- Brian Henning (Gonzaga University) bio
Sustainability and Other Ecological Mistakes abstract
- Steven Meyer (Washington University) bio
Jamesian Modernism: The Future in the Present abstract
- Michael Epperson (California State University Sacramento) bio
- Roland Faber (Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University) bio
- George Lucas (United States Naval Academy) bio
- Aljosche Berve
The concept of substance in the Philosophy of Organism abstract
- Clinton Combs (Claremont Graduate University) bio
Rethinking the Initial Aim: Levinas Questions Whitehead abstract
- Brianne Donaldson (Claremont Lincoln University) bio
“Does Whitehead Have a Theory of Mourning?”: A Response to Butler’s Inquiry abstract
- Jeremy Fackenthal (Claremont Graduate University) bio
History as Process and Historical Materialism: Whitehead and Benjamin on Tragedy in the Wake of Progress abstract
- Jon Gill (Claremont Graduate University)
title currently unavailable abstract
- J.R. Hustwit (Methodist University) bio
Our Dark Materials: The Philosophical Economy of Inspiration and Construction abstract
- Max Johnson (Claremont Graduate University) bio
Of Dice & Dynos: Bartholomew, Whitehead, and the Divine use of “Glorious Accidents” abstract
- Kristopher Klotz (Claremont School of Theology) bio
Political Philosophy and the Recovery of Nature abstract
- Richard Livingston (Claremont Graduate University) bio
Converging Divergent Paths: Khôralogical Thinking in Heidegger and Whitehead abstract
- Hollis Phelps (Mt. Olive College) bio
Eternal Objects, Eternal Truths: Whitehead, Badiou, and the Structure of Worlds abstract
- Dennis Soelch (Universität Düsseldorf) bio
Religion in the Public Sphere: A Whiteheadian Approach abstract
- Nichole Torbitzky (Claremont Graduate University) bio
Metaphysics of Atonement abstract
- Alan Van Wyk (Claremont Graduate University) bio
Appearances of Love: The Political Theology of ANW abstract
- Koji Yoshida (Sophia University, Japan) bio
Novelty of Style in Whitehead’s Philosophy abstract
Brian Henning (Gonzaga University) received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Fordham University. His scholarship and teaching focus on the interconnections among ethics, metaphysics, and aesthetics. His first systematic exploration of these interconnections was developed in his award winning book, The Ethics of Creativity: Beauty, Morality, and Nature in a Processive Cosmos. He teaches courses on environmental philosophy, moral philosophy, metaphysics, and the history of philosophy. He is currently working on several edited works and a monograph on the ethics of global climate change. Dr. Henning spends much of his professional service advancing the work of the British born mathematician-philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947). He is the Associate Director of the Society for the Study of Process Philosophies, Director of Research and Publication with the Whitehead Research Project, Executive Editor of the Critical Edition of Whitehead, and co-editor of Contemporary Whitehead Studies, a special series with Rodopi's Value Inquiry Book Series.
Sustainability and Other Ecological Mistakes
Attempts to understand and respond to the threat of anthropogenic climate change, the defining challenge of our era, increasingly reveal the fundamental inadequacy of the dominant moral and axiological systems. Recognizing the need for a moral seachange, “sustainability” and “stewardship” have quickly become the “big ideas” around which much of contemporary environmentalism is centered. In the spirit of Hartshorne’s little 1984 book, this essay will argue not that that ecological concepts such as “sustainability” and “stewardship” are wrong, but that, as they are currently defined, they are morally too anemic to support the weight placed on them.
Participating in the birth of modern environmental ethics in the 1970s, Whiteheadians have for decades argued that Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy of organism is uniquely situated to provide the necessary foundation for an ethic that can make sense of moral responsibility in a universe of values woven in complex webs of interdependence. Taking up this challenge, a new generation of Whitehead scholars seek to continue the slow, hard work of systematically constructing a Whiteheadian moral philosophy. I have argued that such an ethic is fundamentally kalocentric or beauty-centered and that, therefore, the aim of morality is to bring about the greatest universe of beauty, value, and importance that in each situation is possible. In developing and defending such a metaphysically-heavy moral ideal, I am likely to be at odds with those who are suspicious of such “idealistic” approaches to morality. Given challenges such as global climate change, we are told, we have no time for grand theories; we need to “be realistic.” Or, as the pragmatist John Lachs has recently put it, we need to learn to be satisfied with “good enough.” In response to these claims, I will argue that moral ideals are the indispensible “gadflies irritating, and beacons luring, the victims among whom they dwell” (AI 17-18).
Steven Meyer (Washington University) is the author of Irresistible Dictation: Gertrude Stein and the Correlations of Writing and Science (2001; paperback 2003), which seeks to establish the interdisciplinary contours of Stein's writing: philosophical, psychological, neurophysiological, literary. In addition to the primary focus on Stein, Irresistible Dictation also contains chapters on Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James, Alfred North Whitehead and Ludwig Wittgenstein. Among current projects Professor Meyer is completing Robust Empiricisms: Jamesian Modernism between the Disciplines, 1878 to the Present, a three-volume account of investigations in philosophy, the sciences, and literature and literary criticism that involve the development of techniques for eliciting something where, from the perspective of what Whitehead termed “rigid empiricism,” there is nothing, and that in the process demonstrate how ambiguity, and more generally vagueness, operate both empirically and rationally. A related project, Understanding Twentieth-Century Poetry, addresses the robust empiricist tendencies of many twentieth-century poets. Articles by Professor Meyer have appeared in Raritan, Modernism/Modernity, Process Studies, Configurations, the Yale Journal of Criticism, Grand Street, the Partisan Review, and the Boston Review. He has been awarded fellowships at the Stanford Humanities Center and Yale's Whitney Humanities Center and was recently an affiliated scholar at the Center for Cultural Analysis at Rutgers.
Jamesian Modernism: The Future in the Present
“Part I: Why Duration Isn’t Enough”: On the relation between the Jamesian specious present (actual present) and Whiteheadian actual occasion—including various ways of expanding the specious present (Whitehead, Stein, Becker, Haraway) and what this has to do with gaining a firmer grasp of how Whitehead understood actual occasions as well as for addressing divinatory potentials in the present, what I like to think of as the future-in-the-present. This opening section also includes remarks contrasting James and Bergson and, following from that contrast, Whitehead and Deleuze.
“Part II: Foretelling the Near Past”: Although the capacity for divining aspects of the future from the present may seem a topic tailor-made for the present occasion, I propose that despite being a necessary feature of Whitehead’s speculative philosophy and of Jamesian modernism more generally, it doesn’t provide adequate guidance within a realm such as the history of philosophy. (Here I follow Stengers and Deleuze.) In arguing for the general significance of Whitehead’s work for philosophy, one has two options. Either one can fervently hope that Whitehead will shortly receive the broad recognition he so richly deserves, traces of which one perceives as beginning even now—or one can demonstrate that he has already been so recognized, that there is already a line of remarkable thinkers working in the Whiteheadian mode, although for various reasons this key fact has largely remained invisible. I’ve taken the second route in my own studies, and if it turns out that it is most accurate to label the lineage in question Jamesian modernist, with Whitehead rather than James somewhat paradoxically as the central figure, so be it. The advantage of this approach lies in its straightforwardness: foretelling the immediate future is always hard, and never certain, because it is so difficult to distinguish projection from divination. (At the beginning of every decade Whiteheadians predict a transformation that does not occur.) Yet foretelling the near past should not prove nearly as difficult.
Michael Epperson (California State University Sacramento) received his degrees from the University of Chicago. His research areas include metaphyscis, philosophy of science, foundations of quantum physics, philosophy of religion, issues in science and religion, as well as additional work in philosophical and theological ethics. He currently directs the Center for Philosophy and the Natural Sciences at California State University Sacramento and has recently published Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead.
Roland Faber (Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University) is the founder of the Whitehead Research Project and Professor of Process Theology at Claremont School of Theology, and Professor of Religion and Philosophy at Claremont Graduate University, as well as Co-Director of the Center for Process Studies. His fields of research and publication include systematic theology; process thought and process theology; poststructuralism; interreligious discourse, especially Christianity & Buddhism; comparative philosophy of religion; philosophy, theology, spirituality, and cosmology of the Renaissance; and mysticism. He has published four books and edited two including God as Poet of the World: Exploring Process Philosophies, 2008.
George Lucas (United States Naval Academy) is Professor of Philosophy and Director of Navy and National Programs in the Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD), and Visiting Professor of Ethics at the Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, CA). He has taught at Emory University, Georgetown University, and served as Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Santa Clara University, and also as Assistant Director in the Division of Research Programs in the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a Fulbright Fellow in Belgium in 1989, and held a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies in 1983. Lucas received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from Northwestern University in 1978. He is author of four books, over fifty journal articles, translations, and book reviews, and has also edited eight book-length collections of articles in philosophy and ethics.
Bio currently unavailable.
The concept of substance in the Philosophy of Organism
One of the most prominent features of A.N.Whitehead‘s metaphysical system is his repudiation of what he calls the substance-quality-scheme. The pretension to replace morphology with the concept of dynamic processes has since led scholars so far as to assume the complete renouncement of the notion of substance in the Philosophy of Organism, bestowing upon Whitehead the renown of a revolutionary in metaphysics.
Upon looking at the topic in detail, however, things do not seem to look as clear-cut. Even more, at some point it seems fair to say that the entire enquiry appears quite murky. Therefore, a close investigation that reconstructs the different ways Whitehead concerns himself with the concept of substance seems to be in order.
The most important task of this investigation is to discern the different approaches Whitehead takes towards the notion of substance, depending on the nature of the topic he is discussing in the given passages. A very nuanced and multi-faceted occupation with the concept of substance becomes visible, in which Whitehead emphasizes different aspects of the overall concept with varying degrees of aversion or affirmation.
His first examination of substance occurs in his Critic of Abstractions in Science and the Modern World and must therefore be seen within the bounds of a verdict on scientific methodology. A second, and more well-known, approach to the concept of substance is to be found in Process and Reality in Whitehead‘s rejection of the so-called substance-quality-scheme. As well-defined as this rejection appears to be, it, in fact, is the culmination of a number of different lines of argument that reach down to the foundations of Whitehead‘s ontology. We can discern the presupposed solidarity of the universe, Whitehead‘s theory of time and his theory of experience that does not know objects in the strictest sense as factors to lead him to the conclusion to refute the substance-quality-scheme as a description of the fundamental reality of the world. This conclusion does, however, not extend to the concept of substance in general, and leads in its sophisticated balance of argument to a varying acceptance of different substance-based systems of metaphysics: In the end, Whitehead bases his valuation of ontological schemes not on the concept of substance, but on the overall structure of the scheme in question.
A further problem that has to be addressed is Whitehead‘s sometimes inconsistent use of terminology. There are passages in Science and the Modern World or Process and Reality in which he deliberately describes aspects of his metaphysical system with the traditional terms substance and accident. Does this mean that his use of terminology is at times careless or does it hint at a more complex evaluation of substance in the Philosophy of Organism, in which certain properties of the general concept are refuted, while others are accepted as having a legitimate place in metaphysics?
In a final conclusion the discussions of the paper will be brought into perspective and an attempt shall be made to adequately sketch the comprehensive nature of substance in Whitehead‘s concept of metaphysics, to arrive at the description of a nuanced attitude towards the concept of substance that accentuates similarities to traditional substance-based concepts rather than attempting to revolutionize metaphysics.
Clinton Combs (Claremont Graduate University) has a MA in philosophy from Claremont Graduate University where he is also finishing his PhD in Religion. He has taught philosophy at Woodbury University, San Bernardino Valley College, and at East LA College. He is the moderator and frequent commentator on scriptures at Bethel United Church of Christ in Ontario, California. He blogs about theological topics at theoplay.blogspot.com. He is the editor (along with Roland Faber and Brian G. Henning) of Beyond Metaphysics? Explorations in Alfred North Whitehead’s Late Thought (2010). His is also a contributor to the same volume and has published a few articles in Process Perspectives. Combs works as a contractor and is the owner of Technical Pool Repair, a company that specializes in energy-efficient pool pumps, heaters, and electronic controls.
Rethinking the Initial Aim: Levinas Questions Whitehead
This paper, like much of the “next generation” of Whiteheadian scholarship is characterized by conversation. In my particular case, it is a conversation between the work of Whitehead and the work of Emanuel Levinas on the topic of ethics.
When one looks to Whitehead for a theory of ethics, one is likely to focus on one or two key terms: the “Initial Aim” and/or “Importance.”
A primary focus on the Initial Aim makes it seem like Whitehead’s view of “what is right” all comes down to what God likes and that everyone else only matters to the extent that they contribute to God’s enjoyment. (Charles Hartshorne called this view “Contributionism.”) Prior to Modes of Thought, it may have been possible to make the case that Whitehead was a Contributionist, but the label is at odds with what he says about Importance in this late work, for it is there that Whitehead relates Importance to morality and does so in a way that shows that it is not only God’s enjoyment that matters (here referred to as the value for the Whole), but also the value for the Self, and the value for Others (MT 110).
At this point, it might seem that there is only the faintest connection between Whitehead and Levinas. Levinas argues that my moral responsibility originates with a demand that comes from the other, and Whitehead argues that “others” are of some relevance as to what actions are moral. Good conversations, however, do not stop with quick observations. They probe. They destabilize what was previously thought to be solid, and, in this case, Levinas inspired me to rethink my understanding of the Initial Aim.
Specifically, I wondered whether the Initial Aim was something altogether special and unique to God’s relationship with finite individuals, or whether this divine Initial Aim is just one of many propositional feelings (with the subjective form that it be realized) that collectively comprise the origin of an actual occasion. In other words, could it not be the case that an actual occasion begins with many Initial Aims some of which come from other finite individuals?
If one interprets the Initial Aim in this broader manner, one sees it not solely as a divine command, but, rather, the implanting of a “responsibility to the other” prior to any decision that the occasion itself makes.
Brianne Donaldson (Claremont Lincoln University) is a doctoral student in Process Studies PhD program. Her research is aimed at exploring the role of compassion toward animals in transforming power structures in human society from a location within Process metaphysics, ecofeminism and postructuralism. She is currently working with the Center for Neuroeconomics at Claremont Graduate University to explore the neurobiological foundations of an ecological mind.
“Does Whitehead Have a Theory of Mourning?”: A Response to Butler’s Inquiry
Tragedy, sorrow, loss and the spectral hauntings of an excluded past infuse much of Whitehead’s work. Contingency, alternatives and what could have been otherwise loom large in his texts. Yet Whitehead also sought to reconcile the tragic, perpetual perishing of becoming through his understanding of theology, the redemptive role of philosophy, and the saving, consequent nature of his unique God. Readers are left to wonder whether Whitehead’s claim that “life is robbery” (Process and Reality 105) should be rightly interpreted as a genuine lamentation applicable to actual socio/bio/cultural exclusions or merely as a logical step in a metaphysician’s disembodied pragmatism.
Judith Butler posed a related question at a conference in 2009 when she asked whether Whitehead had a theory of mourning. Since the capacity to mourn, according to Butler, provides the “keener sense of life we need in order to oppose violence,” (Precarious Life xviii), her inquiry may well be an indication of a deficiency she finds in Whitehead of any political urgency or ethical position by which loss and exclusion might be actively redressed in the present.
The absence of an explicit ethic is indeed a curious hallmark of Whitehead’s thought, one that continues to plague contemporary scholars who have found his metaphysical insights so transformative for reimagining the fixed identities and stagnant concepts that justify violence.
I assert that Whitehead’s emphasis on tragedy and loss, when elucidated alongside Butler, does constitute a theory of mourning and a correspondingly urgent ethical call. While it may not be a prescriptive call, it is a profoundly embodied one, available to each of us in our contextual moments. Further, I contend that Whitehead envisaged a metaphysical partnership between tragedy and hope capable of nurturing those of us who, like Butler, face the overwhelming limitations of our best political, philosophical and ethical efforts to subvert entrenched power structures of exclusion and violence.
Finally, I argue that the dual partnership of mourning and hope opens new territory for reconceiving physical and conceptual relations with so-called animals. Rather than continue a theoretical debate that is often reductionistic, hyperbolic, contentious, villifying or dismissive on all sides, mourning and hope make spaces to consider what could have been otherwise in our understanding and treatment of other life forms, for remembering what has been lost, and what can yet be valued in our own bodies—and in our collective body—anew.
Jeremy Fackenthal (Claremont Graduate University) is a PhD candidate in the Philosophy of Religion and Theology program. He is interested in post-Holocaust philosophy and theology, post-structuralist thought, subjectivity and multiplicity, critical theory and political philosophy. His dissertation focuses on Theodor Adorno, Eric Voegelin, and Alfred North Whitehead on the problem of coming to terms with the past. He works for the Whitehead Research Project as Work Coordinator.
History as Process and Historical Materialism: Whitehead and Benjamin on Tragedy in the Wake of Progress
Whitehead’s Adventures of Ideas and Walter Benjamin’s “Theses on the Philosophy of History” both articulate conceptions of time that run counter to linear temporal formulations. While these two thinkers were contemporaries to some degree, their philosophical lineages evince very little overlap, and there is no evidence that they knew of each other’s work. Nevertheless, both Whitehead and Benjamin evoke an opening up of history, a historical view in which the future is not determined by the past, but is in part made possible by the past. Each offers a decidedly anti-teleological position with regard to the future, and each responds to the notion of tragedy in the unfolding of history. This paper will examine their philosophies of history with the aim of arriving at a means of dealing with tragic aspects of history and guarding against notions of progress that only add to the tragic wreckage piling up in the world.
Jon Gill (Claremont Graduate University)
Are we living in the last days of process thought as theology? The recent attention given to nontheistic interpretations or interpretations that do not rely necesarily upon an idea of God in Whiteheadian process thought by Isabelle Stengers, Michael Halewood, and others (such as myself) yet again indicate the possibility of a serious Whitehead-influenced school of thought that has its own autonomy and validation apart from religious ancillaries. In light of the humanistic twist of much of present day Christian and post-Christian process theologies (such as Keller, Coleman, Faber, etc), is this new focus on nontheistic articulations of Whitehead by scholars outside of religion departments create a reciprocal momentum that is both legitimated and informed by Whiteheadian religious and theological scholars? My contention is that Whitehaedian process thought in its religious forms will eventually die in the current broader academic climate which in various areas from science to philosophy is experiencing a marginal return to a consideration of Whitehead as an influential thinker in the American tradition with little or no connection to his religious import. I also argue that many of the cutting edge religious Whiteheadian thinkers' use of God is very akin to the way in which other process scholars without religious concerns emit or negate any sort of theism. These two contentions will be made with a philosophical aesthetic connection to the lyrics of The Doors' "The End," the skeletal framework upon which this work will be built.
J.R. Hustwit (Methodist University) is Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy. He received his PhD from Claremont Graduate University. His area of specialization is philosophical theology. His academic interests include East and South Asian Religions, Inter-religious Dialogue, Hermeneutics, Philosophy of Religion, and Process Philosophy.
Our Dark Materials: The Philosophical Economy of Inspiration and Construction
What do poets, saints, and the mentally ill have in common? Among other things, they frequently report experiences of inspiration—possession by that which lies the beyond the threshold of the phenomenal. Comparing the philosophical accounts of inspiration given by Alfred North Whitehead and Owen Barfield discloses two reciprocal insights. First, the phenomenon of inspiration involves receiving content from beyond the bounds of subjectivity, an unannounced import. Second, reflection on this process yields creative metaphysical construction—an export that is in turn projected out onto the nonphenomenal. This model of philosophical economy answers several objections to the speculative metaphysics defended by Whitehead and Barfield.
Max Johnson (Claremont Graduate University) is Adjunct Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Chaffey College, Adjunct Professor of Theology at the Claremont School of Theology, and a doctoral student in Philosophy of Religion at CGU. His primary areas of interest are in “intra/inter-faith dialogue,” the “science and religion” dialogue, and applied “constructive” postmodern theology.
Of Dice & Dynos: Bartholomew, Whitehead, and the Divine use of “Glorious Accidents”
Discussing the relationship between God and chance often makes theologians uncomfortable. Some have denied the very existence of “genuine” chance, while others have gone so far as to declare that even a single chance event, if such a thing could be verified, would constitute definitive proof of God’s nonexistence.
But what if “chance” was somehow integral to God’s way of creating? What if it was possible to reconcile Einstein’s famous dictum that “God does not play dice” with Stephen Hawking’s sly retort: “Not only does God play dice, but sometimes he throws them where no one can find them?”
A recent book by statistician David J. Bartholomew, God, Chance and Purpose, set out to do just that. Augmenting Bartholomew’s work with aspects of a (neo)Whiteheadian ontology, the present essay will explore the possibility that, not only is God’s existence compatible with a universe of genuine chance events; God actually makes serendipitous use of such events to help bring forth ever increasing levels of value, intensity, beauty, harmony, complexity and diversity.
As a sort of case study, we shall focus in particular on the (chance?) event known as the “Yucatan Asteroid,” which many scientists believe was responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs, and yet also made possible the evolution of “higher” mammals such as ourselves.
Was the destruction of countless prehistoric creatures somehow “part of the divine plan of a loving God,” or did God wisely take advantage of this and other “glorious accidents” (Stephen J. Gould) to bring about something genuinely novel?
Kristopher Klotz (Claremont School of Theology) recently earned his master’s degree in philosophy and theology from Claremont School of Theology. His main areas of interest include the work of A.N. Whitehead, process thought and process theology, and the history of philosophy.
Political Philosophy and the Recovery of Nature
What are the symptoms of a decaying civilization and how should philosophy respond when confronted with these symptoms? Nietzsche and Whitehead offer distinct but related answers to these questions. By reading these two philosophers together, I hope to demonstrate the importance of the relationship between metaphysics and political philosophy. In the first part of this essay, I discuss Nietzsche’s view that society decays with the rise of the “herd mentality,” which is prominently expressed in the form of democracy. In response to this problem, Nietzsche proposes a “return to nature.” Through the concept of the will to power, nature is properly revealed to be unegalitarian and undemocratic. A return to nature therefore entails an inversion or revaluation of modern, democratic values. I suggest that Nietzsche’s political teaching can be located in this revaluation. In the second part of this paper, I read Whitehead’s work, particularly Adventures of Ideas and Modes of Thought, against the backdrop of Nietzsche’s account of decadence. Whitehead, too, finds decadence to be a problem for civilization. For Whitehead, this problem arises with the “dislocation of Appearance from Reality.” In response, Whitehead proposes a recovery of “concrete reality.” Philosophy has a share in this recovery. Insofar as such a recovery relates to civilization, I argue that this task is political. On these points, Whitehead and Nietzsche have much in common. The two differ, however, in that they have opposing views of nature, of reality. Unlike Nietzsche, Whitehead holds that democratic values are rooted in the nature of reality. In the final part of this essay, I discuss why the consideration of this difference is important for political philosophy and I propose several avenues for negotiating this difference.
Richard Livingston (Claremont Graduate University) is a PhD candidate at Claremont Graduate University's School of Religion studying in the Philosophy of Religion and Theology program. Most broadly construed, his academic interests are located in the spaces of convergence and divergence between metaphysics, theology, philosophy, and science. As such, his research areas include ontology, philosophy of religion, philosophical theology, process-relational thought, and open and relational theologies.
Converging Divergent Paths: Khôralogical Thinking in Heidegger and Whitehead
Heidegger has long been recognized for his critique of the entire tradition of Western philosophy and theology. Although less well-known, Whitehead laid out a similar critique. While Heidegger's deconstruction of Western thought led him explicitly away from metaphysical thinking, Whitehead's critical reflections brought him decidedly toward speculative philosophy. Although their philosophical predilections, frameworks, and methodologies radically differ, both located the source of and solution to the problem they identified in ancient Greece. Of particular interest here is that both thinkers found inspiration in Plato's enigmatic notion of khôra. And, it is in relation to that idea, or at least that way of thinking, that I want to offer a critical comparison between Heidegger's movement away from the being of beings and toward a confrontation with Being itself, and Whitehead's movement away from the Being of beings and toward a confrontation with the becoming of things. While Heidegger's khoralogical thinking allows him to illuminate is Being in terms of Ereignis, Whitehead's reflection on khôra contributes to an illumination of the creative element which provides unity to the manifold of becoming. Even though both thinkers call us to consider several profound insights, and even display an unexpected moments of complementarity, Whitehead's 'width of view' provides an engagement with and elucidation of 'the thing itself' that is more compelling.
Hollis Phelps (Mt. Olive College) is Assistant Professor of Religion at Mount Olive College in Mount Olive, NC. He received his Ph.D. from the School of Religion at Claremont Graduate University in 2011 with a dissertation on Alain Badiou. Among other things, his interests include political and secular theologies, psychoanalysis, critical theory, and contemporary continental philosophy.
Eternal Objects, Eternal Truths: Whitehead, Badiou, and the Structure of Worlds
This paper brings certain elements of Alain Badiou’s ontology and logic of appearance into dialogue with Whitehead’s philosophy of organism. More specifically, I suggest in this paper that the relationship between eternal objects and temporal processes in Whitehead’s thought helps to clarify the sense of the relationship between eternal truths and their instantiation in contingent worlds in Badiou’s philosophy. In order to indicate an initial connection between these two thinkers, the first part of this paper focuses in general on the manner in which both Whitehead and Badiou rely on Plato to construct their philosophies. The second part of this paper discusses the function of eternal objects in Whitehead’s system, in dialogue with Badiou’s transcendental logic of appearance as developed in Logics of Worlds. The third and final section of this paper applies the similarities uncovered between Whitehead and Badiou in the second section to Badiou’s eternal truths, which, I argue, function as eternal objects for Badiou.
Dennis Soelch (Universität Düsseldorf) Dennis Soelch studied Philosophy, English and American Literature, English Linguistics and Educational Sciences. He is a research and teaching fellow at the Heinrich-Heine-University of Duesseldorf, where he is currently working on his dissertation on the genealogy of process philosophy. His areas of research include metaphysics and the history of metaphysics, philosophy of culture and philosophical methodology. He has published several papers on Alfred North Whitehead, William James and Friedrich Nietzsche. Since 2010 he is executive vice president and chief executive officer of the German Whitehead Association.
Religion in the Public Sphere: A Whiteheadian Approach
Nietzsche’s proclamation of the death of God, which for much of the 20th century reverberated in the rigid analytic separation of facts and values, has long since become superseded by a revitalized philosophical interest in the phenomenon of religion. Although most Western societies generally embrace the ideas of religious pluralism and non-denominational spirituality, there is a widespread feeling of uneasiness with regard to the actual influence of religious convictions on politics and public life. While a large number of thinkers, following Wittgenstein, still want to restrict religiousness to the sphere of the private, others have tried to analyse the conditions under which religions could become a productive social element without running the risks of turning to fundamentalism or excluding atheists and religious minorities.
One of the most prominent thinkers engaged in the debate on the influence of religion on the public sphere is Juergen Habermas, whose dialogue with Joseph Ratzinger in 2004 attracted wide attention. More recently, revolving around the question in how far the contents of religious experience can be translated into the language of public rationality, Charles Taylor, Judith Butler and others have contributed to the discussion on religion, rationality and society. One of the thinkers whose potentially valuable contributions to the issue have not yet been taken into account is Alfred N. Whitehead. On the whole, the reception of his thoughts on religion has primarily focussed on his metaphysics and the corresponding notion of a processual God. However, his often neglected Religion in the Making provides a number of reflections which go far beyond the realms of theology and the history of philosophy and which might add to the current debate in the philosophy of religion and sociology.
The presentation aims at bringing Whitehead into a dialogue with some of the eminent scholars involved in the present discussion on the role of religion in the public sphere. Particular attention will be paid to the problem of a translation of religious concepts into a secular language, which has turned out to be one of the most crucial and controversial issues in the debate. At the same time, such a focus will allow for a broader perspective on Whitehead’s occupation with the phenomenon of religion, taking account of his ideas in the field of the philosophy of culture and religion. This will eventually allow for a reassessment of Whitehead’s metaphysics, placing Process and Reality in the wider context of the search for a fusion of religion and rationality.
Nichole Torbitzky (Claremont Graduate University) is a PhD student at Claremont Graduate University in Philosophy of Religion and Theology. She has her M. Div. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and her B.A. from Truman State University. Here interest lies in process philosophy of religion.
Metaphysics of Atonement
Theory about the saving acts of God through Jesus Christ has abounded since the beginnings of the Christian church. No one of these theories has been permanently established as the definitive explanation of the ‘how’ of atonement, although most contemporary, Western Christians would adhere to some form of the penal substitution model. Process thought, used in the mode of theology, offers a metaphysic that allows for a model of atonement that takes up the strengths of the so-called “objective” and “subjective” models of atonement. This same metaphysic also allows for a model of atonement that avoids many of the pitfalls of the other models.
Alan Van Wyk (Claremont Graduate University) is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Religion, at the Claremont Graduate University, working in the Theology, Ethics, and Culture program. His research is in religious and cultural theory, in particular exploring the intersection of religious and political subjectivities. His dissertation is being written under the direction of Prof. Faber, and is entitled "Becoming Subjects: Conversion and the Production of Possibility." Currently he is adjunct professor of religion at Hamline University, in St. Paul, MN, and researcher at the Minnesota Council of Churches. He recently co-edited Creativity and Its Discontents: The Response to Whitehead's Process and Reality.
Appearances of Love: The Political Theology of ANW
In the final section of Adventures of Ideas, Alfred North Whitehead concludes his speculative trilogy with a propositioning of the qualities of civilization: Truth, Beauty, Adventure, Art, and Peace. Although Whitehead designates these as ‘qualities,’ they might more aptly be designated as the political practices of civilization, practices that continually circulate through each other as the production and preservation of the appearance of occasions. Marked by Adventure and Peace, this production has as its central movement the inner-implication of the rupture of possibility and the preservation of value. It is in this sense, then, that it becomes possible to designate the final section of Adventures of Ideas as the end of Whitehead’s speculative project, taking into itself and arising out of the ecological cosmology that he proposes. With this, a parallel arises between the final section of Adventures of Ideas and the final section of Process and Reality: an ecology of production that is designated as a movement between Adventure and Peace is implicated in and by an ecology of production that is designated as a movement between the World and God, which is itself a movement of Love. In reading together the final moments of Process and Reality and Adventures of Ideas we arrive, then, at the articulation of a political theology of Love. The present paper attempts to articulate this political theology of Love by, first, unfolding Whitehead’s determination of the political practice of civilization; second, displaying the ecology of Love through which Whitehead presents the productive relation of the World and God; and finally, demonstrating the ways in which Whitehead’s politics of civilization finds its possibility and completion in an ecology of Love.
Koji Yoshida (Sophia University, Japan) received his PhD from Sophia University this past year. The title of his dissertation is "Creativity and Life." He has published articles including: "Existence and the Cosmos: Through Whitehead's Reconstruction of Cosmology," in Whitehead and Existentialism; "Whitehead's Philosophy in the Transition Period: Toward the Introduction of the Epochal Theory of Time," (in Japanese) in Process Thought; "Consciousness in Whitehead's Philosophy in the Transition Period: In Contrast with James' Philosophy," (in Japanese) in Process Thought; and "The Category of the Ultimate in Whitehead's Philosophy: What Makes the Emergence of Novelty Possible?" (in Japanese) TETSUGAKU-RONSHU.
Novelty of Style in Whitehead’s Philosophy
A. N. Whitehead constructed his philosophy of organism in the early twentieth century when the dramatic changes occurred in philosophy, science, and civilization. According to Process and Reality, he endeavored to “frame a coherent, logical necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted.”
This implies two aspects of Whitehead’s philosophy: on one hand, his philosophy of organism as metaphysics has the universality without temporariness. Though it was constructed about a hundred years ago, it conveys profound truth even today. On the other hand, his philosophy as cosmology is based on his contemporary sciences, social situations, and so on. This suggests that Whitehead’s philosophy also become old-fashioned someday, and some future great philosopher may say: “The Process and Reality of Whitehead, considered as a statement of scientific details, is simply foolish. But if it be read as an allegory, it conveys profound truth.” Then what is the significance of Whitehead’s philosophy beyond ages?
In this paper, I propose that the significance of Whitehead’s philosophy is in novelty of style in his philosophy. He invented many original notions, and in particular actual entity, prehension, nexus involve “some divergence from antecedent philosophical thought.” If we considered each as a concept having a univocal meaning, the possibilities to develop Whitehead’s philosophy would be bound by such concepts. However, if we find novelty of his philosophy in its style to express the concrete elements in our experience, those notions function as open to various interpretations of his philosophy and as generating various systems of meaning. Whitehead created novel style which is style of neither western traditional philosophy nor positivistic science. I will provide what features its style has, and also indicate that it has similarities with style of Japanese thought.