Kurt Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem says (i) all closed systems are unprovable within themselves and, that (ii) all open systems are rightly understood as incomplete. - R.E. Slater

The God among us is the God who refuses to be God without us, so great is God's Love. – Tripp Fuller

According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater

Our eschatological ethos is to love. To stand with those who are oppressed. To stand against those who are oppressing. It is that simple. Love is our only calling and Christian Hope. - R.E. Slater

Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger

Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton

I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – Anon

Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII

Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut

Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest

People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – Anon

Certainly, God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater

An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater

Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann

Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner

“Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh” means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14) or, conversely, “I AM who I AM Becoming.”

Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton

The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens, we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – Anon

The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul

The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah

If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – Anon

Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

We can’t control God; God is uncontrollable. God can’t control us; God’s love is uncontrolling! - Thomas Jay Oord

Life in perspective but always in process... as we are relational beings in process to one another, so life events are in process in relation to each event... as God is to Self, is to world, is to us... like Father, like sons and daughters, like events... life in process yet always in perspective. - R.E. Slater

To promote societal transition to sustainable ways of living and a global society founded on a shared ethical framework which includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace. - The Earth Charter Mission Statement

Christian humanism is the belief that human freedom, individual conscience, and unencumbered rational inquiry are compatible with the practice of Christianity or even intrinsic in its doctrine. It represents a philosophical union of Christian faith and classical humanist principles. - Scott Postma

It is never wise to have a self-appointed religious institution determine a nation's moral code. The opportunities for moral compromise and failure are high; the moral codes and creeds assuredly racist, discriminatory, or subjectively and religiously defined; and the pronouncement of inhumanitarian political objectives quite predictable. - R.E. Slater

God's love must both center and define the Christian faith and all religious or human faiths seeking human and ecological balance in worlds of subtraction, harm, tragedy, and evil. - R.E. Slater

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism




Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy of Organism
with Matthew D. Segall
Jun 4, 2021



Dartington Trust

This talk introduces Alfred North Whitehead’s “Philosophy of Organism,” a novel metaphysical scheme that he articulated in the first half of the twentieth century not only as a protest against the lifeless Nature imagined by scientific materialism, but also as a rejection of the narrow linguistic analysis and sterile logical positivism of his philosophical contemporaries. His was an attempt to make natural science philosophical again by asking whether physical causes and motions need be so violently segregated from the conscious reasons and emotions by which we apprehend them. We will explore the major themes of his magnum opus, Process & Reality, wherein Whitehead attempts to construct an organic system of the universe that not only brings quantum and relativity theories into coherence, but gathers up scientific truths, aesthetic feelings, and religious values into an integral vision of reality.

About the Speaker

Matthew D. Segall is a process philosopher whose research focuses on process-relational thought (especially Alfred North Whitehead) and German Idealism (especially Friedrich Schelling). He is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, CA (CIIS.edu). He has published articles on a wide-array of topics, including metaphysics, Gaia theory, religious studies, psychedelics, and architecture. He also blogs regularly at footnotes2plato.com.

This talk is part of the Holistic Science programme at Schumacher College. Find out more about the programme and register for updates about the course - https://campus.dartington.org/holistic-science/

Location - England -  https://campus.dartington.org/about/contact-us/



* * * * * * * *


My Notes from Segall Midway through Lecture
~ notes below begin around 48 mins ~
R.E. Slater

When listening to Matt these several ideas stood out to me; elements which I'd like to remember and add to my growing repertoire of process ideation. Here are the ones which stood out to me today:

Quotes

"When wonder begins to be explained away by theology
then theology has become dogmatic and wonder needs
to be rediscovered again." – Alfred North Whitehead


"The unfolding process of the universe is additive and infinite
which storehouse is drawn upon by the universe to advance one
step forward." - Matt Segall re A.N. Whitehead


Terms and Thoughts


Concrecence – infinite finite action becomes infinitely concreasing:

"The many become one, and are increased by one."
- Whitehead

The Many = The perishable experiences of the past which has inherited previous experiences of the past. But not as eternal objects but as perishable experiences and events in the process sense of potentiality where each potentiality is longing for actualization.

Prehensions = are feelings, that is cosmic feelings of the whole through the parts and back again.

Every actual occasion has two poles – a physical and a mental pole where the perished past is allowed entry into the present.
Example: photons, a wavelength of light, or even a stream of consciousness – prehensions (a feeling)
Ingression – pure potentials ingress into the mental pole while inheriting its past; not simply repetition but repetition lifted up by one additional becoming actuality

Inherited Freedom – is always involved in every event and is not repetitive though it may seem like it is. Further, every ingression is always effective and effectivating. Thus, the ingression of pure potentials enter into the prehension of an actuality.

Subjective aim and forms – help achieve satisfaction of the prehending the becoming event resulting in a superject which then repeats the process all over again in through the next moment of concreascenance.

Rene Descartes said, "I think therefore I am." In process terms he is saying that "an already existing subject with experiences and thoughts is qualifying my substantial self persisting through my life."

In contrast, Whitehead says, "The perished objects of the past allow the past to move forward into the present and next into the future." Which means, “No thinker thinks twice." Which is to say, "You cannot step into the same river twice," or, "No subject experiences the same moment twice."

From each new perspective to each continuing stream of new perspectives all speak to a whole series of historical occasions infinitely related to one another, woven together from.... That is, actual flows are melding together into a pulsing process of becoming which are enfolding their environments into us. As such, we are the environment coming into that new perspective as a new process moving from being to becoming from the environment back into the environment.

R.E. Slater
October 9, 2021

* * * * * * * *













* * * * * * * *


Edited & Unedited Transcript
by R.E. Slater
Oct 9, 2021

Listening and remembering can be hard enough when thinking and scribbling down mental notes. Like myself, the transcript below may help the reader in remembering and thinking through those Whiteheadian phrases and ideas which require more rumination than a simple listening of an audio might reproduce. - re slater

1.1

Hello and welcome to the free market online logistics science talks. Today's talk has been organized by Schumacher College in collaboration with the Field Center.

Host Simon Reese Introduces Matt Segall

...we're going to say "Hello" and a warm welcome to the Free Monthly Online Realistic Science Talks again, organised by Schumacher College in collaboration with the Field Center. I'm Simon Reese.

Having asked you where you're from, I'm From Nailsworth with the Ruskin Road Trust, and the publishing manager for Ruskin World Trust, and a researcher at the Field Center. This month, we are delighted to be welcoming Matt Seagal. He will be presenting on Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy of the Organism, sorry, Philosophy of Organism.

I'm going to give a brief introduction to Matt, our process philosopher, as he teaches on Process Relational Thought and German idealism, in the philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness program at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. 

Matt is going to present Whitehead, who is best known for his process philosophy has a broad number of applications. And you can find those, for example, in Ecological Theology, Education, Physics, Economics, and other other such areas.

And so, before I hand the program over to Matt, there is a Q&A box that you will find on the bottom of your screen in which you may put your questions or your comments. I will then shape those into a discussion with Matt for you at the end of his presentation. Please try not to put them in the chat box. Try and put them in the q&a.

Okay, Matt, a very, very warm welcome to you. We're delighted to have you with us.

Matt Segall

Thanks so much, Simon. It's great to be here on planet Earth with you. I'm from California and it's a delight to be able to join Schumacher college to meet Simon this morning and to see Troy and Judith here asa well. I've been really enjoying the opportunity to teach a bit for Schumacher. To date, I've given talks twice now in the past - once in person at Dartington Hall, back in 2018 on Whitehead, and then earlier this year, 2020, online, during the pandemic, a course on Whiteheadian Thought. I hope to be doing this again later this coming summer too of 2021.

And it's a real, it's a real delight, both, you know, to work with master's students at Schumacher college and also short course participants. I found in teaching Whitehead that there's such a diversity of people with a diversity of backgrounds who are interested in his work as Simon was mentioning. He's sort of touched on a whole variety of different disciplines... Whitehead was not just a philosopher, or at least his philosophy is not just relevant to other philosophers, but it is also meant to be an aid to our everyday lives, and part of an effort to allow us to reconnect to a universe that, you know, in the last few 100 years has really grown in size and magnitude compared to what pre-modern people were used to.

And so, we're in quite a novel situation where Whiteheads Philosophy of Organism is an attempt to make us, or allow us to feel more at home. So I'm going to try to go into go until the top of the hour.

Whitehead's Bio

First a brief sort of biographical introduction to Whitehead.
  1. The trajectory of his career, I think that helps make sense, it helps us make sense of how it is he managed to touch on so many aspects of, you know, contemporary human life here on planet Earth.
  2. And then I want us to step back and ask the question, you know, why would we even care why why do we do philosophy, why do we do metaphysics, why is it relevant to our lives.
  3. And then I want to spend the remaining time going into detail, introducing you to some of Whitehead's philosophical concepts, and to try to paint the picture of a world in process.
Whitehead's a process philosopher, and so I'll introduce you to some of his, his categories, his concepts, his new words neologisms and that you'll, you'll probably be full of questions. 

Whitehead was born in Ramsgate England in 1861. And by the time he is in his late teens, he's already showing a lot of promise in mathematics. He makes his way to Cambridge University, King's College, and Trinity - excuse me not to college - and studies math there where he meets and studies as James Clerk Maxwell's student.

Maxwell, you remember, invented the, ahem, discovered, the electromagnetic theory and developed the maths to understand the propagation of light waves of which Whitehead wrote his dissertation on the electromagnetic theory. So from his very first academic work and research, Whitehead is learning to bridge mathematics and physics. It is this connection between the abstract domain of of geometry and the concrete physical world remains of deep interest to him throughout his career, as we'll see.

And so in 1884 or so 1885, Whitehead began teaching mathematics at Cambridge. Around 1906, he and Bertrand Russell, begin to collaborate - actually Russell starts as Whitehead's student, and they very quickly they realized that they were peers, to some extent, and that they should be working together on a project that climaxed in the production of Principia Mathematica, which was a supposed to be four volumes and ended up being three volumes - which was an attempt to prove, logically that one plus one, in fact, equals two.

Something we might take for granted... that this is a simple formula that even elementary school children can solve but, in fact, as they've discovered in the course of writing this book together there are some logical paradoxes embedded in this simple formula. We don't really have a clear definition of what a number is much less what two numbers are. And so, Russell and Whitehead did really, you could say inaugurate the whole discipline of Analytic Philosophy by developing a quiet impenetrable symbolic language that cost quite a bit of money for Cambridge to print, which, I think, they were asked to contribute $$ to for the type setting. Cambridge had asked Russell and Whitehead to chip in a little bit of their own funds to print the first 500 copies. At the last, the book didn't sell very well but it was nonetheless very influential amongst mathematicians.

So that was was the period between 1911 to 1914 that these three volumes came out where there was supposed to be a fourth printed volume on geometry - which was going to be mostly Whitehead's contribution - but World War I started and Whitehead and Russell began to have some tension between themselves and with Cambridge which resulted in Russell being dismissed from Trinity College, Cambridge, for his pacifism and anti-war activism.

However, Whitehead, who wasn't exactly cheering on the war, had his son, Eric, drafted by England and became a pilot in the Royal Air Force. A few years later his son would be shot down over France and died. And so, you know, given that, just the difficulty around this event, was something not only Whitehead experienced personally but so many others had to throughout European during the war. And though Russell could play the brave pacifist, and was good friends with Whitehead, this eventually resulted in a bit of a falling out between them.

---

Unknown 9:56
There were, there was something else brewing in the international scene of physics and cosmology, Albert Einstein, of course, beginning in 1905 and then in 1916, ed published his special and general theories of relativity and Whitehead independently of Einstein had already been exploring. Again, this relationship between math and the physical world actually also in 1905 Whitehead had published this article that was called mathematical conceptions of the material world. And in there, he's exploring different approaches to modeling the physical world mathematically and he looks at four or five different models and the fourth and fifth models begin to gesture towards something like a relativistic understanding, bringing space and time into more intimate relationship than had hitherto been done, but you know Einstein was the real genius here in, you know, bringing together some work that had already been underway.

Unknown 11:11
You know with physicists like Lorenc and min Koski and Ryman and others, building on the development of non Euclidean geometry right to totally shift and transform our understanding of space of time and gravity and matter and energy. And so Whitehead was really swept up by this Einsteinian revolution in physics. In the first, you know, two decades of the 20th century, and it brought him more and more out of just mathematics and physics and into metaphysics. So to set the scene here in in 1916, Einstein had made some predictions about how light would bend around the sun, and suggested that during an eclipse we would be able to take photographs of the moon blocking the light of the sun and see the stars around the sun, and we could actually measure the parallax the degree to which the light from the stars around the Sun shifted. Due to the warping effect of the sun's gravitation. Isaac Newton had also made a prediction that this would occur but Einstein's prediction was about, I think twice as much as Newton's. And so they could determine whether Einstein's theory of gravity was correct or not, by observing an eclipse.

Unknown 12:39
Actually Einstein's first prediction was off he got the math wrong. And lucky for him, the attempt to prove his theory in 19.

Unknown 12:54
I think 1916 A must have been was toward it because, well actually was 1914 So he had developed a theory a little bit earlier.

Unknown 13:04
And someone went off to Russia to try to observe an eclipse that was happening then but the war started, and this, the scientist was, was arrested and his equipment was impounded and he couldn't run the test, if he had, he would have found that Einstein's prediction was off so luckily that didn't occur or Einstein would have been dismissed and wouldn't be the greatest genius of the 20th century. Einstein has another chance to redo his math makes a new prediction.

Unknown 13:35
Sir Arthur Eddington and a team of astronomers from the Royal Society decided in 1919 that they're going to travel to the west coast of Africa, and to Brazil to have two teams to observe the eclipse in 1919, they're able to to take some photographic plates.

Unknown 13:57
They barely got enough plates, it was, it was hot and the mirrors were warping and, in, in, you know Eddington was in, off the coast of Africa on this island, where monkeys were stealing his equipment, and so it was not easy to get these photographic plates of the eclipse, but they managed it, and Eddington makes the announcement later that year in London at the Royal Society Whitehead is in the audience, and any can says we have confirmed Einstein's predictions, light, indeed, is warped by the presence of mass, because according to Einstein space bends space, space, time is warped, it bends.

Unknown 14:45
That's what many of the newspaper headlines read the next day.

Unknown 14:51
You know, there were headlines like space cop bending right and Whitehead reports the sort of theatrical environment in the hall at the Royal Society, when, you know, these, these, these men and women of science are taking in this, this new discovery, you know, the universe has has unveiled another aspect of itself, but Whitehead has some issues with this notion of space bending, and over the next several years you would have several occasions to speak with Einstein as a scientist and philosopher.

Unknown 15:31
Lord Helldane's home in London, there was a party that held him through invited Einstein. Einstein gave a couple lectures as well, like Cambridge and elsewhere, and Whitehead tried to talk Einstein, out of his implicit metaphysics, he was fine with the, with the physics, and with the, the new geometrical tools that Einstein had developed with help from other mathematicians, but he was worried about this notion of space bending. Because the thing about measurement is that you need a rigid ruler. In order for measurement to be accurate and Whitehead thought that if space was allowed to bend, due to the presence of mass, which is sort of contingently spread around the universe, we're in a situation where before we can measure anything accurately, we first have to know where all the masses, but to know all the masses, we first have to measure it. And so you can see how his way to put it, we'd first have to know everything before we can know anything. And you know I've sent out a response to this that because over the the the spread of the entire universe mass is distributed more or less evenly. We don't have to worry about the warping of space over long distances, why that was not convinced. He thought that we needed to distinguish between space which was a matter for geometers geometry to figure out in physics, where you know the mass, which was what we're trying to measure and if we conflate the two, we end up with some logical and indeed metaphysical paradoxes. And so this set Whitehead off into metaphysics himself, and he developed a whole philosophy of nature and the cosmology which integrated relativity theory and also the early.

Unknown 17:27
Some early aspects of quantum theory that were being developed in the 1920s. And just as Whitehead was beginning this work.

Unknown 17:36
He was invited to when he was 64 I believe he was invited to come to the United States to the other Cambridge Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he began lecturing in the philosophy department for Harvard University.

Unknown 17:53
Whitehead says in his first course.

Unknown 17:57
As a professor at Harvard that it was also, it has to count as his first philosophy course himself he'd never actually taken a philosophy course and here he here he was taking up the chair that William James, the great American philosopher had held until like 1910 and Whitehead continues at Harvard, from 1924 until 1937, when he retires and during this time, he publishes a number of books on process philosophy or his so called philosophy of organism process and reality was published in 1929. It was actually a series of lectures he gave at the University of Edinburgh, so he went back across the pond to Scotland and gave the Gifford lectures and process into reality is one of the most difficult books in the history of Western philosophy. I don't recommend that you try to read it by yourself. You may get lost and, and will never be seen or heard from again in the thicket of new words and and difficult arguments that Whitehead makes in that text. However, if you can find a group of other people who are weird enough to be interested in metaphysics, studying it together is helpful. You can keep track of each other you can speak with each other in this new language that Whitehead develops.

Unknown 19:29
And I don't mean to scare you off from studying whiteheads work.

Unknown 19:33
I just think it's important to recognize that he's really developing a new language. In this book, and his subsequent texts, which are a little bit easier to read.

Unknown 19:45
Adventures of ideas modes of thought.

Unknown 19:49
Some titles of his later books which take the dense, technical and formal language of process in reality and make it a little bit more digestible. But why that's really trying to develop a new language that once we learn it all, it in fact alters our perception, I would say, and we begin to inhabit a world that is no longer sort of the mechanistic common sense that for the last few 100 years we've been raised to, to accept where we're in a sort of spatial container with other solid objects in this container, and that, you know time is simply a measure of the change of the location of these objects in the spatial container, and that these objects including we ourselves. We have no intrinsic relationship to each other. We're all what we would say is Whitehead would say we're all just externally related in this container of space bumping into each other right that's the sort of more or less Newtonian picture.

Unknown 21:00
That way that thinks 20th century physics completely demolishes. And so, let's shift them to this question of why philosophy is even important. And, you know, why Whitehead was drawn into metaphysics.

Unknown 21:19
You know I spoke to this a bit, it was, he was really inspired by the Einsteinian and quantum revolutions in physics to move into philosophy but why well because he felt that these revolutions in physics had demolished the old mechanistic worldview the old mechanistic metaphysics that had undergirded science since its foundation in the 17th century.

Unknown 21:45
Whitehead refers to this as scientific materialism, and it was based on the idea.

Unknown 21:51
two main ideas, which he refers to as the idea of simple location that a thing has simple location and space, and that its location can be determined independently of the location of everything else in space. And the other idea would be this notion of nature, being fully present at an instant, or say a bit of matter being fully present at an instant, so that there's sort of this notion of of matters just this enduring lump of stuff, or substance would be the technical metaphysical term, that just mutely Enders indoors, in its motions through space or its endurance through time. It's just there. Right, fully present at an instant. And with simple location. Now after relativity and quantum theories.

Unknown 22:44
Demolished both of these, these notions of simple location and nature at an instant Whitehead realized that science was now advancing its theoretical understanding, almost floating in free air floating without a metaphysical foundation. And if you try to understand quantum theory, and all the the weirdness that ends up seeming like a consequence of some of the findings of quantum theory, you'll note that there's such a disconnect between our common sense experience and what quantum theory is telling us like Schrodinger his cat right in this in this chamber with a radioactive isotope. Apparently we can't know whether the cat is dead or alive but it's worse than that, we have to say that the cat is both dead and alive at the same moment, right, this totally conflicts with our common sense understanding and from whiteheads point of view this is because we don't have we don't have the metaphysical substructure to undergird our scientific understanding such that, what we discover in the special sciences, whether it's in physics and the different aspects of physics or biology or chemistry in unless all of these special sciences have a metaphysical substructure, we don't know first of all how they all relate to each other just within science, but we also don't know how science itself relates to our everyday experience to our common sense experience of being conscious agents in a world of other conscious agents who we think have some responsibility for their actions, who perceive beauty, who, you know have purposes and life goals, how do we integrate the findings of contemporary science with the hardcore presuppositions of our everyday lives. Whitehead thought that the 20th century revolutions in physics, and even before that the metaphysics of scientific materialism and mechanism has sort of left us in a bit of a muddle.

Unknown 25:00
And a fragmented state because, I mean, before the revolutions of the 20th century. If you looked at mechanistic science and tried to integrate that even though mechanistic science was Whitehead admitted a clear set, and had a clear set of principles. Everything was more or less understood the universe was a clockwork. Right.

Unknown 25:23
That doesn't integrate with our understanding of human life at all. This is why, you know, Descartes, an early modern scientist had his dualism, where the mechanistic world could be understood with perfect precision, mathematically, but it was set apart from the inner realm of the human soul. Right, and this was a sort of compromised position but as science advanced it began to encroach more and more upon the inner life of the human soul.

Unknown 25:53
But then, in the early 20th century as this mechanistic metaphysics is called into question. Whitehead sees the opportunity to develop a more coherent understanding.

Unknown 26:04
That was not dualistic that didn't separate human consciousness from the rest of nature, but that understood nature, not as a collection of objects, blindly colliding with one another and empty space, but rather, came to understand nature as a network of events, you might say.

Unknown 26:28
And this network of events is for Whitehead, in, in a process of becoming that is inherently tilted towards complexity tilted toward beauty, he would say. And when we think of nature as a network of events.

Unknown 26:53
Whitehead thought that an event or an occasion or happening, something like, you know, the, the agitation of energy described in electromagnetic theory, that this was easier to bridge, you know, the agitations of energy as a, as a happening as an event is easier to bridge with our understanding of experience is experienced to is a happening.

Unknown 27:21
It's not just an object in space, right. It is a subject to which events are transpiring or for which events are transpiring and so in whiteheads universe.

Unknown 27:34
Subjectivity is understood to be pervasive not conscious self reflective, you know, rational, consciousness, such as human beings, some of the time, is this, but a more basic form of experience, which is simply the feeling of inheriting a past and anticipating a future right so every event in the universe for Whitehead is inheriting past and anticipating a future even if you think of the wavelength of light, you know, it's even if it's highly repetitive in its inheritance of the past just repeating the same energetic pattern over and over again. Whitehead says, Well, why is it repeating that pattern because it's enjoyable. Right. And so, this is a point where many people who are perhaps more wed to the materialist worldview and want to see human consciousness as something totally different. Whitehead is going to give them pause here and they're going to find this perhaps incredulous, incredible, but Whitehead found reasons, looking at and we'll go into this. Looking at the post Einsteinian post quantum study of physics, and looking at biology and evolutionary theory, he found that he was justified in moving to what's called a pan psychist Or a pan experiential metaphysics, because again his goal was not only to integrate all of the sciences, but to understand how science and human life can be integrated such that the universe that we actually experience as conscious human beings would have some relationship to the, you know, the, the particles and the waves and the galaxies and stars distant stars studied by by science.

Unknown 29:30
So we do philosophy and metaphysics Whitehead would set in an effort to, to understand our place in the universe. I mean, one of the best images that I could find, or describing whiteheads universe was, was this spider web, with some dewdrops on it.

Unknown 29:55
So rather than again a universe imagined as a spatial container with objects within it.

Unknown 30:02
I describe whiteheads universe as a network of events and Whitehead refers to events, also as actual occasions.

Unknown 30:12
And these are actual occasions of experience. Right. And each of these dewdrops, you can imagine, as an actual occasion of experience and that they exist in this network or mesh work with one another, is to say that, just as each of these dewdrops reflects all the other dewdrops. Each actual occasion is mirroring the rest of the universe. And so there's a holographic sense in which, within each actual occasion at whatever location happens to be in the universe it is in fact, containing within itself. the entirety of its cosmic environment. Right and so if you were to zoom in on any of these dewdrops, you'd see each of the other dewdrops reflected there. And then if you were to zoom in on those dewdrops. You'd see again the repetition and a fractal like way of the entire web. And so there's this infinite nesting occurring in each of these actual occasions of experience, and in whiteheads universe.

Unknown 31:21
We're not just externally related to one another, from moment to moment, we are including one another, one another's pasts, within ourselves, right, and so the only problem with this web is that it, it presents a sort of static picture of interconnection. Why does understanding of the relationship among these actual occasions of experience is in process, right. And so we'd have to imagine a more dynamic image whereby these dewdrops are constantly growing together into one another, and then dispersing out again.

Unknown 32:06
If we think about this in human terms, it's a profoundly whiteheads is a profoundly relational understanding

Unknown 32:16
of existence whereby you know, as you're taking in my image and my words right now. Yes, it has to be translated into, you know, electronic pulses in a series of transistors and microchips and then sent across the planet to wherever you are, but then it's produced through your speakers on your computer back into sound.

Unknown 32:43
My image is conveyed to you and Whitehead is saying that the energy that I am expressing is absorbed by you and it actually becomes part of you.

Unknown 32:55
And when I get to hear your questions later.

Unknown 32:58
You will become part of me, and that we're in this constant give and take with one another, whereby we are literally making each other from moment to moment. And so it's quite a profound meshwork that challenges not only this old idea of mechanistic physics that things exist independently of other things but it challenges our modern sort of political and social sense of individuality, at least, if we take that to an extreme, if we were to imagine individuals existing on their own private island without being constituted by their relations to others. I mean, it becomes quite obvious. When we think about developmental psychology, and the maturation of an infant in relationship to the mother, we can see, I think, in that dynamic, the sense in which we really do belong to one another, we really do require our relationships with one another to be who we are as individuals. And that's very much in the spirit of whiteheads philosophy.

Unknown 34:27
So, before even the 20th century Revolutions in Science, there was the first scientific revolution which was shocking enough. Right. It begins with Copernicus, who rediscovered some ancient that beggary and speculations about the design of the solar system.

Unknown 34:48
And, you know, Copernicus puts forward this this hypothesis that actually, it's not the earth that's at the center, it's the sun that's at the center, and the earth. Like the other planets is wandering in space. So, you know, Copernicus throws the Earth into motion. This was profoundly unsettling for the medieval world to take in. And in many ways, hundreds of years later we're still grappling with the fact that we live on a planet that is in motion through space, and following Copernicus, Kepler Galileo and Newton developed the laws of physics that allowed allowed them to overcome this ancient sense of the division between the earthly and the heavenly realms right the terrestrial and the celestial domains for Aristotle very different laws applied in these two domains. There is perfect motion. Above the sphere of the moon, perfect circular motion, but below the sphere of the moon on the terrestrial sphere.

Unknown 35:59
There was only imperfect motion. But Newton with his universal law of gravitation says nope the same laws apply in heaven as, as, as, as apply on Earth. And so, modern science inaugurates this new sense of the unity of the universe. In fact, and one way of looking at this is to say that now post scientific revolution, the Earth is itself, brought into heaven.

Unknown 36:34
I mean the materialistic way of saying it would be that the heavens were brought down to earth, but I think we can look at it either way.

Unknown 36:40
So, you know, from a contemporary cosmological point of view.

Unknown 36:46
Whitehead felt the urgency of providing us with a newfound sense of, of where we are right situating us in these vast expanses of space and time, but just to think about our situation in space.

Unknown 37:05
This is a map, as it were of our local galactic neighborhood with Milky Way at the center, and dromeda off to the right and down a bit. Andromeda is actually hurtling towards us and we will collide with Andromeda.

Unknown 37:23
At some point in the next, I think, billion or two years.

Unknown 37:30
It might not be as catastrophic the collision, as you might first assume two galaxies colliding. There's a lot of space within each galaxy and while the gravitational effects might distort the perfect spirals in these two galaxies.

Unknown 37:46
It's likely that we will survive. The earth will survive.

Unknown 37:52
And that in fact this, the gravitational effects of this collision will seed new stars, right. So this whole understanding of our situation as a galaxy of other galaxies billions, hundreds of billions of other galaxies in our visible universe, it's you know we're talking about a century here, where this has been understood.

Unknown 38:15
And it's profoundly disorienting. Right, there's been plenty of documentaries that, you know Carl Sagan may be the first to do it and, more recently, people like Neil deGrasse Tyson and others who just depict this, this new story of where we are.

Unknown 38:37
And it's almost, maybe we think it's normal. Now, we know the words you know to use to describe our situation but if we really taken it in the magnitudes here are, I think, actually impossible for us to grasp. We don't have the, the biological capacity given the proportion that our senses have evolved, you know, to allow us to perceive, I don't, I don't really think we have the imagination. That is powerful enough to really make sense of our scientific knowledge, and for Whitehead, this was a problem.

Unknown 39:14
Because if we don't have.

Unknown 39:18
If we if we're not adequate. If our imagination is not adequate to our knowledge, he, he was worried that the very foundations of civilization would be unstable. Because a civilization needs to have some sense of confidence in its purpose, and to know our purpose, we have to know our place in the wider universe. And so why did was very worried. Write about as much as he was excited by the advances in science, he was worried that there wasn't enough effort being made to connect his.

Unknown 39:51
This new cosmological story to our everyday human existence.

Unknown 39:58
This is an attempt to depict our situation in time if that galactic map was our situation in space. This is a simulation of what happened hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, as the first clouds of gas, condensed and the gravitational forces brought them together to form stars, which formed the first spiral galaxies.

1.2

Unknown 0:10
Are we going to say hello and welcome to the free market online logistics science talks. Game is organized by Schumacher College in collaboration with the field Center. I'm Simon mix those two way offer an announcement at the Ruskin trust, and the publisher manager for Ruskin road trust, and a researcher at Sheffield center. This month, we are delighted to be welcoming Matt cigar and Matt will be presenting on Alfred North Whitehead philosophy of the organism, sorry philosophy organism. I'm going to give a brief introduction to Matt, who is a process philosopher, and he teaches on process relational thought in German idealism, to the philosophy cosmology and consciousness program at the California Institute of integral studies in San Francisco. Matt's gonna present with Whitehead is best known for his process philosophy as abroad, and under that applications. And you can find this for example in ecology theology. Education physics, economics, and other other subjects. So before I hand over to Matt. There is a queue, a box that you'll find on the bottom of your screen. And then, if you put your questions or your comments. I will then shape those into a discussion with Matt for you at the end of his discussion, the end of this presentation. Please, try not to put them in the chat box. The child button in the q&a. Okay, Matt, a very, very warm welcome to you. We're delighted to have you with us.

Unknown 2:01
Thanks so much, Simon. Great to be here on planet Earth, somewhere. You all are and I'm here in California. It's a delight to be able to join. Schumacher college, you know, to meet Simon this morning to see Troy and Judith here and I've been really enjoying the opportunity to teach a bit for Schumacher I've talks twice now in the past once in person at Dartington Hall. Back in 2018, of course on Whitehead and then earlier this year, online in, In pandemic mode, of course on Whitehead and Garita and I'm doing that again later this summer. And it's a real, it's a real delight, both, you know, to work with master's students at Schumacher college and also short course participants. I found in teaching Whitehead that there's such a diversity of people with a diversity of backgrounds that are interested in his work as Simon was mentioning, he's sort of touched on a whole variety of different disciplines, he's not just a philosopher, or at least his philosophy is not just relevant to other philosophers it's also meant to be an aid to our everyday lives, and part of an effort to allow us to reconnect to a universe that, you know, in the last few 100 years has really grown in size in magnitude compared to what pre modern people were used to and so we're in quite a novel situation and whiteheads philosophy of organism is an attempt to make us, or allow us to feel more at home here so I'm going to try to go into go until the top of the hour here and run through. First a brief sort of biographical introduction to Whitehead who he was. The trajectory of his career. I think that helps make sense, it helps us make sense of how it is he managed to touch on so many aspects of, you know, contemporary human life here on planet Earth. And then I want to just step back and ask the question, you know, why would we even care. Why why do we do philosophy, why do we do metaphysics, why is it relevant to our lives. And then I want to spend the remaining time going into detail, introducing you to some of whiteheads, philosophical concepts, and to try to paint a picture of a world in process. He's a process philosopher, right, and so I'll introduce you to some of his, his categories, his concepts, his new words neologisms, and after that you'll, you'll probably be full of questions. So, all right. Let me share my screen here. Thumbs up, teuer Simon if that's good. Okay, great. So there it is. Whitehead was born in Ramsgate England in 1861. And by the time you in his late teens, you know, he's already showing a lot of progress in mathematics and he makes his way to Cambridge University. King's College, and Trinity, excuse me not King's College, and studies, math there he studies with James Clark Maxwell's student. So, Maxwell, of course, invented the or discovered the electromagnetic theory and developed the maths to understand the propagation of light waves and Whitehead wrote his dissertation on the electromagnetic theory. So from, you know his very first academic work and research, he is bridging mathematics and physics. And this connection between the abstract domain of of geometry and the concrete physical world remains of deep interest to him throughout his career, as we'll see. So, I think, 1884, or so 1885 to begin teaching mathematics at Cambridge

Unknown 6:55
around 1906. He and Bertrand Russell, begin to collaborate actually Russell starts as whiteheads, students, and they, you know, very quickly realized that, you know, They were peers, to some extent and that they should be working together on a project that climaxed in the Principia Mathematica, which was a supposed to be four volumes and ended up being three volumes which was an attempt to prove, logically that one plus one, in fact, equals two. And we might take for granted that this is a simple formula that even, you know, elementary school children can can solve but, in fact, as they've discovered in the course of writing this book together. There are some logical paradoxes embedded in this simple formula. We don't really have a clear definition of what a number is much less what two numbers are. And so, Russell and Whitehead did really, you could say inaugurate the whole discipline of analytic philosophy by developing a quiet impenetrable symbolic language that cost quite a bit of money for Cambridge to print I think they even asked to just to do this, type setting. I think they even asked Russell and Whitehead to chip in a little bit of their own funds to print the first 500 copies. The book didn't sell very well but it was nonetheless very influential. So that was, I think 1911 through 1914 that these three volumes came out there were supposed to be a fourth volume on geometry which was going to be mostly whiteheads contribution but the war started and Whitehead and Russell began to have some tension around that Russell, of course, would be himself dismissed from Trinity College, Cambridge for his pacifism and anti war activism Whitehead. I don't know that he was cheering on the war but his son Eric was drafted and was in the Royal Air Force, and a few years later actually would be shot down over France, I believe, and died. And so, you know, given that, just the, The difficulty around the last not just for Whitehead personally but for many of the European nations during the war and Russell's, you know, you could say brave pacifist stance at that point. Whitehead and Russell who were good friends, sort of had a bit of a falling out. And at that point. There were, there was something else brewing in the international scene of physics and cosmology, Albert Einstein, of course, beginning in 1905 and then in 1916, ed published his special and general theories of relativity and Whitehead independently of Einstein had already been exploring. Again, this relationship between math and the physical world actually also in 1905 Whitehead had published this article that was called mathematical conceptions of the material world. And in there, he's exploring different approaches to modeling the physical world mathematically and he looks at four or five different models and the fourth and fifth models begin to gesture towards something like a relativistic understanding, bringing space and time into more intimate relationship than had hitherto been done, but you know Einstein was the real genius here in,

Unknown 11:06
you know, bringing together some work that had already been underway. You know with physicists like Lorenc and min Koski and Ryman and others, building on the development of non Euclidean geometry right to totally shift and transform our understanding of space of time and gravity and matter and energy. And so Whitehead was really swept up by this Einsteinian revolution in physics. In the first, you know, two decades of the 20th century, and it brought him more and more out of just mathematics and physics and into metaphysics. So to set the scene here in in 1916, Einstein had made some predictions about how light would bend around the sun, and suggested that during an eclipse we would be able to take photographs of the moon blocking the light of the sun and see the stars around the sun, and we could actually measure the parallax the degree to which the light from the stars around the Sun shifted. Due to the warping effect of the sun's gravitation. Isaac Newton had also made a prediction that this would occur but Einstein's prediction was about, I think twice as much as Newton's. And so they could determine whether Einstein's theory of gravity was correct or not, by observing an eclipse. Actually Einstein's first prediction was off he got the math wrong. And lucky for him, the attempt to prove his theory in 19. I think 1916 A must have been was toward it because, well actually was 1914 So he had developed a theory a little bit earlier. And someone went off to Russia to try to observe an eclipse that was happening then but the war started, and this, the scientist was, was arrested and his equipment was impounded and he couldn't run the test, if he had, he would have found that Einstein's prediction was off so luckily that didn't occur or Einstein would have been dismissed and wouldn't be the greatest genius of the 20th century. Einstein has another chance to redo his math makes a new prediction. Sir Arthur Eddington and a team of astronomers from the Royal Society decided in 1919 that they're going to travel to the west coast of Africa, and to Brazil to have two teams to observe the eclipse in 1919, they're able to to take some photographic plates. They barely got enough plates, it was, it was hot and the mirrors were warping and, in, in, you know Eddington was in, off the coast of Africa on this island, where monkeys were stealing his equipment, and so it was not easy to get these photographic plates of the eclipse, but they managed it, and Eddington makes the announcement later that year in London at the Royal Society Whitehead is in the audience, and any can says we have confirmed Einstein's predictions, light, indeed, is warped by the presence of mass, because according to Einstein space bends space, space, time is warped, it bends. That's what many of the newspaper headlines read the next day. You know, there were headlines like space cop bending right and Whitehead reports the sort of theatrical environment in the hall at the Royal Society, when, you know, these, these, these men and women of science are taking in this, this new discovery, you know, the universe has has unveiled another aspect of itself, but Whitehead has some issues with this notion of space, bending, and over the next several years you would have several occasions to speak with Einstein. At the. The Statesman and philosopher. Lord hell Dan's home in London, there was a party that held him through invited Einstein. Einstein gave a couple lectures as well, like Cambridge and elsewhere, and Whitehead tried to talk Einstein, out of his implicit metaphysics, he was fine with the, with the physics, and with the, the new geometrical tools that Einstein had developed with help from other mathematicians, but he was worried about this notion of space bending. Because the thing about measurement is that you need a rigid ruler. In order for measurement to be accurate and Whitehead thought that if space was allowed to bend, due to the presence of mass, which is sort of contingently spread around the universe, we're in a situation where before we can measure anything accurately, we first have to know where all the masses, but to know all the masses, we first have to measure it. And so you can see how his way to put it, we'd first have to know everything before we can know anything. And you know I've sent out a response to this that because over the the the spread of the entire universe mass is distributed more or less evenly. We don't have to worry about the warping of space over long distances, why that was not convinced. He thought that we needed to distinguish between space which was a matter for geometers geometry to figure out in physics, where you know the mass, which was what we're trying to measure and if we conflate the two, we end up with some logical and indeed metaphysical paradoxes. And so this set Whitehead off into metaphysics himself, and he developed a whole philosophy of nature and the cosmology which integrated relativity theory and also the early.

Unknown 17:27
Some early aspects of quantum theory that were being developed in the 1920s. And just as Whitehead was beginning this work. He was invited to when he was 64 I believe he was invited to come to the United States to the other Cambridge Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he began lecturing in the philosophy department for Harvard University. Whitehead says in his first course. As a professor at Harvard that it was also, it has to count as his first philosophy course himself he'd never actually taken a philosophy course and here he here he was taking up the chair that William James, the great American philosopher had held until like 1910 and Whitehead continues at Harvard, from 1924 until 1937, when he retires and during this time, he publishes a number of books on process philosophy or his so called philosophy of organism process and reality was published in 1929. It was actually a series of lectures he gave at the University of Edinburgh, so he went back across the pond to Scotland and gave the Gifford lectures and process into reality is one of the most difficult books in the history of Western philosophy. I don't recommend that you try to read it by yourself. You may get lost and, and will never be seen or heard from again in the thicket of new words and and difficult arguments that Whitehead makes in that text. However, if you can find a group of other people who are weird enough to be interested in metaphysics, studying it together is helpful. You can keep track of each other you can speak with each other in this new language that Whitehead develops. And I don't mean to scare you off from studying whiteheads work. I just think it's important to recognize that he's really developing a new language. In this book, and his subsequent texts, which are a little bit easier to read. Adventures of ideas modes of thought. Some titles of his later books which take the dense, technical and formal language of process in reality and make it a little bit more digestible. But why that's really trying to develop a new language that once we learn it all, it in fact alters our perception, I would say, and we begin to inhabit a world that is no longer sort of the mechanistic common sense that for the last few 100 years we've been raised to, to accept where we're in a sort of spatial container with other solid objects in this container, and that, you know time is simply a measure of the change of the location of these objects in the spatial container, and that these objects including we ourselves. We have no intrinsic relationship to each other. We're all what we would say is Whitehead would say we're all just externally related in this container of space bumping into each other right that's the sort of more or less Newtonian picture. That way that thinks 20th century physics completely demolishes. And so, let's shift them to this question of why philosophy is even important. And, you know, why Whitehead was drawn into metaphysics.

Unknown 21:19
You know I spoke to this a bit, it was, he was really inspired by the Einsteinian and quantum revolutions in physics to move into philosophy but why well because he felt that these revolutions in physics had demolished the old mechanistic worldview the old mechanistic metaphysics that had undergirded science since its foundation in the 17th century. Whitehead refers to this as scientific materialism, and it was based on the idea. two main ideas, which he refers to as the idea of simple location that a thing has simple location and space, and that its location can be determined independently of the location of everything else in space. And the other idea would be this notion of nature, being fully present at an instant, or say a bit of matter being fully present at an instant, so that there's sort of this notion of of matters just this enduring lump of stuff, or substance would be the technical metaphysical term, that just mutely Enders indoors, in its motions through space or its endurance through time. It's just there. Right, fully present at an instant. And with simple location. Now after relativity and quantum theories. Demolished both of these, these notions of simple location and nature at an instant Whitehead realized that science was now advancing its theoretical understanding, almost floating in free air floating without a metaphysical foundation. And if you try to understand quantum theory, and all the the weirdness that ends up seeming like a consequence of some of the findings of quantum theory, you'll note that there's such a disconnect between our common sense experience and what quantum theory is telling us like Schrodinger his cat right in this in this chamber with a radioactive isotope. Apparently we can't know whether the cat is dead or alive but it's worse than that, we have to say that the cat is both dead and alive at the same moment, right, this totally conflicts with our common sense understanding and from whiteheads point of view this is because we don't have we don't have the metaphysical substructure to undergird our scientific understanding such that, what we discover in the special sciences, whether it's in physics and the different aspects of physics or biology or chemistry in unless all of these special sciences have a metaphysical substructure, we don't know first of all how they all relate to each other just within science, but we also don't know how science itself relates to our everyday experience to our common sense experience of being conscious agents in a world of other conscious agents who we think have some responsibility for their actions, who perceive beauty, who, you know have purposes and life goals, how do we integrate the findings of contemporary science with the hardcore presuppositions of our everyday lives. Whitehead thought that the 20th century revolutions in physics, and even before that the metaphysics of scientific materialism and mechanism has sort of left us in a bit of a muddle. And a fragmented state because, I mean, before the revolutions of the 20th century. If you looked at mechanistic science and tried to integrate that even though mechanistic science was Whitehead admitted a clear set, and had a clear set of principles. Everything was more or less understood the universe was a clockwork. Right. That doesn't integrate with our understanding of human life at all. This is why, you know, Descartes, an early modern scientist had his dualism, where the mechanistic world could be understood with perfect precision, mathematically, but it was set apart from the inner realm of the human soul. Right, and this was a sort of compromised position but as science advanced it began to encroach more and more upon the inner life of the human soul.

Unknown 25:53
But then, in the early 20th century as this mechanistic metaphysics is called into question. Whitehead sees the opportunity to develop a more coherent understanding. That was not dualistic that didn't separate human consciousness from the rest of nature, but that understood nature, not as a collection of objects, blindly colliding with one another and empty space, but rather, came to understand nature as a network of events, you might say. And this network of events is for Whitehead, in, in a process of becoming that is inherently tilted towards complexity tilted toward beauty, he would say. And when we think of nature as a network of events. Whitehead thought that an event or an occasion or happening, something like, you know, the, the agitation of energy described in electromagnetic theory, that this was easier to bridge, you know, the agitations of energy as a, as a happening as an event is easier to bridge with our understanding of experience is experienced to is a happening. It's not just an object in space, right. It is a subject to which events are transpiring or for which events are transpiring and so in whiteheads universe. Subjectivity is understood to be pervasive not conscious self reflective, you know, rational, consciousness, such as human beings, some of the time, is this, but a more basic form of experience, which is simply the feeling of inheriting a past and anticipating a future right so every event in the universe for Whitehead is inheriting past and anticipating a future even if you think of the wavelength of light, you know, it's even if it's highly repetitive in its inheritance of the past just repeating the same energetic pattern over and over again. Whitehead says, Well, why is it repeating that pattern because it's enjoyable. Right. And so, this is a point where many people who are perhaps more wed to the materialist worldview and want to see human consciousness as something totally different. Whitehead is going to give them pause here and they're going to find this perhaps incredulous, incredible, but Whitehead found reasons, looking at and we'll go into this. Looking at the post Einsteinian post quantum study of physics, and looking at biology and evolutionary theory, he found that he was justified in moving to what's called a pan psychist Or a pan experiential metaphysics, because again his goal was not only to integrate all of the sciences, but to understand how science and human life can be integrated such that the universe that we actually experience as conscious human beings would have some relationship to the, you know, the, the particles and the waves and the galaxies and stars distant stars studied by by science. So we do philosophy and metaphysics Whitehead would set in an effort to, to understand our place in the universe. I mean, one of the best images that I could find, or describing whiteheads universe was, was this spider web, with some dewdrops on it. So rather than again a universe imagined as a spatial container with objects within it. I describe whiteheads universe as a network of events and Whitehead refers to events, also as actual occasions. And these are actual occasions of experience. Right. And each of these dewdrops, you can imagine, as an actual occasion of experience and that they exist in this network or mesh work with one another, is to say that, just as each of these dewdrops reflects all the other dewdrops. Each actual occasion is mirroring the rest of the universe. And so there's a holographic sense in which, within each actual occasion at whatever location happens to be in the universe it is in fact,

Unknown 30:49
containing within itself. the entirety of its cosmic environment. Right and so if you were to zoom in on any of these dewdrops, you'd see each of the other dewdrops reflected there. And then if you were to zoom in on those dewdrops. You'd see again the repetition and a fractal like way of the entire web. And so there's this infinite nesting occurring in each of these actual occasions of experience, and in whiteheads universe. We're not just externally related to one another, from moment to moment, we are including one another, one another's pasts, within ourselves, right, and so the only problem with this web is that it, it presents a sort of static picture of interconnection. Why does understanding of the relationship among these actual occasions of experience is in process, right. And so we'd have to imagine a more dynamic image whereby these dewdrops are constantly growing together into one another, and then dispersing out again. If we think about this in human terms, it's a profoundly whiteheads is a profoundly relational understanding of existence whereby you know, as you're taking in my image and my words right now. Yes, it has to be translated into, you know, electronic pulses in a series of transistors and microchips and then sent across the planet to wherever you are, but then it's produced through your speakers on your computer back into sound. My image is conveyed to you and Whitehead is saying that the energy that I am expressing is absorbed by you and it actually becomes part of you. And when I get to hear your questions later. You will become part of me, and that we're in this constant give and take with one another, whereby we are literally making each other from moment to moment. And so it's quite a profound meshwork that challenges not only this old idea of mechanistic physics that things exist independently of other things but it challenges our modern sort of political and social sense of individuality, at least, if we take that to an extreme, if we were to imagine individuals existing on their own private island without being constituted by their relations to others. I mean, it becomes quite obvious. When we think about developmental psychology, and the maturation of an infant in relationship to the mother, we can see, I think, in that dynamic, the sense in which we really do belong to one another, we really do require our relationships with one another to be who we are as individuals. And that's very much in the spirit of whiteheads philosophy. So, before even the 20th century Revolutions in Science, there was the first scientific revolution which was shocking enough. Right. It begins with Copernicus, who rediscovered some ancient that beggary and speculations about the design of the solar system. And, you know, Copernicus puts forward this this hypothesis that actually, it's not the earth that's at the center, it's the sun that's at the center, and the earth. Like the other planets is wandering in space. So, you know, Copernicus throws the Earth into motion. This was profoundly unsettling for the medieval world to take in. And in many ways, hundreds of years later we're still grappling with the fact that we live on a planet that is in motion through space, and following Copernicus, Kepler Galileo and Newton developed the laws of physics that

Unknown 35:34
allowed allowed them to overcome this ancient sense of the division between the earthly and the heavenly realms right the terrestrial and the celestial domains for Aristotle very different laws applied in these two domains. There is perfect motion. Above the sphere of the moon, perfect circular motion, but below the sphere of the moon on the terrestrial sphere. There was only imperfect motion. But Newton with his universal law of gravitation says nope the same laws apply in heaven as, as, as, as apply on Earth. And so, modern science inaugurates this new sense of the unity of the universe. In fact, and one way of looking at this is to say that now post scientific revolution, the Earth is itself, brought into heaven. I mean the materialistic way of saying it would be that the heavens were brought down to earth, but I think we can look at it either way. So, you know, from a contemporary cosmological point of view. Whitehead felt the urgency of providing us with a newfound sense of, of where we are right situating us in these vast expanses of space and time, but just to think about our situation in space. This is a map, as it were of our local galactic neighborhood with Milky Way at the center, and dromeda off to the right and down a bit. Andromeda is actually hurtling towards us and we will collide with Andromeda. At some point in the next, I think, billion or two years. It might not be as catastrophic the collision, as you might first assume two galaxies colliding. There's a lot of space within each galaxy and while the gravitational effects might distort the perfect spirals in these two galaxies. It's likely that we will survive. The earth will survive. And that in fact this, the gravitational effects of this collision will seed new stars, right. So this whole understanding of our situation as a galaxy of other galaxies billions, hundreds of billions of other galaxies in our visible universe, it's you know we're talking about a century here, where this has been understood. And it's profoundly disorienting. Right, there's been plenty of documentaries that, you know Carl Sagan may be the first to do it and, more recently, people like Neil deGrasse Tyson and others who just depict this, this new story of where we are. And it's almost, maybe we think it's normal. Now, we know the words you know to use to describe our situation but if we really taken it in the magnitudes here are, I think, actually impossible for us to grasp. We don't have the, the biological capacity given the proportion that our senses have evolved, you know, to allow us to perceive, I don't, I don't really think we have the imagination. That is powerful enough to really make sense of our scientific knowledge, and for Whitehead, this was a problem. Because if we don't have. If we if we're not adequate. If our imagination is not adequate to our knowledge, he, he was worried that the very foundations of civilization would be unstable. Because a civilization needs to have some sense of confidence in its purpose, and to know our purpose, we have to know our place in the wider universe. And so why did was very worried. Write about as much as he was excited by the advances in science, he was worried that there wasn't enough effort being made to connect his. This new cosmological story to our everyday human existence. This is an attempt to depict our situation in time if that galactic map was our situation in space. This is a simulation of what happened hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, as the first clouds of gas, condensed and the gravitational forces brought them together to form stars, which formed the first spiral galaxies.


1.3

Unknown 0:01
position needs to have some sense of confidence in its purpose, and to know our purpose, we have to know our place in the wider universe. And so why did was very worried. Right about as much as he was excited by the advances in science, he was worried that there wasn't enough effort being made to connect this.

Unknown 0:22
This new cosmological story to our everyday human existence.

Unknown 0:28
This is an attempt to depict our situation in time if that galactic map was our situation in space. This is a simulation of what happened hundreds of millions of years after the Big Bang, as the first clouds of gas, condensed and the gravitational forces brought them together to form stars, which formed the first spiral galaxies.

Unknown 0:59
So from my dad's point of view right remember as I was describing this in the with the spider web and the dewdrops.

Unknown 1:08
All of that space, All of that time. Despite the vast magnitudes we're talking, you know, roughly 14 billion years back to the origin of the visible universe according to, you know inflationary cosmology or Big Bang cosmology, and the, you know, hundreds of millions, billions hundreds of billions of galaxies that we can observe when it thinks that all of this is in folded within each moment of our experience that it took the entire history of the universe, to produce each one of us, right, and you know we know we're all Stardust right and that even, it took us, second generation star to produce heavy elements through the process of going supernova. So that complex chemistry and the emergence of life would be possible here on planet Earth and perhaps some other planets. So Whitehead really wants us to feel the, the energies and the magnitudes of this wider cosmic environment as something that is present within us as a potential, and that is in fact, giving us the strength and the power to move forward in the world as human beings in a creative way, we are an expression of all of that cosmic organization.

Unknown 2:45
But how do we bring it down to earth.

Unknown 2:47
How do we inhabit this planet.

Unknown 2:51
How do we make sense of, of our situation here, you know, with grass and trees and clouds in the sky.

Unknown 3:03
Let's hear from Whitehead for the first time he says philosophy has to rescue the facts as they are from the facts as they appear.

Unknown 3:13
We view the sky at noon on a flying day, it is blue blooded by the light of the sun.

Unknown 3:21
The direct fact of observation is the Sun as the sole origin of life. And the bare heavens

Unknown 3:34
can see if the myth of Adam and Eve in the garden. On the first day of human life.

Unknown 3:42
They watch the sunset. The stars appear.

Unknown 3:47
And lo, creation widens to man's view, the excess of light discloses facts, and also conceals them.

Unknown 3:58
And so, why that is here pointing out the way that

Unknown 4:04
there's more to the universe than what at first meets the eye. Which is why the scientific process of discovery is so exciting. So we're born and we think we have understood something and we continue to study it and then there's a deeper layer which reveals itself.

Unknown 4:25
From whiteheads point of view, this process of discovery is an ending, because the universe isn't just a finished object, it's not a big bang is not something which occurred 14 billion years ago and then finished.

Unknown 4:41
Right, it's still banging the universe is still in the process of creating itself.

Unknown 4:47
And we as scientific observers are a part of that creative process. And so, in a universe of creative process we will never be done.

Unknown 4:59
Knowing. All right, knowing itself must remain an open ended process.

Unknown 5:05
And Whitehead wants to invite us into a new understanding of knowledge, right and this is where it his understanding of science and and philosophy relates to education, he was an educational reformer who, while he was always teaching mathematics and philosophy. He was also involved in administration, trying to shape the modern research university to provide a holistic education or for its students so that students who majored in science would also take courses in literature and humanities and vice versa. He thought that if someone were to graduate from university, only having studied engineering without any sense of, you know, Shakespeare or without any exposure to to Kant and history of philosophy that it really diminishes our outlook on the nature of reality. And so, for Whitehead knowledge is really important, but it's a side issue. The important thing is learning right in the process of learning.

Unknown 6:21
We do learn in order to come to possess knowledge, but in whiteheads view, we have to be willing to not be possessive over our knowledge because it's going to constantly need to be updated and expanded. And so, you know, we could think that his view of science and the scientific investigation into nature is not an effort to produce knowledge as though the universe were just some fixed already completed collection of objects out there. But science is really about this ongoing process of learning.

Unknown 6:53
And that is, in many ways.

Unknown 6:58
It is an end in itself, right, it's not that we investigate as a means to arrive at some end, where we will then possess the complete and final understanding of everything.

Unknown 7:10
Science is the process of learning the process of discovery is itself. The end. Right and we need to Whitehead would say be content to remain in wonder at this universe, and ourselves are placed within this universe, to pursue science as an infinite task right rather than something that could finally be completed.

Unknown 7:36
No Whitehead says, I often start my talks on way ahead with this quote but I'll give it to you now that echoing Aristotle, he says, philosophy begins in wonder.

Unknown 7:49
But wait it out, adds, at the end when philosophic thought has done its best. The Wonder remains. Right. And so the goal of the philosopher is not to replace wonder with explanation to explain away wonder right by reference to whatever mechanism might be favored in a particular era. Rather, the goal of the philosopher and the scientist is to elucidate and and bring some understanding to our experience of wonder But that experience will always remain. It cannot be explained away. Right and if science begins to explain away the wonder for Whitehead that's a pretty good indication that it has become dogmatic and needs to be.

Unknown 8:44
It needs to critic critique the critique of a philosopher, to remind to remind it that in fact we inhabit a creative universe.

Unknown 8:57
One more

Unknown 9:00
powerful line from Whitehead and then we'll get into some of the details of his metaphysics.

Unknown 9:07
No, I only have like five minutes left, so we'll have to. We'll give you the quicker version of whiteheads entire metaphysical scheme.

Unknown 9:16
So, what it says in our experience, there is always the dim background, from which we derive and to which we return, we are not enjoying a limited Doll's House of clear and distinct things secluded from all ambiguity, and the darkness beyond there ever looms, the vague mass, which is the universe, getting us. Right. And so for Whitehead this vague mass is what he calls creativity, right it is this ultimate metaphysical category for him.

Unknown 9:54
And everything that we see around us everything that we experience in ourselves is an expression of this creativity. It's this creativity, taking the form of temporary products right so creativity is infinite productivity.

Unknown 10:10
And then, our bodies, planets, stars, these are temporary, sort of achievements of creativity, which enjoy themselves as they arise but then perish back into this creative process, but they perish back into the creative process.

Unknown 10:34
Gifting their experience back to the whole such that the process of the universe is unfolding for Whitehead is, I would call it cumulative right there's a memory bank, and everything that happens in the universe gets added to that memory bank so that the next moment to arise, has this storehouse of experience to draw upon to advance the universe one step further. Right.

Unknown 11:03
So, this is going to be quick, and do not expect to have by the end of this five minutes, mastered whiteheads, technical jargon here but I wanted to use this illustration to introduce you to some of his concepts here this is, these are some daffodils and I'm going to explain the process of compressions to you can crescents is whiteheads term for how creativity or infinite productivity becomes a finite product crescents is that process whereby the infinite becomes finite, but only for a moment because the finite entity which has can crest immediately parishes back into this, you know dim background from out of which we arise and perish.

Unknown 11:51
So, return these daffodils on their side. We can use them to illustrate illustrate comparisons which Whitehead defines as in terms of this, I think, almost magical formula can crescents is the process whereby the many become one and are increased by one.

Unknown 12:10
What does that mean.

Unknown 12:12
Well, the many are perished objects in the past environment so the daffodils here are, let's say, an actual occasion of experience, right, and each actual occasion of experience begins by inheriting perished objects in its past environment.

Unknown 12:32
Now in addition to the past environment. Whitehead also had this realm of what he called Eternal objects. These are like platonic forms but unlike Plato's forms. Whitehead didn't privilege this realm of eternal objects as the preeminent actualities right for Plato, the forms were the most real things that there were in the actual world was a pale imitation, why that totally inverts that picture. These eternal objects for Whitehead become deficient in actualities as their pure potentials but they long for actualization and their pure potential so that they provide the different forms of definiteness that become actual in an actual occasion of experience. So, colors, shapes, sounds they're they're sort of like the ads adjectives that characterize our experience.

Unknown 13:31
So every actual occasion has these two poles to it, a physical pole and a mental pole right and so everything down to subatomic particles, and the most trivial puff of existence and far off empty space up to each moment of our conscious human experience is an actual occasion, which has a physical pole and a mental pole, though, for very simple occasions like those associated, you know with photons or protons or subatomic particles. These occasions are mostly dominated by their physical poll, right, which is to say that they're repeating what has occurred in their past, without much innovation. Now, an occasion inherits its past via what Whitehead calls a prehension no prehension is a feeling. Right, Prevention's are the process whereby the past is allowed the objectified past right the perished past is allowed entry again into the, into the present, to be felt by this compressing occasion of experience.

Unknown 14:47
Now, eternal objects are not, you could say they're pre handed their conceptual prehension is but Whitehead also has a term for this called ingression. So these pure potentials in grass into the mental pole of an occasion to allow this occasion to again characterize what is it, what it has inherited from its past environment now, without the ingression of eternal objects to provide an actual occasion with some novelty, some alternative ways of characterizing what it is inheriting from its past, then there would only be repetition, right in each of these occasions of experience, and so the ingression of eternal objects provides some source of novelty in the mental pole of an occasion so that it can innovate upon what it is inheriting from its past, but again, simpler forms of experience, say in the inorganic world. They don't ingress much novelty. They mostly repeat the past right it's only more complex, living organisms and the multicellular animals like, like, you know, mammals and primates and humans who can Ingress.

Unknown 16:03
These pure potentials, so as to, you know, really radically shift from from what we inherit from the past and do something totally new almost free. We might say, freedom, something like freedom seems to become possible. In, in human beings.

Unknown 16:23
We don't just have to repeat the past anymore. But again the inorganic world does mostly repeat the predictions of its past, which is why physics can develop such reliable lawful descriptions of what happens in the inorganic world, whereas it's very difficult to predict how a human being will behave in a new situation but even us, we still have some degree of habitualmente right in our behavior, but nonetheless, we Ingress, we ingress these pure potentials and are capable of quite a bit of novelty.

Unknown 17:00
Now this term subjective form is whiteheads way of talking about the emotional quality that occasion experiences as it begins to inherit its past. How does it feel about that past right that's the subjective form, and then the subjective aim is, how in the process of compressing the various pretensions of the past are led to grow together, and, and any conflict between them, between the feelings of the past is brought into contrast when it says, and harmonize like notes in a chord that is struck.

Unknown 17:39
And so the subjective aim allows them. Many of the past to grow together into a new one.

Unknown 17:45
Right, and achieve satisfaction as this new subject, which for Whitehead, as soon as that new subjective point of view is achieved it perishes. Right, and becomes a super jacked.

Unknown 18:04
And this super jacked is a subjects way of, of persisting into the future of gifting itself and the value that it has realized in its process of comparisons to the future, so that it becoming a part of the universe again can be taken up by the next moment of comparisons right so the last thing I want to say about this is if we think about it at the level of our own psychology as human beings, this, this process of comparisons is meant to apply at multiple levels right, it's, it applies at the simplest level of wavelength of light and electromagnetic propagation, as it does to our stream of consciousness, you know, for me, psychologically, complex human beings. And what, what, wait, it is suggesting in in our cases, the reverse of the Cartesian understanding where Descartes said, I think therefore I am right, which implies that there's an already existing subject. Me, who has experiences. Right. And, or has thoughts, and these thoughts, sort of, they qualify.

Unknown 19:23
My substantial self, but my substantial self, the subject that I am pre exists my experiences of objects in the environment, and sort of persists as the same entity throughout my life, why that is saying that actually, in each moment of my experience, a new subject is emerging. And rather than a pre existing subject having experience of objects in whiteheads universe. The perished objects of the past are growing together and being can crest into a new subject, so a new subject grows out of the perished objects of the past, allowing the past, which is finished in Paris right to move again into the future through the present. And so each present moment of our subjective experience is the result of the growing together, of these objects and so Whitehead says.

Unknown 20:22
He says no thinker thinks twice. Right. And if, if you're familiar with the first process philosopher hare clients, he says, You can't step into the same river twice. Well Whitehead is extending this principle of process philosophy into our own conscious experience, no thinker thinks twice. Or we could say no subject experiences twice.

Unknown 20:47
Right, because each moment, the subjective perspective that we are is arising out of our environment, experiencing itself as a new perspective, enjoying that perspective and then that perspective perishes, and becomes an object for the next moment to inherit. And so in whiteheads view my identity, my personality, my sense of flow of consciousness is actually a whole series of these actual occasions, a historical root he says of these occasions, which are in the case of my own consciousness, intimately related to one another in a way that, you know, my historical route is not as intimately woven together as with your historical route and so we each have our own sort of flow of consciousness because we each are composed of a, of a distinct chain of actual occasions, which are inheriting from one another. And so, a human soul. In whiteheads view becomes something that needs to be understood as a sort of pulsing process of becoming rather than a substantial ego as it were, as it was in de cartes view, we're more of a process, right. And we are a process that is constantly unfolding the environment into us. Right, and so we're not separate from the environment we are the environment, coming to take a subjective perspective upon itself. It's a radically different view of who and what we are from the typical Cartesian perspective.

Unknown 22:31
So I will, I will stop with that. I'm sure you are, I'm sure your heads are spinning, that's a good thing. This is a very novel perspective on reality. And so if you're not confused then you probably didn't hear me.

Unknown 22:50
But I'm happy to discuss this with you and answer some of your questions so thanks for your attention.

Unknown 23:00
I'll stop sharing my screen here too. There we go.

Unknown 23:05
So Matt, I want to thank you very much for the first of all for the invitation into the confusion, but also for the for the clarity that you brought.

Unknown 23:15
I really appreciate your introducing your whiteheads biography, and then deepening into philosophy. I get a sense of somebody who wants to develop a language to enable a new seeing of the world, one that is corroborated by Science at the same time.

Unknown 23:30
And it also gives the human being, this is creative knowing.

Unknown 23:36
It has creative knowing, and the process of becoming back to the human being.

Unknown 23:42
Yes.

Unknown 23:44
Good. So, the next session, we're going to come, we're going to go over to a discussion, and I've got some questions that have come in from the participants.

Unknown 23:58
And this is Jason, nice saying concerning Whitehead and understand, developing mathematical physics. This is to say that math wasn't really meaningfully applied to physics, or to the study of the material world before this point.

Unknown 24:15
What does it mean more broadly to have began to conceive the world abstractly, at this time.

Unknown 24:23
Yeah, very good question.

Unknown 24:28
No, it's not to say that math isn't meaningfully applied to physics.

Unknown 24:33
There would be no modern physics if we couldn't meaningfully applying that.

Unknown 24:40
And, you know, Whitehead was in, in being critical of Einstein wasn't trying to say that we cannot use mathematics to model the physical world. He was simply trying to suggest that we must be careful not to mistake. The model, the mathematical model for the reality.

Unknown 25:07
And so in the case of Einstein Whitehead did not deny the practical utility of a four dimensional geometric manifold for making predictions about how bodies masses, move in space. Einstein's equations are very accurate. In the predictions that they make about large masses in space. And in fact in space time even his, his understanding of the relativity of space and time has been tested by synchronizing clocks, very accurate clocks putting one of them in an airplane flying around for a while, and coming back to look at the to compare the two clocks. The clock that moves in the airplane is slower, relative to the clock that remained on Earth we've tested this.

Unknown 26:02
So the faster that an object moves apparently the slower that time passes for it relative to a stationary observer.

Unknown 26:12
So, the consequences of some of Einstein's equations, while they may be difficult for us to grasp and imagine are nonetheless. Many of them experimentally proven now, but the question still remains.

Unknown 26:31
Given the physical accuracy of Einstein's mathematical models. What's going on metaphysically, what is the relationship between the model and the reality now.

Unknown 26:44
One of the issues that Whitehead has with Einstein is, he would describe it in terms of what he called the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, many people who have not read Whitehead directly have probably seen him cited in other works it with, with regard to this fallacy of misplaced concreteness and this is just precisely to mistake the model for the reality. If Einstein's model of space time is correct. In other words, not just correct but if it is in fact, if there is no difference between the model and the reality, then that says something about our human conscious experience of a flow of time.

Unknown 27:27
It says that it's an illusion, basically. And Einstein, repeated this notion.

Unknown 27:33
You know he famously wrote in a, in a letter to one of his best friend's widows that upon the death of his best friend that, you know, for us believing physicists, the difference between the past, the present and the future is nothing but a stubbornly persistent delusion.

Unknown 27:53
Now, for Whitehead this has no basis for a purpose for human life, to take that point of view seriously and so Whitehead like some other 20th century philosophers disagreed with Einstein, not about the accuracy of his new model for making predictions, but about the metaphysical interpretation that Einstein was giving

Unknown 28:20
Bergson on reverse on the, the French philosopher had a debate with Einstein in 1922 about the nature of time and Bergson wanted to say hey, we can only do science.

Unknown 28:34
Because we are conscious beings and all the dials and meters, and doing the math it all presupposes conscious human beings, right. A clock can't get itself read without a conscious human being to look at it. And for Berkson as for Whitehead there's a time of process of unfolding that is anterior to or prior to the time that is measured on clocks by physicists, and Einstein did not like this idea he didn't want to cede any territory to the metaphysicians claiming this concrete time of becoming as somehow primary. But if we don't recognize this time as primary as concrete, then we lose ourselves in the abstractions of the model, and we begin to denigrate the deliverances of our concrete experience by reference to the model, which we are told is what's real. And so, Whitehead is just saying to Einstein, and he's not saying we can't use the tools of math to understand the physical world he's saying, do not forget that we're dealing with models, and that there's more to the concrete becoming of the universe than any model can capture.

Unknown 29:53
So hopefully that helps with that question.

Unknown 29:58
man Thank you that also. There was also another question on boats and we've touched on boats and a little bit.

Unknown 30:04
I want to go from the west to the east, we've got two questions around, and this is normally this is quite a popular question around Western philosophers. This is Miss genre question. So, and this comes from yoga, and also from Dennis, what would you say about the connection between Whitehead and Eastern thought see Taoism. To me it seems almost as if Whitehead is dressing, Taoism, in Western language. There's a friendly smiling face after that, well I should explain.

Unknown 30:33
And then also, yeah. Does whiteheads philosophy relate to the, sorry, how does whiteheads philosophy relate to the Hindu Vedic cosmological concept of Indras net or web, if that is something you are familiar with.

Unknown 30:51
Yeah, great questions Indras net is precisely what I was attempting to illustrate with my spider web let's do drops on it. That is certainly an apt metaphor for whiteheads cosmology, with the caveat that we have to throw it into motion and make it more dynamic, whiteheads universe is not simply not that it's simple it's not simply though, a holographic universe where in each part reflects the whole.

Unknown 31:24
It's also a creative advance, whereby again remember the definition of compresses the many become one and are increased by one. So the universe is this cumulative process that is continually growing.

Unknown 31:41
The universe is never the same twice. And so when we think about the universe as a whole is all of these occasions of experience reflecting or mirroring or containing one another.

Unknown 31:54
There's also new occasions of experience constantly being birth, which contain the entire past but carry it forward into the next moment. So, it's much like Indras net though. With this dynamic tilt toward toward the future toward the toward the as yet unrealized future.

Unknown 32:13
And, you know, in terms of the broader connections to Eastern thought Eastern religion and philosophy. Whitehead says himself in process in reality that his metaphysics resembles more Vedic and Buddhist forms of thought than it does anything in Western philosophy or in the Judeo Christian religious traditions.

Unknown 32:42
And so he was quite aware of this, he didn't study, Taoism, or Buddhism in any depth so far as I know, he did write a book called religion in the making, which was published shortly after process in reality where it's clear he had done some reading in Buddhism.

Unknown 33:05
He was impressed enough by the Buddhist tradition to say that it qualifies as what he called one of the rational religions.

Unknown 33:17
And he certainly is his notion of flux and impermanence, right, has quite a similarity to the Buddhist notion of, you know, impermanence or emptiness.

Unknown 33:33
The relationship of these dewdrops on the web is also something you could describe as a relationship of dependent co origination, which is an important concept for certain Mahayana Buddhist traditions.

Unknown 33:49
And in the contemporary worlds.

Unknown 33:53
Actually whiteheads work is being taken up by China, there are something like 35 graduate programs in China devoted to process philosophy and and whiteheads thought 2 billion people 35 graduate programs so it's, you know a lot of people, but still, that's a lot of white and in China. And I think there are several reasons that the Chinese are so interested in right hand start one is that yeah it fits naturally with the Taoist and Confucian Buddhist traditions there but my understanding is that, you know, the Communist Party is a little bit hesitant to allow in those more ancient traditions into, they want to be modern and Whitehead affords them the opportunity to to be modern, with his understanding of science and you know he's coming from the west. But while still tapping into these, these deeper.

Unknown 34:55
Traditional understandings of the nature of the universe as as lotsa and Sean's and Confucius.

Unknown 35:04
Not that Taoism and Confucianism are the same, but there are some similarities there.

Unknown 35:11
Why that start allows China to, in a way, get in touch with its own history while also moving more into the modern world. And so his thought is exploding there, I think, precisely because of the residences that are being remarked upon in these in these questions.

Unknown 35:31
Matt, thank you.

Unknown 35:33
I want to go in a different direction. Now, this is more to do with Pan psychism, and possibly consciousness studies, And this is from Dennis you saying, Matt.

1.3

Unknown 0:01
that's in your view, what does it mean to experience the sub question from that is can political experience

Unknown 0:14
is a major stumbling block for many people new to whiteheads thought though, what's sometimes called pan psychism is actually undergoing a bit of a renaissance right now.

Unknown 0:27
Even in analytic philosophy.

Unknown 0:30
More philosophers of mind are taking this idea seriously.

Unknown 0:36
Even in the last five or 10 years than ever before.

Unknown 0:40
Why it's not the first pan psychist Obviously, live in it was a was a pan psychist Giordano Bruno, one of the early modern scientists was a pan psychist And so there's a, there's a sort of venerable tradition here it's a sort of marginalized yes but still readily visible stream and the history of Western thought even Heraclitus process philosopher Yes, right. Everything is flux.

Unknown 1:12
But haircut is also referred to everything as he says, the universe is an ever living fire. And so in other words, life goes all the way down. Right. Life isn't something that just emerges a top of physical substrate.

Unknown 1:27
And so, for Whitehead.

Unknown 1:30
He protested against what he called the notion of vacuous actuality a vacuous actuality would be some sort of an entity which is imagined to exist independently of experience, whether its own experience or being experienced by someone else.

Unknown 1:48
He thinks it's a meaningless notion. And the reason pan psychism is becoming

Unknown 1:58
is coming more into the mainstream academic philosophical arena is because of the difficulty of this hard problem of consciousness, right, which is, if we do inhabit a physical world. That is not experiential.

Unknown 2:15
At what point does something like conscious experience arrives or emerge.

Unknown 2:23
And, And how does it emerge, right, if it's in the physical world, you have parts that just rearrange their relative location to one another.

Unknown 2:34
And just neatly persist right as these substantial bits.

Unknown 2:40
How is it that surely through a rearrangement of those inner parts you could ever get something like an interior experience right or or or an experience of what it's like to be somebody.

Unknown 2:56
It seems like not only a hard problem but an impossible problem and so pan psychism is an attempt, not so much to solve the problem but to dissolve it, and not kind of ever imagined in the first place that there would be a dualism between matter on one hand, and on the other. So, why not sticking this track.

Unknown 3:14
In an attempt to understand how there could be conscious animals like in this universe, what must the university like such that we are possible.

Unknown 3:24
It's a question that Whitehead asks. And so, he wants to push experience down all the way to the simplest happenings in nature. But remember, He's a process thinker, so it's not that atomic atonic bits of matter are or have experience.

Unknown 3:45
We don't want to think of particles as little substances as as little inert globular globules of stuff.

Unknown 3:59
Remember in whiteheads, metaphysics, the universe is made out of stuff but of happening.

Unknown 4:06
And so, a particle for Whitehead, and let's say a hydrogen atom. It's an enduring entity, we can actually see groups of atoms now under microscope. And for Whitehead that enduring entity is itself, you would call it a society of happenings it's a or a historical route of happenings that are repeating the same pattern, inheriting the same pattern from moment to moment, as this helium or this hydrogen atom. Right. And so you could say the experience of the hydrogen atom is this rather repetitive experience of just saying, Ah, I am here, I'm helium I have helium I have helium just over and over and over again. And there is indeed a vibration to these to these particles right. And for Whitehead the vibratory signature is itself an expression of this, this process of arising and perishing arising inheriting the past and perishing, and so we get the sort of divide Britain the vibratory pattern of this atom persisting through time and so what is experienced in this context. Well, the simplest level it's just the feeling of inheritance of the past, and the contrast of the contrast between that feeling of inheritance, and an openness to the future.

Unknown 5:37
So if you can just, just imagine the, the various form of, like, tension, that might exist in this present moment that is not closed off from the past in the future but it's held in tension between past and future between an inheritance and anticipation. And, you know, for the simpler forms of existence, it's just a flash right and that that moment of present moment, as you move up the scale of nature and into more complex organisms the present moment can expand a bit, we can in our conscious imaginations as human beings we can we can hold the present moment, keep the tension stretched and taught, and consider different possibilities before we actualize one of them right. For 100 anatomy, there's no time for considering possibilities, it's just repeat the past, beat the past but always with some little bit of creativity, otherwise hydrogen wouldn't have formed stars.

Unknown 6:43
stars or something new in the universe.

Unknown 6:46
You know, 500,000 years after the Big Bang or there abouts hadn't been any stars and then all of a sudden there were stars, where do they come from. Well, it's because the simpler forms of energetic activity aren't just repeating the past. They're also lowered by certain possibilities to take on greater complexity and order and deepen their experience.

Unknown 7:10
So you know it's it's a difficult, imagine to exercise, to think of experience in a way that's generic enough in general enough that it's not conscious reflective human experience anymore but something. Yeah, vaguer and just more basic. But why did things, you know, if we gave it a try, we can't imagine something simple enough that it could reasonably be applied across every scale universe.

Unknown 7:47
Thank you. We've still got a number of questions to get through but I'm just gonna, I'm going to, because of the time. I just want to balance the scales a little bit and take it in a different direction and bring it back to the human being.

Unknown 8:01
This is.

Unknown 8:02
So, I think you talked about the transformation of a subject into this, is it the SuperJet.

Unknown 8:08
Great, okay.

Unknown 8:11
And this is a question from Rorty, an American pragmatist, suggested that the concentration of metaphysics has been a philosophical distraction for 2000 years, partly because we can't know what we know. Rather, the goal of philosophy, should be making life better for all.

Unknown 8:31
Please discuss.

Unknown 8:34
Yeah. So, Richard Rorty, called himself pragmatist and I think, you know, he is a version of pragmatist, you know, inheriting the thought of William James, and Charles Sanders purse and John Dewey Whitehead is also a pragmatist, you know, as I mentioned he took up, William James his chair philosophy at Harvard,

Unknown 9:02
little more than a decade after James had died.

Unknown 9:07
And, you know for Whitehead, William James was he called James the American Plato, and thought that James put philosophy and metaphysics on a new basis. And what, why did found so important about James's philosophy was its pragmatic emphasis and so Whitehead is a pragmatist, he is a radical empiricist in James's sense of the term.

Unknown 9:39
And so given that you might wonder, well, why was he doing this abstract metaphysical stuff. Well, you could say that what Whitehead did was take James's psychology.

Unknown 9:51
If you read James's 1890 book, Principles of Psychology. Maybe you haven't read the whole thing, it's, it's quite thick but any part of it, you'll see what a brilliant writer James's it's so accessible.

Unknown 10:07
And it's still very relevant. I mean, you know, neuroscience was just beginning to take baby steps back then but so much of what James had described as his, you know, with a few tweaks here and there still accurate. And what it's taking James's psychology, and actually this this phrase drops of experience Whitehead borrows from James's psychology and applies it to cosmology.

Unknown 10:35
James had some of his own speculations and I think we could say he was a pan psychist of sorts, but what Whitehead does is take James's psychology and systematize it into a cosmology.

Unknown 10:48
And so, you know why that has to do some system building.

Unknown 10:53
You have to develop all of these categories as part of his new cosmological scheme, because he wanted to make sense of science.

Unknown 11:02
And James might have been somewhat unhappy with the systematic element of whiteheads philosophy James was suspicious of system.

Unknown 11:14
He worried that it would grow too abstract and disconnected from everyday life. And you know perhaps one could criticize Whitehead on these grounds, but Whitehead himself at least his intention was to elucidate our everyday experience he even goes so far as to say, right at the beginning of process in reality, he says the sole justification for any thought the sole justification for any theory is the elucidation of experience.

Unknown 11:45
And so what's driving Whitehead to erect this whole cosmological scheme as he wants to make sense of the universe that science is describing to us, so that it can be understood as congruent with and consistent with our everyday conscious experience. And he thought that already with the first scientific revolution of the mechanistic worldview that there was an incoherence because the human soul was put off to one side, the rest of nature was described as a machine. And then in the 20th century, we couldn't even fit the disciplines the sub disciplines of physics together as part of the same universe right because you know I didn't mention relativity theory describes the macroscopic universe as this, you know, continuous field, whereas quantum theory describes the microscopic universe as discontinuous.

Unknown 12:41
They don't fit together these two theories they're describing two very different universes. And so that's the first problem, why didn't wanted to solve with this cosmology. How can these two theories relativity and quantum theory describe the same universe, but also how can our physical understanding of the universe be related to our human conscious experience right and how can we preserve a sense of importance and purpose and value, and freedom, and beauty, all the things that are part of the human realm of conscious existence right. How can we take all of that seriously as real factors in the universe, not just as nice things that humans can believe in. Despite the fact that physically we know they're not real. For Whitehead if that's the metaphysics or the cosmology that's guiding our civilization. We're in deep trouble, because that's a very fragmented worldview, we're asking people to find purpose in their lives that they know, or they're told to believe is actually ultimately illusory.

Unknown 13:47
Right, I didn't think that that was a stable foundation upon which to build a civilization. He thought that a scientific picture or scientific understanding of the universe must in some way support the values that we presuppose as civilized human beings. And so his pragmatism comes through in his effort to justify human, human values.

Unknown 14:16
In light of our cosmological understanding. So how can we fit our scientific understanding into a cosmological picture that would provide a source of inspiration for us in our social and cultural and political endeavors, rather than being at best irrelevant or at worst a profound challenge to any sense of purpose that we might attempt to realize. So, yeah, ultimately I think Whitehead is a pragmatist, who already didn't like whiteheads metaphysics, I think we're already was especially influenced by Ludwig Vic and Stein in this in this view, where, you know Whitehead was engaging in this form of metaphysics, that you know is is predicated upon the idea that language can

Unknown 15:12
provide us some insight into the nature of reality of the world beyond words. And, you know, there are some readings of Vidkun Stein that suggests that that's just a faulty understanding of what language is and what the task of the philosopher is which is simply to clarify our sentences and to make sure we know what can and cannot be said, why that wasn't satisfied with any sense of boundary.

Unknown 15:41
He didn't want to remain silent about the apparently ineffable.

Unknown 15:46
He wanted to be able to expand the dictionary, as he said, and invent new words to describe realities that we hadn't even conceived of yet or hadn't yet perceived. And in this way he's, you know he engages philosophy like a poet. And that with new turns of phrase, we can actually enhance our perception so that the world we thought we knew, with the prior language is expanded as we begin to speak about it in a new way.

Unknown 16:20
Matt, thank you so much.

Unknown 16:23
Thank you on behalf of all the participants for being so generous with your insights with your erudition, and also for fielding such a broader broad array in the discussion from the questions that and just jumping in.

Unknown 16:42
We've got three limitations and one of them is going to come from you because you're doing an online course that Schumacher, which is science, and the Soul of the World, that is 24th of July to Saturday 28th of August. Can you say a few words to tempt people in. Yes.

Unknown 17:02
So, this is my second go at this course it's science in the Soul of the World. It's not just on Whitehead it's also on a German poet and scientist and statesman Garita. And what I'm trying to do here in this course is reveal the ways in which Garza as a poet scientist and Whitehead as a mathematician and philosopher, though they may seem like quite different.

Unknown 17:42
Like they have quite different approaches to to understanding the natural world. They are in fact sort of ideal opposites that in, brought into polar relationship with one another can intensify our understanding of the universe and indeed a universe that is in sold a universe that has a soul, and that they, these figures, both Whitehead and Gertz allow us to engage in science, not as a method which would disenchant the world, but in fact, there's an another approach to science which they exemplify, which allows us to, to study it in a way that enhances its enchantment that, that allows us to deepen into the life of the whole of which we are a part. And so I think we have six sessions together. And, you know, we'll go deeper into Whitehead we'll go deeper into character we'll bring them into dialogue. And I think it's gonna be a lot of fun.

Host Simon Reese Concludes Talk

Unknown 18:47
Matt thank you and I think Troy has put the link to the 1000s of websites, into the chat, so you guys can get it there if not, if you just go to the dancing to the website, then you can find out all about that.

Unknown 19:01
Okay, so two more invitations to join us. The next one is for the heuristic science online lecture series. We'll be back on Thursday, the first of July, again at 4pm with Steven harden and Steve has been. So Stefan is one of the founding members of Schumacher college, and he will be presenting on deep ecology and the healing of the den as an invitation to join us in person actually live, live here are beings. And that's at Schumacher college veteran year October 1 The third, that is for the holistic science and dialogue conference. That's a collaboration between the field center. Schumacher College and the holistic science journal.

Unknown 19:50
And that conference, revisits and builds on the contributions to holistic science made by Henry gortat Margaret Calhoun and Bryan Goodman. And so we'll have presentations, research panels, And also, discussions, looking for, for the life for that live conference, we'll have them as of next week. We have confirmed speakers advocate, Jeeva Sassoon kloudio stone, and also a confirmed keynote is access Brooke.

Unknown 20:24
So, once again, thank you very very much two months ago.

Unknown 20:29
I'm going to say thank you, and depending on where you are, where you've been tuning in from around the world, all of you lovely participants on behalf the team, like to wish you a very good day, evening or night wherever you may have. Hope to see you soon.

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