Diving Deeper Into Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism
While “process philosophy” is wider than the work of Alfred North Whitehead, the depth and dynamism of his thought principally inspire its modern expression. This five-part course introduces students and life-long learners to the central themes, contours, and ideas of Whitehead’s “philosophy of organism.”
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Whitehead’s “philosophy of organism” is one of the most significant attempts in all of philosophy to think through what reality must be like because you are apart of it. His philosophical vision is at once vast, various, and prismatic. His wife Evelyn once used the wonderful metaphor of a prism to describe his thinking, saying: “It must be seen not from one side alone but from all sides, then from underneath and overhead. So seen, as one moves around it, the prism is full of changing lights and colours. To have seen it from one side only is to not have seen it.” The five sessions of this course aim to reveal the various sides, lights, and colors belonging to Whitehead’s process philosophy from the microscopic to the macroscopic, and in direct relation to your experience as an expression of the universe.
Session one surveys the basic thematic and historical dimensions of “process philosophy” as a current of philosophical thinking with both ancient antecedents and creative modern expressions. Session two dives into Whitehead’s analysis of human experience, clarifies the fundamentals of his “philosophy of organism,” and considers some of the challenges, problems or questions that often emerge from his theory. Session three clarifies the fundamental place of possibility, novelty and value in Whitehead’s philosophy, particularly in relation to human experience as an expression of both biological and cosmological evolution. Session four explores Whitehead’s understanding of the philosophical function of God, including the roles of the “primordial” and “consequent” natures, as well as other important philosophical principles. Session five concludes the course by considering Whitehead’s critiques of the theological tradition and the relevance and/or religious availability of “process panentheism” as a fruitful means of modeling the God-world relationship.
“Reality is not static: it is a process of becoming. The fluent character of the togetherness of things was already emphasized in Greek philosophy: All things flow, said Heraclitus. Indeed the fact is too obvious to escape notice. But unfortunately things which are too obvious often escape receiving their due emphasis.”
- Session 1: Being and Becoming
- Session 2: Experience Everywhere
- Session 3: Possibility, Novelty, and Value
- Session 4: God as Poet of the World
- Session 5: Religion and Process Panentheism
About the Instructor
Dr. Andrew M. Davis, is Program Director at the Center for Process Studies. He is a philosopher, theologian, and scholar of world religions. He holds B.A. in Philosophy and Theology, an M.A. in Interreligious Studies, and a Ph.D. in Religion and Process Philosophy from Claremont School of Theology (CST). He is also a poet, aphorist and author or editor of four books including How I Found God in Everyone and Everywhere: An Anthology of Spiritual Memoirs (2018, with Philip Clayton); Propositions in the Making: Experiments in a Whiteheadian Laboratory (2019, with Roland Faber and Michael Halewood); Depths as Yet Unspoken: Whiteheadian Excursions in Mysticism, Multiplicity, and Divinity (2020, with Roland Faber); and Mind, Value, and Cosmos: On the Relational Nature of Ultimacy (2020, Lexington). For more about Dr. Davis' work and research interests, visit his website at andrewmdavis.info.
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- Lifetime access to session recordings
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- Watch live or follow your own schedule
- Interact with class members via discussion forums
- * Contribute whatever you feel the course is worth or whatever you can afford to help support this and other programs like it. No one is turned down for lack of funds.