The aim of this essay is to explore similarities between Whitehead’s stages of education and two of the “ultimate notions” he discusses in Modes of Thought. I hope this exploration will shed light on what Whitehead means when he opens the Epilogue of that book by saying: “The task of a university is the creation of the future, so far as rational thought, and civilized modes of appreciation, can affect the issue” (171).
Whitehead’s process metaphysics, as developed in Process and Reality, is harmed by the incoherence of his notion of eternal objects as timeless and essentially unrelated entities, which therefore need a primordial agent as their ontological ground and the source of their relatedness and relevance. Such nontemporal entities undermine what is supposed to be a thoroughly temporalist metaphysics. Eternal objects can be understood solely as functions of Creativity, however, as features of a purely temporal process. A notion of God is not (...) required. Whitehead’s Categoreal Obligations specify the necessary conditions for this process, including how the novelty is possible that is needed to account for temporal change and the increased complexity that value enhancement presupposes and makes possible. Adventures of Ideas, especially through the notions of Art and Peace, develops at the level of human civilization this same secular interpretation of the capacity of entities to fashion novel and progressive outcomes. (shrink)
A standard account of creativity is that it is a process in which the form of a thing or event is altered—restructured or reinterpreted—in a way that changes fundamentally that thing’s or event’s meaning, its nature or function, its intrinsic or instrumental value. What is created in this manner, however, is only a variation of the initial form. Such processes are creative in a weak sense; the strong sense requires that the old form be replaced by a quite different one, (...) as in reconstructions or metaphors. But creative substitution is not haphazard, not a matter of insight, genius, luck, or divine assistance. It utilizes the generative rules governing a formal structure to make or discover new forms that are transformations, not variations, of the original form. These procedures are teachable and not mysterious, although the possible transforms of the structure are never predictable. (shrink)
Hartshorne's "neoclassical metaphysics" rests implicitly on five metaphysical axioms: discontinuity, Asymmetry, Sociality, Creativity, And dipolar divinity. The first four axioms entail ethical norms crucial to democracy: non-Reducibility of individual to community, Primacy of present achievement over potential future value, Non-Reducibility of communal to individual, The importance of risk. The fifth axiom undercuts these norms, However. The notion of God as guarantor of achieved value should be dropped from hartshorne's philosophy to make it ethically consistent.
HISTORIANS DESCRIBE AND EXPLAIN THE PAST. IT IS ARGUED THAT THIS ACTIVITY CAN BE EXTENDED TO ENCOMPASS FUTURE-REFERRING STATEMENTS WITHOUT BECOMING SOOTHSAYING. DESCRIPTIVE AND EXPLANATORY TECHNIQUES ARE EXAMINED, AND THE TEST OF THEIR ADEQUACY SEEN TO INVOLVE SPECULATIVE PREDICTION AND PROJECTION. PHILOSOPHERS OF HISTORY ALSO USE SUCH TECHNIQUES, IMAGINATIVELY COMPLETING INCOMPLETE DESCRIPTIVE PATTERNS BY REFERENCE TO THE FUTURE, IN ORDER TO SUGGEST AND EVALUATE EXPLANATIONS OF PAST EVENTS.