Whitehead’s initial decision to treat actual occasions as unqualifiedly indivisible rendered the notion of succession in becoming highly problematic. Temporal phases would divide the indivisible. Thus Whitehead had originally recourse to genetic analysis. Many have interpreted this as nontemporal becoming, which is not clearly distinguished from the eternity of eternal objects. Besides, Whitehead reserved the term ‘nontemporal’ for the primordial nature. Finally Whitehead came to see that the indivisibility of occasions meant onlythat they could not be divided into smaller actual (...) occasions (PR 69), which allowed for genetic division. (shrink)
Far from being an unnecessary appendage to Whitehead’s system, temporal atomism is, in my judgment, the basis for pansubjectivity and other fundamental ideas such as becoming, concrescence, and subjectivity.
In “Non-Rigid Forms” I characterized possibilities as indefinite forms, in contrast to the definite forms (eternal objects) of actualities. This did not do justice to the atemporality of eternal objects. Indefinite forms ought to be construed as dense clusters of eternal objects. By progressive definition God specifies relevantpossibilities to the occasion, which determines one to become actual.
Eternal objects are rigid, being invariant in all their appearances in the world, as well as in the becoming of actual entities. This rigidity within concrescence generates several difficulties, and so I propose that forms within concrescence, both divine and finite, be modifiable. Thus there can be a formation of form. Each eternal object then becomes completely determinate in a finite actualization, and remains so determinate throughout its worldly career.
Two essays relating Thomas and Whitehead have recently appeared. Coming To Be by James W. Felt, S.J., modifies Thomas by replacing his substantial form with Whitehead’s notion of subjective aim, the essencein-the-making introduced by God to guide the occasion’s act of coming into being. Felt also substitutes subjective aim for matter as the means of individuation. This is one of Whitehead’s individuating principles, although a case can be made that matter (the multiplicity of past actualities as proximate matter) is another. (...) “God and Creativity” by Stephen T. Franklin develops a reconciliation of these two ultimates by conceiving of God as the source of creativity, and seeing creativity in terms of the Thomistic esse. In my reflections on this project I explore four alternativeswith respect to the source of creativity: (a) creativity as derived from the past; (b) creativity as inherent in the present; (c) God as the source of transitional creativity (Franklin); (d) God as the source of concrescent creativity (Ford). The last two differ with respect to being’s relation to becoming. Does being undergird becoming, or does becoming bring about being, such that apart from it there would be no being? Our theory of creation depends upon this question. (shrink)