Monday, December 5, 2011

an appraisal of Whiteheadian nontheism (and why it is insufficient)

Alfred North Whitehead’s analysis of present immediacy in terms of a succession of acts of becoming, called “actual occasions,” focuses attention on the problem of subjectivity, particularly upon the way it originates anew in every moment.  In part this is understood in terms of creativity, the ceaseless activity whereby many past occasions are unified to form one actuality, itself in turn becoming one actuality among many for the superseding occasions.  But creativity by itself is simply blind activity, supplying the drive but not the focus for such convergence.  Without an ideal possibility for the process to aim at, there is no reason why creativity would not be just as divergent as convergent, achieving unity only accidentally if at all.  Subjectivity is not merely sheer activity, for the activity must be capable of unifying itself, and for this it must be purposive to some degree.  Whitehead therefore suggests that subjectivity is this purposive process of unification guided by that ideal possibility at which it aims.  This subjective aim must be derived from somewhere, from an actuality which is not anyone of the occasions of the past.  Since it is the ultimate source of all values, and hence properly worthy of worship, Whitehead calls this nontemporal actuality “God.”