Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, New York: Macmillan, ; corr. ed., eds. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne, New. W5 ISBN ll ^ EDITORS' PREFACE Process and Reality, Whitehead's magnum opus, is one of the major philosophical works of. PART V. FINAL INTERPRETATION in: Process and Reality. An Essay in Cosmology. By. Alfred North Whitehead. Corrected Edition. Edited By. David Ray Griffin.
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PROCESS AND REALITY. AN ESSAY IN COSMOLOGY. GIFFORD LECTURES DELIVERED IN THE UNIVERSITY. OF EDINBURGH DURING THE SESSION. Process and Reality is a book by Alfred North Whitehead, in which Whitehead propounds a .. Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. Request PDF on ResearchGate | Alfred North Whitehead's Process and Reality | IntroductionThis book has good claims to be the greatest metaphysical treatise.
The brain is part of the body, both being abstractions of a kind known as persistent physical objects, neither being actual entities. Though not recognised by Aristotle, there is biological evidence, written about by Galen ,  that the human brain is an essential seat of human experience in the mode of presentational immediacy.
We may say that the brain has a material and a mental aspect, all three being abstractions from their indefinitely many constitutive occasions of experience, which are actual entities. Potentially, each occasion of experience is causally consequential on every other occasion of experience that precedes it in time, and has as its causal consequences every other occasion of experience that follows; thus it has been said that Whitehead's occasions of experience are 'all window', in contrast to Leibniz's 'windowless' monads.
In time defined relative to it, each occasion of experience is causally influenced by prior occasions of experiences, and causally influences future occasions of experience.
An occasion of experience consists of a process of prehending other occasions of experience, reacting to them. The causal outcomes obey the usual well-respected rule that the causes precede the effects in time.
Some pairs of processes cannot be connected by cause-and-effect relations, and they are said to be spatially separated. This is in perfect agreement with the viewpoint of the Einstein theory of special relativity and with the Minkowski geometry of spacetime. Time in this view is relative to an inertial reference frame, different reference frames defining different versions of time.
The actual entity, the occasion of experience, is logically atomic in the sense that it cannot be cut and separated into two other occasions of experience. This kind of logical atomicity is perfectly compatible with indefinitely many spatiotemporal overlaps of occasions of experience.
One can explain this atomicity by saying that an occasion of experience has an internal causal structure that could not be reproduced in each of the two complementary sections into which it might be cut. Nevertheless, an actual entity can completely contain indefinitely many other actual entities. Fundamental to both Newtonian and to quantum theoretical mechanics is the concept of velocity.
The measurement of a velocity requires a finite spatiotemporal extent. Because it has no finite spatiotemporal extent, a single point of Minkowski space cannot be an occasion of experience, but is an abstraction from an infinite set of overlapping or contained occasions of experience, as explained in Process and Reality.
Indefinitely many occasions of experience can overlap in Minkowski space. An example of a nexus of temporally overlapping occasions of experience is what Whitehead calls an enduring physical object, which corresponds closely with an Aristotelian substance.
An enduring physical object temporally has an earliest and a last member. Every member apart from the earliest is a causal consequence of the earliest member of the nexus, and every member apart from the last of such a nexus is a causal antecedent of the last.
There are indefinitely many other causal antecedents and consequences of the enduring physical object, which overlap, but are not members, of the nexus.
No member of the nexus is spatially separate from any other member. Thus an enduring physical object, like an Aristotelian substance, undergoes changes and adventures during the course of its existence. An actual entity is what it is. An occasion of experience can be described as a process of change, but is itself unchangeable. Abstractions are themselves not actual entities, but are the only entities that can be real.
An abstraction is a conceptual entity that involves more than one single actual entity. Whitehead's ontology refers to importantly structured collections of actual entities as nexuses of actual entities. Collection of actual entities into a nexus emphasises some aspect of those entities, and that emphasis is an abstraction, because it means that some aspects of the actual entities are emphasised or dragged away from their actuality, while other aspects are de-emphasised.
Whitehead admitted indefinitely many eternal objects. An example of an eternal object is a number, such as the number 'two'. Whitehead held that eternal objects are abstractions of a very high degree.
Many abstractions, including eternal objects, are potential ingredients of processes. Relation between actual entities and abstractions stated in the ontological principle[ edit ] For Whitehead, besides its temporal generation by the actual entities which are its contributory causes, a process may be considered as a concrescence of abstract ingredient eternal objects. God enters into every temporal actual entity.
Whitehead's ontological principle is that whatever reality pertains to an abstraction is derived from the actual entities upon which it is founded or of which it is comprised. There were many textual errors, partly due to Whitehead's imperfect handwriting and lack of interest in proof-reading.
He chose the word prehension to cover all such experiences of togetherness, including unconscious ones.
These prehensions denote the internal relatedness of one entity toward another. Whitehead called these nexus with social order societies and described four major kinds of society: enduring objects, corpuscular societies, structured societies, and living societies. Whitehead says that they could, loosely, be called persons because of the personal order that is sustained over time in them.
Corpuscular societies are multiple strands of enduring objects. Structured societies have a subordinate society within a dominant society. And living societies are structured societies with living nexus. Evolution, according to Whitehead, has been in the direction of more and more complex and creative unities of experience over time.
For this reason, he was critical of the idea that evolution is driven by the principle of survival of the fittest. A rock is nothing else than a society of molecules, indulging in every species of activity open to molecules.
I draw attention to this lowly form of society in order to dispel the notion that social life is a peculiarity of the higher organisms. The contrary is the case. So far as survival value is concerned, a piece of rock, with its past history of some eight hundred million years, far outstrips the short span attained by any nation. The emergence of life is better conceived as a bid for freedom on the part of organisms, a bid for a certain independence of individuality with self-interests and activities not to be construed purely in terms of environmental obligations.
The immediate effect of this emergence of sensitive individuality has been to reduce the term of life for societies from hundreds of millions of years to hundreds of years, or even to scores of years.
The emergence of living beings cannot be ascribed to the superior survival value either of the individuals, or of their societies. Whitehead 50Evolution, Whitehead insists, would have stopped at rocks if the main issue were survival of the fittest.
The main issue is something else that he once called the art of life Whitehead 4. The human body has adjusted over time to changes in the environment, allowing a dominant, personally ordered, enduring object, which we could refer to as the self, to emerge. The self is nested within a relatively friendly environment. With the body, it forms a society. The body is nested within a relatively friendly environment. With this environment, it forms a society. There are other human beings within that environment.
The community of human beings forms a society. All of this relative security within relatively friendly environments provides the human being the luxury to experiment creatively with new ideas. If every actual entity has some degree of experience, and the actual entities of the body form a society that is conducive to the development of the self, then the whole network is a communicative network of sorts. The cells of the body communicate with the cells of the brain.
The cells of the brain communicate with the enduring object with personal order that we are referring to as the self.
The enduring, sentient self as subject and agent within an environing network of communication is conditioned by that environment, and provides some direction to that environment in turn. An electron is an enduring object with very little complexity and very little change over time. It repeats a vibratory pattern along the thread of its personal history.
The human self is more complex, but our analysis of an actual entity, with the self in mind, will touch on all actual entities in the process. The self is an enduring object within the environment of a body that provides it protection and serves as a vehicle for action in the environing world. The question of personal identity must be addressed as part of this overall discussion. But before we get there, we should consider the nature of a single occasion of experience along the historical thread of such experiences that make up the purely temporal society that is the self.
Whitehead saw that he owed an important debt to Kant in this analysis of the synthetic becoming of a single act of experience. For Kant, as Whitehead saw it, is the great philosopher who first, fully and explicitly, introduced into philosophy the conception of an act of experience as a constructive functioning, transforming subjectivity into objectivity, or objectivity into subjectivity; the order is immaterial in comparison with the general idea.
Whitehead 57Kant, of course, had argued that our knowledge of the objective world was produced through this constructive functioning out of a subjective experience. The world, and particularly the objectification of an antecedent occasion with which the present occasion enjoys self-identity, is enjoyed in the sense of shared feeling, of feeling with.
The entire universe, including the antecedent occasion in the personal order, is physically felt in its nature of being an efficient cause. This efficient cause enters into the becoming of every occasion of experience as a conditioning influence.
In the case of some actual occasions, including that of the human self most particularly, there is inheritance of an aim. This aim can be repeated, thereby gaining intensity, eliminated, or modified in later phases of becoming. It is a phase of aesthetic appreciation of inherited rhythms and patterns in its environing world, including the intensities of the antecedent occasion in its own personal history.
Some elements are valued highly, and some elements are swept aside as unwanted. It is a phase of emotional encounter with the world, and results in adversions and aversions.
Whitehead says that if this phase is particularly strong, then the third phase will be negligible. It is here that the potential ways of being in the world which Whitehead terms eternal objects that have already been actualized are contrasted with the potentials that could have been realized, or might yet be realized.
These potentials flood into the second phase of an act of experience, but are not given attention as potentials. They are simply felt, and appreciated or depreciated. It is in the third phase of intellectual supplementation that the potentials are given attention as such. With James, he does not want to reify consciousness.
It is but another way the actual occasion of experience feels the world. This consciousness is not a substance.
Caught in the interplay between personal feelings of the actual world of that occasion of experience and a vaguely felt perception of the ideal for that situation, decisions are made. The newly becoming occasion modifies the course, and projects a modified aim for its subsequent occasion of experience.
Whitehead says there are two forms of process, and this becoming of a single occasion of experience is one of those forms. The other form is what he often terms the transition. The individual occasion of experience begins in conformal unity with the antecedent occasion in a historical thread of occasions. The occasion of experience ends as what Whitehead terms a superject, objectifying itself for conformal unity in a subsequent occasion, and thus providing an inherited aim for the subsequent occasion of experience.
But there is a sense in which the entire universe is an occasion of experience. And again, There is the vague sense of many which are one; and of one which includes the many. Also there are two senses of the one — namely, the sense of the one which is all, and the sense of the one among the many.
Whitehead 66The finite can only be understood against the background out of which it arises and into which it goes.
But for the present occasion of experience, there is also a temporal sequence that forms another important backdrop for its becoming. A whole sequence of actual occasions, each with its own present immediacy, is such that each occasion embodies in its own being the antecedent members of that sequence with an emphatic experience of self-identity of the past in the immediacy of the present.
Whitehead 92 68This is no mere sequence, or stringing together of random events. There is an ordered self-identity that acquires emphasis over time. And yet the speaker enjoyed his self-identity during the pronunciation of the word, and the listeners never doubted the self-identity of the speaker. Also throughout this period of saying that word everyone, including the speaker, was expecting him to finish the sentence in the immediate future beyond the present; and the sentence had commenced in the more distant past.
Whitehead 70What occurs in the selection of a word, and the formation of a sentence is the selection of values for realization in the world. Whitehead was well aware of critics who thought that talk of occasions of experience coming one after the other was not sufficient to explain our sense of self. He addressed this problem directly.
Personal Identity is a difficult notion. It is dominant in human experience: the notions of civil law are based upon it. The same man is sent to prison who committed the robbery; and the same materials survive for centuries, and for millions of years. We cannot dismiss Personal Identity without dismissing the whole of human thought as expressed in every language. Whitehead 94 72Personal identity, for Whitehead, is, in one sense, a new construction in every moment of new becoming.
The solution that he offers to the resulting problem of identity has to do with the relationship of fact and value. It is value that persists over time, while the functional activity of the individual occasion of experience arises and perishes in a flash. The ultimate character of the Universe has two sides — one side is the mortal world of transitory fact acquiring the immortality of realized value; and the other side is the timeless world of mere possibility acquiring temporal realization.
There are both realized and unrealized ideas. The notion of Effectiveness cannot be divorced from the understanding of the World of Value. The notion of a purely abstract self-enjoyment of values apart from any reference to effectiveness in action was the fundamental error prevalent in Greek philosophy […]. The world as it is received in any given occasion of experience is sympathetically felt. It is then aesthetically evaluated. And finally, in some but not all human experience, its values are consciously held in contrast to other values that could have been or might yet be.
The decision of that occasion of experience is expressed — both to subsequent occasions of experience, and to the world via the body. Whitehead concludes that there are actually three ways in which we can speak of the self.
The first is the individual occasion of experience that is most concrete in its functional activity. The second is the historic route of occasions that stretches from birth to death. And, finally, there is the unity of style, or form, that is passed on from occasion to occasion Whitehead He does not dispute that the fit survive and that the weak perish.
Rather, he points to the way in which the higher organisms do not survive as long as lower forms of existence. Rocks, for instance, survive for millions of years. There is another factor that has to be considered. Why has the trend in evolution been upwards? The fact that organic species have been produced from inorganic distributions of matter, and the fact that in the lapse of time organic species of higher and higher types have evolved are not in the least explained by any doctrine of adaptation to the environment, or of struggle.
Whitehead 7 79The emergence of sentience on the classical view of evolution is itself puzzling. That is one of the reasons that drove Whitehead to speculate that it makes more sense to view some element of experience all the way down, however faint it might be at the bottom, rather than to wonder how it might have miraculously appeared later on.
The whole of nature is organic, he concludes, and the notion of lifeless, inert, purposeless matter is based on our macroscopic views of aggregates of actual entities.
In fact the upward trend has been accompanied by a growth of the converse relation. Animals have progressively undertaken the task of adapting the environment to themselves. Whitehead 7 8 It is increasingly apparent that the ability of human beings to manipulate their environment may ou In fact, the art of life is first to be alive, secondly to be alive in a satisfactory way, and thirdly to acquire an increase in satisfaction.
Whitehead 8 82This increase in satisfaction is an increase in the enjoyment of value. The self is part of a larger society that includes the body, and the entire society in some significant ways functions as one organism.
It is so successful at this that we quite confidently speak of the body as being mine. In fact, there is some question as to where Whitehead believed the self resides within the body.
If we supposed that the self resides somewhere in the brain, though, then it would seem that the self only experiences and directly communicates with the cells of that part of the brain. Communication with the rest of the body would be indirect. Not just the cells with which I am most directly in communication. My explanation for this would be that the Whiteheadian body is not only a network of communication nested within the network of the greater environment, but it is as Whitehead said a society enjoying social order due to shared character.