- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Fordham University Press; 2nd edition (1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0823216462
- ISBN-13: 978-0823216468
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 0.8 x 5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Religion in the Making: Lowell Lectures, 1926 2nd Edition
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"This 1996 edition of Whiteheadas 1926 Lowelllectures offers a fresh opportunity to read and reconsider a seminal text in American philosophy. It contains an excellent introduction . . . Jonesas commentary is fair-minded, well written, and thought-provoking.a
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) was a prominent English mathematician and philosopher. Religion in the Making, which originated in a series of four lectures delivered in King's Chapel, Boston, during February 1926, constitutes an exploration of the relationship between human nature and religion. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Lecture: Religion in History, looks at definitions of religion, the emergence of religion, ritual and emotion, belief, rationalism, the ascent of man and the ultimate contrast between Christianity and Buddhism. Most important observation for me: One's character is developed according to one's faith. This is the primary religious truth from which no one can escape. Also: "Religion is by no means necessarily good. It may be very evil." The final sentence is prophetic, referring to Christianity and Buddhism: "They have lost their ancient hold upon the world."
Lecture 2: Religion and Dogma, explores the religious consciousness in history with quotes from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Psalms, the description of religious experience, the concept of God with the three main renderings as an impersonal order (Eastern Asiatic), extreme transcendence (Semitic) and extreme monism (Pantheism), and the quest of God with observations on the emotions of fear and love, Paul and the beloved disciple John.
Lecture 3: Body and Spirit deals with religion and metaphysics, the contribution of religion to metaphysics, metaphysics as description (with the 3 formative elements of: Creativity as temporal passage to novelty/The realm of ideal entities or forms exemplified in everything that is actual/The actual but non-temporal entity through which the indetermination of mere creativity is transmuted into a determinate freedom), God and the moral order, value and the purpose of God, body and mind, and the creative process. Most striking sentences: "To measure is to count vibrations" and a quote from philosopher CF Alexander: "Time is the mind of space."
Lecture 4: Truth and Criticism, examines the development of dogma, experience and expression, the traditions of Christianity, Buddhism and science as a third organized system of thought, and the nature of God.
In the conclusion, Whitehead provides this beautiful description of God:
"God is that function in the world by reason of which our purposes are direct to ends which in our own consciousness are impartial as to our own interests. He is that element in life in virtue of which judgement stretches beyond facts of existence to values of existence ... that element in virtue of which our purposes extend beyond values for ourselves to values for others ... that element in virtue of which the attainment of such a value for others transforms itself into value for ourselves.
He is the binding element in the world. The consciousness which is individual in us, is universal in him; the love which is partial in us is all-embracing in him ..."
Although difficult and profound, Whitehead's language is elegant and poetic. With some effort and concentration this book can be read and understood reasonably easily, unlike some of his other works like The Concept of Nature: Tarner Lectures which is so complex that I could not move faster than one page per day.
Religion, A Liberal Essay:
People often complain that philosophers present too complex a picture of God, but Whitehead cautions that it may be the very simplicity of modernist notions of God that thwarts the religious response. "As a rebound from dogmatic intolerance, the simplicity of religious truth has been a favorite axiom of liberalizing theologians," he writes in Religion in the Making. "It is difficult to understand upon what evidence this notion is based . . . To reduce religion to a few simple notions seems an arbitrary solution to the problem before us. It may be common sense; but is it true?". Whitehead spoke these words in 1926 in King's Chapel, the venerable Unitarian church in Boston. Early twentieth-century Unitarians were undoubtedly vulnerable to the charge of proceeding by a process of theological subtraction, boiling their religion down into what one Unitarian Universalist has called "wholesome abstraction." Philocrites
Religion in the Making:
"The train of thought which was applied to science in my Lowell lectures of the previous year, since published under the title, Science and the Modern World, is here applied to religion. The two books are independent, but it is inevitable that to some extent they elucidate each other by showing the same way of thought in different applications. The aim of the lectures was to give a concise analysis of the various factors in human nature which go to form a religion, to exhibit the inevitable transformation of religion with the transformation of knowledge, and more especially to direct attention to the foundation of religion on our apprehension of those permanent elements by reason of which there is a stable order in the world, permanent elements apart from which there could be no changing world." (Preface by Alfred North Whitehead)
A summary is not a review!
Starting methodically, A. N. W. defines religion in his first lecture on the history of religion, its emergence, roots of rituals, emotion and belief. In his second lecture (Ch. 2) he proceeds from the dawn of consciousness to the quest of God, describing religious experience. Philosophizing religion, relates to metaphysics. moral order is linked with God, and values lead to God's purpose, and material in relation to intellectual, and he describes the 'process as creative. Well, now we are prepared to the tricky theological subjects Doctrine to Dogma, and Tradition to liturgy (Group worship as expression)
Now proceeds the dragon of thought; "science suggested a cosmology; and whatever suggests a cosmology, suggests a religion."
A Pioneer of Process Philosophy:
Whitehead's life is often described as having three distinct phases roughly corresponding to his academic positions, and his influence can be felt in all three areas--that of a mathematician and logician (Trinity 1884-1910), a philosopher of science (London 1910-1924) and a philosopher of metaphysics (Harvard from 1924 onward). During this latter period he developed a comprehensive metaphysical system which has come to be known as Process Philosophy. In contrast to traditional philosophies, he asserted the essential interrelationship of matter, space, and time; that objects may be understood as a series of events and processes.
Whitehead's distinction rests upon his contributions to mathematics and logic, the philosophy of science, and the study of metaphysics. In the field of mathematics Whitehead extended the range of algebraic procedures and, in collaboration with Bertrand Russell, wrote Principia Mathematica, a landmark in the study of logic. His inquiries into the structure of science provided the background for his metaphysical writings. He criticized traditional categories of philosophy for their failure to convey the essential interrelation of matter, space, and time. (Cornerstone Books )