01 March 2013

Being v. Becoming, Pt. 6(a)

Historically, Hegelian dialectical systems have met with a certain distaste in Anglo-American philosophy. This is at the root of the great (Phenomenology/Analytic) divide in academic philosophical research programs.

Nonetheless, a great Truth is a great Truth.

On the Analytic side of the divide, we find the first sustained assault on the primacy of the notions of Substance and Being in the work of the mathematical philosopher A.N. Whitehead (1861-1947). His Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929, corrected edition 1978, The Free Press)("PR") is the first to posit a system based on the notion of the experience of Becoming as central to the cosmos, to Reality. Not a bug but the central feature.

He terms his project the 'Philosophy of Organism.' A complete "cosmology [must] construct a system of ideas which brings the aesthetic, moral, and religious interests into relation with those concepts of the world which have their origin in natural science." PR, Preface, xii.

Another way of phrasing it might be: How can a philosophical project grounded in the objective natural sciences account for the rise of consciousness? or, How can a general theory account for the emergence of such features as life, sensation, feeling, consciousness, self-consciousness, experience, abstract thought, morality, creativity, and even religious conception from a world comprising naught but rocks and raw energy in space and time without resort to, e.g., miracles or other forms of divine intervention?

The Kantian tradition (exemplified by the likes of Hegel and Marx and their followers) emphasizes critique of "the objective world as a theoretical construct from purely subjective experience," PR, Preface, xiii. Whitehead believes the work of criticism, philosophically, is complete, but this project needs to be supplemented by a more sustained effort of constructive thought. "[T]he true method of philosohical construction is to frame a scheme of ideas, the best that one can, and unflinchingly to explore the interpretation of experience in terms of that scheme." PR, Preface, xiv. All critical projects are necessarily grounded in some such scheme, he asserts. The work of philosophy is to articulate them, make these explanatory schemes explicit and thus more powerful.

 [to be continued]




ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Nonetheless, a great Truth is a great Truth.

No it isn't!

Sorry, just kidding.

Jim H. said...

And here I thought that would be one of the least controversial things I ever posted.

Randal Graves said...

Dude, you mentioned Kant, and by mentioning Kant, you expect us to read him. That's not controversial? You maniac!

Jim H. said...

@RG: Just wait.