For many philosophical thinkers down through the centuries, the notion of a creation out of sheer nothing has been found to be quite unintelligible. Nevertheless the idea of creation preserves an important insight and needs to be freed from the difficulties of this traditional formulation. Alfred North Whitehead has offered an alternative theory of creation worth exploring: each individual actuality creates itself out of prior creative acts. God then serves to direct this creative process.
WHILE THERE ARE MANY AFFINITIES between classical and process theism, the differences are more startling and more difficult to cope with. Process thought departs from received wisdom in at least three principal ways.
Gottfried Martin has recently reminded us of a useful distinction between two possible ways of doing metaphysics. We may proceed by framing a “theory of principles” or by proposing a “theory of being”. Aristotle explicitly formulates both possibilities as the task of metaphysics, formulating a theory of principles in his doctrine of the four types of causal explanation in the first book of the Metaphysics, while exploring the theory of being in a number of other passages, such as Book I, (...) chapters 6 and 9; Book X, chapter 2; and Book XIII. These passages do not elaborate principles whereby we can analyze the structure of certain entities, be they causes, substances or forms, but rather concern themselves with the ontological status of these entities—in what sense can they be said to be? In Plato this distinction is more implicit, but we may contrast the theory of forms developed in the Phaedo and the Republic with the subsequent probing investigation of the being of these forms in the Parmenides and the Sophist. Kant “explicitly claims to have discovered and presented a complete and necessary system of the basic concepts and principles. The proof of the completeness and necessity of this system is the aim of the middle part of the Critique of Pure Reason, the Transcendental Analytic.” Yet. (shrink)
If pantheism is by definition the belief in impersonal deity, then there is little point in exploring any inter-connection with personalistic theism. Theism would exclude pantheism, and pantheism theism. To be sure, there are strong reasons why pantheism has insisted upon divine impersonality, and these need to be explored and assessed. That is our task in the first part of the paper, while the second part will introduce a way of considering the correlation of pantheism and theism in a new (...) light. It will presuppose a different way of understanding the temporal modalities, but for the time being, in this first part, we shall make the ordinary assumption that only the present is fully real. The past is no longer, and the future is not yet. (shrink)
Many readers of Process and Reality have felt the absence of a robust theory of efficient causation in Whitehead’s final position. There have been numerousremedies proposed, including Whitehead’s own , but all of them fail to make what to me is a crucial distinction between creative and noncreative forms of activity. The activity of the superject, the basis for causal activity, is derived from the creativity of concrescence, but is itself noncreative.It is simply the impress of the past, lacking in (...) itself any genuine novelty. (shrink)