Chapter 4: Towards an Integrated Process Philosophy
In Chapter 2, we discussed briefly the strengths and weaknesses of both Whitehead and Teilhard as well as the high and low points of their methodology. While it may seem that both men had a fairly coherent and “complete” philosophy within their own fields of specialty (mathematics, physics, and philosophy for Whitehead; paleontology, evolutionary biology and Christology for Teilhard), the truth of the matter is that the very nature of their philosophical pursuits and their writings demands that neither be taken as perfect in and of themselves. In process philosophy, no idea is ever exact, and every concept must be updated with new information and new points of view, the very idea of a “perfect” model of reality is taken to be an incorrect conceptualization.
[yes, this is extremely right. But it could perhaps be added to the methodology chapter]
Over the last 50 years or so, more and more people have attempted to add to the ideas of Whitehead and Teilhard to make them more useful, accessible, and acceptable in the modern understanding of the human condition. Many of these writers have deliberately tried to “fill in the gaps”
I don't understand very well. Why did they fill the gaps? To "adapt" them to modern science? Or to transcend them? Or to make an integration between them and other writers?
Generally to try to make Whitehead more organic, and incorporate biological, palaeontological and other points of view to enhance his point of view. Further, they seem to want to show that process philosophy is a natural conclusion of Christianity, since Teilhard's view was so Christ-centered of each man’s ideas with those of the other, with some limited notable success. Norman Pittenger, Bernard Lee,
References are to be added later
and several other writers have done their best to try and model a complete understanding of human experience by taking the ideas of these men and using them in a synchronous pattern.
- what is a synchronous pattern int his context?
Trying to show that both men were part of the same line, that they were sort of two sides of the same coin, which fits into my later points about them treating them as the same as if they were a singular unit of thought, they were SIMILAR, but not the same line of thinkers. What these people and others like them have done for the field of integration methodology and process thought as a whole cannot be understated, they are giants and brave souls, trying to make a real difference for the world by actually challenging what has been the classic view of God, man and his place in the world for the majority of human history.
- they were unconsciously applying the integratiopn principle
The inherent problems with attempting to integrate process thought
- making integrations IS process thought, at least for me. Or, rather, process thinking is an aspect of integration. Integration is more than that. Process thiking only describes a procedural facet. Integaraion describes the aimed result.
are many, however, and overcoming those problems cannot come by simply using one thinker’s model as a base and using the other as some kind of “filler” to make it a more complete view of existence.
- exactly: one has to make an integration of both, starting from a kind of equality of both.
Pittenger and the rest have thus far only been able to create what can at best be described as “choppy” and incomplete models of existence, rife with their own problems and sometimes creating a confusing picture of the world and process philosophy as a whole. The nature of these problems stems from two major points upon which the majority of integrated process thinkers seem stuck: the first is that they seem insistent on concentrating on a religious view of the world, and then moving to the world of secular and common human experience to check their claims. This is not the pattern upon which Whitehead and “pure” Whiteheadians operate, nor is it the general pattern that Teilhard worked from either. Both men, and many who followed them, started with a general model of the world, modeled partially on scientific discovery and partially on human intuitive understanding, and moved then to the field of religion as a mode through which the overall philosophies could be understood and conceptualized.
- very exact: their religious views are thei conclusions, not their starting points.
The second problem is that the writers seem to be willing to give up neither any part of the Whiteheadian nor Teilhardian view of the world, the problems that are indeed present in each man’s worldview are ignored, and the underlying differences are never truly addressed except in perhaps a passing or insignificant way. Either Teilhard’s words are used as if he were merely a new kind of Whiteheadian, or Whitehead is quoted as if he were a precursor to Teilhard, but neither point of view is accurate nor does it benefit us to treat these ideas in such a way. Whitehead’s philosophy is what it is, as is Teilhard’s, and neither man expected his view to the be the end-all and be-all of human experience, admitting the weaknesses and strengths of each philosophy and then moving to a full view of what could happen when they are brought together is not disgracing or insulting to the memory of either man, rather it may very well be exactly what each would have wanted.
- Yes: as well process thought as the evolutionary model imply an evolving theory --as you explained very well earlier.
Rather than treating each philosophy as somehow inherently created to compliment the other, here each will be treated as what it is, and then transcended
- the right word!
collectively. Some ideas that Whiteheadians may consider essential will be added to in a (to a Whiteheadian) blasphemous way, and Teilhard’s ideas will be changed
- I don't like this word, as it suggests a lateral trnsition into something else. "Transcend" is better, as it suggests a vertical progress towards something better.
I agree into something that they were not before. In no way will the men’s own words be changed or insulted, on the contrary this treatise is a tribute to them as much as it is anything else, but the words of each man will be used as a supplement or support to the ideas that will come as a result of trying to fully integrating the philosophies of the men into a - MORE- complete, cohesive unit. Further, the route for expressing these ideas will in fact be more in keeping with the methodologies of the thinkers themselves. We will begin in the next few chapters by considering how “process” as these two men saw it can most effectively be integrated into new modes of process and relational philosophy, and then move to a theological view that can be used to more effectively understand and communicate the ideas produced. Many out in the world of philosophical and theological
- who perhaps don't embrace (right word?) integrative thinking
I would say they don't take the full implications of integrative thinking into account, but your point is well taken thought may consider the end result intellectual sophistry, but so be it, in the end a book is written so those involved can work out something in their own head, and not for the admiration or approval of those who may or may not take the time to read it.
- I should formulate this more gently
You're probably right, I was thinking about what my "pure whiteheadian" would think of what some of my ideas imply, and it kind of angers me that they take Whitehead as so definitive, you write, and what comes out is your soul, that's why God (through man) invented editing, hah!
II. Organics of Process
a. The Mechanics and Organics of The “Zest For Life”
One limitation of Whitehead’s philosophy, and one that will be highlighted through the rest of these chapters as we discuss Whiteheadian subjects, is that despite a naturalism within the philosophy and a general “philosophy of organism” that has arisen throughout its existence, there seems to be a general disregard within the system for a full understanding of biological systems, the whole of the philosophical system has a strange ring of “mechanics” to it. The full implications of the nature of biology and for the action and nature of livings systems never seems to be brought into play. Even later process thinkers end up to speak in logistical and mathematical terms
- quotations to illustrate this!
, as if integration could be fully understand
- difficult phrase: integration is not to be understood, unless as a way of understanding, a methodology. Perhaps yoy mean here: "global view", or "integrative vision"
within some reasoning framework, by adding ones here and zeroes there. They don’t take into account that turbidity
- this term has to be defined I think
"turbidity" is uncertainty, the possibility for deviation of aim, not exactly "chaos", but "chaotic aspect of self-creation" is, in some sense, a factor of creativity. They seem to apply all growth to simple “assents to the ordering mind of the universe” or the divine aim (divine aim is the
possible highest - possible- experience possible in each epochal occasion), and all turbidity as the “mark of evil”. Some modern writers Whiteheadians, who understand him Whitehead more in terms of human experience, have recognized that Whitehead’shis understanding of the “zest for life” has an element of uncertainty, an excitement that comes from taking a chance, in part it is the risk involved in self-transcendence that drives things towards greater states of fulfillment (or ‘satisfaction of experience’ as Whiteheadians put it). Part of what brings us forward is mystery
- you are speaking about humans here? I thought you were speaking about the universe in general, and then I should prefer "chance"
Here we are getting into something we need to discuss as far as where Whitehead stands and where Teilhard does. "Zest" for Whitehead is without a doubt something within all aspects of the universe. A particle self-creates an experience, there is a point of "initiation" and a point of "satisfaction", this "satisfaction", this aspect that experiences tend to move towards the best outcome possible, they seek to be "satisfied" is related to or is part of what humans refer to as "zest", and the term "zest" is universal, it is the seeking of satisfaction of experience that begins the initiation and moves it forward in time. and inherent in mystery is risk, inherent is risk turbidity. Further, some of those who attempted to combine Teilhard and Whitehead in the “classic” pattern have identified “zest” as a point where the philosophies converge, an admirably accurate point. Indeed, both men realized that a love of life, a perfected and fulfilling life in this world, is the base for all we know as morality, and is something basic in creation. We are what we are, and to not love to exist is antithetical to our very nature. The only thing better than existing is to exist better, there is something basic in our existence that makes a big part of that “zest for life” a feeling that what we are today is not the same as we were yesterday, that our personal becoming is one of definite growth, of definite linearity, not stagnation and repetition. Teilhard’s view on this aspect of zest is well documented, he once wrote,
"To guide them through the fogbanks of life, (humanity) has an absolutely certain biological and moral rule, which is continually to direct themselves "toward the greater degree of consciousness." If this can be done, we can be certain of sailing in convoy with and making port with the universe. In other words, we should use the following as an absolute principle of appraisal in our judgments: "It is better, no matter the cost, to be more conscious than less conscious." This principle, I believe, is the absolute condition of the worldís existence. This is one quote, and I have to wait to get a book back for proper notation.
“To guide them through the fogbanks of life, (humanity) has an absolutely certain biological and moral rule, which is continually to direct themselves “toward the greater degree of consciousness.” [where does this quote end or start?]
If this can be done, we can be certain of sailing in convoy with and making port with the universe. In other words, we should use the following as an absolute principle of appraisal in our judgments:
“It is better, no matter the cost, to be more conscious than less conscious.” This principle, I believe, is the absolute condition of the world’s existence.” [where does this quote end or start?]
Unfortunately, Teilhard himself never fully identified the mechanics of how order still remains supreme within the process of moving towards Omega, and his assent to the supremacy of “zest”, leaves us wondering if anything can truly be seen as moving us forward, and without a guiding mind whether that motion can be seen as something that can indeed move us where we want to be.***
In fact you are speaking here about teleology. Many elements out of my webpage on this topic could be used here, as well as Brian C's quotations of Teilhard. Don't you think it should be more appropriate to start with the fundamental law of existence, as I defined it, with some teleological elements pointing to the fact that the "zest of life" is the biospherical implementation of this fundamental strive, and then demonstrate how W. and T. translate this in their work? I've the impression that they laboriously tried to formulate an intuition that was never formulated hitherto.
I agree with all of this, I think I answered some of these questions from the Whitehead side with my talk of satisfaction of experience, and that the nature of satisfaction in fact includes transcendence should be added, as for the Teilhard side, I don't know enough to accurately describe it, I need my other book, but you will probably know more than me anyways. b. Evil and Suffering In Process Philosophy
The problem that arises from both points of view, is the contradictory ideas the philosophies impose on themselves. By not realizing the need for a powerful ordered ground imminent in our daily existence, (i.e. God is the father still in one sense, separate from reality, not involved in the whole of the process in a meaningful and direct way, he is the initiator of the cosmic process, a falling into Deism in many ways) Teilhard fails to have quite a strong enough view of theodicy (i.e., if God is good, how can He allow people to suffer), the idea that we are growing so God can have another God around is still dotted with remnants of classic theism in many ways, it doesn’t necessitate a kind of immortality for the moments and actions in our lives right now, and can only leave us trying to reach for some success and valuation of experience in the future.
- This sentence is much too long and too difficult. The Suffering Paradox in creation perhaps is drawn forth by (1) an anthropomorphic definition of God and (2) a misinterpretation of suffering, by reducing it solely to somethingnegative and something that can't be experienced another way. This paragraph on suffering has to be, at least for my feeling, preceeded by more extensive considerations
I agree, this is an effect of my "rambling" as I move to (for me) more exciting and original ideas. Your talk of anthropomorphizing God is exactly right, and Whitehead (while he necessitates a God-concept with something that must be modeled with a personality (how can something valuate unless it has values), he does a good job of avoiding OVER-anthropomorphizing God by using abstract terminology. I agree that suffering must be interpreted as in some ways a positive experience, but we must not overstate our ability to accept suffering as a result of the natural course of things, sometimes people's misuse of free will causes suffering, and Whitehead's acknowledgement of free will's place in evil I think is important, Teilhard's view of us moving to be a "son of God" does over anthropomorphize as you say, it also misses the importance of God, or the ordering of the universe, present in each aspect of the becoming. Needs work, but then that's what we are trying to do. I think we can expand this, which is not the original idea but rather sort of expanded "background information" that can be added as we expand the chapter's info. Whitehead’s misunderstanding of evil as merely the misuse of freewill - two words?-
"free will" can be one or two words, but here two words would be better, all according to my dictionary and an abandonment of divine aim doesn’t in all accuracy give us a complete view of the human intuition of final triumph of good over evil, and seems to place too much on human shoulders. I guess the question is: Does a Whiteheadian view of immortality
- I don't see immediately the link between suffering and immortality...
I need some expansion here, the Whiteheadian view says that suffering is "worth it" because God always pulls value from this moment, and whether our attempts to live on behalf of the whole SEEM to count in the world, it counts to God, and thus our worthy fight towards righteousness always ends in a gain, whether we see it or not the moments and sufferings of our lives have an immortality, and thus it we can have confidence in what we do on behalf of virtue. See? I am intimately acquainted with Whiteheadian eschatology and theodicy, and so I can always add when we get a chance, what you have added and what I add here will help us when that time comes. of the moment really justify our confidence that life is worth living? Or can it possibly justify that intuition in the communal mind of humanity
- yes, the Noosphere
(and all species)
- you have to introduce a nuance here. I suspect you refer here to the "all creatures have consciuousness" interpretation of Teilhard. There is a more evident interpretation possible: consciousness is only the last form of the Within, the internal organization. Encoding (genetics) and structure (mechanics, electromechanics) are the two earlier forms.
Agreed, how about, (that basic factor present in all living experiences) that destruction of our total existence is the destruction of any confidence we might have that our life is worth living? Further can it enlighten our intuition that the variety and chaos that arises from a zest for life can still end up in something good, in growth despite the originality of a person’s lifestyle? Without the Teilhard view, we cannot have the confidence that living creatively, that taking risks that are our own, can still have a positive result, and are risks worth taking. But in the end both men have a major limitation in their understanding of evil and suffering, Teilhard’s answers to evil that it is a natural part of human growth towards Omega, and Whitehead’s explanation that our misuse of free will is the cause of evil each miss something that screams to the human soul, something not represented in either view.
- exact, but needs much more elaboration to convince the uninformed readers.
[Man, I am getting REALLY excited, this stuff is shaping up great, and all your comments will lead us to some major expansion, I think it will be nothing to get our 15-20 pages out of this one, I am giddy over here.]
c. The Divine Aim and Teilhard
The point is that we need a new way to understand our forward motion and confidence cultivated from both points of view simultaneously. We must see the guiding order of the universe as something inherent in it, something involved in every aspect and moment of the process, but also as something above it, something that has a pre-planned stage and point to our total existence. Seeing the Omega point as the end of the process, and not something present in every moment of it, may be part of the problem. It is more Whiteheadian (without a total assent to the philosophy) to see Omega as an important part of that divine aim that drives humanity forward, and that it will lead to greater heights of experience and growth for mankind and the world. If we see the Omega point as a prehended communal divine aim for the entirety of humanity, then we also see a need for God to get us there, a need for a more advanced understanding of the transcendence of the order of the universe and the nature of our future lost in the Whiteheadian view. Yes, evil is a part of our inability to be what God want - wants?- us to be, but it is a necessary step in order for us to grow to that point that God knows we CAN BE someday. The suffering of mankind is the necessary part of having the responsibility to bring about what the order of the universe can become. We must see Omega as something God NEEDS, as having a necessary part in the perfected image that God’s mind prehends. However, whatever happens, whether the organism of humanity succeeds or not, is not in the imperfections of our imprinted biological existence but is in the free hands of man to become what they know the order of the universe is pushing them towards. The Eschatological language in which the intuitions of such ideas are contained for humanity, must recognize that God is not solely responsible if the species is not preserved, if good does not triumph for US. This assignment of responsibility is often alluded to in Teilhardian thought, but it is more readily understandable by inheriting a Whiteheadian view. This inclusion of a full view of responsibility, while retaining a communal divine aim that has the possibility to save us in a very this-world sense, solves many theological problems that will be discussed in full detail later. Seeing the Omega point as an important part in God’s own evolution expands what Teilhard has already seen in his own vision, but does not exclude the importance of knowing that the universe will grow, somehow, someway, whether we succeed in the aim presented to humanity or not. The universe needs us to overcome our sufferings, our evil, so it will become what it can, but our own personal becoming is not solely valuated by the continuance of our species, it is merely enhanced by it. Our decisions are worth making, and with Omega in full view as in some sense our own duty to see to fruition, we have a great responsibility that does not negate our ability to live life zestfully, organically, but rather adds to it in a very real way.
- In fact, in this paragraph you allude to the Divine Trinity hypothesis, as `I described it in my Website (e.g. ). Within this hypothesis, the Created Universe is a kind of second person in this Trinity (hence the name "Christogenesis"). The creation is supposed to be completed at Omega Point.
Of course, this description is somehow conflicting with the traditional Free Will hypothesis. But as argued elsewhere, this hypothesis is only necessary in a "secundary", non-transcended approach of cosmology. Furthermore, there is still the possibility of nature's Failing Fraction -of which our planet could be a part. But if we are a part of the succeeding fraction, than the secondary, modern notion of Free Will can be transcended to the tertiary, postmodern notion of Complete Consciousness.
III. The Aesthetical Geneses
a. The Proper Path to an Integrated - Integrative?-Process Philosophy
The next issue to address is the place of aesthetics in the Whiteheadian scheme, and to try and find a place for it within the thought of Teilhard. Without a doubt, there is a general feeling in Teilhard that beauty is an important part in the human understanding of what is transcendent and what is not. For Whitehead, however, the idea is far more central. Beauty is the ultimate; it is the valuation of the world, its source of spiritual growth. Beauty, aesthetics, is the very highest ideal, of which truth and morality are but a reflection or a part.
- for me, Whitehead's "aesthetics" is a kind of poetic description of what I should call: completed integration, the total absence of conflict (=non-integration) , the fulfillment of all desires (happiness, peace) which is, of course, only possible by integration. Spiritual growth is the consciousness of the reality/necessity of integration, and the conscious strive to realize integration in one's environment. The Truth is the most plausible hypothesis, that can only be reached by (mental) integration, and which describes, in fact, the ways nature -in its approach of the Omega point- realizes (factual) integration at every level. And what is morality else than the art of integrating between humans, i.e. the art of respecting the needs and the latent capabilities of everyone which is only completely realized within an integration...
For Teilhard, the organic nature of the universe
- I suppose that by 'organic nature' you are referring to the hypothesis of one substance, the spitritual phenomena rather being interpreted as a kind of "software" of our "organic" brains and -possibly- of other kinds of hardware (what could possibly be God's 'hardware' :-)? )
leads us down a different kind of spiritual understanding than what Whitehead understands. What this means is, for Whitehead, spiritual growth IS aesthetic growth, it is the growth towards a more beautiful aspect of the universe, the chance that comes from self-creation (the chance of a turbid reflection of possible perfected divine aim) is justified by the overall growth that comes from the beauty that results from such creativity,
and as. As the advance of our conception of what is beautiful grows (from our own creative act), so does God’s ability to advance the universe into a more beautiful place. Teilhard’s genesis is one of complexity, one of consciousness, things grow towards more complex configurations, and eventually
- not eventually: bith processes go hand in hand. But be careful to interpret 'consciousness' not as synonymous with Within, but as the third form of the Within.
move towards a conscious existence; such is the nature of things. Whitehead realizes that simply assigning a value to complexness within systems is not enough to understand what it is that moves the universe forward. A supernova explodes, human complexity allows it to perceive the star and recognize its beauty, incorporating it into the experiential awareness it contains, thus valuating the whole experience and giving it a place in the process of the universe. Sometimes it is not complexity that creates beauty, it is something that can be described as an aesthetic jump,
but not so easily defined as a move towards complexity. Still, the overall move of a recognition and valuation of beauty does lead one up a kind of spiritual ladder, a person seeing a supernova may in fact be inspired to write a book, which begins an entire group towards something greater, draws them together, within aesthetic growth there is a growth towards SOMETHING greater than oneself. Whitehead realized that aesthetics brings us forward, and Teilhard realized that we are being brought towards something, and that something is usually a greater degree of complexity (understanding, etc.) and a greater degree of consciousness.
- 'understanding' is a kind of consciousness I presume. The higher degree of complexity is rather a higher form of integration. Plastics are, quantitatively, very 'complex' molecules, but not so integrated as e.g. proteins.
b. Experience, Evolution, and the Nature of Unification
On this same note, it is hard to think of the two men seeing eye to eye on the issue of experience, and the mode of unification
- of course, Whitehead's 'unification' is a predecessor of 'integration'
that brings the universe forward. Both saw the universe “spiritually transcending” through an action of creation by unification. Different parts are brought together to create a more unified whole. However, Whitehead saw the action of unification as the experience of different aspects of existence
- could perhaps 'experience' be defined as a next step in the evolvng consciousness (T.), the next 'circle' in the processual progress of insight and reality (W.)?
BTW, I wonder if a general structure of our texts shouldn't be (1) the integrative view, (2) The W-view, (3) the T-view. I suppose that as well the w- as the T-views will be "reductions" of the I-view. In fact, this is the way I thinkl that Integrative Science should proceed: its "proof" consists in teh fact that several other views can be deduced form the I-view.
, incorporating old experiences into new ones, and these new experiences would have a higher aesthetic value than previous; Teilhard saw the unification as a process by which natural tendencies in the withinness of individual geneses would force them to unify with the withoutness which they were also involved in. Again, we see the clash of organic (T?) and mechanical (W?) thinking. However, the two points of view are not necessarily incompatible, especially when one considers the genius of Whitehead’s concept of prehension. Prehensions could be conceptualized in a Teilhardian fashion as merely the processes by which withinness reacted to withoutness. Electrons have a structure that naturally reacts to external, pre-created prehensory information, as a painter has a soul that reacts to colors already created by those who have come before them. The withoutness prehends, the withinness creates prehension, or rather decides which prehensions to use within any epochal occasion to continue the self-creation of any becoming-experience.
- ~A fascinating statement. Please extend on it. In 'consciousness' --the third form of the Within-- one easily feels the presence of a more global image or intuition that 'leads' our inspiration and creativity. But this "intuition" --in fact a compilation of not yet operationlized experiences-- is not so easily discernible in the earlier forms of the Within: structure and encoding. But, abstracty speaking, these "intuitions" are present because the "lead" the evolution towards creative solutions induced by experienced problems, limitations and insufficiencies. Is this "prehension" the word W uses for what I call virtual consciousness?
c. Deterministic Language and the Nature of Experiential Valuation
A final argument between these two points of view is that Whitehead admitted that entire systems do not follow his own scheme
- what do you mean? Do you have an example?
, and thus avoided any kind of deterministic language. One big problem that Whiteheadians have with Teilhardians is the determinism of some of their
- whose? W's?
language. Aesthetic growth may USUALLY mean organic growth, or growth of consciousness, but not always, and much of that kind of barrier can be limiting in this context. Still, Whiteheadians need to be more recognizing of the fact that without the move towards consciousness, the aesthetic value of existence would be much smaller, and valuation more difficult, and there does indeed seem to be an arrow within the aesthetic growth of the universe that leads to a move towards complexity and consciousness.
d. The Arrow of Organic Experience
To make this clearer, and to try and create a final integration of both men’s views of the nature of process, it may be helpful to
replace extend, transcend the idea of the LAW of complexity-consciousness, with the idea of The Arrow of Organic Experience, or the Tendency of Organic Experience. What this does is it first of all addresses a primary concern of Whiteheadian process thinkers: that nothing be taken au gratis. We must not overstate the transcendence of God, and give nod (=acknowledge?) to the limiting factors that come from a transforming reality conditioned by His imminence (immanence?) we should keep from overstating the nature of organic systems to transcend no matter what happens simply by self-fulfillment, and maintain a high level of responsibility that accompanies self-creation. However, we should more fully acknowledge the organic nature of process philosophy and recognize sthe importance of reflecting the full implications of aesthetic growth and the power of the guiding mind of the universe as a valuation system. Whiteheadian process thinkers have for many years pointed out the advanced nature of expanding systems of aesthetic valuation. A guitarist with a good sound is good, but a band with a better sound is better. A symphony attracts the mind because of the complexity of the situations involved, and in general the more intricate an experience is, the greater the aesthetic value, and naturally those aspects of the universe that prehend aesthetic growth, are going to move in the direction of being more complex, and as the intricacy and aesthetic value of existence grows, if it prehends the best possibilities, it will naturally move towards consciousness, for that also creates a further intricacy of aesthetic experience, and the system continues to move higher and higher to greater levels of experiential aesthetic value.
- I can't follow this argumentation, especially not the underlined step. And the sentence is horribly long.
Unification does indeed come by the prehension of experiences, but as those experiences become more complex, they naturally prehend greater depths of experience, and so on. Thus the aesthetic growth of the universe can indeed be seen as the mind of God moving us on our path.
- yes, but, at least for me, only in an allegoric way. If we define "the mind of God" a conscious system that -by experience accumulating into consciousness- aims towards more elaborate integration, then, yes, the aesthetic growth of the universe can be looked at as something "guided" by a creative consciousness comparable to God's nature. But this doesn't prove that it is God, functioning within us. That should be a tautology, and make concepts as creation and Trinity useless. Of course, our evolving WIthin progressively reconstructs, "re-invents" something as God's mind, and by creating us God surely had a preview of what would happen in His creation. But the conscious universe -the Mystic Body of Christ, Christogenesis, the Noosphere- still is something separate from God.
But inevitably this kind of growth will reach a crescendo, a whole new realm of experiential awareness the likes of which we probably cannot even imagine, and that point of forward motion is much like the aesthetic ideals that constantly move individual experiences forward. As existence moves to greater depth of experience, there would no doubt come a radical attunement to individuality, and that would again link back to the ideas about the nature of “zest” and the organic nature of the universe’s processes This new way of envisioning the nature of the forward motion of existence in fact links the aesthetic gathering of experiences and the organic functioning of the universe, and we end up with a view of our becoming that includes the immediacy of the ordering center of existence,
- I don't understand this statement
and its place in the general evolution of the universe itself. The universe’s aesthetic growth is inexorably linked to our motion towards Omega, the most aesthetical experience that could possibly be prehended by man. The withinness of man prehends the source of its growth, beauty,
- another name for structrural and functional integration
and naturally attenuates itself towards that end, inevitably a central vision of that beauty is going to come forth, and this will be the primary prehension of God’s need for man. What we end up with is once again a cohesive unit
- conceptual integration
that combines the organic nature of Teilhard and the mechanics of Whiteheadian process philosophy, transcending both by using their ideas to try our best to understand the nature of our own becoming.
e. Experience as Organics
Experience itself is an organic process, one that tends to move us to higher and higher degrees of orderliness, with the ability to incorporate more varied experiences into an aesthetic whole. As we prehend higher possibilities for our own existence, as we incorporate more complex experiences into our own, we reach for something greater within ourselves, and search for a way to merge our own becoming-experience with those produced outside ourselves, moving ever so slowly to that point where higher experience is no more something to be prehended with uncertainty, but to be created by the very nature of our existence.
- Yes, but this paragraph adds perhaps not much to the general argument. I have the intuition that this section III should have another structuration.
IV. Uncertainty and Integrational Thinking
a. Science and Faith
Beyond certain basics about organics (T?) and mechanics (W?) within the two modes of process thought, there is something more practical that both men seem to point to but never seem to express with full effectiveness on their own. Both are pulling towards a melding (melting? blending?) of secular and religious thought, and the nature of both philosophies makes them ideally structured to begin moving mankind towards a melding of secular ideas concerning the structure of the universe, and theosophical
- how do you define theosophy? Does my definition (a 19th century synthesis of religion and philosophy) apply here?
intuitions about the nature of humanity. Both saw the experiential awareness contained in religious language and in the experience of personally religious thinkers as a necessary part of the overall scheme when viewing the nature of reality. Science and religion are by their very nature both seeking the same thing: the source of existence, and to keep them compartmentalized will eventually lead to dangers in both fields. Norman Pittenger describes his view on this whole process,
“Science acts as a purifying agent, cleansing away mythological ideas and the false science which has accumulated about religious faith, and making faith stronger and more significant to men.
As Dr W. W. Manross has remarked,
"[there is] a growing recognition that the scientific method, however important its contributions to human knowledge, cannot, because of its essential empirical character, provide that unified view of human life and human aims which is essential to worthy living.”
Yet it must always be remembered that science is not merely a valuable method of study and an important aid in practical affairs, it is also, to quote again from Dr Manross,
“a deeply religious asceticism, [because of its] rigorous subjection to the investigator’s wishes to the demands of reason and carefully observed experience.”” (Theology and Reality 34).
The inherent danger in the Whiteheadian view of a science and religion is that it more concentrates on faith charged by science, rather than science charged by faith. In other words, Whiteheadians, of which Pittenger is counted one, seek to purify faith by the power of reason and logic, of scientific inquiry, but fails to observe the inherent danger, as Teilhard did, of a science void of moral standards and attenuated towards a goal of organic, and for Whiteheadians aesthetic, growth. This tends to compartmentalize the two fields in a different fashion, and winds up weakening the integration methodology that process thought birthed.
- [I'm delighted the way you appear to be familiar with integrative thinking :-) ]
On the other hand, Teilhard has a bad tendency towards deterministic language, insisting on the supremacy of Christianity
- This is not surprising: judeo-christian thinking is intimately linked with western thinking: it's probably the only worldview on earth that was so intensively confronted with the scientific data and the undeniable successes of technology. Eastern and islamic thinking still have to undergo this process, although Buddhism is rapidly evolving since the diaspora of monks to the West after the Chinese invasion. Moreover, by his tendency to integrate the sources of knowledges he had at his disposal, Teilhard intuitively paid more attention to the judeo-christian approach vs. science.
as the moral standard, and more specifically of the Catholic Church as the quickest road towards Omega. As has been stated before, determinism of this type must be abandoned if Teilhardian and Whiteheadian thought is truly to be integrated properly. Rather, it would be a good idea for the Whiteheadian mechanics to be seen as the quickest path towards a properly attuned science, as well as a properly attuned faith. Those scientific projects that lack aesthetic value
- exact science isn't supposed to digress from its experimental basis. However, these implications on a larger scale precisely are the most fascinating aspects of knowledge, and probably the most useful. Her integtative science jumps in.
, that don’t enrich experience or threaten to turn it on its head should be looked at warily, just as science should indeed continue to purify and magnify the power of religious thought as we know it. Motion towards a unified,
integrated--integrative...: the process isn't yet finished-- model of reality cannot happen too fast, it has to be realized that both science and faith are behind the curve in some ways, but that right now Whitehead was correct in assigning more danger to the supernaturalism inherent in faith than in the moral certitude that science applies to itself
- this last statement seems unclear to me
. Nothing is void of theological implications,
- I should rather state that both approaches tend to formulate conclusions far beyond the basis they start from
and all fields that claim moral neutrality must be watched closely, power in the wrong hands can often turn dangerous, and science --rather technology-- is one of the greatest sources of power we know of. Only by recognizing the general ideas of Teilhard about the ultimate goal of a science with a spiritual side and the process of Whitehead in which science is moved forward by aesthetic growth and experiential enhancement, tempered with a knowledge that such ideas will take time to implement, can we truly hope to see the kind of future both men hoped for, come into being.
We are living in strange times,
- it are exciting times indeed, because so many boundaries are transgressed, and because for the first time in history science is approaching the "philosophical" domain so long closed to it.
where those who deny rationality are gaining power through science void of morality
- exact science is effectively suppoised to abstain from moral cxonclusions, because the most important intellectual fields that are connected with morality -psychology and kosmology- still are inqaccessible for exact science. But morality becomes accessible for integrative science. And what scientist (and technologists) do should not be out of ethical guidance. In this sense integrative science is called to guide exact science, at least its technological applications.
, and the great thinkers live in obscurity
- at elast if they neglect integartive science
, Whitehead and Teilhard both saw these times coming, and tried their best to give us roads by which we could
possible possibly dig ourselves out of this beast of a whole. However, each in his own way stayed trapped within their own boxes: Whitehead seemed unable to fully understand the implications of a universe alive
- it is my impression he understated the intelligence factor, the noosphere: as a scientist starting at the most elementary levels --mathematics and fundamental physics-- he didn't fully reach the third layer of universal evolution --the noosphere--, and continued applying proven laws of the first and second stage to the third. this way, certain important phenomena were underestimated by him. Is my interpretation correct, Josh?
, and Teilhard never fully mapped out the intricacies of the ideas he was possessed of.
- I suppose you mean his tendency to "prove" the truth of christian religion --in a very reformulated way, in fact so reformulated he suffered form a lifelong latent conflict with the Church.
The first step towards integration is admitting that there is such a necessity for it.
- of what? I suppose: integration
If either man had a perfect vision, then this paper would be moot, and there would be no drive to seek a way that combines the best that both had to offer, and bring it together for a final and more accurate view of the nature of process. Once a need is recognized, we must move forwards by beginning where both men began: with the nature of process -- that W., what for T.?--, and then moving towards more specific matters in a systematic way that does both philosophies justice. So far we have talked a bit about two basic problems that can be observed within the two men’s philosophies,
- is 'paradigm' in this context not a better name than 'philosophy'?
and slowly moved to try and correct those problems as best we can by transcending them and moving into new territory. Perhaps something has been lost in this venture, but hopefully in the end we will end up with more good than bad. From this point we move on to look at how process, both the classic versions and the new vision we have chipped out here, can help us understand the universe, and our place within it.
[Brian Cowan, 28.09.02]
It does seem to be the case that from his childhood onward, Teilhard de Chardin's life was dominated by a passion for the Absolute. A number of passages from his writings, I believe attest to this. Let's look at a few.
1. 'However far I go back into my memories (even before the age of ten) I can distinguish in myself the presence of a strictly dominating passion: the passion for the Absolute.' (1)
2. 'Ever since my childhood, the need to lay hold of "some Absolute" in everything was the axis of my inner life.' (2)
3. ' ... until this very day (and so, I feel, it will be until the end) this primacy of the Incorruptible, that is to say of the Irreversible, has never ceased, and never will cease, indelibly to characterize my predilection for the Necessary, the General, the "Natural" -- as opposed to the Contingent, the Particular and the Artificial'. (3)
4. In a 'Prayer to the Ever-Greater Christ', (4) the French Jesuit addresses Christ, in Christ's Absolute capacity as 'the moving Principle and the all-embracing Nucleus of the World itself', (5) as 'Lord of my childhood and Lord of my last days' (6).
Of course, notwithstanding the foregoing, we do have to concede that Teilhard did not hold precisely the same religious views towards the end of his life as he did during his younger years. And perhaps this may be what Kris, Joshua and Thayne may be intending to claim when they remark that, apropos of the Auvergnian Jesuit's religious views, his conclusions were not his starting points. If so, then erhaps a clarification could be helpful to the effect that in Teilhard's religious outlook there was both continuity and discontinuity.
Examples of continuity lie, I think, in the passages alluded to above which disclose the French Jesuit's passion for the Absolute as a lifelong passion lasting from early childhood until death.
Teilhard himself is the first to admit, of course, there is some discontinuity in his religious outlook, in his religious conclusions, with the passage of the years.
As a very young boy, he tells us, around the age of six or seven, he found his Absolute in an iron component of a farm plough. He tells us that as a youngster, at this early age, when he gazed upon this metal object, he sometimes 'withdrew into the contemplation' of what he regarded as 'my "Iron God".' (7) Why an iron object as an Absolute, we may ask. Well, as he tells us himself, to his child's mind, 'nothing in the world was harder, heavier, tougher, more durable that this marvellous substance...' (8) Quite obviously, it did not take the youthful Pierre all that long before he came to the conclusion that iron was inadequate as an Absolute. So here we have an early discontinuity in his religious thinking.
Arrived at adulthood, Teilhard freely admits that he come to new conclusions in the domain of religion. Thus he writes of ' ... the critical moment when I rejected many of the old moulds in which my family life and my religion had formed me and began to wake up and express myself in terms that were really my own...' (9) Again, an instance of discontinuity in terms of his religious ideas.
Finally we may note the Auvergnian Jesuit's own admission that 'for a long time' a certain form of his passion for the Absolute obscured for him 'the supreme values of the Personal and the Human.' (10) And, of course, his eventual banishing of this obscurity would, I think, constitute a further discontinuity is his religious outlook.
So, yes, discontinuities in thought, new conclusions arrived at by Pere Teilhard are, indeed, conclusions that are not his starting points.
As I suggested above, perhaps a few words of clarification which gives equal billing, so to speak, to both continuity and discontinuity in the French Jesuit's religious thinking, might be all that is required to eliminate any confusion in the passage, in the Teilhard-Whitehead Book, to which Janice has alluded.
This post may supplement the comments already posted by Joshua and Kris on this subject which was raised by Janice earlier today.
(1) 'My Universe', in 'The Heart of Matter' (Harvest Book,
1978), p. 197.
(2) 'My Universe', in 'Heart', p. 197.
(3) 'The Heart of Matter', in 'Heart', pp. 18-19.
(4) 'Prayer to the Ever Greater Christ', forming part of ''The Heart
of Matter', in 'Heart', pp. 55-58.
(5) 'Prayer to the Ever Greater Christ', forming part of ''The Heart
of Matter', in 'Heart', p. 57.
(6) 'Prayer to the Ever Greater Christ', forming part of ''The Heart
of Matter', in 'Heart', p. 58.
(7) 'The Heart of Matter', in 'Heart', p. 18.
(8) 'The Heart of Matter', in 'Heart', p. 18.
(9) 'The Heart of Matter', in 'Heart', p. 59.
(10) 'The Heart of Matter', in 'Heart', p. 19.