Creativity and a Democracy of Fellow Creatures
Creativity and a Democracy of Fellow Creatures
The Challenge Of Whitehead’S Radical Ontological Pluralism
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter introduces Whitehead’s notion of creativity. In Whitehead’s account of the cosmos, every concrete actual entity consists in a creative process in which a multitude of past entities are constantly brought into a new unity. What drives this unending creative process is creativity and God as the locus of eternal objects or pure possibilities. But creativity is a notion of pure activity and merely a descriptive term for what is taking place constantly in the cosmos, not some kind of ultimate ontological ground, while God is a mere creature of creativity. Creativity, in other words, is the creativity of every concrete entity, i.e., every “creature” that creates itself, including God. If the notion of creativity is taken as a comparative analogue to qi, then Whitehead’s radical ontological pluralism challenges Zhu Xi’s de-valorizing conception of the spontaneous dynamism of qi manifest in the seemingly chaotic interrelated becoming of the myriad creatures.
In his magnum opus, Process and Reality, Alfred North Whitehead names three major images of God as having come, in various combinations, to dominate the development of theistic philosophy: God as an imperial ruler, associated with the Roman Empire and its divine Caesars, and also with Islam; God as a personification of moral energy—“the ruthless moralist”—as with the Hebrew prophets; and God as an ultimate philosophical principle, as found in Aristotle with his notion of the Unmoved Mover, and also in Indian thought.1 Regardless of whether this threefold scheme of historical interpretation does justice to all the religious and philosophical traditions implicated, it is clear in Process and Reality that Whitehead uses this interpretive framework to criticize classical Christian theism in favor of a notion of God, found in “the Galilean origin of Christianity,” that “dwells upon the tender elements in the world” and “slowly and in quietness operate[s] by love” (343). An interesting fact to note here is that Whitehead sees his notion of God, which he developed from its Galilean origin into an integral part of his “philosophy of organism,” approximating more to “some strains of Indian, or Chinese thought” than to “western Asiatic, or European, thought” (7). In order to follow this suggestive allusion to a comparative theological reflection, we need to examine Whitehead’s philosophy of organism, especially as it is presented in its mature form in Process and Reality, so as to situate his “dipolar” conception of God as Love within its proper systematic and interpretive context.
Creativity, Actual Occasions, and Eternal Objects: Reality as the Process of “Concrescence”
According to one of his metaphysical first principles, that is, the “ontological principle,” what Whitehead calls “actual entities” or “actual (p.84) occasions” are “the final real things of which the world is made up” (18).2 Because there is “no going behind actual entities to find anything more real,” God is an actual entity also, as is “the most trivial puff of existence in far-off empty space” (18). What is an actual entity, then? An actual entity or occasion, he explains, is an instance of “concrescence” (211), which is “the name for the process in which the universe of many things acquires an individual unity in a determinate relegation of each item of the ‘many’ to its subordination in the constitution of the novel ‘one’ ” (211). In other words, an actual entity is none other than the very process of the creation of a new “one” out of the “many.” On the one hand, the very “being” of an actual entity is constituted by its “becoming”—the thesis encapsulated in another one of Whitehead’s metaphysical first principles, namely, the “principle of process” (23). On the other hand, the becoming of an actual entity is never a mere random movement or change but always a “creative advance into novelty.”3 The concrescence of an actual entity is tantamount to the creation or production of a new unity, which is “the universe conjunctively,” out of the existing disjointed multiplicity, which is “the universe disjunctively,” in such a way that the new unity participates in and adds to the past multiplicity: “The many become one, and are increased by one” (21).
The “many” here does not, however, refer to elements more fundamental and ultimate than actual entities but to actual entities themselves. Actual entities are the atomic units of reality and the basic building blocks of the universe, though conceived as units of becoming rather than of being (35). In terms of modern particle physics with which Whitehead was familiar, actual entities may be seen to correspond, with some qualifications, to subatomic elementary particles such as quarks. They “atomize” what Whitehead calls “the extensive continuum,” that is, the actual world conceived in terms of its most general features of unbounded extension and indefinite divisibility, both spatially and temporally speaking. Many actual entities come into being in an instant as the indivisible atomic units of one extensive space-time continuum, “perish” in the same instant, and in their moment of perishing contribute to the concrescence of a novel actual entity.4 It is by forming “nexus” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 20)5—sets of spatiotemporally interrelated and mutually immanent actual entities—that actual entities come to constitute more ordinary and seemingly enduring objects of perception, from protons and atoms to plants and animals, which are all “societies” of actual (p.85) entities with defining characteristic or “common form” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 34).
Here it is important to note that, for Whitehead, there is no transcendent creator God in the classical sense of the term behind the incessant process of the creation of a new actual entity out of many past actual entities. Rather, underneath the process of concrescence of the world of actual entities lies “creativity,” which is “that ultimate notion of the highest generality at the base of actuality” (31). Creativity is another rendering of the Aristotelian notion of “matter” and the modern notion of “neutral stuff”,” neither of which has a character of its own because all characters are more specific than they are, and which become actual only by being conditioned and characterized (31). In contrast to these two notions, however, which are more or less synonymous with the pure notion of passive receptivity set over against “form” or external relations, Whitehead’s notion of creativity stands for the notion of pure activity underlying the process of becoming of actual entities (7, 31). As the notion of pure activity, creativity is an abstract principle rather than a concrete agency or agent—“that ultimate principle by which the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively” (21). Creativity, in that sense, is actual only insofar as it is conditioned and qualified by its creatures, that is, only when characterized as the process of concrescence of actual entities that are agents in the real and factual sense of the term (20).
Since creativity is no actual agency, actual entities or occasions are creatures without a creator—they are causa sui. The process of their concrescence, in other words, is none other than the process of their self-creation or self-causation (88).6 That is why Whitehead calls actual entities “subjects”—beings functioning in regard to themselves or determining themselves in the self-constituting process of concrescence by being immediately present to themselves and not losing self-identity in the midst of self-diversity:
An actual entity functions in respect to its own determination. … An actual entity by functioning in respect to itself plays diverse roles in self-formation without losing its self identity. It is self-creative. … This self-functioning is the real internal constitution of an actual entity. It is the “immediacy” of the actual entity. An actual entity is called the “subject” of its own immediacy. (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 25; italics mine)
(p.86) As a subject, an actual entity is the agent of its own becoming, actively receiving and appropriating the world in its manyness to constitute the unity of what it becomes. This is the meaning of Whitehead’s “reformist subjectivist principle,” namely, the claim that actual entities “experience,” that they are “drops of experience, complex and interdependent” (18), and that “apart from the experiences of subjects there is nothing, nothing, nothing, bare nothingness” (167).
As a “drop of experience,” an actual entity has a threefold character corresponding to the three phases of its concrescence (87). First, it has the character “given” to it by the past, which is none other than the many and diverse objectifications of the past actual entities of the world functioning as its “efficient cause.” This first, “given,” and deterministic character or phase of an actual entity, which conditions and characterizes creativity primordially as a “ground of obligation” (29) insofar as actual entities are concerned, is what Whitehead calls the “objective immortality” of the actual world (31). It is none other than the “inflow of the actual world”7 whose teeming multitude of already concresced and now objectified entities are “felt” or positively “prehended”8—included in a subject’s internal constitution—and reenacted severally by the novel concrescent subject in and through a process of selective elimination and abstraction (65, 245). It is the “datum from the past” whose disjointed multiplicity accounts for the self-diversity within the initial phase of a novel concrescence (164).
Second, an actual entity has a subjective character or phase that consists of “subjective form” and “subjective aim.” The “subjective form” is how an actual entity experiences, that is, actively becomes what it determinately comes to be by responding to the objectified data of the past, valuing them and selectively either rejecting them from or admitting them into the self-creative process (23, 85–86). The “subjective aim,” in contrast, is an actual entity’s “final cause,” “lure,” or “appetition” (87, 33)—namely, its ideal of itself as a determinate individual that guides the valuation of its subjective form so that through the process of its concrescence it makes the “decision” to come to be what it comes to be 85–87). While being conditioned by its first character, that is, the deterministic efficient causation, an actual entity in the second, subjective character not merely reenacts the disjointed objective data from the past but selectively brings them into a novel harmony in order to determine itself to be this or that entity. The freedom and spontaneity manifest in this process of creative advance into novel orders speak for the character of actual (p.87) entities as autonomous subjects that are conditioned but not wholly determined by the past objective immortality of the world.
Last but not least, an actual entity as a subject has a “superjective” character or phase, which is “the pragmatic value of its specific satisfaction qualifying the transcendent creativity” (87). Following another one of his metaphysical principles, namely, the “principle of relativity,” according to which every “being” is a potential for every “becoming” (22), Whitehead conceives of an actual entity as losing its subjective immediacy—that is, “perishing” as a subject—and turning into an object for other concrescing actual entities,9 becoming part of the “datum from the past” for them, as soon as it has achieved full subjectivity or the “satisfaction” (26) of being definitively this or that entity: “An actual entity is to be conceived both as a subject presiding over its own immediacy of becoming and a superject which is the atomic creature exercising its function of objective immortality” (45). The term “subject” as applied to actual entities, in that sense, is always an abbreviation of “subject-superject” (29).
The self-creative autonomy of actual entities as subjects, however, is not only conditioned by the inflow of the actual world from the past. It is also partially dependent, even in the immediacy of the present, on something other than itself, at least in the initial stage of concrescence. The subjective freedom of an actual entity to determine itself definitively into being this or that actual entity presupposes a form of definiteness functioning as its telos (its “lure” or “final cause”) (20); and Whitehead conceives of forms of definiteness as the other kind of entities, that is, potential entities, which, together with actual entities, make up the world. He names the potential entities “eternal objects” (158),10 which include patterned combinations of them called “complex eternal objects.”11 A complex eternal object is precisely that specific interrelation of eternal objects that provides the defining characteristic or common form—and functions as the “conceptual lure for feeling” (86)—for the correspondingly ordered society of mutually immanent actual entities. Eternal objects, be they simple or complex, are “pure potentials” (23) for the process of becoming in the sense that an analysis of their nature discloses only other eternal objects and does not reveal in what determinate actual entities they are to be realized (23, 29). In other words, eternal objects represent the “general” and “absolute” potentialities (65) of the universe that are indeterminate in regard to their relevance to particular actual entities and therefore are not yet part of concrescence (29). They may in (p.88) that sense be envisaged as connoting a kind of “cosmic geometrical/genetic code”12 harboring many divergent possibilities of concrete and determinate actualization. It is only with their “ingression”13 in the process of becoming, in which they are conditioned and limited by the data provided by the actual world, that they come to form “real” potentialities relative and relevant to some actual entities (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 65), expressing their definiteness and thus determining the concrete shapes of their respective self-creative concrescence. As real potentialities, therefore, eternal objects point in fact to the actual world itself in its character as a “datum for creativeness” given to itself as it forges ahead beyond a given standpoint in cosmic space-time toward a radically novel future (65).
In sum, Whitehead’s “philosophy of organism” presents a thoroughly processual picture of reality as intrinsic to the cosmos in which we find ourselves. The three notions of creativity, actual occasions, and eternal objects make up the conceptual scheme by which reality as the process of concrescence is explained. If so, is there a place for any deity within this picture? Whitehead’s answer is yes, although his understanding of God is a far cry from the transcendent creator of classical Western theism.
God as the Poet of the World: The Dipolar God and Creative Freedom
If we are to understand Whitehead’s notion of God, we need to take note of his claim that the ingression of eternal objects in the concrescence of actual entities requires mediation. By his ontological principle, everything, including the general potentiality of the universe (i.e., eternal objects), must be “somewhere.” Here “somewhere” means “in some actual entity” (46). Because there is “no going behind actual entities to find anything more real” (18), eternal objects as pure potentialities are not to be relegated to a transcendent realm beyond the world of actual entities. At the same time, however, because actual entities are finite, they cannot contain the infinite general potentialities of the universe represented by all eternal objects. Eternal objects, therefore, must be found within the formal—not physical—constitution of an actual entity that is itself also eternal, nontemporal, absolute, and unbounded. By the principle of relativity, according to which every being is a potential for every becoming, there can, however, be only one such nontemporal actual entity unconditioned and unbounded by the inflow of the past of the actual world, (p.89) because more than one such actual entity would imply an eternal relation between them of mutual prehension, conditioning, and limitation.14 Whitehead names that single nontemporal actual entity “God.”
Furthermore, the relevance of eternal objects to actual entities, insofar as it is “effective relevance” (31), consists in “the ultimate, basic adjustment of the togetherness of eternal objects,” implying “the conceptual adjustment of all appetites in the form of aversions and adversions” (32). In other words, in order for eternal objects to function as the forms of definiteness for actual entities and the teloi of their becoming, their togetherness must be envisaged in such a manner that the mutually compatible or compossible eternal objects—“diversities in contrast”—from the perspective of a possible instance of concrescence are positively valued and affirmed over the mutually incompatible or incompossible ones—“diversities in opposition”—from the same perspective.15 Such an act of valuation makes eternal objects effectively relevant to actual entities, because it is precisely the eternal objects that are mutually compatible from the standpoint of a potential definiteness that provide a standard of comparison for a novel actual entity as it prehends objectified past actual entities, selectively admitting those compatible with its own particular conceptual lure (i.e., “appetite”) toward self-determination while relegating the rest to the background.
God carries out the primordial act of valuing eternal objects with a preference for mutually compatible eternal objects from the standpoint of a potential definiteness, since “what is inexorable in God, is a valuation as an aim towards ‘order,’ ”—especially complex and open-ended kinds of order.16 Precisely because God as a creature of creativity is its “aboriginal instance” and “chief exemplification” (225, 343), God shares with all actual entities an intrinsic “appetite”—a subjective aim—for “transforming disjointed multiplicity, with its diversities in opposition, into concrescent unity, with its diversities in contrast” (348). That is why God’s valuation of eternal objects is carried out in a way that valorizes the beauty of harmonious multiplicity at the expense of the ugliness of merely discordant multiplicity. In that sense, God is “the divine element in the world, by which the barren inefficient disjunction of abstract potentialities obtains primordially the efficient conjunction of ideal realization” (40). In other words, by virtue of God’s “complete conceptual valuation” of them (32), eternal objects are in God not as a random, disjointed, and disjunctive multitude suffering the futility of their mutual indifference, but as a multiperspectival and multicentered set of interrelated “circles of (p.90) convergence”17 shimmering with creative allure. This ideal realization of pure potentialities in God provides “the metaphysical stability whereby the actual process exemplifies general principles of metaphysics, and attains the ends proper to specific types of emergent order” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 40; italics mine).18 The very subjectivity of God as an actual entity, albeit a unique—primordial and nontemporal—one, is preliminarily constituted by this “non-temporal act of all-inclusive unfettered valuation” (31) in which all eternal objects in their disjunctive multiplicity are ideally realized as an all-encompassing set of disparate yet interrelated conjunctive unities.19 Whitehead calls this preliminary subjectivity of God—that is, God’s achievement of an eternally concrescent unity of all-inclusive conceptual prehension—“the primordial nature of God” (32).20
The mediation between the eternal and the temporal or between the potential and the actual is made possible by the fact that, because God is an actual entity, the primordial nature of God, which consists of God’s eternal, free, unbounded, unconditioned, complete, and infinite conceptual experience, is at the same time temporally related to other concrescent actual entities and prehended by them, just as all actual entities are by one another: “The things which are temporal arise by their participation in the things which are eternal. The two sets are mediated by a thing which combines the actuality of what is temporal with the timelessness of what is potential. This final entity is the divine element in the world” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 40). By being ideally ordered into effectively relevant conjunctions in God’s primordial nature, eternal objects are able to have ingression in the process of becoming in accordance with their graded relevance to each concrescent actual entity, their ingression being tantamount to their “conceptual prehension” by—that is, their incorporation into the conceptual constitution of—the actual entity in question. Owing to their graded relevance, only a selection of mutually converging eternal objects are prehended by each actual entity to make a positive contribution to its internal conceptual constitution (“positive conceptual prehension”) while the rest are relegated to the background and excluded from making any real contribution (“negative conceptual prehension”) (41).
More concretely speaking, the ingression of eternal objects in concrescence, through which they shed the status of being pure potentialities and become real potentialities, takes place within the context of the extensive space-time continuum, which, as “one relational complex in (p.91) which all potential objectifications find their niche” (66), expresses “the solidarity of all possible standpoints throughout the whole process of the world” (66). The becoming of any actual entity means that “what was previously potential in the space-time continuum is now the primary real phase in something actual” (67). Although “the real potentialities relative to all [possible] standpoints are coordinated as diverse determinations of one extensive continuum” (66), due to the graded relevance of those real potentialities, the concrescence of a specific actual entity within the continuum means that “a regional standpoint in the world, defining a limited potentiality for objectifications, has been adopted” (67). In other words, because only a selection of mutually converging pure potentials are conceptually prehended by the concrescent actual entity in question to form its initial subjective aim, its real potentiality implies a corresponding selectiveness in its conceptual and physical prehension of the objective immortality of the past actual world from a particular standpoint within the extensive continuum.
The fact that this selectiveness is a result of God’s primordial valuation—God’s “transcendent decision” (164)—is the reason for the initial dependence of the self-creativity of actual entities. The subjective freedom of an actual entity to determine itself definitively into being this or that actual entity is shaped in the initial phase of its concrescence by “an endowment which the subject inherits from the inevitable ordering of things, conceptually realized in the nature of God” (244; italics mine). The endowment is none other than the selection of mutually compatible eternal objects that contribute to the “subjective aim” or “living aim” of the concrescent actual entity, that is, its form of definiteness that functions as the “lure” or “final cause” for its own becoming. This is why the self-creativity of actual entities as creatures of creativity is initially dependent on God, who is “the principle of concretion”:
God is the principle of concretion; namely, he is that actual entity from which each temporal concrescence receives that initial aim from which its self-causation starts. That aim determines the initial gradations of relevance of eternal objects for conceptual feeling; and constitutes the autonomous subject in its primary phase of feelings with its initial conceptual valuations, and with its initial physical purposes. (244)
In other words, God is the source of the initial subjectivity—namely, the subjective aim and form—of a concrescing actual entity; and the latter’s initial subjectivity consists in its initial conceptual valuations of a (p.92) selection of relevant eternal objects in God’s primordial nature. Its initial conceptual valuations of pure potentiality condition both its physical prehensions of the energy or “power”(58) of objectified past actual entities and its conceptual prehensions of the already realized eternal objects exhibited in the formal constitution of those past actual entities being physically prehended by it (236–43).21 Such conditioning leads the concrescing actual entity in question to include certain data from the past of the actual world in its internal conceptual and physical constitution while excluding others. Thanks to God, in concrescence “the vivifying novelty of subjective form selected from the multiplicity of pure potentiality” meets the “dead datum” from the past of the actual world and “constitutes the satisfaction of an immediate particular individual” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 164). In this meeting, eternal objects as general or pure potentiality are transformed into real potentiality productive of concrete actual entities (65–66).
Nonetheless, the dependence of the concrescence of actual entities on God is only initial. Although the endowment of initial aim from God is the very reason for there being a novel and original concrescence, the process of concrescence is only conditioned, not wholly determined, by that initial endowment.22 The eternal objects in ingression, which constitute the endowment of the initial aim, are “cosmic genetic codes” harboring many divergent possibilities of concrete actualization more than they are some kind of predetermined cosmic archetypes. This implies that, having acquired the initial subjective aim and thereby having been constituted as a subject, the concrescent actual entity has the freedom to modify its subjective forms throughout the whole range of its prehensions in that particular instance of concrescence and to guide its own integrative becoming (245). Whereas God and the actual world “jointly constitute the character of the creativity for the initial phase of the novel concrescence,” the subject, thus constituted, “is the autonomous master of its own concrescence into subject-superject,”23 passing “from a subjective aim in concrescence into a superject with objective immortality” (245). Thus, Whitehead avers, “the initial stage of the aim is rooted in the nature of God, and its completion depends on the self-causation of the subject-superject” (244). This conditioned autonomy of actual entities as subject-superjects is the reason for Whitehead’s naming God’s mode of creative activity in the world a “lure” for concrescence, devoid of any sense of unidirectional determination, imposition, and coercion (25).24
(p.93) The fact that concrescent actual entities are not merely subjects but subject-superjects implies, by the principle of relativity, that the relationship between actual entities and God, who is also an actual entity, must involve prehensions in both directions: not only the conceptual prehension of the eternal objects in the primordial nature of God by concrescent actual entities—which is the same as the ingression of eternal objects in them—but also the physical prehension of the already concresced and objectified actual entities of the past by God. This “objectification of the world in God” (345) is carried out in such a way that God’s prehension of actual entities “is directed with the subjective aim, and clothed with the subjective form, [both of which are] wholly derivative from his all-inclusive primordial valuation” (345). In other words, just like any actual entity, God concresces or becomes physically: God’s subjectivity prehends the past actual world, “weaving … God’s physical feelings upon his primordial concepts” (345), and in so doing brings the disjointed multiplicity of objective data from the past into the concrescent harmony of divine life, that is, the temporally achieved actual unity of God’s own being as becoming. Whereas actual entities receive their initial subjective aim and form from God’s primordial nature,25 in God’s case it is God’s primordial nature itself, in its eternally concrescent conceptual unity, that constitutes God’s initial, preliminary subjectivity and guides the physical process of divine concrescence as its final cause or “lure.” Lured by the conceptual vision of unity and harmony offered by God’s own primordial nature, God brings about what Whitehead calls “the consequent nature of God,” namely, God’s own actual, physical unity in and through the objectification of the world in God (88, 345, 347). In the consequent nature of God, all of the past actual entities achieve their objective immortality in the form of “everlasting” (346) unities by being transmuted into “living ever-present facts”26 and are retained in their “mutual immediacy.”27 In other words, in the consequent nature of God no individual identity or completeness of unity ever achieved is lost by abstraction and elimination, even as the discordant and destructive failures are purged by being “dismissed into their triviality of merely individual facts” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 346).
God in Whitehead’s conception, then, is dipolar (345). The primordial nature of God, which constitutes God’s “conceptual pole,” represents the primordial, eternal, free, complete, and infinite side of God. It is eternal and infinite in the sense that God’s primordial conceptual experience, (p.94) being conditioned and limited by no actuality in time, “is devoid of all negative prehensions” (345). That is why God is “the actual entity in virtue of which the entire multiplicity of eternal objects obtains its graded relevance to each stage of concrescence” (164). Being without negative prehensions, God’s primordial nature entertains “the unlimited conceptual realization of the absolute wealth of potentiality” (343). In other words, God’s primordial nature “envisages” (34) all possible harmonies by unconditionally valuing the entire multiplicity of eternal objects from the perspective of each of all possible worlds and ordering the eternal objects into an infinite number of circles of convergence that proposes an infinite number of potential concrescent unities. Since God’s subjective aim is toward order (“diversities in contrast”), God’s all-encompassing and unconditional primordial valuation includes the qualifying principle that the infinitely multiple circles of convergent eternal objects cannot all be actualized at the same time. For all possible harmonies include mutually incompatible or incompossible ones among them (“diversities in opposition”). Thus, God’s primordial valuation implies a conceptual limitation of some possible harmonies by God’s “transcendent decision” (164) but only from the perspective of the present cosmic “epoch”—that is, “that widest society of actual entities whose immediate relevance to ourselves is traceable” (91)—constituting the type of cosmic order that includes the principles with which we are familiar, such as the four dimensions of space-time or the formula “E = MC2.”28 Although the present cosmic epoch is set against the spatiotemporally distant and seemingly chaotic background of other epochs representing different or even incompatible types of order (97), that does not mean that God has chosen the best among all possible worlds like Leibniz’s God. Rather, as “the foundation of order” (88), God merely provides metaphysical stability for all possible worlds conceptually realized in “the primordial mind of God” (46), including the one that has in fact happened to be realized physically as the present cosmic epoch in the actual course of nature driven from within by the creative advance toward novelty. This means that, insofar as God’s conceptual experience consists of the complete conceptual realization of all possible orders, God as primordial is not “conscious” (343), since consciousness involves negation in the form of an imaginative contrast between what is actually given as a determinate fact, on the one hand, and a conceptual novelty illustrating a yet-to-be-realized alternative, on the other (161). Further, it implies that, insofar as God’s primordial nature is concerned, God is “deficiently actual” (343), or “actually (p.95) deficient” (345), lacking physical factuality, since the unlimited realization of all eternal objects is only conceptual and nonphysical. The primordial nature of God is “God in abstraction, alone with himself” (34).
By contrast, the consequent nature of God, which constitutes God’s “physical pole,” stands for the consequent, temporal, determined, incomplete, and finite side of God. It is temporal, finite, and incomplete in the sense that God’s consequent physical experience is conditioned and bounded by the objectification of the past actual entities in the present cosmic epoch that has in fact come into being at the expense of some other possible worlds.29 Moreover, because of the self-creative freedom of actual entities, the actual world that has come to be is, at all times, fraught with the creatures’ failed attempts at following the initial aim—the lure of order and harmony—endowed them by God’s primordial nature, resulting in a “deficiency in the solidarity of individuals with each other” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 350). God’s consequent nature “weaves” the wreckage left by these failed attempts, namely the disjointed, dissonant, and finite multiplicity of the past actual occasions, upon God’s primordial concepts. In this way it brings about their nonsubjective, objectified harmonies in God—that is, “their everlasting union with their transformed selves, purged into conformation with the eternal order” (347). In other words, God’s consequent nature represents God’s salvaging and mending of the always incomplete physical realizations of God’s primordial nature in the actual world via God’s “judgment of the world.” By this judgment Whitehead means both “the judgment of tenderness which loses nothing that can be saved” and “the judgment of a wisdom which uses what in the temporal world is mere wreckage” (346). God can be called fully actual only when God has thus achieved a concrete, determinate, physical, temporal, and finite unity of divine life in and through the “saved” and “everlasting” harmonies of the physical world in God.30 Furthermore, since God’s attainment of such physical and temporal unity presupposes the always limited physical realizations of eternal objects in the actual world, always involving negative prehensions of at least some eternal objects, God’s full actuality includes consciousness, namely, the very capacity to imagine conceptual novelties “otherwise” than what is given in the actual world. God is conscious to the extent that God can always envision possible worlds in which the excluded—negatively prehended—eternal objects are realized, and present those possible worlds as creative lures to the self-creating creatures of creativity, including Godself.
(p.96) Thus, when both natures of God are considered together, the creative act in the universe can be seen to consist in three phases: (1) “the one infinite conceptual realization” in the primordial nature of God; (2) “the multiple solidarity of free physical realizations” in the temporal world of actual entities; and (3) “the ultimate unity of the multiplicity of actual fact with the primordial conceptual fact” in the consequent nature of God (346). The threefold creative act, Whitehead avers, gives witness to the “tender patience” of God, diametrically opposed to any exercise of dominating power, to bring creation in line with God’s purpose for the world. As he says in the climactic passage within the final chapter of Process and Reality, God achieves the “completion of his own nature,” that is, the everlasting satisfaction of God’s actual and physical concrescence, in and through the co-creative acts of other actual entities led by God’s vision or lure:
If we conceive the first term and the last term in their unity over against the intermediate multiple freedom of physical realizations in the temporal world, we conceive of the patience of God, tenderly saving the turmoil of the intermediate world by the completion of his own nature. … God’s role is not the combat of productive force with productive force, of destructive force with destructive force; it lies in the patient operation of the overpowering rationality of his conceptual harmonization. He does not create the world, he saves it: or more accurately, he is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness. (346; italics mine)
By the principle of relativity, however, the everlasting satisfaction of God’s concrescence in the consequent nature of God implies at the same time that God turns into a physical object to be prehended both conceptually and physically by the concrescing actual entities of the world, although, unlike other actual entities, God never “perishes”—loses subjective immediacy—thanks to God’s primordial nature with its eternally concrescent conceptual unity (346).31 The consequent nature of God “itself passes into the temporal world according to its gradation of relevance to the various concrescent occasions” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 351). Put otherwise, there is in fact a third pole in the divine nature, that is, what Whitehead calls “the superjective nature of God” (88), in and through which “the perfected actuality passes back into the temporal world, and qualifies this world so that each temporal actuality includes it as an immediate fact of relevant experience” (351). Whitehead invokes (p.97) the religious symbolism of “heaven” or “kingdom of heaven” to illustrate the superjective nature of God through which God’s consequent nature is objectified for prehension and appropriation by actual entities in their novel creative acts: “For the kingdom of heaven is with us today. … What is done in the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world. By reason of this reciprocal relation, the love in the world passes into the love in heaven, and floods back again into the world” (350–51).
If God has a superjective nature, it means that the conceptual prehension of the eternal objects in the primordial nature of God by the concrescent actual entities of the world—that is, the ingression of the eternal objects in concrescence—is always mediated by the same actual entities’ physical and conceptual prehension of the “everlastingly” perfected actuality in the consequent nature of God.32 When God’s consequent nature weaves the dissonant multiplicity of the past actual entities of the world upon the ideally realized harmonies of eternal objects in God’s primordial nature, the integrative act gives rise to “the transformation of his wisdom” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 345). In other words, God’s integrative act produces what Whitehead calls “propositions” or “theories,” namely, potential facts or states of affairs capable of being either true or false, in which the actual entities in question function as the logical subjects and selections of mutually convergent eternal objects as the predicates proposing hypothetical, ideal alternatives.33 God’s consequent nature realizes the propositions, or “makes them true,” by transforming the prehended actual world into the everlastingly perfected actuality within itself. God’s unconscious, primordial, and infinite conceptual valuation of all eternal objects, which orders them into an infinite number of ideally realized harmonies, is precisely mirrored in God’s conscious, everlasting physical realizations of the predicates of those propositions in the perfected actuality of the world.34 That is why the prehension of the primordial nature of God by novel actual entities can be seen to be mediated by the superjective nature of God in which the perfected actuality “passes back” into the actual world “so that each temporal actuality includes it as an immediate fact of relevant experience.” The ingression of eternal objects in novel concrescent actual entities takes the form of the latter’s prehension of the alternative forms of definiteness or states of affairs imaginatively proposed for the past actual entities by those propositions and realized everlastingly within God’s consequent nature. Given that God as superject implies novel actual entities’ prehension of God as (p.98) a completed actual entity everlastingly “enjoying” both conceptual and physical satisfaction without ever subjectively perishing, their reception of their initial subjective aim from God includes the subjective emotional state of enjoying the perfected actuality while suffering its imperfect past, that is, the subjective form of God who is “the great companion—the fellow-sufferer who understands” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, 351).
When the three phases of actual entities’ concrescence and the dipolar nature of God are considered together in the light of the threefold creative act in the universe, the meaning of Whitehead’s well-known statement about God and the world, that “both are in the grip of the ultimate metaphysical ground, the creative advance into novelty” (340), becomes clear. God and the world are “in the grip of the ultimate metaphysical ground” in the sense that they are “the contrasted opposites in terms of which Creativity achieves its supreme task of transforming disjointed multiplicity, with its diversities in opposition, into concrescent unity, with its diversities in contrast” (348). They are contrasted opposites because, for God, the conceptual pole, standing for “the unity of vision seeking physical multiplicity,” is prior to the physical pole, representing “the multiplicity of finites, [of] actualities seeking a perfected unity” (349), whereas for the world the opposite is the case (348). In other words, while it is “as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many” (348), on a more analytical level God is primordially one and consequently many while the world is primordially many and consequently one:
God is primordially one, namely, he is the primordial unity of relevance of the many potential forms; in the process he acquires a consequent multiplicity, which the primordial character absorbs into its own unity. The World is primordially many, namely, the many actual occasions with their physical finitude; in the process it acquires a consequent unity, which is a novel occasion and is absorbed into the multiplicity of the primordial character. … The theme of Cosmology, which is the basis of all religions, is the story of the dynamic effort of the World passing into everlasting unity, and of the static majesty of God’s vision, accomplishing its purpose of completion by absorption of the World’s multiplicity of effort. (349)
Nonetheless, although they thus form a contrast, as exemplifications and characterizations of the same “ultimate matter of fact” (i.e., the creative advance into novelty), the two actualities share the status of being (p.99) “at once a creature of creativity and a condition for creativity” (31), or, to put it another way, “a creature transcended by the creativity which it qualifies” (88). Since creativity as the pure notion of activity is no actual agency by itself, God may be called the “creator” of temporal actual entities in the sense of being “the foundation of order” and “the goad towards novelty” for them, but not in the sense that the creativity of the universe can be ascribed to God’s volition (88). That is why Whitehead declares that God “is not before all creation, but with all creation” (343). Even though God is creativity’s “primordial, non-temporal accident” (7) and in that sense more important and even ultimate in a way the temporal world can never be, God and the world are co-creators not capable of being “torn apart” from each other, for they are two actualities belonging to one and the same ontological plane of becoming and “in the grip” of the same “ultimate metaphysical ground” that is creativity. Since “each temporal occasion embodies God, and is embodied in God” (349) by virtue of their mutual prehension, it is “as true to say the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World” (348). At the same time, since “every actual entity, in virtue of its novelty, transcends its universe, God included” (94), it is “as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God” (348). When Whitehead adds that “it is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God” (348), he is adding a coda to his insistent stance on the equal actuality of God and the world of actual entities as the two contrasting yet interrelated creative agencies providing the reason for the becoming of all that is.
Whitehead and Zhu Xi: A Radical Ontological Pluralism versus a Dualism of One and Many?
Having sketched the major contours of Whitehead’s philosophy of organism, I would like to ask at this point the following question: What are the mutually illuminating features of Whitehead’s thought and Zhu Xi’s that could help Christian theology reconceive its notion of the Spirit? As indicated at the end of the previous chapter, the threefold point of comparison revolves around Zhu Xi’s problematic conception of psychophysical energy solely as the principle of differentiation with no share—other than in a derivative sense—in the creatively harmonizing function assigned to pattern as the metaphysical ultimate. When used to explain the relationship between the one abstract and transcendent Pattern—the Great Ultimate as substance—on the one hand, and many (p.100) concrete and determinate patterns immanent in the world of the ten thousand thing-events—the Great Ultimate as function—on the other, such a conception of psychophysical energy threatens the primordiality and ontological ultimacy of multiplicity. As a consequence, with his Neo-Confucian project of “moral metaphysics” Zhu Xi undermines the vision of radical ontological and ethicopolitical pluralism advocated by the Daoist philosophical tradition, and he does so by banishing the specter of its possibly totalizing metaphysics of one chaotic Nothing and putting in its place—with an unintended twist of irony—another, potentially more totalizing metaphysics of one Heavenly Pattern.
I suggest that the best strategy of engaging this whole problematique with Whitehead’s philosophy of organism is to compare Zhu Xi’s core notions of pattern, the Great Ultimate, psychophysical energy, and the myriad thing-events with the corresponding core notions of eternal objects, God, creativity, and actual entities in Whitehead’s system. Let us, first of all, consider the myriad thing-events and actual entities. They are rough equivalents because both define what is the most concrete and factual in the world thoroughly and comprehensively in terms of process and becoming. At the same time, they differ from each other to the extent that the myriad thing-events do not share the “relational atomism” of actual entities. Rather than being analytically specified and grouped into the atomic units of becoming, on the one hand, and their more complex societies, on the other, as in the case of actual entities, the concept of myriad thing-events is a comprehensive notion covering a wide range of concrete facts, from a single grain of sand all the way to complex ethical and political “states of affairs,” all viewed as different coalescences of the same psychophysical energy in its binary modes. The myriad thing-events presuppose psychophysical energy as the field of emergence and the medium of interaction for them, enabling their synchronic “correlativity” prior to and beyond their diachronic causal relations. By contrast, not only does the concept of actual entities reject the notion of noncausal relations in general, but it also denies the existence of direct synchronic causal relations among contemporaneous actual entities in allegiance to the relativity theories of modern physics.35 Here an interesting debate may be possible in regard to the coherence of the atomic or “quantum”36 understanding of actual entities that assumes the existence of the basic building blocks of the universe, however much relationally or in process terms they are conceived. Although Whitehead’s atomism may be able to serve as a strong advocate for the existence of genuine freedom (p.101) in the world in addition to providing analytic specificity and detail to his cosmological picture,37 does it not perhaps lessen the sticky organic interrelatedness of all thing-events befitting a philosophy of organism by confining such interrelatedness to diachronic, linear causality?
Second, psychophysical energy is comparable to creativity in the sense that both are notions of pure activity accounting for the power and dynamism observed in coming into being of the myriad thing-events or in the concrescence of actual entities. At the same time, they are different from each other in the sense that, whereas creativity’s activity refers to the production of a new harmonious unity out of the past disjointed multiplicity, psychophysical energy’s activity, when considered apart from pattern, consists purely in random movements of relationally indifferent differentiation. One can argue that creativity is also a notion of pure activity without any unifying teleology when taken apart from eternal objects, but creativity, unlike psychophysical energy, is the ultimate metaphysical—albeit desubstantialized—“ground” out of which eternal objects themselves emerge. In that sense, it is itself the very creative urge toward unity and harmony represented by eternal objects and concretely manifest in the concrescence of actual entities. By contrast, psychophysical energy cannot claim to be the very ground of the incessant process of creative harmonization symbolized by the Great Ultimate and observed in and among the myriad thing-events, since it is subordinate to pattern as the ultimate metaphysical ground, at least in Zhu Xi’s conception of it.
Third, pattern and eternal objects can be taken as analogues, as they both point to the universe seen from its formal aspects. They both refer to the forms of definiteness without which the world would dissolve into random, disjunctive, and mutually indifferent many, and which in that sense constitute the ground of order. Pattern, however, is different from eternal objects, for it is assigned the status of the ultimate metaphysical ground, while eternal objects as potential entities are creatures of creativity which at the same time qualify creativity by giving it definite forms. Another crucial difference is that, whereas eternal objects are primordially many, pattern is only derivatively so because of its concretization in union with psychophysical energy. Even though eternal objects subsist in the eternally concrescent conceptual unity of God’s primordial nature, that is, God’s nontemporal act of all-inclusive conceptual valuation of them, their multiplicity is in no way harmed or diminished, whereas many patterns, when abstracted from psychophysical energy, for all intents and purposes disappear into the Great Ultimate as one overarching Pattern.
(p.102) Last, we must contemplate the Great Ultimate and God together. The two notions can be compared because of their similar “dipolar” constitutions that enable them to serve as chief examples of the metaphysical principles of the respective systems to which they belong. Just as the primordial nature of God constitutes God’s conceptual or abstract pole representing the eternal, unconditioned, and infinite general potentialities of the universe conceptually realized in God’s eternally concrescent unity, the Non-Ultimate makes up the Great Ultimate’s transcendent pole, standing for the indeterminate and nonconcrete unity of the one Pattern as the abstract potentiality of there being a world. Similarly, just as the consequent nature of God forms God’s physical pole prehending the temporal, conditioned, and finite real potentialities of the universe physically realized in the multitude of actual entities, the Great Ultimate constitutes the Non-Ultimate’s immanent pole embodying the determinate and concrete multiplicity of patterns realized in the ten thousand thing-events of the world. The two natures of God constitute the primordial and principal exemplification of the ultimate metaphysical principle of Whitehead’s system, namely, creativity or the creative advance into novelty, in the sense that they mediate the eternal, potential unity of eternal objects and the temporal, actual multiplicity of past actual entities, so that many could become one and be increased by one. Likewise, the Non-Ultimate and the Great Ultimate epitomize the ultimate metaphysical principle of Zhu Xi’s system, namely, pattern or the incessant process of patterning as creative harmonization, as they form the two poles of the substance-function relation in which the one abstract movement of Patterning rides on the concretizing dynamic of psychophysical energy to give birth to the myriad creative harmonizations of the receptive and the active. Nonetheless, Zhu Xi’s Great Ultimate and Whitehead’s God diverge from each other insofar as the former is the chief symbol of pattern and in that sense itself the ultimate metaphysical ground and principle of unity and harmony, not an individual entity and agent-unit of becoming like the latter, albeit a primordial, exemplary, and exceptionally unique one.38
With the four sets of interrelated core concepts thus identified as comparable, and their main differences acknowledged, let us proceed to the locus of the maximum creative tension between the two systems. By the words “maximum creative tension,” I am referring to the contrast between Zhu Xi’s qualified ontological dualism of pattern and psychophysical energy with an asymmetrical tilt toward the logicoontological primacy of the one abstractly unifying Pattern, on the one (p.103) hand, and Whitehead’s radical ontological pluralism of eternal objects and actual entities with a thoroughly desubstantialized notion of creativity sustaining their multiple self-creative becoming, on the other. If Zhu Xi’s kataphatic rejection of the totalizing metaphysics of one chaotic Nothing allegedly advocated by the Daoist philosophical tradition has a tendency to lead to an even more totalizing metaphysics of one Heavenly Pattern, due to his inadequate formulation of the relationship between the one Pattern and many individual patterns, can Whitehead’s radical ontological pluralism be of help here? The answer to this question hinges on the applicability to Zhu Xi’s system of the manner in which Whitehead provides a particular kind of unity-in-multiplicity to the infinitely many general potentialities of the universe, that is, the unity of many eternal objects in God’s primordial nature. For Whitehead, the general potentialities of the universe represented by eternal objects are primordially and intrinsically many, because God’s eternally concrescent conceptual unity achieved by God’s all-inclusive valuation or infinite conceptual realization of them presupposes their infinite multiplicity. Given that the achievement of God’s eternally concrescent conceptual unity out of the multiplicity of eternal objects is itself “the primordial exemplification”39 of the ultimate metaphysical ground, that is, the creative advance into novelty, one can see that multiplicity is as ontologically primordial and ultimate as unity, if not more, in Whitehead’s scheme. Can this be a potentially salutary medicine for Zhu Xi’s predicament?
I will give a cautiously affirmative answer to this question, since the Great Ultimate’s creatively harmonizing movement can be reconceived in such a way that it is “in sync with” the movement between the two natures of Whitehead’s God in relation to the world. As I have suggested in the previous chapter, it is possible to envision the Great Ultimate’s movement not merely as forming a cycle but a spiral—a progressive cycle—in order to ward off the threat of a totalizing metaphysics of one Heavenly Pattern. A dialogue with Whitehead’s notion of a dipolar God would significantly enrich such work of reimagination. The reimagined version would look like this: When the concretely achieved multiple patterns of the world “wane”—that is, decline in their subjective immediacy or subjective intensity, eventually losing it—and flow back into the Non-Ultimate in the receptive phase of the Great Ultimate’s movement, they are met not by the one Heavenly Pattern as some kind of voracious, all-assimilating, and all-conquering metaphysical arch-paradigm. Instead, they are met by the one Heavenly Pattern as an inexhaustible reservoir of alternative, (p.104) more harmonious patterns presented to them as hypothetical “propositions” pointing to novel orderings of the world in the Great Ultimate’s new active phase. Thus reenvisioned, Zhu Xi’s conception of the Great Ultimate’s movement of generation and regeneration could truly be spiral, always retaining internal differences and contrasts—and therefore creative tensions—between the factual old and the hypothetical new. Such a genuinely spiral reconstruction of the Great Ultimate’s movement would provide the requisite metaphysical context for a more liberating account of the process of self-cultivation in which the heart-mind of the sage is produced in a truly mutually reinforcing relationship between the heart-mind of the Way and the human heart-mind without a unilateral and unbalanced subjugation of the “human desire” to the “Heavenly Pattern.”
Still, given the real differences between Zhu Xi and Whitehead, as evident in my comparative reflections on the four pairs of core concepts, in order for this revisionary work of conferring ontological primordiality and ultimacy on multiplicity to be possible, either of the following two things would have to happen first: (1) Pattern would need to be reconceptualized in such a manner that its multiplicity would be intrinsic to its own being as becoming and no longer dependent on and derived from the concretizing dynamism of the penultimate and subordinate creative principle of psychophysical energy; (2) psychophysical energy would need to be recast so that, while retaining its function as the differentiating dynamism productive of multiplicity, it would at the same time acquire ontological ultimacy similar to the one given to pattern. The first option would preserve the one abstract and ideal Pattern’s status as the ontological ultimate and the ground of unity and wholeness in the world, yet at the same time allow it not only the logical possibility but also an inexorable drive to generate multiplicity on its own. By contrast, the second option would depose pattern from its status as the sole ontological ultimate by reenvisioning psychophysical energy’s differentiating dynamism as a creatively harmonizing dynamism capable of being the ground of order in the universe. As I will show, whereas the first option tacks closer to a vision of the ontological ultimate that is in some ways similar to the God of classical Western theism minus its substantialistic baggage, the second option has a greater affinity with Whitehead’s conception of creativity as the ultimate metaphysical ground even as it refuses to entertain the idea of the principle of order being a special kind of thing-event, like Whitehead’s notion of God. In the following chapters I examine two (p.105) figures in the history of Confucian thought, Yi Hwang (honorific name Toegye) and Im Seong-ju (honorific name Nongmun), who represent the first option and the second option, respectively, and bring them into dialogue with Hegel (in Toegye’s case) and with Whitehead, Deleuze, and Keller (in Nongmun’s case).
(1) . Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, corrected edition, ed. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne (New York: Free Press, 1978), pp. 342–43. References to this book in this discussion are given by page number within parentheses in the text.
(4) . Ibid., p. 35: “There is becoming of continuity, but no continuity of becoming. The actual occasions are the creatures which become, and they constitute a continuously extensive world. In other words, extensiveness becomes, but ‘becoming’ is not itself extensive. Thus, the ultimate metaphysical truth is atomism. The creatures are atomic.” See also page 69: “The conclusion is that in every act of becoming there is the becoming of something with temporal extension; but that the act itself is not extensive, in the sense that it is divisible into earlier and later acts of becoming which correspond to the extensive divisibility of what has become. … The creature is extensive, but …its act of becoming is not extensive.” Judith Jones has coined the phrase “relational atomism” for this. Judith A. Jones, Intensity: An Essay in Whiteheadian Ontology (Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1998), p. 4.
(5) . See also page 24 of Whitehead, Process and Reality,: “A nexus is a set of actual entities in the unity of the relatedness constituted by their prehensions of each other, or—what is the same thing conversely expressed—constituted by their objectifications in each other.” See also Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: Free Press, 1967), p. 197: “Any set of actual occasions are united by the mutual immanence of occasions, each in the other. To the extent that they are united they mutually constrain each other. Evidently this mutual immanence and constraint of a pair of occasions is not in general a symmetric relation. For, apart from contemporaries, one occasion will be in the future of the other. Thus the earlier will be immanent in the later according to the mode of efficient causality, and the later in the earlier according to the mode of anticipation, as explained above. Any set of occasions, conceived as thus combined into a unity, will be termed a nexus.” Nonetheless, the mutual immanence of actual occasions and their causal relations, which underlie the formation of nexuses take place diachronically, not synchronically. According to Whitehead, insofar as each actual occasion’s self-creation is a free act, contemporary occasions are causally independent of one another (Process and Reality, p. 61). See Adventures of Ideas, p. 198: “The causal independence of contemporary occasions is the ground for the freedom within the Universe.” See also page 195: “It is the definition of contemporary events that they happen in causal independence of each (p.297) other. … The mutual independence of contemporary occasions lies strictly within the sphere of their teleological self-creation. The occasions originate from a common past and their objective immortality operates within a common future. Thus indirectly, via the immanence of the past and the immanence of the future, the occasions are connected. But the immediate activity of self-creation is separate and private, so far as contemporaries are concerned.”
(6) . See also Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 236: “Then each event, viewed in its separate individuality, is a passage between two ideal termini, namely, its components in their ideal disjunctive diversity passing into these same components in their concrete togetherness. There are two current doctrines as to this process. One is that of the external Creator, eliciting this final togetherness out of nothing. The other doctrine is that it is a metaphysical principle belonging to the nature of things, that there is nothing in the Universe other than instances of this passage and components of these instances. Let this latter doctrine be adopted. Then the word Creativity expresses the notion that each event is a process issuing in novelty. Also if guarded in the phrases Immanent Creativity, or Self-Creativity, it avoids the implication of a transcendent Creator.” Roland Faber reads the self-creative nature of actual entities’ concrescence as the creation of “self-value”: “The concept of ‘creation’ has been altered, referring now not to causation, but to the relational creating of self-value, that is, self-creativity within the process of a concrescence.” Roland Faber, God as the Poet of the World, trans. Douglas W. Stott (Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), pp. 143–44.
(8) . Ibid., p. 40: “Hence ‘feeling’ is the term used for the basic generic operation of passing from the objectivity of the data to the subjectivity of the actual entity in question.” See also page 41: “An actual entity has a perfectly definite bond with each item in the universe. This determinate bond is its prehension of that item. A negative prehension is the definite exclusion of that item from positive contribution to the subject’s own real internal constitution. … A positive prehension is the definite inclusion of that item into positive contribution to the subject’s own real internal constitution. This positive inclusion is called its ‘feeling’ of that item.”
(9) . Ibid., p. 29: “Actual entities ‘perpetually perish’ subjectively, but are immortal objectively. Actuality in perishing acquires objectivity, while it loses subjective immediacy. It loses the final causation which is its internal principle of unrest and it acquires efficient causation whereby it is a ground of obligation characterizing the creativity.”
(10) . They are eternal “objects” in the sense that they are eternally objectified or given as object to be conceptually prehended by actual entities; they are never by themselves subjects.
(11) . Ibid., p. 60: “The ‘organic doctrine’ demands a ‘real essence’ in the sense of a complete analysis of the relations, and inter-relations of the actual entities which are formative of the actual entity in question, and an ‘abstract essence’ in which the specified actual entities are replaced by the notions of unspecified entities in such a combination; this is the notion of an unspecified actual entity. Thus the real essence involves real objectifications of specified actual entities; the abstract essence is a complex eternal object.” Also p. 24: “A proposition is the unity of certain actual entities in their potentiality for forming a nexus, with its potential relatedness partially defined by certain eternal objects which have the unity of one complex eternal object.”
(13) . Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 23: “The term ‘ingression’ refers to the particular mode in which the potentiality of an eternal object is realized in a particular actual entity, contributing to the definiteness of that actual entity.”
(14) . Ibid., p. 32: “ ‘Relevance’ must express some real fact of togetherness among forms. The ontological principle can be expressed as: All real togetherness is togetherness in the formal constitution of an actuality. So if there be a relevance of what in the temporal world is unrealized [eternal objects], the relevance must express a fact of togetherness in the formal constitution of a non-temporal actuality. But by the principle of relativity there can only be one non-derivative actuality, unbounded by its prehensions of an actual world. Such a primordial superject of creativity achieves, in its unity of satisfaction, the complete conceptual valuation of all eternal objects. This is the ultimate, basic adjustment of the togetherness of eternal objects on which creative order depends. It is the conceptual adjustment of all appetites in the form of aversion and adversions. It constitutes the meaning of relevance. Its status as an actual efficient fact is recognized by terming it the ‘primordial nature of God.’ ”
(15) . Ibid., p. 348: “God and the World are the contrasted opposites in terms of which Creativity achieves its supreme task of transforming disjointed multiplicity, with its diversities in opposition, into concrescent unity, with its diversities in contrast. In each actuality there are two concrescent poles of realization—’enjoyment’ and ‘appetition,’ that is, the ‘physical’ and the ‘conceptual.’ For God the conceptual is prior to the physical, for the World the physical poles are prior to the conceptual poles.”
(16) . Ibid., p. 244: “What is inexorable in God, is a valuation as an aim towards ‘order’; and ‘order’ means ‘society permissive of actualities with patterned intensity of feeling arising from adjusted contrasts.’ ”
(17) . I borrow this phrase from Tim Clark. Tim Clark, “A Whiteheadian Chaosmos? Process Philosophy from a Deleuzean Perspective,” in Process and Difference: Between Cosmological and Poststructuralist Postmodernists, ed. Catherine Keller and Anne Daniel (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002), p. 199.
(18) . The passage from Process and Reality deserves to be quoted in full: “This final entity is the divine element in the world, by which the barren inefficient disjunction of abstract potentialities obtains primordially the efficient conjunction of ideal realization. This ideal realization of potentialities in a primordial actual entity constitutes the metaphysical stability whereby the actual process exemplifies general principles of metaphysics, and attains the ends proper to specific types of emergent order. By reason of the actuality of this primordial valuation of pure potentials, each eternal object has a definite effective relevance to each concrescent process. Apart from such orderings, there would be a complete disjunction of eternal objects unrealized in the temporal world” (Whitehead, Process and Reality, pp. 39–40). Tim Clark rightly rejects Gilles Deleuze’s “chaosmological” reading of Whitehead’s notion of God’s primordial nature, particularly regarding the effectively relevant “togetherness” of eternal objects within the primordial nature. In the light of the presence of an element of “decision” or limitation in God’s primordial valuation of all possible worlds (i.e., the fact that not all of the incompossible worlds are positively affirmed by God), Clark correctly differentiates Whitehead’s sense of God’s “orderings” of worlds from Deleuze’s “chaosmological” explanation of the emergence of (p.299) orders. Deleuze explains the emergence of orders in reference to a chaotic matrix of order in which the different (disjunctive others) are held together and kept in communication “polytheistically” via a multitude of “dark precursors” or “differenciators”—i.e., the “difference-in-itself that relates different to different.” Clark, “Whiteheadian Chaosmos?” pp. 192–205. Catherine Keller appears to hold the middle ground, identifying Whitehead’s notion of creativity with chaos, i.e., “a boiling ocean of incessant relatedness” whose “crash and clash of difference [is] not yet organized into contrast,” while retaining God as the principle of cosmos. Catherine Keller, “Process and Chaosmos: The Whiteheadian Fold in the Discourse of Difference,” in Process and Difference: Between Cosmological and Poststructuralist Postmodernists, ed. Catherine Keller and Anne Daniell (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2002), p. 65.
(19) . The constitution of God’s preliminary subjectivity in and through God’s evaluation of eternal objects is strongly hinted at on page 32 of Process and Reality: “Such a primordial superject of creativity achieves, in its unity of satisfaction, the complete conceptual valuation of all eternal objects” (italics mine).
(20) . Quoting Whitehead’s statement that “in every respect God and the world move conversely to each other in respect to their process” (Process and Reality, p. 349), Marjorie Suchocki argues that God’s satisfaction in the proper sense of the term takes place in the primordial nature of God, unlike all the other actual occasions for which satisfaction comes at the end of their concrescence: “God ‘originates’ in a decision which is a primordial valuation of all possibilities; Whitehead calls this an envisagement which contains within it an appetition for realization in actuality. Thus the satisfaction of God lies in this conceptual atemporality; it is primordial, underlying and pervading the reality of God. This being the case, the concrescence of God cannot move toward satisfaction; it can only move from satisfaction. Nor can it move toward an increasing simplification of data and subjective aim; it must move instead toward an ever increasing complexity in continual and dynamic realization of that satisfaction” ( Marjorie Hewitt Suchocki, The End of Evil: Process Eschatology in Historical Context [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988], p. 139). I believe, however, that this interpretation loses sight of the fact that the primordial nature of God functions almost as an object to the consequent nature of God, although God’s fully achieved subjectivity does have as its precondition the primordial nature. I am indebted to Catherine Keller for this important point. In my reading, the primordial nature of God achieves a kind of unity and “satisfaction” that is preliminary; and this preliminary achievement of divine subjectivity is logically, not temporally, prior to the consequent nature of God.
(21) . See also Thomas E. Hosinski, Stubborn Fact and Creative Advance: An Introduction to the Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead (Lanham, Md.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1993), pp. 85–88.
(22) . Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 108: “Thus an originality in the temporal world is conditioned, though not determined, by an initial subjective aim supplied by the ground of all order and of all originality.”
(23) . This pairing of “subject” and “superject” is meant to highlight the emergent character of the subject: The subject is one that throws or projects itself beyond (super) itself.
(24) . Sometimes Whitehead refers to the eternal objects in the primordial nature of God as “lures of feeling” (Process and Reality, pp. 87–88), whereas at other times he designates (p.300) God as the lure: “He [God] is the lure for feeling … the initial ‘object of desire’ establishing the initial phase of each subjective aim” (p. 344).
(25) . Ibid., p. 347: “The primordial permanence of God, whereby the creative advance ever re-establishes itself endowed with initial subjective aim derived from the relevance of God to the evolving world.”
(26) . Ibid., p. 350: “Every actuality in the temporal world has its reception into God’s nature. The corresponding element in God’s nature is not temporal actuality, but is the transmutation of that temporal actuality into a living ever-present fact. An enduring personality in the temporal world is a route of occasions in which the successors with some peculiar completeness sum up their predecessors. The correlate fact in God’s nature is an even more complete unity of life in a chain of elements for which succession does not mean loss of immediate unison.”
(27) . Although temporally achieved, this actual, physical unity of God’s being as becoming—i.e., God’s consequent nature—is not temporal in the sense of itself experiencing passage of time and thus “perishing.” As a single actual entity, God is a quantum of becoming; but this divine quantum of becoming encompasses all of time. In other words, God’s concrescence extends over all of time. This is the meaning of the “everlasting” nature of God’s satisfaction (Hosinski, Stubborn Fact and Creative Advance, p. 194). See Whitehead, Process and Reality, pp. 31–32: “By reason of its character as a creature, always in concrescence and never in the past, it receives a reaction from the world; this reaction is its consequent nature. It is here termed ‘God’ ” (italics mine).
(28) . That is, energy equals mass times the velocity of light squared.
(29) . In other words, God’s consequent nature is temporal, finite, and incomplete, because the physical world is. God’s capacity for physical prehension is in fact unlimited and infinite. Hosinski, Stubborn Fact and Creative Advance, p. 194.
(30) . Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 347: “In this way God is completed by the individual, fluent satisfactions of finite fact, and the temporal occasions are completed by their everlasting union with their transformed selves, purged into conformation with the eternal order which is the final absolute ‘wisdom.’ “
(31) . Despite Whitehead’s principle of the causal independence of contemporary occasions, the nonperishing, everlasting satisfaction of God’s consequent nature can be prehended by novel actual occasions because, strictly speaking, God is nontemporal and cannot therefore be conceived as temporal in the same sense as other actual entities. See Hosinski, Stubborn Fact and Creative Advance, p. 221.
(33) . Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 24: “A proposition is the unity of certain actual entities in their potentiality for forming a nexus, with its potential relatedness partially defined by certain eternal objects which have the unity of one complex eternal object. The actual entities involved are termed the ‘logical subjects,’ the complex eternal object is the ‘predicate.’ ” See also p. 25: “It is an essential doctrine in the philosophy of organism that the primary function of a proposition is to be relevant as a lure for feeling. … The ‘subjective aim,’ which controls the becoming of a subject, is that subject feeling a proposition with the subjective form of purpose to realize it in that process of self-creation.”
(34) . John Cobb and Lewis Ford extend Whitehead’s notion of the superjective nature of God, so that the ingression of eternal objects from the primordial nature of God into the (p.301) concrescent actual entities comes to be identified with (or replaced by) the actual entities’ prehension of the propositions produced and realized in the consequent nature of God ( John B. Cobb Jr., A Christian Natural Theology: Based on the Thought of Alfred North Whitehead [Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1965], pp. 155–56; Lewis Ford, “Divine Persuasion and the Triumph of Good,” in Process Philosophy and Christian Thought, ed. Delwin Brown, Ralph E. James Jr., and Gene Reeves [Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971], pp. 291–93). John Cobb has, however, revised his earlier proposal in the second edition to distinguish the actual occasions’ feeling of the initial aim—the feeling of eternal objects in God’s primordial nature—and the formation of their final subjective aim in and through their feeling of the propositions in God’s consequent nature. The former, Cobb avers, involves the latter but is not replaced by it ( John B. Cobb Jr., A Christian Natural Theology: Based on the Thought of Alfred North Whitehead, 2nd ed. [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007], pp. 131–32).
(35) . See F. Bradford Wallack, The Epochal Nature of Process in Whitehead’s Metaphysics (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1980), p. 302.
(38) . Julia Ching, Religious Thought of Chu Hsi (Oxford: Oxford Univ.University Press, 2000), p. 256.