- Hardcover: 256 pages
- Publisher: Open Court (October 12, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 081269323X
- ISBN-13: 978-0812693232
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,318,175 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Zero Fallacy: and Other Essays in Neoclassical Philosophy Hardcover – October 12, 1999
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The title essay is new, but does not add clarity or depth to his earlier works. The new essay on aesthetic value is quite good, and is tied nicely into his doctrine of objective [vs. subjective] immortality. It suggests how the sentient life of our bodily cells flow into our conscious experience, and how we need aesthetic perceptions evoked by the arts to give us understanding of concrete actuality not conveyed by concepts alone. The essay on the abstractness of science reminds us that the oversimplified abstractions of scientific models, while necessary to the power and success of the scientific enterprise, ignore all qualitative values--and the subjective perceptions, conscious and otherwise which scientists themselves participate in, in their supra-scientific lives. The chapter on Minds and Bodies presents his panpsychism as a synthesis of idealism and realism--but this time not as a dipolar monism but as a "psychicalistic idealism"? Look elsewhere in his work for clearer treatment of this issue. Or see his thought brilliantly articulated, extending the conversation with Thomas Nagel's MIND & COSMOS, in David Ray Griffin's UNSNARLING THE WORLD-KNOT: Consciousness, Freedom, and the Mind-body Problem.
As sometimes happens when brilliant minds stray beyond their domain of expertise, Hartshorne here again, in a few chapters, ventures briefly into ethical, economic, and political philosophy, and descends into relatively naive, simplistic, empty, utopian platitudes.
About half of the essays in this 1997 collection were previously unpublished, and the other half had been published.
In a 1975 essay, he explains, “According to what is called ‘process theology,’ every creature every moment decides something that God does NOT decide for it. Living is deciding, and each creature must do its own deciding, its own living. Scientific determinism, now fortunately qualified even in physics, had the effect of seeming to support bad theology, since both conceived past (or eternal) reality as leaving nothing truly unsettled for us in the present to decide. But life is a process of turning a partly open future into a definite past. The interest of Iife depends on this process.” (Pg. 47-48)
In a 1987 essay, he observes, “It remains a serious question whether or not rational happiness can flourish without something like the belief in God or in something more permanent and relevant to the meaning of our lives than empirical science can provide us with. The Japanese… apparently without an explicitly theistic religion, live with remarkable freedom from the vicious violence that disfigures many Western societies… Most Japanese lack a definite idea of God.” (Pg. 59)
In another essay, he argues, “IF one admits supreme freedom to create in God, does one go to zero freedom, or creativity, in us? Or to a lesser type of form of freedom? Surely the latter is more reasonable… In reading many recent biographies, one finds evidence of the importance of the classical theological ‘problem of evil’ as an important cause of agnosticism, atheism, or metaphysical despair. The problem is not solved by merely admitting HUMAN freedom. Much human and nonhuman suffering comes from ‘inanimate’ nature… Skeptics argue that God, by making a choice to allow members of our, or other species, to be free, is responsible for the bad effects made possible by this freedom. If, however, freedom is a transcendental, God has faced no option between a world of more or less free creatures and a world consisting partly, or universally, of unfree creatures… The zero of freedom is, then, also the zero of concrete actuality. No other view… does justice to the importance of freedom.” (Pg. 68-69)
He suggests, “Buddhism, in my view, is in some respects superior to any Western form of humanism; however, its belief in reincarnation weakens its concentration on our one-time individual life spans, while its surface appearance of atheism makes it unable to give permanent significance to our lives without the reincarnation myth… A high Japanese authority on Buddhism, named Suzuki [presumably D.T. Suzuki]… said he was not sure that Buddhism is nontheistic.” (Pg. 76)
In a 1970 essay, he asserts, “Whitehead’s proposal … is that we take human experiences causally to ‘inherit’ directly from some bodily processes, and these to inherit directly from our experiences, inheriting in each case implying temporal ‘following’ rather than sheer ‘accompanying.’ Thus, the general principle of causality is all we need… the concept of ‘substance’ is show to be no absolute addition. Causality, substance, memory, perception, temporal succession, modality are all but modifications of one principle of creative synthetic experiencing, feeding entirely upon its own prior products. This I regard as the most powerful metaphysical generalization ever accomplished.” (Pg. 115)
He argues, “The truth, first proclaimed by Whitehead, but implied by both Hebrew and Greek thought in general, is that actuality and finitude belong together. Only abstractions, possibilities, can be absolutely infinite. Infinity is a negative word and a negative idea, and its entails inactuality, another negative word. Identifying deity with pure infinity is not praise of God and reduces the all-worshipful to an empty abstraction.” (Pg. 166)
He asks, “If death means that the careers we have had become nothing, or a heap of dust, what is history about, or biography?... My personal view is that the complete rational aim is the service of God, whose future alone is endless and who alone fully appropriates and adequately appreciates our ephemeral good. What some term ‘social immortality’ is literal immortality only so far as God is the social being who is neighbor to us all, exempt from death, and able to love all equally adequately. Deity is the definitive ‘posterity.’” (Pg. 191-192)
He states, “Religious values are finally aesthetic. God is not discharging duties, but lovingly enjoying the creation. The creatures on the preethical stages…. are enjoying themselves and what they sense of the life around them… Without language… an animal can hardly have ethical notions. Ethical values distinguish humanity; only above a certain level do aesthetic values do so… Not art (simply as such) but science, philosophy, politics, religion, distinguish us.” (Pg. 206-207)
Later in this essay, he contends, “To demand posthumous rewards and punishments can only be justified theistically if it can be shown that God needs heaven and hell in order to have divinely satisfying creatures. God enjoying or suffering the spectacle of hell has never been a very inspiring notion, I rather think… Would having Hitler endless punished for his terrible misdeeds do anyone any good? Or would it merely add to the already vast spectacle of creaturely suffering, endured vicariously by deity? How competent are we in the art of playing God imaginatively?... What many see as evidence of divine wrath, or lack of concern for creaturely welfare, may also be seen as sign of infinite respect for creaturely freedom.” (Pg. 214)
This book will be of keen interest to those studying Hartshorne, or Process Philosophy/Theology in general.