De vraag naar het ultieme in de proces-filosofie

Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 42 (1):48 - 74 (1980)

According to both Whitehead and Hartshorne, two notions are involved in the quest for the Ultimate, viz. creativity and God. However, these authors hold quite divergent opinions as to the question of what is the meaning, the function and the metaphysical status of these notions. To Whitehead, creativity is in the first place the unification of the many, time and again, constituting invariably a new element of the many. Creativity is ‘ultimate’ because the most concrete entities are instances of unification. But, as the ultimate descriptive notion expressing „the nature of things”, creativity is at the same time the ultimate explanatory principle. It has an explanatory power, not because it is a ‘cause’, but precisely because it is the ultimate principle. As such, it accounts first of all for the ongoingness of things, i.e. for the coming into existence of new actuality. This is possible because two aspects are involved in creativity, viz. concrescence and transition. Both of these are important and intrinsic aspects of the one and only creativity. In the second place, creativity accounts – even in an a priori way – for the solidarity of the Universe, which is seen as Plato's Receptacle made active. In sum, creativity makes intelligible „the advancing history of the one Universe” (AI 192). In this vision, God is thought of as the primordial characterization of creativity, which orients it towards truth, goodness and beauty. Hartshorne, on the other hand, puts more emphasis on the aspect of freedom, which is inherent in the notion of creativity. He uses Whitehead's philosophy, but develops it into a panpsychism. The concept of God is altered, too : because Hartshorne starts from the principle that to know is to include, God becomes literally panentheistic, whereas in the philosophy of Whitehead, He is at most „surrelative”. For Hartshorne, God is Reality in its individual unity. The permanent is not so much beyond but rather within all temporality : the absoluteness of God is the absoluteness and perfection of His world-relatedness. And, in His abstract aspect, God is also the unity of the metaphysical principles. All this is at once of major importance for the problem of the ultimate. According to Hartshorne, creativity does not find its ultimate locus in itself, but in God. The ultimate is not so much creativity characterized by God, but rather it is God, who encompasses all creativity and is creative in the most literal sense. As such, God is Creativity itself, both denotatively and connotatively. On these grounds, the ongoingness and the solidarity of the Universe have a ‘further’ explanation, viz. in God. However, although the philosophy of creativity thus eventually becomes a philosophy of God, Hartshorne does not abandon an essential aspect of Whitehead's metaphysics, viz. the distinction between God and creativity. Whitehead has clearly seen that the problem of God does not coincide with the metaphysical problem. Heidegger has also pointed this out in his later philosophy. But, unlike Heidegger, Whitehead does not separate these problems altogether. In its neutrality, creativity is not a sufficient answer to the problem of the polarity of harmony and chaos, good and evil, progress and decay. Whitehead thinks of God as a dimension of the metaphysical ultimate, especially the dimension of order, goodness and ‘telos’. Although Hartshorne again orients the process philosophy more in the line of traditional metaphysics – in which God functions as the metaphysical ultimate – in his panentheism the distinction between God and creativity is retained : God is not the same as creativity (which would mean pantheism), but He is its ultimate locus
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