, is super-venient upon the operations of minds (i.e. somehow inheres in them in ways that are not necessarily causal but involve some other mode of existential dependency).7

He apparently considers unworthy of being given a number another form of idealism, which he refers to as

the ancient Oriental spiritualistic . . . idea -- renewed in Christian Science -- that minds and their thoughts are all there is; that reality is simply the sum total of the visions (or dreams?) of one or more minds. Berkeley's immaterialism is a position much along these lines.8

Idealists, Rescher says, disagree

over whether 'the mind'. . .is . . . emplaced outside of or behind nature (absolute idealism), or a nature-pervasive power of rationality of some sort (cosmic idealism), or the collective social mind of people-in-general (social idealism), or simply the distributive collection of individual minds (personal idealism).9 [p. 27]

He tells us that

. . . in recent times virtually all idealists have construed 'the mind' at issue in their theory as a matter of separate individual minds equipped with socially engendered resources. Idealism thus comes down to a view about the nature of reality as we can and do conceive of it. . . .10

Rescher provides rather cold comfort in assuring us that

Idealists need not deny matter -- they need not be immaterialists. The central point of their doctrine is simply that matter-as-we-know-it is something in whose nature traces of the operation of mind can be detected: that at least some of its aspects have to be seen as mind-originated: that matter has features that are inextricably rooted in the operations of mind. In the final analysis, any doctrine that denies the existence of in-principle unknowable 'things-in-themselves' and insists that the only reality there is is a potentially knowable reality is a form of idealism (seeing that its in-principle knowability will render reality mind coordinated).11

In answering the question of how an idealist upholds the fundamentality of mind, despite an assumed dependence of mind on matter, Rescher says that

while the mind's operations may indeed involve a causal dependency on the opera-[p. 28]tions of matter, this nowise prevents a reciprocal conceptual relationship through which the very conception of what matter is is something that the mind grasps in self-referential terms, thereby endowing matter with features modelled on the workings of minds. Thus while causal subordination moves from mind to matter, conceptual subordination moves from matter to mind. This particular sort of supervenience idealism averts many of the difficulties that afflict the doctrine's causal form. To be sure, it is a weak form of idealist doctrine that is, in the final analysis, compatible with a materialism that sees the operations of matter as the causal source of mental processes.12

Obviously, this type of idealism is far from what New Thoughters and probably most others have understood idealism to be -- a key to understanding all of reality as spiritual and to living fully. I shall be concerned with idealism in some of its more robust forms.13

In a 1975 study, Andrew J. Reck provides this traditional definition: "Idealism is that type of philosophy which affirms mind and its contents as ultimate reality."14 He proceeds to say:

. . . idealists are characteristically optimistic; they are convinced that the world exhibits a teleology or design favorable to human values, that purposiveness pervades the cosmic process, that, in some fundamental way, mind guides the events and actions within the world toward the attainment of desirable ends.15

Reck also quotes Maurice Mandelbaum, in defining idealism as "the belief that 'within natural human experience one can find the clue to an under-standing of the ultimate nature of reality, and this clue is revealed through those traits which distinguish man as a spiritual being.'"16

I emphasize the importance of natural human experience, as distinguished from mystical or other extra-ordinary experience. Although philosophy's slow, logical "ascent from below" may seem less dramatic than extraordinary experience, it may be more trustworthy than ecstatic experience, and may point to the same worldview. Mystical experience is beyond the scope of this paper, but I suggest that even mystical experience requires rational evaluation (however quickly that evaluation is accomplished, often apparently without being noticed) in order to convert it into at least supposed knowledge. I know that apparently John Miller and many others believe that mystical experience without interpre-tation gives knowledge. At the same time, it seems clear to me that although a sense of total unity is a wondrous experience that provides indispensable data, all data require interpretive recognition. Metaphysics is rational interpretation of experience that can give clues to the ultimate nature of reality.17

In the Spring 1996 issue of The Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion, Gage Chapel helpfully quotes a definition of idealism offered by Borden Parker Bowne, father of what sometimes is called Boston personalism, since it was championed most at Boston University:

The world of things can be defined and understood only as we give up the notion of an extra-mental reality altogether, and make the entire world a thought world; that is, a world that exists only through and in relation to intelligence. Mind is the [p. 30] only ontological reality.18

Chapel also draws on the historically oriented defi-nition of idealism given by Bowne's student (and teacher of some of my teachers), Edgar Sheffield Brightman (1884-1952):

We may say that idealism historically contains four main propositions: (1) Plato's (value is objective -- its meaning and origins lie beyond the human knower); (2) Berkeley's (reality is mental -- there is no non-mental being); (3) Hegel's (reality is organic -- wholes have properties which their parts do not have); and (4) Lotze's (reality is personal -- only persons or selves are real). Any system is idealistic which affirms one or more of these four propositions, provided Hegel's be included.19

This is a helpful presentation of elements found in various forms of metaphysical idealism, regardless of whether one agrees that any one of them would be sufficient to constitute idealism, or that Hegel's is indispensable. I shall treat idealism as saying that all is mind.

Mind as Experience

My second concern is with the understanding of mind as experience. Now that we have seen many references to mind, it is none too soon to ask what we mean, or ought to mean, by mind. I maintain that mind is best understood as experience, indeed only satisfactorily understood as experience. Although some people carefully distinguish different levels of reality by the terms mind, soul, and spirit, philosophers tend to use these names synonymously. [p. 31]

Many, probably most, references to mind seem to take it for granted that whatever mind is, it is some thing that thinks, remembers, feels, wills, imagines, perceives, judges, etc. I maintain that to think of mind as a thing is not very helpful. To do so is to indulge in picture-thinking, which should be avoided in philosophical thought. Any adequate understanding of mind has to be in terms of what it does, its activities. Anything else is speculation without ground to support it. Mind is a name for experiences; we know nothing else. Picturing mind as something like a dividing amoeba, or as the sea god Proteus taking various forms, is not helpful, nor is any simple assertion that the One can become many.

Charles Hartshorne emphasizes the importance of Plato's recognition of the soul (psyche) as self-moving. Hartshorne credits Plato with making it "almost clear that in his cosmology he is using the label 'psyche' to refer to [the processes of experiencing, thinking, remembering, feeling, willing], not necessarily to some entity behind the processes."20 In this century many people have been emphasizing that all concrete reality is experience, although not all of them have recognized that this view is a form of idealism.

Understanding mind as experience yields another definition of idealism, implied in Hartshorne's charac-terization of its opposite, materialism, as "the denial that the most pervasive processes of nature involve any such psychical functions as sensing, feeling, remembering, desiring, or thinking."21 Idealism, then, is the position that holds that some such psychical experiences (and all experiences are psychical) constitute concrete reality.

Types of All Metaphysics

My third concern is with types of metaphysics. Materialism maintains that everything is essentially non-mental. However, there are two other non-idealistic outlooks. One of them is dualism, which maintains that mind and matter (thought and extension in space) are [p. 32] equally real; and the other, less commonly encountered, outlook, called neutral monism,22 maintains that the ultimate reality is neither mind nor matter, but something that expresses itself as both mind and matter, as well as supposedly many other manifestations unknown to us. However, if we define mind as experience, this means that the purported neutral something is non-experiential, which puts it into the same category as materialism, although that is not the intent of neutral monists. What is most relevant to us in relation to recognizing idealism is that the purported neutral something is not ultimately mind.

So far I have been dealing with one side of this overall undertaking of metaphysical classification, the side concerned with the quality or nature of all that is. There is another side, which deals with quantity (how many, not what kind), with one and many. It is important to realize that monism (one-ism) and pluralism (many-ism) can apply both to quality and to quantity. Quali-tative monism says that there is only one kind of reality (mind, matter, or neutral). Qualitative pluralism says that there are many (or at least two, in the case of dualism) kinds of reality. Quantitative monism says that there is only one unit of reality. Quantitative pluralism says that there are many units of reality. If someone refers to monism or pluralism without making clear whether the reference is to "what kind" or to "how many," the meaning is unclear. Perhaps I should emphasize at this point that the first part of the title of this paper, "Pluralistic Idealism" (and I equally well could have called it "Idealistic Pluralism") refers to the type of metaphysics that maintains that basically everything is mental and that there are many minds, which are not parts of one mind (minds can -- and must -- be within other minds, without being parts of them); so my view is qualitatively monism of the idealistic type (only mind) and quantitatively pluralism of the idealistic type (many minds).23 [p. 33]

Traditionally, both idealists and materialists are qualitatively monistic, with (1) idealists maintaining that all is mind, spirit, experience, and (2) materialists, on the other side of the fence, claiming that all is matter, lifeless energy. Idealists then divide themselves into those who say that there is only one mind and those who say that there are many minds.The names for the positions that they hold are, respectively, absolutism, and pluralism. (All materialists are quantitative pluralists, since there are obviously many units of matter.)

Types of Idealism

My fourth concern is with the several overall types of idealism. Variety abounds not only in definitions of idealism but also in types of idealism. Related to the question "Is reality one or many?" is the question "Is reality basically personal or impersonal?" Unfortunately, the terms person and personal are used variously. As Bowne, Brightman, and other Boston personalists use them, they refer to a high-level self that is self-conscious, rational, and purposive, whereas lesser selves are conscious at lower levels of complexity. On the other hand, some philosophers, such as Mary Whiton Calkins,24 use personal to refer to any level of self, as distinguished from mere ideas or other mental realities that Hume, in his phenomenalism or ideaism, and some other philosophers consider capable of being apart from a self that has them. Thus, philosophers with conflicting views on some important metaphysical questions may be lumped together as personalists. I believe that selfism would be a better term for personalism in this broader sense.

Brightman presents five types of idealism, some of which I shall consider below:25

1. Platonism

2. Absolutism

3. Berkeleianism or immaterialism

4. Panpsychism

5. Personalism [p. 34]


My fifth concern is with absolutism and its adequacy or inadequacy. Brightman characterizes absolutism

. . . [as] the conception that true reality is essentially one mind which "somehow" includes and explains all the variety of being disclosed in experience. It is both qualitative and quantitative monism. In the Orient, this view was set forth in ancient times in that part of the Vedas of India known as the Upanishads. The most famous philosophical exponent of Hindu absolutism (or "non-dualism," as the Hindus call it) is Shankara (788-820). . . . In Greece, Parmenides [c. 515-c. 450 BCE], with his doctrine of The One, anticipated absolutism, but its most brilliant interpreter was the Neoplatonist Plotinus, who, like Shankara, combined philosophical idealism and its coherent systematization with mysticism. In more recent times, one form of absolutism appears in Spinoza, but the most typical and original absolutist was Hegel, who had an immense influence on nineteenth- and twentieth-century thought. For him, the Absolute is one rational mind, forever in process of dialectical development, and including within itself all reason, all nature, all sciences, history, art, religion, and philosophy. Absolutism seems akin to pantheism, the doctrine that God is all, but most absolutists dislike the identi-fication. In the United States, Josiah Royce [1855-1916] and Mary W. Calkins [1863-1930] were famous absolutists.26 [p. 35]

Perhaps Brightman used the words "akin to pantheism" since pantheism says that God is all or all is God, whereas absolutists have been reluctant to identify the Absolute with God, at least in the sense of a personal being (not human, but having the qualities of self-consciousness, rationality, and purposiveness in utmost degrees). Absolutists are very reluctant to admit a personal God into the position of ultimacy. "God, as both [Francis Herbert] Bradley [1846-1924] and [Bernard] Bosanquet [1848-1923] [British Hegelians] agree, is an 'appearance,' though ranking high in the order of appearances."27

The place of the finite person in the Absolute is no less a problem than the generally nonexistent place for a personal God. With regard to this, Cunningham distinguishes two kinds of absolutism; he reserves the term absolutism for "thoroughgoing" monism (represented by Bradley and Bosanquet), and gives the term personalistic absolutism to the absolutism (represented by Andrew Seth Pringle-Pattison [1856-1931] and Josiah Royce) that recognizes

uniqueness [as] an essential feature of the human mind which must be retained even in the conception of its relation to the Absolute, since to remove this character is to destroy the individual.28

He emphasizes that the difference between the two views is the relative emphasis placed on the unique-ness of finite human selves. The thoroughgoing absolutist considers them "adjectival" to the Absolute, whereas the personalistic absolutist considers them "substantival" in nature, with its uniqueness "retained even in its relation to the all-encompassing whole."29 (These idealists seem to have been unaware of the panentheistic option, which appears to be what the personalistic absolutist, is at [p. 36] least pointing toward.)

Cunningham proceeds to say that both absolutist camps have "a serious logical difficulty involved in the conception of the relation between the finite self and the Absolute."30 For the thoroughgoing absolutist "the finite self falls so far into the Absolute that its fate is unpredictable," and this type of absolutist recognizes this as a "question [that] in the end cannot be answered." For the personalistic absolutist, there is the uniqueness of the finite self, "which to the end apparently remains external." The relation of finite selves and Absolute is, on the one side, too great and, on the other, too little "to be readily intelligible." So neither type of absolutism is satisfactory. It would seem that, except for commitment to belief in a timeless Absolute, the personalistic abso-lutist would have little reason for not embracing pluralistic idealism.

William R. Sorley (1855-1935) in his Moral Values and the Idea of God challenges the absolutists with his observation:

A view of the infinite, or of the whole, must be judged by the adequacy of the explanation which it is able to give of the finite or of the parts. . . . [H]ow the absolute One can manifest itself in a finite many -- is not a whit easier to understand than the doctrine of creation or any other substitute for it. But particular things undoubtedly exist in some fashion; and, when their existence is explained by the theory that they are modes of a single absolute reality, what we have to do is to enquire how this explanation [accounts for] their particularity and their differences from one another.31 [p. 37]

After considerable thought, especially in relation to the possible place of morality in the Absolute, he concludes that in absolutism

. . . when the goal is reached, we are absorbed in a Being beyond good and evil; and, knowing that all things are in essence one, we may well be indifferent to the claims of one event rather than another in the illusion which we call the world.32

Leading to a similar conclusion by a different route, and among the many arguments pro and con that I scarcely can examine in this paper is a rather charming one by George Holmes Howison (1834-1916), who claimed that alternative interpretations of absolutism lead either to solipsism or to "a pantheism which logically negates the moral nature of finite individuals."33

I believe that the "personalistic absolutist" is trying to have his or her cake and eat it too. Asserting that all is God is psychologically satisfying and inspiringly useful in practice, but the rational difficulties with it are simply too great; only by abandoning philosophy can one remain an absolutist who also says that the ultimate can be both one and many, as distinguished from simply containing the many, as panentheism maintains.

It is easy to say that the Absolute somehow individualizes itself as free, responsible beings, but it is impossible to explain how this can occur, or even to make logical, linguistic sense of the assertion. It appears that many New Thoughters and others are in this category. Although they believe in a God of love, in freedom, and in personal immortality, and they speak and act as if they themselves were real and in a relationship with a God of love that is not identity, they nonetheless continue, in the face of common consciousness and Occam's Razor, to affirm that there is nothing but a God who (or that) is all [p. 38] and is completely omnipotent. Most likely, their adherence to at least some of the tenets of absolutism is because of the psychological power of affirming total unity with an invincible ultimate, to say nothing of their lack of awareness that there are better alternatives provided by various forms of pluralistic idealism. One should not confuse a psychological feeling of certainty -- even that found in mystical experience -- with metaphysical truth.34

My overall conclusion about absolutism is that it expresses an essential and commendable drive toward unity, but in the end it is incoherent. Although the emotional experience of unity is psychologically powerful, it is metaphysically unacceptable. We might consider it a useful fiction. Fortunately, there is no need to agonize over this, for there are views that dispense with the need for absolutist mental gymnastics while retaining the full adequacy of God.

Types of Pluralistic Idealism

This brings me to my sixth concern, the types within pluralistic idealism. Although aspects of idealism can be found in Plato, Plotinus, and others -- and Christianity's belief in creation out of nothing was a step toward spirituality -- it was only with the work of Enlightenment philosophers Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) and George Berkeley (1685-1753) that full-scale idealism was reached, in reducing matter to pheno- menality, appearance.

Berkeley did not accept the full multiplicity of reality pointed to by Leibniz. Berkeley was the butt of many attacks by critics of idealism, many of whom have dismissed his famous "to be is to be perceived" as unworthy of serious consideration. It has been remarked that nobody has believed Berkeley, but nobody has refuted him. In fact, many brilliant people have believed at least the essence of what he maintained. Brightman recounts, [p. 39]

[Berkeley] constructed his idealism...on a simple appeal to immediate experience [in which] he found two factors, which he called spirits and ideas. Spirits [God and ourselves] are active; they are persons who will and think. Ideas are "passive and inert"; they are sensations and exist only in spirits. When we see, touch, and hear physical things, we are really experiencing ideas and nothing else. Hence, the whole universe consists of nothing but spirits (human and divine) and their ideas. Nature is God's ideas communicated to us as a "divine language."35

A famous limerick by Ronald Knox relates to Berkeley:

There was a young man who said, "God
Must think it exceedingly odd
If he finds that this tree
Continues to be
When there's no one about in the Quad."

Dear Sir:
Your astonishment's odd:
I am always about in the Quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by
Yours faithfully,

Both Berkeleianism and Boston personalism hold that nature is God's activity, whereas persons are experi-encers created by God and distinct from God.

When I refer to myself as a personalist, I mean only that I consider person to be the ultimate explanatory [p. 40] principle, the highest rationally conceivable state of reality, the nature of the ultimate being. I do not accept all the details of personalism, particularly its understanding of nature as the energizing of God. Brightman says of personalism:

The essence of it is that the universe is a society of intercommunicating selves or persons, of which God is the creative center. The world of nature consists of one realm of divine experience, ordered (or created) by God's will. Personalism is theistic, freedomistic, and empirical ...37

Hartshorne has maintained, "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."38

John H. Lavely, one of Brightman's students and one of my teachers, emphasizes that according to person-alism, although persons are dependent on God, they are real, as distinguished from the position of Absolutism, in which they have the status of mere "differentiations" of the Absolute.39

On a scale of increasing numbers of units of reality, we have: only the Absolute one, for absolutism; God and God-created persons for personalism; and now, for the remainder of this paper, a huge number of personal and subpersonal selves, for panpsychism.

Brightman characterizes panpsychism as

regard[ing] physical nature, and especially organic nature, as made up of vast aggre-gates of tiny psychical units, called monads by Leibniz . . . , and psychoids or cells by others. A.N. Whitehead, one of the greatest modern panpsychists, called his units "actual occasions" [and other names, [p. 41] including "occasions of experience"] . . . He taught that each occasion "prehends" or feels all other occasions. Thus he provides for both teleology and interaction. Although he thought of himself as a realist, his doctrine of occasions places him among panpsychist idealists. There are numerous other representatives of this type of idealism, such as Charles Hartshorne.40

The essentials of Hartshorne's philosophy constitute the kind of idealism that I consider most adequate. In terms of its early origins, it seems fair to call this outlook broadly Leibnizian. Hartshorne explains:

Leibniz was the first very great philos-opher 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 indi-viduals, 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.41

Hartshorne emphasizes:

Of the dualities connected with psychicalism, the key one for me is, singular [p. 42] 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.42

Traditional panpsychism is a form of substance philosophy, maintaining that there are realities that act and exist selfsame over considerable periods of time, which is to say, through change. The new Whiteheadian-Hartshornean panpsychism, or psychicalism, as Hartshorne prefers to call it, is a form of process thought, holding that events, experiences, and momentarily-developing minds are the only concrete realities. Sometimes this outlook is called panexperientialism, since all actuality is experience. (It also is called process-relational thought, inasmuch as it emphasizes the interrelationships of everything, with all earlier experiences being within all later experiences.) To understand the workings of any experience is to recognize that neither God nor any other experience can be or become anything other than him/her/itself, despite including (prehending, feeling) all earlier experiences and influencing all later experiences, in widely varying degrees. Thus process thought vanquishes metaphysical Absolutism.

Perhaps the most helpful way of approaching the new process-oriented panpsychism is by way of consid-ering some of the background out of which it emerged.

George R. Lucas, Jr., places Hartshorne's type of pluralistic process idealism in the context of major movements of thought of 18th and 19th century Europe, including early anti-materialistic "evolutionary cosmologists," culminating in Diderot and including such figures as Lamarck and Goethe. Schelling carried on this [p. 43] tendency in his support of "a mystical Romantic conception of Nature as the infinite and restless self-activity of a living, organic Whole."43 Hegel rejected Schellings's romanticist approach and biological evolution, but appreciated Goethe's physical and biological theories and in general a processive approach. Nevertheless, Hegel developed a kind of "organic teleology" or "organic mechanism" in place of Galileo's and Newton's meta-physics of mechanism and causal determinism.

Conservative interpreters of Hegel's thought, such as J.M.E. McTaggart (1866-1925) and Bradley,

retained principally the notions of organi- cism, teleology, and interconnectedness, while extensively downplaying the more disturbing notions of finite freedom, novelty and creativity, contingency, tempo- ral flux and becoming.44

It was this conservative Hegelianism that early twentieth-century philosophical realists attacked. Unwit-tingly, these critics were recapturing some of the thought of the early Hegel. Although realism can be used as a synonym for materialism, here it refers primarily, at least, to a theory of knowledge, about the nature of the knower and the known. The realists rejected any belief that objects of which we are aware are in any way dependent on our awareness of them, such as Berkeley's statement, "to be is to be perceived" claimed. Although the realists more or less killed off absolute idealism in academia (or at least were important in discouraging new absolutists from arising as the old ones died off), the realists disagreed among themselves as to what they did believe, and the realist movement gradually waned. Such academic idealists as remained tended to be pluralists rather than monists, quantitatively speaking. [p.45]

Alfred North Whitehead saw himself as a realist, but at the same time he adopted a panpsychist outlook. [p. 44] He accepted the turn-of-the-century discovery of the quantum nature of energy, and reinterpreted each quantum as living -- as possessing at least elementary life, consisting of creativity, aim, and enjoyment, however rudimentary or exalted. In short, physics shows that process, rather than enduring substance, is the nature of the universe. Whitehead incorporated this truth into a comprehensive philosophy applying to all of reality, including God. Lucas calls it "a coherent synthesis of critical realism and idealism, incorporating many of the main insights of the original process school of evolutionary cosmology."45

Hartshorne reached the essentials of his philos-ophy even before reading Whitehead and becoming Whitehead's assistant at Harvard. Hartshorne already had traditional idealistic commitments to God, society, and community. Lucas says that Hartshorne "is the chief heir of a process tradition which he received primarily from the later pluralistic and personalistic idealists."46 He gained from Whitehead

highly technical notions of epochalism [the quantum nature of reality], temporal asymmetry [the past influences the present, but not vice versa], and prehension [the feeling--reception--that each experience has of all earlier experiences], [which] provided Hartshorne with more precise conceptual and linguistic equipment with which to render intelligible his idealistic commitments to internal relatedness and theism, and suggested how he might simultaneously develop precise analytical concepts of finite freedom and individual creativity while adhering to the more traditional idealist notions of community, society, and God.47 [p. 45]

What I have said in the last few pages gives little or no more than a hint of the richness of Hartshorne's process panentheism. However, it may be enough to encourage a few people to look more deeply into this resource for -- among other things -- reconceptualizing New Thought. Its conception of God is one of breathtaking beauty. Here is an unquestionably personal, loving, encouraging God, who yet includes within Godself the entire universe, perfectly remembering forever every experience that ever occurred, without negating any of them. Here is a God who not only numbers every hair on every head but presents to each of the vast number of experiences in each hair the perfect plan for cooperating with all other experiences. Here is the God whom Whitehead described as "the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness"48 and "the great companion -- the fellow-sufferer who understands."49

Here is an all-inclusive philosophical system with such immense explanatory power as to dwarf any metaphysical absolutism. (I'm tempted to say that I'd believe it for its beauty -- its elegance -- regardless of anything else.) No longer is it sufficient (not that it ever was) just to say that God creates (or emanates, if one were to accept that dreadful option) and offer no explanation of how this takes place. We never can get entirely beyond mystery (and some say that this is the essence of what mystery means), but in this philosophy it is minimized probably as much as is humanly possible. At worst, it is familiar mystery, encountered in one's own life every day. It is the mystery or "miracle" by which any person conceives an idea, makes a suggestion, and another experiencer (personal or sub-personal) accepts or rejects it.

This process panentheism solves the mystery of creation through the arrangement that I have summa-rized in the book that my wife, Deb Whitehouse, and I have written, New Thought: A Practical American [p. 46] Spirituality, in my co-creation formula: PAST + DIVINE OFFER + CHOICE = CO-CREATION.50 The way that the momentarily developing experience has access to the past and to God's offer of perfectly relevant possibilities is through feeling all earlier feelings (most of which are practically irrelevant). In other words, all that ever has been is included in each later experience. This explains extrasensory perception and how one experience can help to cause -- influence -- a later one. All experiences at all levels of existence must reckon with the presence of the past, but all developing experiences have some degree of freedom to choose God-given possibilities for departing from the pattern of the past.

This method of creating is so utterly basic that it must be that it always has been, and always will be, forever unchanging. This means that creativity had no beginning; God never created unilaterally; there never has been anything but co-creating. God has always had a body, a universe of some sort. Thus, God never was alone; there has always been both divine and finite experiencing. God has always been the leader of a flock of often-fickle followers with an enormous range of complexity, in which human beings are, I hope, somewhere in the higher levels. There has always been and always will be a universe of some sort, come Big Bangs, Big Crunches, or anything else. Although Hartshorne doubts it, Whitehead affirms the likelihood that natural laws are habits that evolve slowly (at least at this stage of cosmic evolution) and allow for worlds vastly different from anything that we can imagine.

Of our three Kantian ethical necessities, God, freedom, and personal immortality, our process outlook provides for each in full measure (certainly more than any version of absolutism does!). Hartshorne limits his own expectation to objective immortality, the everlastingness of each experience, enjoyed with everlasting clarity only by God.51 Even this is better than the somewhat similar position of absolutists who believe "that individual [p. 47] persons . . . are evanescent and transitory compared with spiritual . . . [values] rooted in the whole nature of things -- in the Absolute."52 John Cobb53 and others of us who are indebted to Hartshorne have no difficulty finding in process thought a firm foundation for belief in personal immortality, the ongoingness of the line of "serial selfhood," as I call it, after the death of the body, and, I add, despite any number of bodily deaths. Probably it needs no saying that freedom is the requirement for choice in the co-creation that characterizes all of concrete reality.

Practical Values of a Process Pluralistic Idealism

My seventh and final concern is with the practical values of a process pluralistic idealism. David Ray Griffin in Founders of Constructive Postmodern Philosophy points to a connection between substance and selfishness. He says that if we think of ourselves as continuing sub-stances, rather than series of momentarily developing selves, "our relations to our own past and future would be absolutely different in kind from our relations to other people," and therefore, he claims, it would be "meta-physically impossible that we could in principle love our neighbors as ourselves." He maintains that if we adopt a substance view of selfhood, "our relative selfishness will tend to become as close to absolute selfishness as possible." However, he assures us:

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 [p. 48] principle, love other people in the same way as we love ourselves.54

Another process-orientation advantage, in connec- tion with its elimination of belief in the literal omnipotence of God (which would be inconsistent with the freedom and power that we all enjoy), is:

. . . 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.55

Hartshorne, in writing on "Value and Sympathy as the Keys to Power: The Final Mystery," refers to the relationship of one to his or her body:

. . . 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.56

Intrinsic value gives power.57 [p. 49]

He also explains:

Theologically applied, the principle explains the quality and scope of God's influence. . . . God charms every creature irresistibly to whatever extent is com-patible with that creature's level of freedom. Plato and Aristotle hint at such an idea; but they did not realize that the highest intrinsic value must be the value of the most perfect and inclusive form of love. Because God loves each creature better than it or its fellows can love it, the creature, even though it is necessarily partly self-creative, cannot but make some response to the divine love.58

In my little book, A Guide to the Selection and Care of Your Personal God,59 and somewhat modified in Healing Hypotheses,60 I offer many practical implications of a process New Thought. Here is a condensed revision of them.
1. You, the universe, and God are new every moment.
2. You can make a significant new departure at any time. You can be burdened by the past much less than you probably believe.
3. There is no reason for you to regret "your" past. You were not there: the you of that moment is one of the ancestors of the you of this moment.
4. No effort ever is wasted. All occasions of experience, including you, become objectively immortal when they complete their split-second subjective careers, and thereafter they influence everything forever, in some degree.
5. Cooperation is essential. Unless something that you are committed to doing takes no more than a [p. 50] small fraction of a second, you are only a fleeting part of a relatively long cooperative program of many generations of experiences, and involving other lines of development. The entire universe is involved in any act.
6. You can't take it with you beyond your fraction of a second of awareness as a subject. However, nothing that you have ever done is lost. It will be forever in God and in your successors, who in some degree will identify with you (however wisely or foolishly), most likely both before and after death.
7. You can afford to risk everything, to go for broke, in providing your greatest momentary satisfaction and the best background out of which your successors will arise. It is foolish to settle for less than the best, which is what God always offers.
8. Love is ultimate, both in God's offering of the best possibilities to all developing experiences and in our giving of ourselves to others, whether bearing our names or others.
9. Understanding God as the ultimate lure for feeling, we appreciate the power of gentleness and the futility of force. Here is no anthropomorphic God, nor yet a mere principle. The one to whom we ultimately respond is the ultimate Person, utterly impartial and perfectly loving. Embracing this God can serve, additionally, as a bridge to the Western religions that reject any pantheism.
10. We can understand all kinds of prayer and other treatment, ranging from taking an aspirin or undergoing surgery to affirmation or visualization, as ways of enriching the immediate pasts of occasions (usually people) being helped. Treatment does this by reducing the discrepancies between their negative pasts and the possibilities presented by God, enabling new experiences to opt for God's perfect plans more easily than they could otherwise. This obviously dispenses with any need for theorizing that God or any part of God acts in a mechanical, deductive way. God is the initiator and we the responders with regard to any moment in question (although God [p. 51] adjusts aims to fit one's situation in relation to past selections made by one's predecessors.)
11. Evil is the acceptance of lesser possibilities [influences of the past] than God's offers. Any creation is good to the extent that it converts potentiality to actuality. But backward-looking, less-than-perfect blends are of less value than are more positive selections, both to the occasion in question and to God in God's forming of the most beautiful whole. Evil always is about might-have-beens, about the way that we wish that things had been.
12. All concrete, actual, reality is growing, evolving, in flux. The panentheistic, all-inclusive personal God is never changing in loving, divine character, but is always expanding in experience. This is an awesome vision of an open future.

Your understanding and power to accomplish whatever you choose is enhanced greatly by acceptance of (a) mysticism's experience of unity with God, meaning full acceptance of the aims offered by God to each experience, not loss but transformation of finite selfhood; (b) personalism's awareness of the centrality of personality as the ultimate level of reality; (c) process thought's comprehension of the nature of the creative advance; and (d) New Thought's use of constructive techniques for achieving wholeness in all aspects of daily living. The outcome is a comprehensive approach to existence guided not only directly by God but indirectly by holding a clearly intelligible and inspiring version of pluralistic idealism. There never has been, never will be, never could be, any unilateral creation, emanation, or other form of produc-tion of newness without the contributions of both God and the very many lesser units of reality.

I invite you to explore for yourself this exciting, twenty-first-century-oriented synergy of ideas. [p. 52]


1. That idealism is the philosophical foundation of New Thought is almost universally accepted, but it has been challenged recently by Paul A. Laughlin, "Re-Turning East: Watering the Withered Oriental Roots of New Thought," Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion, 3:2 (Fall 1997), 113-133.

He cites Dell deChant ("Welcome, Dialogue and Distinction: The Journal of Popular Religious Idealism, Theology, and Culture 2:2 [Spring 1997]: 39-48), Charles S. Braden (Spirits in Rebellion: The Rise and Development of New Thought, [Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press, 1963]), and me (Contrasting Strains of Metaphysical Idealism Contributing to New Thought, Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion Monograph #1, 1991, available on the World Wide Web at"; for links directly and indirectly leading to many other relevant writings, see as believers that New Thought is founded philosophically on idealism, but points to J. Stillson Judah (The History and Philosophy of the Metaphysical Movements in America, [Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1967]) as recognizing an Eastern neutral monism. However, it seems to me that Judah was equating idealism and Hindu monism. Certainly, he made no point of contrasting the two.

Interestingly enough, Laughlin could have cited Dresser's criticism of Evans for moving from Swedenborginism to idealism, in Horatio W. Dresser, A History of the New Thought Movement (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1919), 94-96. Dresser explains the use of the term metaphysics as "a practical idealism emphasizing mental or spiritual causality in contrast with the prevalent materialism, or the assumption that matter possesses independent life and intelligence." Ibid., 142. Dresser, in his Handbook of the New Thought (New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1917), 24, says, "The implied philosophy is a species of idealism of the practical type," presumably such as his empirical "constructive idealism," the title of the concluding chapter of his Man and the Divine Order: Essays in the Philosophy of [p. 53] Religion and in Constructive Idealism (New York and London: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1903).

In my third concern in this paper I make the point that the essence of idealism is that all actuality is experience, and if the only alternative to experience is nonexperience (belief in which is the essence of materialism), the difference between neutral monism and materialism is questionable, to say the least; no doubt, the neutral monist would claim that there is some option between experience and nonexperience.

On the subordination of any metaphysics to experience, see Borden P. Bowne's pamphlet Philosophy of Christian Science (New York: Eaton & Mains and Cincinnati: Jennings & Graham, no date).

2. John Miller, "Prolegomena to Philosophical Idealism," The Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion 3 (Spring 1997): 23-39.

3. I am not attempting to justify either criterion; I consider their value to be more or less self-evident. I am adding personal to one of Kant's postulates of practical reason in order to distinguish it from the objective immortality of great importance in process philosophy

4. G. Watts Cunningham, The Idealistic Argument in Recent British and American Philosophy (New York and London: The Century Company, 1933), 337.

5. Ibid., 339.

6. Ibid., 340.

7. Nicholas Rescher, "Idealism," in Jaegwon Kim and Ernest Sosa (eds.), A Companion to Metaphysics (Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 227.

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid., 227-28.

12. Ibid., 228.

13. This dismissive or diminishing sort of approach to idealism is reminiscent of Stow Persons, American Minds: A History of Ideas (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1958), 421, saying that in the face of growing naturalism, "Idealism was driven underground during the latter part of the nineteenth century, to become the peculiar property of clergymen, professors, and women. But it could not be suppressed entirely, and it broke out in bizarre or partially [p. 54] disciplined forms, such as New Thought or Christian Science."

14. Andrew J. Reck, "Idealism in American Philosophy since 1900," John Howie and Thomas O. Buford (eds.), Contemporary Studies in Philosophical Idealism (Cape Cod, MA: Claude Stark & Co., 1975), 17.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., citing Maurice Mandelbaum, History, Man, & Reason: A Study in Nineteenth-Century Thought (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971), 6; emphasis mine.

17. One definition of philosophy is "thinking which seeks to discover connected truth about all available experience." Edgar Sheffield Brightman, An Introduction to Philosophy, 2nd ed. (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1951), 5.

18. Gage Chapel, "Christian Science and America's Tradition of Philosophical Idealism," The Journal of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion 2:1 (Spring 1996): 51, citing Borden P. Bowne, Metaphysics (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1898), 423.

19. Ibid., 54, n. 5, citing Edgar Sheffield Brightman, "The Definition of Idealism," Journal of Philosophy 30 (June 1933): 432.

20. Charles Hartshorne, Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers: An Evaluation of Western Philosophy (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1983), 23.

21. Ibid., 17.

22. Paul Snowdon's entry on neutral monism, particularly in relation to James and Russell, in Ted Honderich (ed.), The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (edited by; New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 617, notes, "It never became popular both because no proper characterization of the basic neutral stuff could be given, and because it had some tendency to appear as a notational variant on idealism." In Ernest Holmes: His Life and Times (New York: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1970), 137, Fenwicke L. Holmes says of his brother, "It was Troward's proclamation of a neutral principle that excited and inspired Ernest's mind." This was the "Law."

23. Roland Hall in his article "Monism and Pluralism" in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 5:363-65, uses for qualitative the term attributive, and for quantitative the term [p. 55] substantival, referring to how many substances there are believed to be.

24. Mary Whiton Calkins, The Persistent Problems of Philosophy: An Introduction to Metaphysics through the Study of Modern Systems, 5th ed., (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1925), 10, presents a helpful chart of "The Representative Modern Philosophers (through Hegel)." The essence of it, somewhat revised by me, is:


Qualitatively Pluralistic (Dualistic): Descartes and Locke

Qualitatively Monistic:

Non-idealistic [materialistic]: Hobbes


Spiritualistic [personalistic, "consciousness (as) a self or selves being conscious," "selfist"]: Leibniz and Berkeley [and the Boston Personalists and Hartshorne; Hartshorne has some affinity to Hume, insofar as selves are serial rather than substantive, but Hartshorne's selves are unified, so Hartshorne belongs here.]

Phenomenalistic [ideistic, "consciousness as mere succes-sion of ideas"]: Hume


Qualitatively Pluralistic [or neutral monism, in relation to the claimed underlying substance]: Spinoza

Qualitatively Monistic: Idealistic and Spiritualistic: Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer.

25. Brightman, An Introduction to Philosophy, 2nd ed., 290. The third edition (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1963) revised by Robert N. Beck, adds existentialism, on the grounds that the leading existentialists were much indebted to idealism (even when denouncing it) and that they emphasize human subjectivity, values as experiences of persons, and individual responsibility (Ibid., 313).

26. Ibid. (2nd ed.), 291-92.

27. R. F. Alfred Hoernle, Idealism as a Philosophy (New York: George H. Doran Company, 1927), 313-14. See also Huston Smith's remarks on God as "a limited aspect of Godhead" in David Ray Griffin and Huston Smith, Primordial Truth and Postmodern Theology (Albany: State University of [p. 56] New York Press, 1989)., 167. On this page Smith also concedes that his absolutist, primordialist, perennialist, mystic outlook exceeds the bounds of logic. Cf. Hartshorne in Lewis Edwin Hahn (ed.), The Philosophy of Charles Hartshorne, The Library of Living Philosophers Vol. 20 (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1991), 628.

28. Cunningham, op. cit., 342.

29. Ibid., 343 for each of the quotations in this paragraph.

30. Ibid., 342 for each of the quotations in this paragraph except the final one, which is from 343.

31. W[illiam]. R. Sorley, Moral Values and the Idea of God, 2nd ed. (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1921), 383-84.

32. Ibid., 399.

33. Cunningham, op. cit., 303.

34. See Deborah G. Whitehouse, "How Many Is One?" at

35. Brightman, op.cit., 2nd ed., 292.

36. Bertrand Russell, A History of Western Philosophy (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1945), 648.

37. Brightman, op. cit., 2nd ed., 293.

38. Charles Hartshorne, "The New Pantheism," Part II, The Christian Register, 115 (Feb. 27, 1936): 143.

39. John H. Lavely, "What is Personalism?," The Personalist Forum 7 (Fall 1991): 14. Reck says, ". . . in its most dynamic contemporary form idealism, having overcome absolutism and taking nourishment from the temporalism of process philosophy, has culminated in personalism." Reck, op.cit., 48.

40. Brightman, op. cit., 2nd ed., 292-93. See also Charles Hartshorne, "Panpsychism," Vergilius Ferm (ed.), A History of Philosophical Systems (New York: The Philo-sophical Library, 1950), Ch. 35, 442-53.

41. Hartshorne, Insights and Oversights, 131.

42. Charles Hartshorne, "A Reply to my Critics," Hahn, op. cit., 691.

43. George R. Lucas, Jr., "Hartshorne and the Development of Process Philosophies" in Hahn, op. cit., 513.

44. Ibid., 514.

45. Ibid., 522. Hartshorne offers his own neatly expressed blend of realism and idealism in his "realistic [p. 57] idealism." The following is from Charles Hartshorne, edited with an introduction by Mohammad Valady, The Zero Fallacy and Other Essays in Neoclassical Philosophy (Chicago and La Salle, Illinois, 1997), 138-39; originally published as "The Synthesis of Idealism and Realism," in Theoria (Sweden) 15, 1949, 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 asserts 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.

John Foster, The Case for Idealism, International Library of Philosophy, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982), 14, gives the following with regard to realism: [p. 58] [The chart found on p. 58 does not lend itself to reproduction here.]

46. Lucas, op. cit., 522.

47. Ibid. Hartshorne says:

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, [sic] Peirce hints strongly in the same direction and so does Bergson. Hahn, op. cit., 700.

I cannot overemphasize the importance of the actions of God's love as initial aims for all existence. Every experience feels this loving, luring divine influence; and that feeling, by a developing experience, of the completed feeling of earlier experiences, is what is meant by saying that a later experience includes all earlier experiences (minds). Experiences respond to divine love to the extent possible for the experiences' complexity (ranging from relatively simple awareness that we cannot imagine adequately to such complex consciousness as we know, and probably to much more advanced awareness beyond our ken). It is not adequate to think of space as ordinarily understood, for space is the name for the coexistence of experiences. Hartshorne asks, "And what is [p. 59] spatiality? Leibniz gave the answer: space is how the psychical, the only, actualities coexist. It is how one has neighbors as well as ancestors." The Zero Fallacy and Other Essays in Neoclassical Philosophy, 161. Hartshorne also notes that "space is a complication of time, not vice versa." "A Reply to my Critics," Hahn, op. cit., 631.

48. Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1929), 526. See also, Corrected Edition, David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne (eds.), (New York: The Free Press, 1978), 346.

49. Ibid., 532; Griffin and Sherburne, 351.

50. C. Alan Anderson and Deborah G. Whitehouse, New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality (New York: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995), 109.

51. Charles Hartshorne, The Logic of Perfection and Other Essays in Neoclassical Metaphysics (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court Publishing Company, 1962), Ch. 10, "Time, Death, and Everlasting Life."

52. Hoernle, op. cit., 314-15.

53. John B. Cobb, Jr., A Christian Natural Theology (Philadelphia: Westminster Pres, 1965), 66-67. See also Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, The End of Evil: Process Eschatology in Historical Context (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), Ch. 5, "Subjective Immortality."

54. 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), 222; all quotations from Griffin in this paper are from the section "The Practical Importance of Explicit Metaphysical Beliefs," 221-23, of his chapter, "Charles Hartshorne." See also Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1984), Ch. 4, "Equal Love for Self and Other, All-Love for the All-Loving," especially 108.

55. Griffin, 222.

56. Charles Hartshorne, Omnipotence and Other Theological Mistakes, 80.

57. Ibid., 81.

58. Ibid.

59. C. Alan Anderson, A Guide to the Selection and [p. 60] Care of Your Personal God (Canton, Mass.: Squantum Press, 1991), 46-49

60. C. Alan Anderson, Healing Hypotheses: Horatio W. Dresser and the Philosophy of New Thought (New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc., 1993), Appendix O, 413-17.

C. Alan Anderson is a Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Curry College. He is a founding member of the Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion and a member of the Executive Board of the International New Thought Alliance. His most recent book (coauthored with Deborah Whitehouse) is New Thought: A Practical American Spirituality. He is a Consulting Editor of JSSMR.

For relatively simple writings related to this paper see:

"How God Can Be Everywhere Without Being Everything," a talk summarizing the essence of "Pluralistic Idealism."

"How Many Is One?", a talk by Deb Whitehouse, providing bachground for understanding "Pluralistic Idealism."

Many other writings by Anderson and Whitehouse are linked to the New Thought Movement Home Page.

Society for the Study of Metaphysical Religion

Created Jan 31, 1999
by Alan Anderson
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Additional links added Feb. 1, 1999