Process philosophy

Last updated

Process philosophy — also ontology of becoming, processism, [1] or philosophy of organism [2] — identifies metaphysical reality with change. In opposition to the classical model of change as illusory (as argued by Parmenides) or accidental (as argued by Aristotle), process philosophy regards change as the cornerstone of reality—the cornerstone of being thought of as becoming.

Metaphysics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.

Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent, as opposed to that which is merely imaginary. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status of things, indicating their existence. In physical terms, reality is the totality of the universe, known and unknown. Philosophical questions about the nature of reality or existence or being are considered under the rubric of ontology, which is a major branch of metaphysics in the Western philosophical tradition. Ontological questions also feature in diverse branches of philosophy, including the philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mathematics, and philosophical logic. These include questions about whether only physical objects are real, whether reality is fundamentally immaterial, whether hypothetical unobservable entities posited by scientific theories exist, whether God exists, whether numbers and other abstract objects exist, and whether possible worlds exist.

Parmenides Ancient Greek philosopher

Parmenides of Elea was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher from Elea in Magna Graecia. Parmenides has been considered the founder of metaphysics or ontology and has influenced the whole history of Western philosophy. He was the founder of the Eleatic school of philosophy, which also included Zeno of Elea and Melissus of Samos. Zeno's paradoxes of motion were to defend Parmenides' view.

Contents

Since the time of Plato and Aristotle, some philosophers have posited true reality as "timeless", based on permanent substances, while processes are denied or subordinated to timeless substances. If Socrates changes, becoming sick, Socrates is still the same (the substance of Socrates being the same), and change (his sickness) only glides over his substance: change is accidental, whereas the substance is essential. Therefore, classic ontology denies any full reality to change, which is conceived as only accidental and not essential. This classical ontology is what made knowledge and a theory of knowledge possible, as it was thought that a science of something in becoming was an impossible feat to achieve. [3]

Plato Classical Greek philosopher

Plato was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought, and the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world.

Aristotle philosopher in ancient Greece

Aristotle was a Greek philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he has been called the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.

Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.

Philosophers who appeal to process rather than substance include Heraclitus, Karl Marx, [4] Friedrich Nietzsche, Henri Bergson, Martin Heidegger, Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, Alfred North Whitehead, Alfred Korzybski, R. G. Collingwood, Alan Watts, Robert M. Pirsig, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, Charles Hartshorne, Arran Gare, Nicholas Rescher, Colin Wilson, Jacques Derrida, and Gilles Deleuze. In physics, Ilya Prigogine [5] distinguishes between the "physics of being" and the "physics of becoming". Process philosophy covers not just scientific intuitions and experiences, but can be used as a conceptual bridge to facilitate discussions among religion, philosophy, and science. [6] [7]

Heraclitus pre-Socratic Greek philosopher

Heraclitus of Ephesus was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, and a native of the city of Ephesus, then part of the Persian Empire. He was of distinguished parentage. Little is known about his early life and education, but he regarded himself as self-taught and a pioneer of wisdom. From the lonely life he led, and still more from the apparently riddled and allegedly paradoxical nature of his philosophy and his stress upon the heedless unconsciousness of humankind, he was called "The Obscure" and the "Weeping Philosopher".

Karl Marx Revolutionary socialist

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.

Friedrich Nietzsche German philosopher

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life; he completed much of his core writing in the following decade. In 1889 at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward, a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 and then with his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900.

Process philosophy is sometimes classified as closer to Continental philosophy than analytic philosophy, because it is usually only taught in Continental departments. [8] However, other sources state that process philosophy should be placed somewhere in the middle between the poles of analytic versus Continental methods in contemporary philosophy. [9] [10]

Continental philosophy Set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe

Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical traditions from mainland Europe. This sense of the term originated among English-speaking philosophers in the second half of the 20th century, who used it to refer to a range of thinkers and traditions outside the analytic movement. Continental philosophy includes German idealism, phenomenology, existentialism, hermeneutics, structuralism, post-structuralism, deconstruction, French feminism, psychoanalytic theory, and the critical theory of the Frankfurt School and related branches of Western Marxism.

Analytic philosophy style of philosophy

Analytic philosophy is a style of philosophy that became dominant in the Western world at the beginning of the 20th century. The term can refer to one of several things:

History

In ancient Greek thought

Heraclitus proclaimed that the basic nature of all things is change.

The quotation from Heraclitus appears in Plato's Cratylus twice; in 401d as: [11]

Cratylus is the name of a dialogue by Plato. Most modern scholars agree that it was written mostly during Plato's so-called middle period. In the dialogue, Socrates is asked by two men, Cratylus and Hermogenes, to tell them whether names are "conventional" or "natural", that is, whether language is a system of arbitrary signs or whether words have an intrinsic relation to the things they signify.

τὰ ὄντα ἰέναι τε πάντα καὶ μένειν οὐδέν
Ta onta ienai te panta kai menein ouden
"All entities move and nothing remains still"

and in 402a [12]

"πάντα χωρεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει" καὶ "δὶς ἐς τὸν αὐτὸν ποταμὸν οὐκ ἂν ἐμβαίης"
Panta chōrei kai ouden menei kai dis es ton auton potamon ouk an embaies
"Everything changes and nothing remains still ... and ... you cannot step twice into the same stream" [13]

Heraclitus considered fire as the most fundamental element.

"All things are an interchange for fire, and fire for all things, just like goods for gold and gold for goods." [14]

The following is an interpretation of Heraclitus's concepts into modern terms by Nicholas Rescher.

"...reality is not a constellation of things at all, but one of processes. The fundamental "stuff" of the world is not material substance, but volatile flux, namely "fire", and all things are versions thereof (puros tropai). Process is fundamental: the river is not an object, but a continuing flow; the sun is not a thing, but an enduring fire. Everything is a matter of process, of activity, of change (panta rhei)." [15]

An early expression of this viewpoint is in Heraclitus's fragments. He posits strife, ἡ ἔρις (strife, conflict), as the underlying basis of all reality defined by change. [16] The balance and opposition in strife were the foundations of change and stability in the flux of existence.

Twentieth century

In early twentieth century, the philosophy of mathematics was undertaken to develop mathematics as an airtight, axiomatic system in which every truth could be derived logically from a set of axioms. In the foundations of mathematics, this project is variously understood as logicism or as part of the formalist program of David Hilbert. Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell attempted to complete, or at least facilitate, this program with their seminal book Principia Mathematica, which purported to build a logically consistent set theory on which to found mathematics. After this, Whitehead extended his interest to natural science, which he held needed a deeper philosophical basis. He intuited that natural science was struggling to overcome a traditional ontology of timeless material substances that does not suit natural phenomena. According to Whitehead, material is more properly understood as 'process'. In 1929, he produced the most famous work of process philosophy, Process and Reality , [17] continuing the work begun by Hegel but describing a more complex and fluid dynamic ontology.

Process thought describes truth as "movement" in and through substance (Hegelian truth), rather than substances as fixed concepts or "things" (Aristotelian truth). Since Whitehead, process thought is distinguished from Hegel in that it describes entities that arise or coalesce in becoming, rather than being simply dialectically determined from prior posited determinates. These entities are referred to as complexes of occasions of experience. It is also distinguished in being not necessarily conflictual or oppositional in operation. Process may be integrative, destructive or both together, allowing for aspects of interdependence, influence, and confluence, and addressing coherence in universal as well as particular developments, i.e., those aspects not befitting Hegel's system. Additionally, instances of determinate occasions of experience, while always ephemeral, are nonetheless seen as important to define the type and continuity of those occasions of experience that flow from or relate to them.

Whitehead's Process and Reality

Alfred North Whitehead began teaching and writing on process and metaphysics when he joined Harvard University in 1924. [18]

In his book Science and the Modern World (1925), Whitehead noted that the human intuitions and experiences of science, aesthetics, ethics, and religion influence the worldview of a community, but that in the last several centuries science dominates Western culture. Whitehead sought a holistic, comprehensive cosmology that provides a systematic descriptive theory of the world which can be used for the diverse human intuitions gained through ethical, aesthetic, religious, and scientific experiences, and not just the scientific. [6]

Whitehead's influences were not restricted to philosophers or physicists or mathematicians. He was influenced by the French philosopher Henri Bergson (1859–1941), whom he credits along with William James and John Dewey in the preface to Process and Reality. [17]

Process metaphysics

For Whitehead, metaphysics is about logical frameworks for the conduct of discussions of the character of the world. It is not directly and immediately about facts of nature, but only indirectly so, in that its task is to explicitly formulate the language and conceptual presuppositions that are used to describe the facts of nature. Whitehead thinks that discovery of previously unknown facts of nature can in principle call for reconstruction of metaphysics. [19]

The process metaphysics elaborated in Process and Reality [17] posits an ontology which is based on the two kinds of existence of an entity, that of actual entity and that of abstract entity or abstraction, also called 'object'. [20]

Actual entity is a term coined by Whitehead to refer to the entities that really exist in the natural world. [21] For Whitehead, actual entities are spatiotemporally extended events or processes. [22] An actual entity is how something is happening, and how its happening is related to other actual entities. [22] The actually existing world is a multiplicity of actual entities overlapping one another. [22]

The ultimate abstract principle of actual existence for Whitehead is creativity. Creativity is a term coined by Whitehead to show a power in the world that allows the presence of an actual entity, a new actual entity, and multiple actual entities. [22] Creativity is the principle of novelty. [21] It is manifest in what can be called 'singular causality'. This term may be contrasted with the term 'nomic causality'. An example of singular causation is that I woke this morning because my alarm clock rang. An example of nomic causation is that alarm clocks generally wake people in the morning. Aristotle recognizes singular causality as efficient causality. For Whitehead, there are many contributory singular causes for an event. A further contributory singular cause of my being awoken by my alarm clock this morning was that I was lying asleep near it till it rang.

An actual entity is a general philosophical term for an utterly determinate and completely concrete individual particular of the actually existing world or universe of changeable entities considered in terms of singular causality, about which categorical statements can be made. Whitehead's most far-reaching and radical contribution to metaphysics is his invention of a better way of choosing the actual entities. Whitehead chooses a way of defining the actual entities that makes them all alike, qua actual entities, with a single exception.

For example, for Aristotle, the actual entities were the substances, such as Socrates. Besides Aristotle's ontology of substances, another example of an ontology that posits actual entities is in the monads of Leibniz, which are said to be 'windowless'.

Whitehead's actual entities

For Whitehead's ontology of processes as defining the world, the actual entities exist as the only fundamental elements of reality.

The actual entities are of two kinds, temporal and atemporal.

With one exception, all actual entities for Whitehead are temporal and are occasions of experience (which are not to be confused with consciousness). An entity that people commonly think of as a simple concrete object, or that Aristotle would think of as a substance, is, in this ontology, considered to be a temporally serial composite of indefinitely many overlapping occasions of experience. A human being is thus composed of indefinitely many occasions of experience.

The one exceptional actual entity is at once both temporal and atemporal: God. He is objectively immortal, as well as being immanent in the world. He is objectified in each temporal actual entity; but He is not an eternal object.

The occasions of experience are of four grades. The first grade comprises processes in a physical vacuum such as the propagation of an electromagnetic wave or gravitational influence across empty space. The occasions of experience of the second grade involve just inanimate matter; "matter" being the composite overlapping of occasions of experience from the previous grade. The occasions of experience of the third grade involve living organisms. Occasions of experience of the fourth grade involve experience in the mode of presentational immediacy, which means more or less what are often called the qualia of subjective experience. So far as we know, experience in the mode of presentational immediacy occurs in only more evolved animals. That some occasions of experience involve experience in the mode of presentational immediacy is the one and only reason why Whitehead makes the occasions of experience his actual entities; for the actual entities must be of the ultimately general kind. Consequently, it is inessential that an occasion of experience have an aspect in the mode of presentational immediacy; occasions of the grades one, two, and three, lack that aspect.

There is no mind-matter duality in this ontology, because "mind" is simply seen as an abstraction from an occasion of experience which has also a material aspect, which is of course simply another abstraction from it; thus the mental aspect and the material aspect are abstractions from one and the same concrete occasion of experience. The brain is part of the body, both being abstractions of a kind known as persistent physical objects, neither being actual entities. Though not recognized by Aristotle, there is biological evidence, written about by Galen, [23] that the human brain is an essential seat of human experience in the mode of presentational immediacy. We may say that the brain has a material and a mental aspect, all three being abstractions from their indefinitely many constitutive occasions of experience, which are actual entities.

Time, causality, and process

Inherent in each actual entity is its respective dimension of time. Potentially, each Whiteheadean occasion of experience is causally consequential on every other occasion of experience that precedes it in time, and has as its causal consequences every other occasion of experience that follows it in time; thus it has been said that Whitehead's occasions of experience are 'all window', in contrast to Leibniz's 'windowless' monads. In time defined relative to it, each occasion of experience is causally influenced by prior occasions of experiences, and causally influences future occasions of experience. An occasion of experience consists of a process of prehending other occasions of experience, reacting to them. This is the process in process philosophy.

Such process is never deterministic[ further explanation needed ]. Consequently, free will is essential and inherent to the universe[ dubious ].

The causal outcomes obey the usual well-respected rule that the causes precede the effects in time. Some pairs of processes cannot be connected by cause-and-effect relations, and they are said to be spatially separated. This is in perfect agreement with the viewpoint of the Einstein theory of special relativity and with the Minkowski geometry of spacetime. [24] It is clear that Whitehead respected these ideas, as may be seen for example in his 1919 book An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge [25] as well as in Process and Reality . Time in this view is relative to an inertial reference frame, different reference frames defining different versions of time.

Atomicity

The actual entities, the occasions of experience, are logically atomic in the sense that an occasion of experience cannot be cut and separated into two other occasions of experience. This kind of logical atomicity is perfectly compatible with indefinitely many spatio-temporal overlaps of occasions of experience. One can explain this kind of atomicity by saying that an occasion of experience has an internal causal structure that could not be reproduced in each of the two complementary sections into which it might be cut. Nevertheless, an actual entity can completely contain each of indefinitely many other actual entities.

Another aspect of the atomicity of occasions of experience is that they do not change. An actual entity is what it is. An occasion of experience can be described as a process of change, but it is itself unchangeable.

The reader should bear in mind that the atomicity of the actual entities is of a simply logical or philosophical kind, thoroughly different in concept from the natural kind of atomicity that describes the atoms of physics and chemistry.

Topology

Whitehead's theory of extension was concerned with the spatio-temporal features of his occasions of experience. Fundamental to both Newtonian and to quantum theoretical mechanics is the concept of momentum. The measurement of a momentum requires a finite spatiotemporal extent. Because it has no finite spatiotemporal extent, a single point of Minkowski space cannot be an occasion of experience, but is an abstraction from an infinite set of overlapping or contained occasions of experience, as explained in Process and Reality. [17] Though the occasions of experience are atomic, they are not necessarily separate in extension, spatiotemporally, from one another. Indefinitely many occasions of experience can overlap in Minkowski space.

Nexus is a term coined by Whitehead to show the network actual entity from universe. In the universe of actual entities spread [21] actual entity. Actual entities are clashing with each other and form other actual entities. [22] The birth of an actual entity based on an actual entity, actual entities around him referred to as nexus. [21]

An example of a nexus of temporally overlapping occasions of experience is what Whitehead calls an enduring physical object, which corresponds closely with an Aristotelian substance. An enduring physical object has a temporally earliest and a temporally last member. Every member (apart from the earliest) of such a nexus is a causal consequence of the earliest member of the nexus, and every member (apart from the last) of such a nexus is a causal antecedent of the last member of the nexus. There are indefinitely many other causal antecedents and consequences of the enduring physical object, which overlap, but are not members, of the nexus. No member of the nexus is spatially separate from any other member. Within the nexus are indefinitely many continuous streams of overlapping nexūs, each stream including the earliest and the last member of the enduring physical object. Thus an enduring physical object, like an Aristotelian substance, undergoes changes and adventures during the course of its existence.

In some contexts, especially in the theory of relativity in physics, the word 'event' refers to a single point in Minkowski or in Riemannian space-time. A point event is not a process in the sense of Whitehead's metaphysics. Neither is a countable sequence or array of points. A Whiteheadian process is most importantly characterized by extension in space-time, marked by a continuum of uncountably many points in a Minkowski or a Riemannian space-time. The word 'event', indicating a Whiteheadian actual entity, is not being used in the sense of a point event.

Whitehead's abstractions

Whitehead's abstractions are conceptual entities that are abstracted from or derived from and founded upon his actual entities. Abstractions are themselves not actual entities. They are the only entities that can be real but are not actual entities. This statement is one form of Whitehead's 'ontological principle'.

An abstraction is a conceptual entity that refers to more than one single actual entity. Whitehead's ontology refers to importantly structured collections of actual entities as nexuses of actual entities. Collection of actual entities into a nexus emphasizes some aspect of those entities, and that emphasis is an abstraction, because it means that some aspects of the actual entities are emphasized or dragged away from their actuality, while other aspects are de-emphasized or left out or left behind.

'Eternal object' is a term coined by Whitehead. It is an abstraction, a possibility, or pure potential. It can be ingredient into some actual entity. [21] It is a principle that can give a particular form to an actual entity. [22] [26]

Whitehead admitted indefinitely many eternal objects. An example of an eternal object is a number, such as the number 'two'. Whitehead held that eternal objects are abstractions of a very high degree of abstraction. Many abstractions, including eternal objects, are potential ingredients of processes.

Relation between actual entities and abstractions stated in the ontological principle

For Whitehead, besides its temporal generation by the actual entities which are its contributory causes, a process may be considered as a concrescence of abstract ingredient eternal objects. God enters into every temporal actual entity.

Whitehead's ontological principle is that whatever reality pertains to an abstraction is derived from the actual entities upon which it is founded or of which it is comprised.

Causation and concrescence of a process

Concrescence is a term coined by Whitehead to show the process of jointly forming an actual entity that was without form, but about to manifest itself into an entity Actual full (satisfaction) based on datums or for information on the universe. [21] The process of forming an actual entity is the case based on the existing datums. Concretion process can be regarded as subjectification process. [22]

Datum is a term coined by Whitehead to show the different variants of information possessed by actual entity. In process philosophy, datum is obtained through the events of concrescence. Every actual entity has a variety of datum. [21] [22]

Commentary on Whitehead and on process philosophy

Whitehead is not an idealist in the strict sense.[ which? ] Whitehead's thought may be regarded as related to the idea of panpsychism (also known as panexperientialism, because of Whitehead's emphasis on experience). [27]

On God

Whitehead's philosophy is very complex, subtle and nuanced and in order to comprehend his thinking regarding what is commonly referred to by many religions as "God", it is recommended that one read from Process and Reality Corrected Edition, wherein regarding "God" the authors elaborate Whitehead's conception.

"He is the unconditioned actuality of conceptual feeling at the base of things; so that by reason of this primordial actuality, there is an order in the relevance of eternal objects to the process of creation (343 of 413) (Location 7624 of 9706 Kindle ed.) Whitehead continues later with, "The particularities of the actual world presuppose it ; while it merely presupposes the general metaphysical character of creative advance, of which it is the primordial exemplification (344 of 413) (Location 7634 of 9706 Kindle Edition)."

Process philosophy, might be considered according to some theistic forms of religion to give a God a special place in the universe of occasions of experience. Regarding Whitehead's use of the term, "occasions" in reference to, "God" it is explained in Process and Reality Corrected Edition that

"'Actual entities'-also termed 'actual occasions'-are the final real things of which the world is made up. There is no going behind actual entities to find anything [28] more real. They differ among themselves: God is an actual entity, and so is the most trivial puff of existence in far-off empty space. But, though there are gradations of importance, and diversities of function, yet in the principles which actuality exemplifies all are on the same level. The final facts are, all alike, actual entities; and these actual entities are drops of experience, complex and interdependent.

It also can be assumed within some forms of theology that a God encompasses all the other occasions of experience but also transcends them and this might lead to it being argued that Whitehead endorses some form of panentheism. [28] Since, it is argued theologically, that "free will" is inherent to the nature of the universe, Whitehead's God is not omnipotent in Whitehead's metaphysics. [29] God's role is to offer enhanced occasions of experience. God participates in the evolution of the universe by offering possibilities, which may be accepted or rejected. Whitehead's thinking here has given rise to process theology, whose prominent advocates include Charles Hartshorne, John B. Cobb, Jr., and Hans Jonas, who was also influenced by the non-theological philosopher Martin Heidegger. However, other process philosophers have questioned Whitehead's theology, seeing it as a regressive Platonism. [30]

Whitehead enumerated three essential natures of God. The primordial nature of God consists of all potentialities of existence for actual occasions, which Whitehead dubbed eternal objects. God can offer possibilities by ordering the relevance of eternal objects. The consequent nature of God prehends everything that happens in reality. As such, God experiences all of reality in a sentient manner. The last nature is the superjective. This is the way in which God's synthesis becomes a sense-datum for other actual entities. In some sense, God is prehended by existing actual entities. [31]

Legacy and applications

Biology

In plant morphology, Rolf Sattler developed a process morphology (dynamic morphology) that overcomes the structure/process (or structure/function) dualism that is commonly taken for granted in biology. According to process morphology, structures such as leaves of plants do not have processes, they are processes. [32] [33]

In evolution and in development, the nature of the changes of biological objects are considered by many authors to be more radical than in physical systems. In biology, changes are not just changes of state in a pre-given space, instead the space and more generally the mathematical structures required to understand object change over time. [34] [35]

Ecology

With its perspective that everything is interconnected, that all life has value, and that non-human entities are also experiencing subjects, process philosophy has played an important role in discourse on ecology and sustainability. The first book to connect process philosophy with environmental ethics was John B. Cobb, Jr.'s 1971 work, Is It Too Late: A Theology of Ecology. [36] In a more recent book (2018) edited by John B. Cobb, Jr. and Wm. Andrew Schwartz, Putting Philosophy to Work: Toward an Ecological Civilization [37] contributors explicitly explore the ways in which process philosophy can be put to work to address the most urgent issues facing our world today, by contributing to a transition toward an ecological civilization. That book emerged out of the largest international conference held on the theme of ecological civilization (Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization) which was organized by the Center for Process Studies in June 2015. The conference brought together roughly 2,000 participants from around the world and featured such leaders in the environmental movement as Bill McKibben, Vandana Shiva, John B. Cobb, Jr., Wes Jackson, and Sheri Liao. [38] The notion of ecological civilization is often affiliated with the process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead--especially in China. [39]

Mathematics

In the philosophy of mathematics, some of Whitehead's ideas re-emerged in combination with cognitivism as the cognitive science of mathematics and embodied mind theses.

Somewhat earlier, exploration of mathematical practice and quasi-empiricism in mathematics from the 1950s to 1980s had sought alternatives to metamathematics in social behaviours around mathematics itself: for instance, Paul Erdős's simultaneous belief in Platonism and a single "big book" in which all proofs existed, combined with his personal obsessive need or decision to collaborate with the widest possible number of other mathematicians. The process, rather than the outcomes, seemed to drive his explicit behaviour and odd use of language, as if the synthesis of Erdős and collaborators in seeking proofs, creating sense-datum for other mathematicians, was itself the expression of a divine will. Certainly, Erdős behaved as if nothing else in the world mattered, including money or love, as emphasized in his biography The Man Who Loved Only Numbers .

Medicine

Several fields of science and especially medicine seem [ vague ] to make liberal use of ideas in process philosophy, notably the theory of pain and healing of the late 20th century. The philosophy of medicine began to deviate somewhat from scientific method and an emphasis on repeatable results in the very late 20th century by embracing population thinking, and a more pragmatic approach to issues in public health, environmental health and especially mental health. In this latter field, R. D. Laing, Thomas Szasz and Michel Foucault were instrumental in moving medicine away from emphasis on "cures" and towards concepts of individuals in balance with their society, both of which are changing, and against which no benchmarks or finished "cures" were very likely to be measurable.

Psychology

In psychology, the subject of imagination was again explored more extensively since Whitehead, and the question of feasibility or "eternal objects" of thought became central to the impaired theory of mind explorations that framed postmodern cognitive science. A biological understanding of the most eternal object, that being the emerging of similar but independent cognitive apparatus, led to an obsession with the process "embodiment", that being, the emergence of these cognitions. Like Whitehead's God, especially as elaborated in J. J. Gibson's perceptual psychology emphasizing affordances, by ordering the relevance of eternal objects (especially the cognitions of other such actors), the world becomes. Or, it becomes simple enough for human beings to begin to make choices, and to prehend what happens as a result. These experiences may be summed in some sense but can only approximately be shared, even among very similar cognitions with identical DNA. An early explorer of this view was Alan Turing who sought to prove the limits of expressive complexity of human genes in the late 1940s, to put bounds on the complexity of human intelligence and so assess the feasibility of artificial intelligence emerging. Since 2000, Process Psychology has progressed as an independent academic and therapeutic discipline: In 2000, Michel Weber created the Whitehead Psychology Nexus: an open forum dedicated to the cross-examination of Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy and the various facets of the contemporary psychological field. [40]

See also

Concepts
People

Related Research Articles

Existence The ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality

Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality.

In philosophy, idealism is the group of metaphysical philosophies that assert that reality, or reality as humans can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In contrast to materialism, idealism asserts the primacy of consciousness as the origin and prerequisite of material phenomena. According to this view, consciousness exists before and is the pre-condition of material existence. Consciousness creates and determines the material and not vice versa. Idealism believes consciousness and mind to be the origin of the material world and aims to explain the existing world according to these principles.

Ontology study of the nature of being, becoming, existence or reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations

Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

Process theology is a type of theology developed from Alfred North Whitehead's (1861–1947) process philosophy, most notably by Charles Hartshorne (1897–2000) and John B. Cobb. Process theology and process philosophy are collectively referred to as "process thought".

Causality is efficacy, by which one process or state, a cause, contributes to the production of another process or state, an effect, where the cause is partly responsible for the effect, and the effect is partly dependent on the cause. In general, a process has many causes, which are also said to be causal factors for it, and all lie in its past. An effect can in turn be a cause of, or causal factor for, many other effects, which all lie in its future. Multiple philosophers have believed that causality is metaphysically prior to notions of time and space.

Alfred North Whitehead English mathematician and philosopher

Alfred North Whitehead was an English mathematician and philosopher. He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy, which today has found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas.

Mind–body dualism Philosophical theory that mental phenomena are non-physical and that matter exists independently of mind

Mind–body dualism, or mind–body duality, is a view in the philosophy of mind that mental phenomena are, in some respects, non-physical, or that the mind and body are distinct and separable. Thus, it encompasses a set of views about the relationship between mind and matter, and between subject and object, and is contrasted with other positions, such as physicalism and enactivism, in the mind–body problem.

Impermanence, also known as the philosophical problem of change, is a philosophical concept that is addressed in a variety of religions and philosophies.

Abstract and concrete are classifications that denote whether the object that a term describes has physical referents. Abstract objects have no physical referents, whereas concrete objects do. They are most commonly used in philosophy and semantics. Abstract objects are sometimes called abstracta and concrete objects are sometimes called concreta. An abstract object is an object that does not exist at any particular time or place, but rather exists as a type of thing—i.e., an idea, or abstraction. The term abstract object is said to have been coined by Willard Van Orman Quine. The study of abstract objects is called abstract object theory.

Charles Hartshorne American philosopher

Charles Hartshorne was an American philosopher who concentrated primarily on the philosophy of religion and metaphysics, but also contributed to ornithology. He developed the neoclassical idea of God and produced a modal proof of the existence of God that was a development of St. Anselm's ontological argument. Hartshorne is also noted for developing Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy into process theology.

Panpsychism philosophical concept

In philosophy, panpsychism is the view that mind or a mind-like aspect is a fundamental and ubiquitous feature of reality. It has taken on a wide variety of forms. Contemporary academic proponents hold that sentience or subjective experience is ubiquitous, while distancing these qualities from complex human mental attributes; they ascribe a primitive form of mentality to entities at the fundamental level of physics but do not ascribe it to most aggregates, such as rocks or buildings. On the other hand, some historical theorists ascribed attributes like life or spirits to all entities.

Process and Reality is a book by Alfred North Whitehead, in which the author propounds a philosophy of organism, also called process philosophy. The book, published in 1929, is a revision of the Gifford Lectures he gave in 1927–28.

We diverge from Descartes by holding that what he has described as primary attributes of physical bodies, are really the forms of internal relationships between actual occasions. Such a change of thought is the shift from materialism to Organic Realism, as a basic idea of physical science.

John B. Cobb American theologian

John Boswell Cobb Jr. is an American theologian, philosopher, and environmentalist. Cobb is often regarded as the preeminent scholar in the field of process philosophy and process theology, the school of thought associated with the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. Cobb is the author of more than fifty books. In 2014, Cobb was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In philosophy, A series and B series are two different descriptions of the temporal ordering relation among events. The two series differ principally in their use of tense to describe the temporal relation between events. The terms were introduced by the Scottish idealist philosopher John McTaggart in 1908 as part of his argument for the unreality of time, but since then they have become widely used terms of reference in modern discussions of the philosophy of time.

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates principles of reality transcending those of any particular science. Cosmology and ontology are traditional branches of metaphysics. It is concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. Someone who studies metaphysics can be called either a "metaphysician" or a "metaphysicist".

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to metaphysics:

Becoming (philosophy) philosophical concept

In philosophy, becoming is the possibility of change in a thing that has being, that exists.

Michel Weber is a Belgian philosopher. He is best known as an interpreter and advocate of the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, and has come to prominence as the architect and organizer of an overlapping array of international scholarly societies and publication projects devoted to Whitehead and the global relevance of process philosophy.

References

  1. Nicholas Rescher, Process Metaphysics: An Introduction to Process Philosophy, SUNY Press, 1996, p. 60.
  2. Dorothy Emmet, 1932, Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism, London: Macmillan; 2nd edn, 1966.
  3. Anne Fagot-Largeau, 7 December 2006 course Archived 6 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine at the Collège of France, first part of a series of courses on the "Ontology of Becoming" ‹See Tfd› (in French).
  4. Marx and Whitehead: Process, Dialectics, and the Critique of Capitalism
  5. Ilya Prigogine, From being to becoming, W. H. Freeman and Company, San Francisco, 1980.
  6. 1 2 Jeremy R. Hustwit (2007). "Process Philosophy: 2.a. In Pursuit of a Holistic Worldview". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
  7. Cf. Michel Weber (ed.), After Whitehead: Rescher on Process Metaphysics , Frankfurt / Paris / Lancaster, Ontos Verlag, 2004.
  8. William Blattner, "Some Thoughts About "Continental" and "Analytic" Philosophy"
  9. Seibt, Johanna. "Process Philosophy". In Zalta, Edward N. (ed.). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy .
  10. Nicholas Gaskill, A. J. Nocek, The Lure of Whitehead, University of Minnesota Press, 2014, p. 4: "it is no wonder that Whitehead fell by the wayside. He was too scientific for the "continentals," not scientific enough for the "analytics," and too metaphysical—which is to say uncritical—for them both" and p. 231: "the analytics and Continentals are both inclined toward Kantian presuppositions in a manner that Latour and Whitehead brazenly renounce."
  11. Cratylus Paragraph Crat. 401 section d line 5.
  12. Cratylus Paragraph 402 section a line 8.
  13. This sentence has been translated by Seneca in Epistulae, VI, 58, 23.
  14. Harris, William. "Heraclitus: The Complete Philosophical Fragments". Middlebury College. Retrieved 3 October 2015.
  15. Rescher, Nicholas (2000). Process philosophy a survey of basic issues. [Pittsburgh]: University of Pittsburgh Press. p. 3. ISBN   0822961288.
  16. Wheelwright, P. (1959). Heraclitus, Oxford University Press, Oxford UK, ISBN   0-19-924022-1, p.35.
  17. 1 2 3 4 Whitehead, A. N. (1929). Process and Reality, Macmillan, New York.
  18. "Alfred North Whitehead".
  19. Whitehead, A. N. (1929), pp. 13, 19.
  20. Palter, R.M. (1960). Whitehead's Philosophy of Science, University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL, p. 23.
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Robert Audi. 1995, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy. Cambridge: The Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge. 851–853.
  22. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 John B. Cobb and David Ray Griffin. 1976, Process Theology, An Introduction. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.
  23. Siegel, R. E. (1973). Galen: On Psychology, Psychopathology, and Function and Diseases of the Nervous System. An Analysis of his Doctrines, Observations, and Experiments, Karger, Basel, ISBN   978-3-8055-1479-8.
  24. Naber, G. L. (1992). The Geometry of Minkowski Spacetime. An Introduction to the Mathematics of the Special Theory of Relativity, Springer, New York, ISBN   978-0-387-97848-2
  25. Whitehead, A. N. (1919). An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge UK.
  26. Cf. Michel Weber (ed.), After Whitehead: Rescher on Process Metaphysics , Frankfurt / Paris / Lancaster, Ontos Verlag, 2004 ( ISBN   3-937202-49-8).
  27. Seager, William. "Whitehead and the Revival (?) of Panpsychism". University of Toronto Scarborough. University of Toronto at Scarborough. Retrieved 14 June 2017.
  28. Cooper, John W. (2006). Panentheism--The Other God of the Philosophers: From Plato to the Present. Grand Rapids MI: Baker Academic. p. 176. ISBN   978-0801049316 . Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  29. Dombrowski, Daniel A. (2017). Whitehead's Religious Thought: From Mechanism to Organism, From Force to Persuasion. Albany: State Univ of New York Pr. pp. 33–35. ISBN   978-1438464299 . Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  30. Hustwit, J. R. "Process Philosophy". Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (IEP). Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  31. Viney, Donald. "Process Theism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosoph. Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University. Retrieved 15 June 2017.
  32. Sattler, R. 1990. "Towards a more dynamic plant morphology". Acta Biotheoretica 38: 303–315
  33. Sattler, R. 1992. "Process morphology: structural dynamics in development and evolution". Canadian Journal of Botany 70: 708–714.
  34. Montévil, Maël; Mossio, Matteo; Pocheville, Arnaud; Longo, Giuseppe (1 October 2016). "Theoretical principles for biology: Variation". Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. From the Century of the Genome to the Century of the Organism: New Theoretical Approaches. 122 (1): 36–50. doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2016.08.005.
  35. Longo, Giuseppe; Montévil, Maël; Kauffman, Stuart (1 January 2012). "No Entailing Laws, but Enablement in the Evolution of the Biosphere". Proceedings of the 14th Annual Conference Companion on Genetic and Evolutionary Computation. GECCO '12. New York, NY, USA: ACM: 1379–1392. arXiv: 1201.2069 . doi:10.1145/2330784.2330946. ISBN   9781450311786.
  36. Cobb, Jr., John B. (1971). Is It Too Late?: A Theology of Ecology. Macmillan Publishing Company. ISBN   978-0028012803.
  37. Cobb, Jr., John B.; Scwhartz, Wm. Andrew (2018). Putting Philosophy to Work: Toward an Ecological Civilization. Minnesota: Process Century Press. ISBN   978-1940447339.
  38. Herman Greene, "Re-Imagining Civilization as Ecological: Report on the 'Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization' Conference", last modified 24 August 2015, Center for Ecozoic Societies, accessed 1 November 2016. [ dead link ]
  39. Wang, Zhihe; Huili, He; Meijun, Fan. "The Ecological Civilization Debate in China: The Role of Ecological Marxism and Constructive Postmodernism—Beyond the Predicament of Legislation". Monthly Review. Retrieved 23 August 2018.
  40. Cobb, John B., Jr. "Process Psychotherapy: Introduction". Process Studies vol. 29, no. 1 (Spring–Summer 2000): 97–102; cf. Michel Weber and Will Desmond (eds.), Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought , Frankfurt / Lancaster, ontos verlag, Process Thought X1 & X2, 2008.

Works cited