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1. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Daniel A. Dombrowski Editor’s Notes
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2. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Lisa Landoe Hedrick Thinking with Whitehead on Transcendence and Its Failures: A Challenge to Stengers and Derrida
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The ability to recognize failures presupposes the ability to recognize achievements. By the same logic, ethical failures are identifiable only to the extent to which ethical achievements are identifiable. This article examines the possibility of cultural criticism in Whitehead’s metaphysics. The first part of this article challenges Isabelle Stenger’s nonnormative reading of Whitehead, while the second part employs my alternative reading in order to critique two different (albeit nonexhaustive) accounts of the nature of (primarily ethical) ideals. The main focus of this critique is Derrida’s account of the autoimmunity of democracy and the aporetic structure of justice.
3. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Rem B. Edwards Conflicting Process Theodicies
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This article examines the process theodicies of David Ray Griffin and Philip Clayton. It explains their differences on such issues as God’s primordial power and voluntary self-limitation, creativity as an independent metaphysical principle that limits God, creation out of nothing or out of chaos, and God’s voluntary causal naturalism. Difficulties with their positions are discussed. The Clayton-Knapp “no-not-once” principle is explained, and a more comprehensive theodicy is outlined.
4. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Eric LaRock, Mostyn Jones How Subjects Can Emerge from Neurons
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We pose a foundational problem for those who claim that subjects are ontologically irreducible, but causally reducible (weak emergence). This problem is neuroscience’s notorious binding problem, which concerns how distributed neural areas produce unified mental objects (such as perceptions) and the unified subject that experiences them. Synchrony, synapses, and other mechanisms cannot explain this. We argue that this problem seriously threatens popular claims that mental causality is reducible to neural causality. Weak emergence additionally raises evolutionary worries about how we have survived the perils of nature. Our emergent subject hypothesis (ESH) avoids these shortcomings. Here, a singular, unified subject acts back on the neurons it emerges from and binds sensory features into unified mental objects. Serving as the mind’s controlling center, this subject is ontologically and causally irreducible (strong emergence). Our ESH draws on recent experimental evidence, including the evidence for a possible correlate (or “seat”) of the subject, which enhances its testability.
5. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Jonathan Kopel A Note Regarding Relational Ontology in Chemistry
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Reductionism remains the dominant philosophical framework of modern science. Within reductionism, the universe is conceived as a probabilistic and deterministic system guided solely by the laws of physics and mathematics. Under the guidance of reductionist thought, the development of the modern atomic theory and quantum mechanics has drastically changed science, medicine, and philosophy. In particular, the standard model of particle physics remains the crowning achievement of over three hundred years of reductionist thought in both physics and chemistry. Yet developments within chemistry suggest a new paradigm is required to overcome the limitations of reductionism and provide chemists a more fruitful model. This article will argue that a version of relational ontology provides an avenue for elucidating and predicting chemical and atomic phenomena. In relational ontology, the ontological status of an enduring entity in any moment is viewed as a composite of its own inherited properties and the influences of other entities, especially those closely related to it within a system. This view encompasses the causal aspects of the world without denying its dynamic and creative nature while providing a richer understanding of chemistry and other scientific fields.
6. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Philip Tryon Event Ontology, Habit, and Agency
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The following is an outline of an emerging foundation for science that begins to explain living forms and their patterns of movement beyond the sphere of mechanistic interactions. Employing an event ontology based on a convergence of quantum physics and Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy, coupled with the controversial yet promising theory of formative causation, this development will explore possible influences on the outcomes of events beyond any combination of external forces, laws of Nature, and chance. If it turns out there are no such additional influences—beyond mechanistic causes—it is difficult to see how agency or free will could exist. Assuming agency exists, as Whitehead apparently does, while committing to an event ontology in which process is fundamental leads to interesting questions about the natures of any entities that might participate in events. Furthermore, what might the purposes and agendas of such entities be based upon, beyond memory traces or DNA code? This ontological model, recognizing processes as fundamental, leads to a revised cosmology where the trajectory of a series of events may be due to more than rearrangement of material bits according to external forces and where goal-directed, recurring processes and the emergence of mind are not so surprising. Just as special relativity reduces to classical treatment when speeds slow down, this scientific model for a living world reduces to mechanistic materialism whenever conditions are more limited. Though this development is based on a philosophy of process, there are some dissimilarities with respect to Whitehead’s particular version.
7. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Eric v. d. Luft Three Paradigm Theories of Time: Bergson, McTaggart, and Whitehead
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The three theories considered here, real continuous time (Bergson), real serial time (Whitehead), and unreal time (McTaggart), are each in some sense a reaction to Hume’s theory of serial or “spatialized” time. Hence, Hume’s theory is elaborated on as a foundation for the discussion and comparison of the subsequent three. This brief excursion into the nature of time may help to illuminate the differences among these three and to suggest some of their possible implications, particularly with regard to (1) the existential difference between intuited or transcendent time and experienced or immanent time and (2) the qualitative or ontological difference between the eternal and the temporal.
8. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Joseph Bracken A New Process-Oriented Approach to Theodicy
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In God of Empowering Love: A History and Reconception of the Theodicy Conundrum, David Polk proposes that the power of God should be understood as love that empowers rather than overpowers and that the process-relational metaphysics of Whitehead, Hartshorne, and subsequent Whiteheadian thinkers justifies this conception of God’s power as empowering love. I argue instead that, while Polk’s thesis cannot, strictly speaking, be philosophically justified within the conventional parameters of Whitehead’s metaphysical scheme, the latter could be modestly altered so as to justify divine power as empowering love. In what follows, I lay out my argument for a systems-oriented approach to the God-world relationship in which God as Trinity is both the transcendent origin and ultimate goal of the cosmic process (understood as an ongoing structured society of finite subsocieties and nexuses).
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9. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Adam C. Scarfe Everything Flows: Towards a Processual Philosophy of Biology
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10. Process Studies: Volume > 48 > Issue: 1
Adam C. Scarfe The Harvard Lectures of Alfred North Whitehead (1924–1925): Philosophical Presuppositions of Science
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11. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Dwayne Schulz The Extensive Continuum versus the “Extensive Dis-Continuum” in Whitehead
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In this article, I argue for the redundancy of Whitehead’s Platonic notion of the extensive continuum, counterposing it to his related notion of an atomic “ether of events.” I argue that Whitehead’s atomic ether is more compatible with orthodox general relativity than generally supposed and remarkably close to the contemporary idea of a discrete manifold in the causal set theory of quantum gravity. I argue that the method of extensive abstraction complements Whitehead’s atomic hypothesis by demonstrating the ultimately fictive nature of any continuum.
12. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
David Rambo Interstitial Life and the Banality of Novelty in Whitehead’s Process and Reality
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Whitehead’s metaphysical conception of life in Process and Reality is elucidated. The article is about neither biology nor psychology, but about how Whitehead’s view of interstitial life might account for these scientific disciplines’ range of phenomena. Whitehead’s view of the universe as always novel but rarely original will be clarified, as will the role of eternal objects.
13. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Tamar Levanon The Trails of the Unspoken: Bergson and Whitehead on Language and Time
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The goal in this article is to compare Bergson’s and Whitehead’s treatment of language and in particular the extent to which each believed that language is capable of expressing the temporal dimension of experience.
14. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Andrew Kirkpatrick Merleau-Ponty’s Reading of Whitehead: A Romantic and Invisible Influence
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What bearing did the works of Whitehead have on the late Merleau-Ponty and his emerging ontology of flesh? When gauged by analysis of citations alone, Whitehead’s influence on Merleau-Ponty appears to be a brief and minor encounter. However, despite the paucity of explicit reference to Whitehead, there is an argument to be made that Whitehead’s philosophy played a pivotal role in the development of Merleau-Ponty’s late thought. This can be understood in relation to Whitehead’s theory of education, which consists of three stages: romance, precision, and generalization. It will also be shown how Whitehead’s theory of education corresponds to Merleau-Ponty’s incomplete phenomenological reduction. From this, we are provided with access to a metaphenomenological reading of Merleau-Ponty’s oeuvre, which can be understood as an ongoing movement between phenomenology and ontology, a movement in which Whitehead’s thought played a significant—if largely “invisible”—role.
15. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Palmyre M. F. Oomen God’s Power and Almightiness in Whitehead’s Thought
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Whitehead’s position regarding God’s power is rather unique in the philosophical and theological landscape. Whitehead rejects divine omnipotence (unlike Aquinas), yet he claims (unlike Hans Jonas) that God’s persuasive power is required for everything to exist and occur. This intriguing position is the subject of this article. The article starts with an exploration of Aquinas’s reasoning toward God’s omnipotence. This will be followed by a close examination of Whitehead’s own position, starting with an introduction to his philosophy of organism and its two-sided concept of God. Thereupon, an analysis of Whitehead’s idiosyncratic view on God’s agency will show that, according to this conception, God and the world depend upon each other, and that God’s agency is a noncoercive but persuasive power. The difference between coercion and persuasion will be explained as well as the reason why God, according to Whitehead’s conception, cannot possibly coerce. Finally, a discussion of the issue of divine almightiness will allow for a reinterpretation of divine almightiness from a Whiteheadian perspective, which will show how, despite Whitehead’s rejection of God’s omnipotence, his concept retains essential elements of God as pantokrator (and thus markedly differs from Hans Jonas’s concept).
16. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
L. Scott Smith The Worship of God as “Sick Men’s Dreams”: A Response to David Hume
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This article analyzes David Hume’s influential critique of worship from a process point of view informed by the thought of Whitehead and Hartshorne.
17. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Haipeng Guo A Taiji-Bagua Diagram for Whitehead’s Categoreal Scheme
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The present article illustrates the well-known affinity between Whitehead’s process philosophy and Chinese thought by mapping the category of the ultimate and the categories of existence in Whitehead’s categoreal scheme onto the Taiji and Bagua diagrams as developed in The Book of Changes, or I Ching. The Taiji-Bagua diagrams are models of organic unity that provide a framework and structure to better understand the category of the ultimate and the categories of existence—particularly how these categories are related to each other. They illustrate more clearly the coherent nature of Whitehead’s speculative philosophy as stated in Process and Reality.
18. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Glen Veitch Process Perspectivism and Linguistic Relativity
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A thorough appreciation of the Whiteheadian subjectivist principle necessitates both a doctrine of panexperientialism as well as a metaphysical perspectivism. Employing a dialectical analysis of these two, this article argues that reality—as understood by the Whiteheadian term “actual world”—is largely misunderstood. Far from representing a singular concrete world, reality is multiplicitous and subject-dependent. As a result of this and the core tenet of process metaphysics—that all existents can be understood as event—it is argued that human language, as its own species of event, interacts with reality in the same way all other events do, and as such must be considered genuinely ontologically creative.
19. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Jason Brown Theoretical Note on the Nature of the Present
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This article is an extension to a theory of the present based on a model of mind and brain that began with studies of disorders of language in cases of focal brain damage and the analysis of symptoms in general neuropsychology. These studies developed into a model of the mind/brain state and its relevance to most of the central problems in speculative psychology and philosophy of mind. A new interpretation of the aphasias in relation to brain process and the application of this interpretation to the dynamic structure of action (in which phases in word and act production are mapped onto evolutionary patterns in forebrain growth) was extended to an account of perceptual disorders and a theory of normal perception that involved a radical revision of classical perception theory (see Brown, “Microgenetic”). In effect, by turning the standard account of object formation upside down, the process of object development could be aligned with that of act and language formation, such that all cognitive systems could be framed in terms of a unitary model of brain and mental process. The scope of application was such that it constituted a Bauplan or general model for the organization of mentality and the nervous system that led, organically, to a theory of the mind/brain state, then to the nature of process, change, and subjective time. Since the account was based on symptoms in relation to evolutionary concepts, it was essential to work out a theory of symptom formation, which gave rise to a more comprehensive view of the link between microgenesis and phylo-ontogeny.
20. Process Studies: Volume > 47 > Issue: 1/2
Jon Paul Sydnor God Is Not Eternal, Nor Are We: On the Blessedness of Being in Time
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The association of God with eternity, and eternity with timelessness, harms Christian spiritual life. If eternity is superior to time, then God’s placement of human beings within time is ungenerous. Fortunately, the Christian concept of God as triune commends divine becoming through time. In particular, the social Trinitarian view that God is three persons united through love demands divine temporality. Relationality relies on change for its content. So, for God to be internally related, God must be internally timeful. Moreover, to assert that the Trinitarian persons relate through time places a high value on human relationships. Created in the image of God, we are called to create ever-closer community through time. This effort sanctifies time, rendering kairos of chronos. Kairos is the experience of time as sacred, whereas chronos is the experience of time as purposeless. For the three persons of the Trinity, all time is kairos. For us, every moment contains the potential for kairos because God sustains the universe continually. Through faith, the moment-by-moment progression of time can become the grace-by-grace gift of God.