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Process Theology


PantaRhea
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Does a person need a degree in philosophy and theology in order to understand Process Theology? The short answer is: No, but it helps! :D The purpose of this topic is to explain and clarify. However, clarification is dependent upon feedback. The attempt will be made to define terms but sometimes a definition will involve a term which also needs to be defined. The best way for any of us to gain understanding is to ask questions.

 

There are many more sources on Process Theology than there used to be. This site is one of the better ones, imo:

 

Process Theism

 

Hopefully, those who are interested in this topic can start by reading through the material at this site to become generally familiar with Process.

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Hopefully, those who are interested in this topic can start by reading through the material at this site to become generally familiar with Process.

 

Which is what I am doing...just wanted you to know. I'm taking notes and everything :blink:

 

Are we going to begin with a discussion of the "primordial" and "consequent" nature of God? Seems like a good place to start.

 

...looking forward,

 

lily

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Which is what I am doing...just wanted you to know. I'm taking notes and everything  :blink:

 

Are we going to begin with a discussion of the "primordial" and "consequent" nature of God? Seems like a good place to start.

 

...looking forward,

 

lily

 

Lily!

 

Thanks a whole bunch for showing up! This is kind of experimental isn't it? To see whether a theology can be somewhat systematically discussed in a forum like this?

 

I think starting with the "primordial" and "consequent" nature of God might be jumping way ahead of the story. What I'd like to do, is begin with the most fundamental notion of Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism - the Actual Entity. This means we will also have to look at the Ontological Principle. This is kind'a like laying the foundation for the theology we want to build.

 

My son is visiting us for this week and for some reason my wife thinks I should spend time with him and less time on the computer (we're going to build a coy pond together in our front yard :D )) So, this may be a little slow getting started. :(

 

Here though, is the footing for our foundation directly from Whitehead:

 

'Actual entities'--also termed 'actual occasions'--are the final real things of which the world is made up. There is no going behind actual entities to find anything more real. They differ among themselves: God is an actual entity, and so is the most trivial puff of existence in far-off empty space. But, though there are gradations of importance, and diversities of function, yet in the principles which actuality exemplifies all are on the same level. The final facts are, all alike, actual entities.

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My son is visiting us for this week and for some reason my wife thinks I should spend time with him and less time on the computer (we're going to build a coy pond together in our front yard  :D ))  So, this may be a little slow getting started.  :(

 

 

No problem at all. This will give me some time to get better prepared.

 

Aletheia: I'm glad to see that you are ready for another go-round. The discussion would not be the same without you.

 

I'm hoping, of course, that others here will join us.

 

lily

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Here though, is the footing for our foundation directly from Whitehead:

 

'Actual entities'--also termed 'actual occasions'--are the final real things of which the world is made up. There is no going behind actual entities to find anything more real. They differ among themselves: God is an actual entity, and so is the most trivial puff of existence in far-off empty space. But, though there are gradations of importance, and diversities of function, yet in the principles which actuality exemplifies all are on the same level. The final facts are, all alike, actual entities.

This is a good place to start because it brings my fundamental issue with PP into nice sharp focus. :) As always, please take my remarks in the spirit of honest exploration and debate.

 

If I've been paying attention to previous posts, according to PP all "actual occasions" are finite in nature, yes? So, there is nothing "actual" that is absolute, ineffable, beyond comprehension, etc.? If I'm remembering correctly, in PP God contains all possibilities and remembers all actualities, but that's the only sense in which God could be considered absolute. Is that understanding correct?

 

By contrast, of course, the classical philosophical conception is that God is not some entity above but alongside other entities (despite popular belief to the contrary); but the infinite ground of (finite) existence itself.

 

You have rightly acknowledged that the entire PP system hinges on the crucially important Ontological Principle. While I grant that there is a certain logical and methodological simplicity in saying that "what is, simply is," nevertheless the idea of a self-meaningful finite world strikes me personally as a contradiction. In my view, only the higher can grasp, and therefore produce, the lower. (The reality of evolution is not an argument against this claim; it merely causes us to see that higher forms and patterns are often enfolded into lower ones.) Therefore, in contrast with PP, I take it to be axiomatic that only the infinite could be self-grasping, self-producing, self-meaningful, etc. Does PP attempt to address this question directly, or is "there is no going behind actual entities to find anything more real" the end of the story?

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FYI.. Here's a helpful link:

 

The Center for Process Studies - A Relational Worldview for the ...

The Center for Process Studies was founded in 1973 to encourage exploration of

the relevance of process thought, which is based on the philosophy of Alfred ...

http://www.ctr4process.org

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FYI.. Here's a helpful link:

 

The Center for Process Studies - A Relational Worldview for the ...

The Center for Process Studies was founded in 1973 to encourage exploration of

the relevance of process thought, which is based on the philosophy of Alfred ...

http://www.ctr4process.org

 

Thanks BrotherRog! Yes, there is a lot of information at the site. I've been a member for many years now. There are several advantages to membership - one of which is access to many on-line papers and their newsletter, Process Perspectives.

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This is a good place to start because it brings my fundamental issue with PP into nice sharp focus. :)  As always, please take my remarks in the spirit of honest exploration and debate.

 

I think your questions and comments will be tremendously helpful, in this discussion, to others and to myself. Please don't hesitate to offer criticism.

 

If I've been paying attention to previous posts, according to PP all "actual occasions" are finite in nature, yes?  So, there is nothing "actual" that is absolute, ineffable, beyond comprehension, etc.?
Yes, this is true by definition. Actuality is a selection among possibillities. Have you ever watched "Wheel of Fortune"? The spinning wheel represents all the relevant possibilities. When it stops an actuality is created. An absolute could be represented by a wheel which never stopped spinning.

 

If I'm remembering correctly, in PP God contains all possibilities and remembers all actualities, but that's the only sense in which God could be considered absolute.  Is that understanding correct?

 

The conclusion is not correct because the premise is incomplete. Hopefully we'll be able to fill in the gaps later, but I think this would be like working on the roof of our structure before we've finished with the foundation. (Pardon the analogies to construction - I was a building contractor for many years.)

 

By contrast, of course, the classical philosophical conception is that God is not some entity above but alongside other entities (despite popular belief to the contrary); but the infinite ground of (finite) existence itself.

 

This is, of course, the classical idea - that actuality can be grounded by possibility, or that concrete actuality can be deduced from the abstract. This leads to "Findlays Paradox" which we will need to discuss on an upper floor.

 

You have rightly acknowledged that the entire PP system hinges on the crucially important Ontological Principle.  While I grant that there is a certain logical and methodological simplicity in saying that "what is, simply is," nevertheless the idea of a self-meaningful finite world strikes me personally as a contradiction.  In my view, only the higher can grasp, and therefore produce, the lower.  (The reality of evolution is not an argument against this claim; it merely causes us to see that higher forms and patterns are often enfolded into lower ones.)  Therefore, in contrast with PP, I take it to be axiomatic that only the infinite could be self-grasping, self-producing, self-meaningful, etc.  Does PP attempt to address this question directly, or is "there is no going behind actual entities to find anything more real" the end of the story?

 

Well, it is, and it isn't. We still need to discuss the nature of an "actual entity" before we can close the book.

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One more idea for our foundation - that of "process". It is very important to understand the difference between the common conception (unless you are a Buddhist) of reality and the Process perspective which is the reverse.

 

Rather than deriving processes from matter (matter in motion), Process Philosophy claims that "matter" is abstract and is derived from process. This also conforms to the modern understanding of physics.

 

To understand what an "actual entity" IS therefore, we must understand what it DOES.

 

This is what I would like to begin taking a look at next. But right now, it looks like I'm going to have to go to the beach on the east coast of Florida. Darn it! :D

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Findlays Paradox"???  I googled it and got gooblegook... just a brief stating if you don't want to get into it here, please!  :P

 

Just briefly... it involves modal logic. God (if God exists) must have necessary existence but the "necessary" can only be abstract. Concrete existence cannot be derived from the abstract.

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