In his book Process and Reality A.N.Whitehead abandoned the notion, strong in
Western philosophy since Parmenides and Plato in the 5th Century BCE, that what
is most unchanging is most real. Instead he conceived the structure of reality in
dynamic terms (an approach which goes back to Heraclitus). Whitehead set out a
radical metaphysics based not on entities but on events - on an infinite series
of actual occasions. All entities are momentary constituents of the
processes of reality; unchangingness is a property of what is dead, past,
abstract or purely formal.The emphasis is on becoming, on
development in time, rather than on static being.
Space does not permit a detailed analysis
of this way of thinking, except to say that for
process thought the central metaphor for understanding the world is that of organism,
rather than that of machine. The formation of each event is a
the nature of the entities involved
(as in, for instance, a physicalist scheme)
their context and interdependence on a
number of levels (in a way more characteristic of biological organisms than of
their experience and their effort to
fulfil their possibilities to the full in the given event (language deriving
not merely from biology but from the analogy of human mentality).
As Barbour describes, Each entity is a
center of spontaneity and self-creation, contributing distinctively to the
world.This assignment of quasi-mental subjective experience to all entities is known
as panpsychism, or sometimes pan-experientialism. The best recent account of
process thought is that of David Pailin(1989).
Note that the process scheme is neither
consistent nor inconsistent with experimental observations - it does not of
itself give rise to any empirically testable proposals.Nothing in science attributes any sort of subjectivity to an entity like an
electron, nor is such a postulate anywhere supported by experiment. Whiteheads
scheme is true meta-physics.
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr.
Source: God, Humanity and the
Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)