Quotes & Sayings

We, and creation itself, actualize the possibilities of the God who sustains the world, towards becoming in the world in a fuller, more deeper way. - R.E. Slater

There is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have [consequential effects upon] the world around us. - Process Metaphysician Alfred North Whitehead

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 most true thing about you is what God has said to you in Christ, "You are My Beloved." - Tripp Fuller

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

We become who we are by what we believe and can justify. - R.E. Slater

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

In Whitehead’s process ontology, we can think of the experiential ground of reality as an eternal pulse whereby what is objectively public in one moment becomes subjectively prehended in the next, and whereby the subject that emerges from its feelings then perishes into public expression as an object (or “superject”) aiming for novelty. There is a rhythm of Being between object and subject, not an ontological division. This rhythm powers the creative growth of the universe from one occasion of experience to the next. This is the Whiteheadian mantra: “The many become one and are increased by one.” - Matthew Segall

Without Love there is no Truth. And True Truth is always Loving. There is no dichotomy between these terms but only seamless integration. This is the premier centering focus of a Processual Theology of Love. - R.E. Slater


Note: Generally I do not respond to commentary. I may read the comments but wish to reserve my time to write (or write from the comments I read). Instead, I'd like to see our community help one another and in the helping encourage and exhort each of us towards Christian love in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. - re slater

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Women Speak up for America and Against MAGA!

Women Speak up for America
and Against MAGA!

What if we weren't motivated to see all the world in terms of sin and sin nature, but in terms of beauty and love? How would that change your view of God, Life, and one another? - re slater
Reclaiming America from anti-democratic fascism and heretical Christian nationalism. - re slater

 Related Articles

Why Trump “can't be ripped away” from his followers
by Heather Cox Richardson
Salon Talks | Salon | NEW YORK
Nov 2, 2023

Historian Heather Cox Richardson tells Salon about her book “Democracy Awakening: Notes on the State of America.” The “Letters from an American” writer explains how Republicans from Nixon to Trump have launched an attack on democracy and shares what Americans can do about it. Cox Richardson reflects on why she is still optimistic and reveals why she is “bored” by Trump now.


Salon.com link

Heather Cox Richardson — Democracy Awakening:
Notes on the State of America - with Jane Mayer
Politics and Prose  |  Nov 7, 2023

Watch author Heather Cox Richardson's book talk and reading at a Politics and Prose event in Washington, D.C.

In the midst of the impeachment crisis of 2019, Heather Cox Richardson launched a daily Facebook essay providing the historical background of the daily torrent of news. It soon turned into a newsletter and its readership ballooned to more than 2 million dedicated readers who rely on her plainspoken and informed take on the present and past in America.

In Democracy Awakening, Richardson crafts a compelling and original narrative, explaining how, over the decades, a small group of wealthy people have made war on American ideals. By weaponizing language and promoting false history they have led us into authoritarianism -- creating a disaffected population and then promising to recreate an imagined past where those people could feel important again. She argues that taking our country back starts by remembering the elements of the nation's true history that marginalized Americans have always upheld. Their dedication to the principles on which this nation was founded has enabled us to renew and expand our commitment to democracy in the past. Richardson sees this history as a roadmap for the nation's future.

Richardson's talent is to wrangle our giant, meandering, and confusing news feed into a coherent story that singles out what we should pay attention to, what the precedents are, and what possible paths lie ahead. In her trademark calm prose, she is realistic and optimistic about the future of democracy. Her command of history allows her to pivot effortlessly from the Founders to the abolitionists to Reconstruction to Goldwater to Mitch McConnell, highlighting the political legacies of the New Deal, the lingering fears of socialism, the death of the liberal consensus and birth of "movement conservatism."

Many books tell us what has happened over the last five years. Democracy Awakening explains how we got to this perilous point, what our history really tells us about ourselves, and what the future of democracy can be.

Heather Cox Richardson is Professor of History at Boston College. She has written about the Civil War, Reconstruction, the Gilded Age, and the American West in award-winning books whose subjects stretch from the European settlement of the North American continent to the history of the Republican Party through the Trump administration. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Guardian, among other outlets. She is the cohost of the Vox Media podcast, Now & Then.

Richardson will be in conversation with Jane Mayer. Mayber is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three bestselling and critically acclaimed narrative nonfiction books. She co-authored Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984-1988, with Doyle McManus, and Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, with Jill Abramson, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals, for which she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

- @politicsprose
* * * * * * *

Solutions to the Disruption of Democracies Around the World

by R.E. Slater

Where Constitutional Democracies must go in order to retain compassionate societal freedoms and justice is to the building of "Ecological Civilizations."

An Eco-Civ society is the hypothetical concept that describes the alleged final goal of social and environmental reform within any given society. It implies that the changes required in response to global climate disruption and social injustices are so extensive as to require another form of human civilization, one based on ecological principles."

* * * * * * *

Amazon link

The last 10 minutes were well spoken by Cassidy to all her previous comments earlier. And Jamie, as always, continues to inspire with the clarity of his message. - re slater

Cassidy Hutchinson — Enough — in conversation with Jamie Raskin
Politics and Prose  |  Nov 7, 2023

Watch author Cassidy Hutchinson's book talk and reading at a Politics and Prose event in Washington, D.C. PURCHASE BOOK HERE: https://www.politics-prose.com/book/9... 

Ever since a childhood visit to Washington, DC, Cassidy Hutchinson aspired to serve her country in government. Raised in a working-class family with a military background, she was the first in her immediate family to graduate from college. Despite having no ties to Washington, Hutchinson landed a vital position at the center of the Trump White House.

Her life took a dramatic turn on January 6th, 2021, when, at twenty-four, she found herself in one of the most extraordinary and unprecedented calamities in modern political history. 

Hutchinson was faced with a choice between loyalty to the Trump administration or loyalty to the country by revealing what she saw and heard in the attempt to overthrow a democratic election. She bravely came forward to become the pivotal witness in the House January 6 investigations, as her testimony transfixed and stunned the nation. In her memoir, Hutchinson reveals the struggle between the pressures she confronted to toe the party line and the demands of the oath she swore to defend American democracy.

Enough reaches far beyond the typical insider political account. It’s the saga of a woman whose fierce determination helped her overcome childhood challenges to get her dream job, only to face a crisis of conscience—one that more senior White House aides tried to evade—and, in the process, find her voice and herself. This is a portrait of how the courage of one person can change the course of history.

Cassidy Hutchinson is a former special assistant to President Donald Trump and his chief of staff, Mark Meadows. She received national attention after being a key witness in the hearings led by the United States House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the United States Capitol. Hutchinson previously worked for the White House Office of Legislative Affairs and interned for Republican leaders Steve Scalise and Ted Cruz. She was born and raised in Pennington, New Jersey. Enough is her first book.

Hutchinson will be joined in conversation with Congressman Jamie Raskin who has proudly represented Maryland’s 8th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017. Prior to his time in Congress, Raskin was a three-term State Senator in Maryland and the Senate Majority Whip. He was also a professor of constitutional law at American University’s Washington College of Law for more than 25 years. He has authored several books, including the Washington Post bestseller Overruling Democracy: The Supreme Court versus the American People, the highly acclaimed We the Students: Supreme Court Cases For and About America’s Students and most recently Unthinkable: Trauma, Truth, and the Trials of American Democracy. Congressman Raskin is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School and a former Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

R.E. Slater - Unhealthy Ways to Read the Bible

The Magic Bible

Unhealthy Ways to Read the Bible

by R.E. Slater

November 29, 2023

Question. Is the bible a book about everything?

Answer: No.

The bible is limited by the generational experiences of those temporal communities which contributed to the bible's messages for good or for ill to those around them.

Most bible readers today believe God wrote the bible through various men and women and their observed experiences ... ideas and concepts which were to become timeless through the eras to come.

However true this mantra may be amongst the faithful the reality is that only in principle might we be able to say that the bible is timeless. In reality, those words and ideas were fixed in time, place, era, and culture as immediately as they were written down.

God as Believed

Hence, to read the bible is to read it's Spirit-inspired narrations as an admixture of people's beliefs about God with God's own communique's as best as they could be communicated within their writer's cultural beliefs and understandings.

And rather than the words of the bible become authoritative for time immemorial it's older words were for an older day or cultural era which were pertinent then as time-stamped expressions of how people thought about God in relation to their lives and those communities and nation-states around them.

That is, the more God spoke, and the more God's "words" were written down in the narratives of Israel, the more we can read in the bible how those words were influenced by the events of their day, the hour, the amanuensis' experiences, backgrounds, knowledge, community, era, and traditions.

Philosophically, words are as timeless as they are timeful. Our writings and expressions, beliefs about God and history's "appointments" to come are marked by our own dated beliefs and ideas. One might say that the words and beliefs of man were not meant to be lasting but to be a growing approximation to our amassing understanding of God.

Thus and thus, what morality, and ethics, and salvation, might have meant then  in the biblical eras which spanned thousands of years have necessitated re-contextualization today in the present tense if we our to discern the growing legacy of the God then and this same God now.

This is where preaching requires study, learning, and recontextualization. As this is done God by his Spirit speaks today to us through our own experiences and observations. Such interpretations may be true, in error, fantastical, or common-sensed, but they all will require the communities of readers and listeners to judge whether true or accurate such acclaimed inspirations might be.... One might say one thing while another say something else. We can only perceive the wisdom of the statements according to the perceived relevance of the contextualized speech.

God in Advent in Jesus

Thus, I write here, at this site, to speak a new language... not that of a Westernized Jesus but of a processual God whose love comes first and foremost to all that this God is... as demonstrated by his incarnation in Jesus who was not only Israel's long awaited Messiah but the world's new definition of God despite all "inspired" documents written to the contrary.

When God did, we quickly find that Israel's templed teachers of the Law and conductors of it's holy institutes discovered their distance from God as comprehended in their Torahitic traditions and beliefs.

That this God they believed and followed spoke by grace and mercy, forgiveness and healing, and not by enforced institutionalized contritions nor by harsh sentencing and religious separations of legality, rite, and custom.

Jesus' words and deeds unnerved the Rabbi's, Priests, and Scribes of his day even as they do today in the Church's institutionalized beliefs, mantras, creeds, and conductions of its actions within the laity and society.

To therefore read the bible as an authoritative document is to remember to read it contextually, historically, morally, meaningfully, and theologically through God's love. When we read it through God's holiness we do a deep disservice to the God of the heavens and earth.

What is the Bible's Main Message?

Firstly, to know that the bible is fixed to its older cultural contexts where people and institutions thought differently of God then as we do now. As time and experienced has moved past ancient Israel's times and the times of Jesus and the Apostles so too has the hoary history of man needed to temper its beliefs and sayings about the God we think we know, understand, preach about, and apprehend in our daily walk in the Spirit.

Secondly, that the God of the bible has been misunderstood, misused, and misapplied through the eras of faith... and sadly, has mostly been used to harm and oppress Christians and non-Christians alike in the Church's slipping contexts of holiness and love.

On the upside, the Church has within its many traditions other contexts which have given precedent to God's love over God's holiness. And so, this portion of the Church when teaching the Scriptures having placed God's love first and not last into the older biblical structures and narratives can be read as God ascribing mercy and forgiveness to one another rather than this same God speaking always by judgment, damnation and hell.

Thirdly, when read the bible through eyes of love and applied aright by the administration of God's love, the Church speaks best when it speaks love to its congregants, followers, and society by its conduct of loving word, deed, act, and policy. In this fashion, the bible is always pertinent to a society's cultural evolution.

Be Love

Be love as God is love. Worship a God of loving act, word and deed. Not a God who is not....

Any God to which church covenant, creed, or belief ascribes by its own set of rules and idolatries is a false God when perceived as divine holiness over divine love. The measure of God is Love to which God's divine attributes all find their meaning and definition.

Said another way, God is holy because is loving. God is not holy when God is not loving. Love gives shape and definition to God's holiness. To be without sin and evil is to be unbound in love and giving.

When placing divine holiness over-and-above divine love we preach a false God.

And when we place divine holiness on the same plane as divine love so that each of God's attributes are on equal standing with one another we misperceive God.

This synthetic act of adjusting God in all God's divineness on equal ground may seem eclectically logical but it then allows for all institutions of man to pick-and-chose which divine aspect of God to uplift over all other of God's qualities. This then can lead to a faith institute and its creeds to say something about God and our response to be in "holy" disequilibrium within the ordinances of God.

Better it is to teach divine love as the foundation upon which God is than not; to always lead out as a faith institute in its creeds by love first; than to acquiesce to speak and act of a God who is unloving when disconnected - or imbalanced - to God's remaining attributes, character, or quality of God's essential Self.

A loving theism then, places God's love above all other qualities of God's attributes and character as the defining ascription to all that God is. When God is apprehended in this way than God's holiness, divine judgment, and retribution, must always be defined in terms of God's love - rather than set apart from themselves to be re-defined and re-enacted by Church liturgy devoid of love.

Reading the bible can be tricky. But holding to a few basic principles will force the bible reader to re-examine the church and it's traditional teachings even as Jesus did when teaching the Rabbi's at the Temple in his youth.

Even as Jesus would later demonstrate to the wicked priests who brought a whore to him to be judged... forcing Jesus to be a God of judgment over a God of love... so too Jesus responded by drawing out in the sand the sins of the whore's accusers. As he did they shut their mouths and drew away from their charade leaving Jesus and bedraggled woman alone in the moment. A moment in which Jesus judged her to worthy of God's forgiving and atoning love that she might find spiritual healing and solace in the moments of her lost life. She did, preaching of a God of love, as she left Jesus renewed in heart and hope.

This same Jesus came to the Jewish temples bespeaking this same God of love on their holy days of separation and devotion. That God's love is the definer and foundation to all other (impertinent) ideas about God taught by a holy establishment.


Consequently, we may aver that all other bible teachings are but religious in nature, appealing to man's sinful nature, and should not be considered authoritative, if not uplifted, bathed, washed, and redeemed in God's love.

That God is LOVE before God is anything else. And consequently the bible we read is meant to convey God's love though it is bound by human interpretation, speech, and narrative apprehension of the divine Spirit-word-and-event.

When neglecting the Spirit of Love we attend to unloving words and actions. We have lost our saltiness and become as the weeds and hard soils of the earth where nothing may grow or be nourished.

And like Abram in Genesis, no Covenant may be "cut with God" except that this God of Love cut the halves of the sacrifices and walks through them alone as worthy keeper of his loving promise to stay and abide with us all our days.

Covenants which are laid first-and-foremost in God's grace and mercy; forgiveness and presence; hope and enduring works of love. As versus man's covenants presented in religious pride, legalism, and works-oriented rags unworthy of life, soul, penitence, equality, or justice.

Be at Peace,

Walk in the Love of the Lord our God,

R.E. Slater
November 29, 2023
updated December 2, 2023

Jesus mocks the 'kingdoms of man' by using the same word, basilou, in its genitive form to declare all may become possessors of the kingdom of God when filling God's kingdom with loving content. That this kingdom is not for religiously heartless demeaning the quality or worthy of those yearning God's love except they follow the Temple's rules, rites, and traditions. To this Jesus said "Tace" in which is meant "anathema" to such horrid teachings by the religiously astute of his day. God's kingdom is easily obtainable by faith in a loving God and then bound to share God's love in deed, word, and by constitution, to those everywhere around us. Its light cannot be contained by darkness and its new wine will surely burst the old wineskins once considered good.

by R.E. Slater

Basileia (Greek translated kingdom) has morphed into royalty and authoritarianism, power and patriarchy, even theocracy in today's Christianity. But the basileia of Jesus is the exact opposite, where offense is met with forgiveness, the first are last and the last are first, the poor are privileged and the rich have a very narrow needle to thread, and we are asked to love our enemies.

by Wayne Boyd

"All the expected effects of power, authority, and hierarchical rule are reversed, resulting in the rule of the unruly, the reign of the unroyal, a hier-unarchy, a “sacred anarchy,” as I like to say. This kingdom of ill-born and powerless people (1 Cor. 1:26) looks mad to the “world,” to Aristotle’s man of practical wisdom, a good-looking and well-educated aristocratic chap, and nothing like a real man to a heartless Roman warrior. This is a “kingdom” in an ironic sense, actually mocking the authoritarianism and patriarchy. The possibility of the impossible is neither theological (omnipotence) nor logical (a contradiction in terms) but theopoetic, a kind of theopoetic cardiology, the heart of a heartless world."

by Philosophic Catholic Theologian, John Caputo

  ~  The Table below will be necessary to the chat I had with ChatGPT 3.5  ~~  


βασιλεία, -ας, ἡ (basileia)
  • kingdom
  • royal rule
  • kingship
  • sovereignty
Part of Speech
Word Frequency
  • Byzantine NT: 162
  • kjtr: 162
  • Nestle 1904: 162
  • sr: 162
βα·σι·λεί·α ba·si·lei·a
Strongs Number
  • 932

Noun Forms


Usage in new testament bible - click link here

parsed usage of basileia in GNT and LXX  - click link here

The genitive form of basileia refers to one's possession of God's kingdom... 

Or, said otherwise:

(i) we are possessed of God and thereby adopted into God's kingdom, and,

(ii) we possess the kingdom both now and forevermore when sealed by the Spirit of God in acceptance and belief in Jesus' atoning work on the Cross. That is, we ourselves are held by, and actively hold, our kingdom rights to distribute to others around us.

* * * * * * *

ChatGPT and I Discuss Healthy Ways
to Read the Bible and Bible Eschatology


Hello! How can I assist you today?

Please parse "baseilou"

It seems like "baseilou" might be a typo or a combination of letters without a clear meaning. Could you provide more context or clarify your request?

Yes a typo. Should be "basilou". A Greek word meaning "Kingdom" = "Basileia"

Ah, I see. "Baseilou" appears to be the genitive form of the Greek word "Βασιλεία" (Basileia), which translates to "kingdom." If you have any more questions or if there's anything specific you'd like to know, feel free to ask!

Remind me what the genitive form of the word is...

The genitive form of a word typically indicates possession or a relationship similar to "of" in English. For example, in Greek, "Basileia" (kingdom) can become "Basilou" when expressing possession or association.

Ah. So might I say the kingdom of God (KOG) is mine? Or, that I belong to the KOG in the genitive form?

Yes, that's correct! You could say "the kingdom of God" using the genitive form, like "the kingdom of God is mine" or "I belong to the kingdom of God."

The genitive form indicates possession or association, allowing you to express a relationship with the kingdom.

Is basilou the correct Attic spelling of basileia or more a later derivative of the Koine form of the Greek language? (I had used koinonia in place of Koine)

The form "basilou" is a transliteration of the genitive singular form of the Attic Greek word "Βασιλεία" (Basileia), which means "kingdom." In Attic Greek, the genitive singular form is used to indicate possession or association.

The term "Attic" refers to the dialect of Ancient Greek that was spoken in the region of Attica, including Athens, and is associated with classical literature and philosophy. So, "basilou" is in line with the Attic Greek form rather than being a later derivative of Koine Greek of Jesus' day.

As opposed to the language of Koine Greek the term "koinonia" typically refers to a different concept, not one of language but one of "fellowship" or "community," and is not directly related to the genitive form of "Basileia."

Apologies... what form of Greek was spoken in the first century AD?

In the first century AD, during the time of the New Testament and the events surrounding the life of Jesus, the common form of Greek spoken was Koine Greek. Koine Greek emerged as a simplified and more universal form of the Greek language, evolving from Classical Attic Greek.

Koine Greek became the lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean (The Levant's coastal regions) and was widely used for trade, communication, and literature during the Hellenistic and Roman periods, including the time of the New Testament writings.

Is basilou in line with Koine Greek in its meaning despite its relative "youth"?

Yes, "basilou" is in line with Koine Greek. In Koine Greek, the genitive form of "Βασιλεία" (Basileia), meaning "kingdom," could indeed be rendered as "basilou." The genitive form is used to indicate possession or association, and this structure is consistent with the characteristics of Koine Greek during the first century AD.

OK. So in the passage of time between ancient attic greek and later koine greek basilou (sic, basileia) remained the same linguistically in spelling?

The spelling "basilou" (or "βασιλεία" in Greek script) is more representative of Koine Greek rather than Ancient Attic Greek. Over time, linguistic changes and developments occurred between the Attic Greek of classical antiquity and the Koine Greek spoken in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

While there are some similarities, Koine Greek is generally considered a later form of the language and exhibits simplifications in grammar and vocabulary compared to Classical Attic Greek. The specific form "basilou" aligns more closely with Koine Greek as it was [more prominently] used in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, including the time of the New Testament.

How would the attic form of the gentive parsing be spelled?

In Ancient Attic Greek, the genitive form of "Βασιλεία" (Basileia), meaning "kingdom," would be spelled differently. The genitive singular form in the Attic dialect might be "βασιλείας" (basileías). The spelling can vary slightly due to linguistic nuances and specific grammatical rules, but this form more closely represents the genitive in Ancient Attic Greek.

So the addition of the letter "s" gives the noun base its genitive spelling in Attic Greek?

The addition of "s" is a common way to form the genitive singular in Ancient Greek. In the case of "βασιλεία" (Basileia), adding "s" to the stem results in "βασιλείας" (basileías) in the genitive singular. This is a general rule in the inflection of Greek nouns to indicate possession or association.

However, it's important to note that linguistic rules can have exceptions, and the genitive form may vary based on the specific noun stem and its declension pattern in Greek.

What would the genitive plural look like in Attic vs. Koine spelling?

In Ancient Attic Greek, the genitive plural of "Βασιλεία" (Basileia) would be formed by adding "-ων" (-ōn) to the stem. So, the genitive plural might look like "βασιλείων" (basileíōn).

In Koine Greek, the genitive plural often follows a similar pattern. So, the genitive plural of "Βασιλεία" in Koine might also be "βασιλείων" (basileíōn).

The spelling is quite similar in this case between Attic and Koine Greek for the genitive plural.

Culturally, did the term kingdom change in meaning or nuance over time?

The concept of a "kingdom" has evolved over time and can carry different cultural, political, and religious nuances. In ancient cultures, including those of Ancient Greece and Rome, the term often referred to a political entity ruled by a king or monarch.

In a religious context, such as in Christianity, the term "kingdom" has a specific theological significance. In the New Testament, particularly in the teachings of Jesus, the "kingdom of God" or the "kingdom of heaven" is often used to convey a spiritual or divine realm rather than a purely political one. The nuanced meaning can involve concepts of divine rule, righteousness, and salvation.

Culturally and linguistically, the term "kingdom" has adapted to various contexts and belief systems over the centuries, reflecting the evolving perspectives and values of societies.

Extending this cultural linguistic metaphor I might say Jesus was mocking the temple teachings of kingdom in their stress of power and holiness when applying it to his kingdom built on mercy, grace, and forgiveness.

That interpretation aligns with certain aspects of Jesus' teachings as portrayed in the New Testament. Jesus often challenged conventional religious interpretations and emphasized concepts like mercy, grace, and forgiveness over a rigid emphasis on power and holiness. His teachings often presented a transformation of traditional expectations, redirecting focus toward compassion and spiritual values.

By emphasizing a kingdom built on mercy and forgiveness, Jesus sought to convey a different understanding of divine rule—one rooted in love and compassion rather than solely in the exercise of authority and adherence to religious rituals. This interpretation reflects the cultural and linguistic nuances within the religious context of his time.

And yet, the new testament book of Revelation goes out of its way to speak of divine power and retribution as versus Jesus' kingdom of love...

Indeed, the New Testament book of Revelation contrasts with the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. Revelation is a highly symbolic and apocalyptic work that explores themes of divine judgment, cosmic conflict, and the ultimate triumph of God's justice. It employs vivid imagery to convey a message of God's sovereignty, righteousness, and the eventual resolution of good overcoming evil.

While the Gospels focus on Jesus' message of love, mercy, and forgiveness, Revelation takes a different literary and theological approach. It is important to note that different books within the New Testament serve different purposes and were written in diverse contexts, often addressing specific concerns or audiences.

Interpreting these texts involves considering their literary genres, historical contexts, and the theological perspectives they represent. The tension between themes of love and mercy in the Gospels and more apocalyptic elements in Revelation reflects the complexity of the biblical narrative and the diversity of theological ideas within the Christian tradition.

It would seem a Christian hope built on a loving God is in direct conflict with a God of war... that Jesus' disciple John, known for his love, wrote a book which is wholly unloving...

The apparent tension between a God of love and a God associated with themes of war and judgment, as depicted in various parts of the Bible, has been a subject of theological reflection and debate within Christianity. Different Christian traditions and scholars may interpret these themes in diverse ways.

Some theologians emphasize the overarching message of love, mercy, and grace found in the teachings of Jesus, considering this to be the central theme of Christianity.

Others acknowledge the presence of diverse theological motifs in the Bible, including those of justice, judgment, and divine authority.

In reconciling these apparent contradictions, some Christians interpret the more judgment-oriented passages in the context of the cultural and historical circumstances in which they were written. They might view these passages as metaphorical or symbolic expressions rather than literal descriptions of God's nature.

Ultimately, the understanding of God's character and the resolution of these tensions vary among individuals and Christian denominations, reflecting the diversity of theological perspectives within the broader Christian tradition.

Any Christian theology not founded on a God of love but on a God of holiness would seem a devolution of this same God in dipolar terms...

Many Christian theologians and denominations emphasize the idea that God is both loving and holy. The concept of God's holiness is often understood as a divine attribute associated with purity, righteousness, and moral perfection. In this perspective, holiness is not seen as conflicting with love but rather as complementing it.

Theologians who highlight God's holiness often see it as the foundation for moral order and justice. The idea is that God's holiness sets the standard for what is good and right, and love, in this context, is an expression of that holiness.

While there may be variations in theological emphasis among different Christian traditions, the majority aim to integrate the qualities of love and holiness into a coherent understanding of God's nature. Theologians often explore the relationship between these attributes, seeking a balanced perspective that reflects the multifaceted nature of the divine, as presented in the Bible and interpreted through theological traditions.

To which I would disagree. All of God's attributes and character must first be founded upon God's love. If not, divine holiness digresses towards a God of vindicating justice, suffering, war, and various religious forms of legalism. Holiness is only holy if grounded upon divine love to which personal and group acts on compassion may be enacted. Holiness for holiness' sake is but a dead end moralistically (and deistically).

Your perspective aligns with a significant theological stream within Christianity that prioritizes the concept of God's love as foundational. Many theologians and believers argue that all divine attributes, including holiness and justice, find their roots in God's love. In this view, holiness is understood in the context of God's perfect love, and justice is seen as a manifestation of that love rather than an independent and potentially punitive force.

This theological stance often emphasizes the importance of compassion, mercy, and relational aspects of God's character. It seeks to avoid a legalistic understanding of holiness divorced from love, recognizing that an emphasis solely on rules and justice can lead to a distorted and potentially harmful understanding of God.

The diversity of perspectives within Christian theology allows for ongoing dialogue and reflection on these matters, contributing to the rich tapestry of theological thought within the Christian tradition.

Yes. Much better. Church history will bear this out. It becomes what it believes... it may be harming, oppressive, and ugly... or the church may fin the best of man's ability to love, care, in works of cooperation, unity, and resource sharing...

Absolutely, the evolution of theological perspectives within Christian history reflects the dynamic nature of beliefs and interpretations. Different periods in church history have seen shifts in emphasis, theological debates, and the development of diverse doctrines. The understanding of God's attributes, including the foundational role of love, has been a subject of ongoing reflection and refinement.
"You become what you believe." - re slater
As beliefs influence practices and vice versa, the lived experience of faith communities often shapes and is shaped by their theological convictions. The recognition of God's love as a central and foundational aspect of His character has profound implications for how believers approach relationships, ethics, and social justice.

Acknowledging the historical and contextual development of theological perspectives allows for a nuanced understanding of the Christian tradition and its ongoing dialogue about the nature of God and the implications for human life.

Hence Israel and the early church's interpretation of God's sovereignty based upon holiness and justice leaves no room for a God of Love who acts sovereignty in his administration, or acts, of love to creation.

The book of Revelation seems to be yet another poor interpretation of a loving God's sovereignty dispensing justice rather than a participating sovereignty lovingly reacting against acts of unloving injustice.

Your perspective highlights a tension that has been present in theological discussions throughout history, particularly in interpretations of divine sovereignty, justice, and love. Different theological traditions and individuals within the Christian faith may emphasize various aspects of God's nature and actions based on their interpretation of sacred texts, including the Bible.

The tension between views that see God primarily as a sovereign dispenser of justice and those that emphasize a God of love actively participating in creation is indeed a significant point of theological debate.

Some argue for a more participatory understanding of God's sovereignty that involves a relational and responsive engagement with creation, while others emphasize a more transcendent and sovereign view of God's rule.

Interpreting texts like Revelation, with its apocalyptic and symbolic language, adds another layer of complexity to these discussions. Different readers may understand these texts in varied ways, contributing to diverse theological perspectives within the Christian tradition.

The ongoing dialogue and exploration of these themes reflect the richness and diversity of Christian theology as it grapples with understanding the nature and actions of the divine.

If the bible narrates a collection of acquired views of God than I would propose that it would be in error to consider these as authoritarian descriptions of a dipolar God in conflict with God's Self.

Rather, if approaching biblical narratives as yet another kind of ancient religious reflection upon God seems far more warranted than attempting to make of the church's apriori description a cohesive whole when none can be found even in the bible's earlier passages about God.

Your perspective aligns with a scholarly approach to biblical interpretation that recognizes the diversity of voices, genres, and theological perspectives within the Bible. Approaching the scriptures as a collection of ancient reflections on the divine allows for a nuanced understanding of the texts and their cultural contexts.

Acknowledging the diverse genres present in the Bible—such as historical narratives, poetry, prophecy, wisdom literature, and apocalyptic literature—helps in appreciating the multifaceted nature of the biblical witness. Each book and passage may reflect the unique theological concerns, historical circumstances, and literary styles of its author and community.

This approach invites interpretation that takes into account the historical and cultural context of each text, allowing for a richer understanding of the theological conversations that unfolded over centuries within the communities that produced and preserved these writings. It also recognizes that the Bible contains a range of perspectives and voices, contributing to the complexity of its theological message.

True. The most I can say of Revelation in the bible is that God becomes the kind of God you choose but it does not mean your kind of God is an accurate description of God as written by the early Church.

More simply, this God becomes an idol of one's own theological making while enforcing an (inerrant) authoritative view of the bible (sic, bibliolatry).

Your reflection captures a critical aspect of theological interpretation, particularly when it comes to complex and symbolic texts like Revelation. The interpretation of such passages is influenced not only by the inherent ambiguity of the language but also by the theological frameworks and perspectives of the reader.

The concept of God becoming an idol of one's own theological making is a caution against shaping the divine in our image and according to our preferences. It underscores the importance of humility in approaching sacred texts, recognizing the limitations of human understanding and the need for openness to diverse interpretations.

Your mention of "bibliolatry" points to a concern about elevating the Bible itself to an idolatrous status, where the text is revered in a way that might overshadow the deeper engagement with the living God it seeks to convey. It's a reminder to approach the scriptures with reverence while maintaining a discerning and humble posture in interpretation.

And thus the Yin-and-Yang between Biblical criticism which is perennially caught between the Scylla of interpretive freedom and the Charybdis of irrelevance. Too much hermeneutic freedom and the tradition disintegrates, losing its epistemological appeal. Too little interpretive freedom and the Bible becomes merely an irrelevant historical artifact, rather than the living word of God. Inherently, evangelical biblical interpretation is unquestionably caught between a need for relevance and the need for textual validity.

Your analogy of the Yin and Yang captures the delicate balance that biblical criticism navigates between interpretive freedom and maintaining relevance. Indeed, this tension is evident in various approaches to biblical interpretation, and it reflects the ongoing dialogue within religious communities and scholarly circles.

Too much interpretive freedom can lead to a fragmentation of tradition, potentially diluting the epistemological appeal and theological coherence. On the other hand, excessive rigidity may risk relegating the Bible to a historical artifact, limiting its perceived relevance to contemporary life.

Evangelical biblical interpretation, in particular, often grapples with these tensions, seeking to uphold the authority and validity of the biblical text while also addressing the needs and questions of a changing cultural context. It involves a dynamic interplay between fidelity to the scriptural tradition and a responsiveness to the challenges and inquiries of the present day.

The ongoing conversation within the realm of biblical criticism reflects the broader quest to maintain a meaningful engagement with sacred texts while recognizing the contextual and interpretive complexities involved.

In my own estimate, the evangelical tradition has divorced itself from God and is continuing down its own measured paths of heresy. It has forgotten the loving God; is oppressing all those unlike themselves; and by their works of harm in America's Constitutional democracy we are receiving aggressive policies discriminating against women, gays, trans, migrants, minorities, and so on. Evangelicalism has become its own abomination.

Moreover, this same evangelical response to a blended democratic society has shown its depths oppression affecting the democratic institutions as conservative evangelical Christians strive to form their own version of a theocratic kingdom...

But if anything, ancient Israel's institutionalization of a theocratic kingdom long years ago actually created many instances for religious harm, oppression, and societal division within its monarchal-minded communities. That this very idea of re-establishing a theocratic kingdom here in America is but an desperate and imperfect picture of a fairer legislative democracy attempting to work out societally how oppression might be undone and social justice expanded equally and fairly without church interference.

Your observations touch on the complex intersection of religion, politics, and societal structures. The historical context of Israel's theocratic kingdom and its challenges, as well as the contemporary dynamics within democratic institutions, provides a backdrop for understanding the nuanced relationship between governance and religious influence.

The idea of a kingdom, whether theocratic or not, carries inherent complexities. Historical instances of theocratic rule have indeed been associated with challenges, including religious harm, oppression, and societal division. On the other hand, democratic institutions aim to provide a framework for governance that allows for pluralism, individual freedoms, and social justice.

Your suggestion that a legislative democracy can be seen as an attempt to work out societal issues and promote social justice without undue interference from religious institutions reflects a perspective emphasizing the separation of church and state. It underscores the importance of creating governance structures that are inclusive, responsive to diverse perspectives, and focused on principles of fairness and equality.

The relationship between religion and politics is an ongoing area of debate and exploration, and different societies navigate these dynamics in diverse ways based on their historical, cultural, and philosophical contexts.

...Thus and thus, this gives warrant to misunderstanding and misapplying how-and-what the bible teaches as a collection of oral legends with the Church's theologically-applied religious ideas placed upon a body politic and its society.

To naively read the bible and blindly enforce its teachings upon people ends up becoming paradoxically the worse thing one could do in one's personal and corporate life.

It portends today's Christian nationalist efforts with the same failures as yesteryear's Christian efforts to force blended societies into religious perspectives which may be oppressive and harmful.

This Christian direction in democratic society reveals itself as an outcome variant to the Church's religiously perceived applications of its ideations upon societal living doing with the same force and harm as the Church has done over the centuries since Christ.

It seems like you're expressing concerns about misinterpretation and potential negative consequences of applying religious teachings to societal structures. The tension between personal beliefs and their impact on broader communities is indeed a complex aspect of religious influence. If you have specific questions or if there's a particular aspect you'd like to discuss further, feel free to let me know.

... end of file

If you have any more questions or if there's anything else I can help you with in the future, feel free to reach out. Have a great day!

Alfred North Whitehead - Biography

Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead

Whitehead in 1936
Born15 February 1861
Died30 December 1947 (aged 86)
EducationTrinity College, Cambridge
(B.A., 1884)
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
Academic advisorsEdward Routh[1]
Doctoral students
Main interests
Notable ideas
Process philosophy
Process theology

Alfred North Whitehead OM FRS FBA (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English mathematician and philosopher. He created the philosophical school known as process philosophy,[21] which has been applied in a wide variety of disciplines, including ecologytheologyeducationphysicsbiologyeconomics, and psychology.

In his early career Whitehead wrote primarily on mathematicslogic, and physics. He wrote the three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910–1913), with his former student Bertrand RussellPrincipia Mathematica is considered one of the twentieth century's most important works in mathematical logic, and placed 23rd in a list of the top 100 English-language nonfiction books of the twentieth century by Modern Library.[22]

Beginning in the late 1910s and early 1920s, Whitehead gradually turned his attention from mathematics to philosophy of science, and finally to metaphysics. He developed a comprehensive metaphysical system which radically departed from most of Western philosophy. Whitehead argued that reality consists of processes rather than material objects, and that processes are best defined by their relations with other processes, thus rejecting the theory that reality is fundamentally constructed by bits of matter that exist independently of one another.[23] Whitehead's philosophical works – particularly Process and Reality – are regarded as the foundational texts of process philosophy.

Whitehead's process philosophy argues that "there is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have consequences for the world around us."[23] For this reason, one of the most promising applications of Whitehead's thought in recent years has been in the area of ecological civilization and environmental ethics pioneered by John B. Cobb.[24][25]


Childhood and education

Whewell's Court north range at Trinity CollegeCambridge. Whitehead spent thirty years at Trinity, five as a student and twenty-five as a senior lecturer.

Alfred North Whitehead was born in RamsgateKent, England, in 1861.[26] His father, Alfred Whitehead, became an Anglican minister after being headmaster of Chatham House Academy, a school for boys previously headed by Alfred's father, Thomas Whitehead.[27] Whitehead himself recalled both of them as being very successful school masters, with his grandfather being the more "remarkable" man.[27]

Whitehead's mother was Maria Sarah Buckmaster. Her maternal great-grandmother was Jane North (1776-1847), whose maiden surname was given to Whitehead, and several other members of his family over time. His mother, Maria Buckmaster had eleven siblings. The son of her brother Thomas, Walter Selby Buckmaster, was twice an Olympics silver medal winner for Polo (1900, 1908) for Britain, and is said to be "one of the finest polo players England has ever produced".[28] Whitehead does not appear to have been close to his mother, although he and Evelyn (full name: Evelyn Ada Maud Rice Willoughby Wade), whom he married in 1890, are recorded in the English Census of 1891 as living with Alfred's mother and father. Lowe notes that there appears to have been mutual dislike between Whitehead's wife, Evelyn, and his mother, Maria.

Griffin relates how Bertrand Russell, a colleague and collaborator of Whitehead, was a very close friend of Whitehead and of his wife, Evelyn. Griffin retells Russell's story of how, one evening in 1901, "they found Evelyn Whitehead in the middle of what appeared to be a dangerous and acutely painful angina attack. ... [but] It seems that she suffered from a psychosomatic disorder ... [and] the danger was illusory." Griffin posits that Russell exaggerated the drama of her illness, and that both Evelyn and Russell were habitually given to melodrama.[29] Intensity of emotion was encourgaged by their avant garde associates in the turbulent Bloomsbury Group which "discussed aesthetic and philosophical questions in a spirit of agnosticism and were strongly influenced by G.E. Moore's Principia Ethica (1903) and by A. N. Whitehead's and Bertrand Russell's Principia Mathematica (1910–13), in the light of which they searched for definitions of the good, the true, and the beautiful".[30]

Alfred's brother Henry became Bishop of Madras and wrote the closely observed ethnographic account Village Gods of South-India (Calcutta: Association Press, 1921).

Whitehead was educated at Sherborne,[31] a prominent English public school, where he excelled in sports and mathematics[32] and was head prefect of his class.[33]

In 1880, he began attending Trinity College, Cambridge, and studied mathematics.[34] His academic advisor was Edward Routh.[1] He earned his B.A. from Trinity in 1884, writing his dissertation on James Clerk Maxwell's A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, and graduated as fourth wrangler.[35]


Elected a fellow of Trinity in 1884, Whitehead would teach and write on mathematics and physics at the college until 1910, spending the 1890s writing his Treatise on Universal Algebra (1898), and the 1900s collaborating with his former pupil, Bertrand Russell, on the first edition of Principia Mathematica.[36] He was a Cambridge Apostle.[37]

Bertrand Russell in 1907. Russell was a student of Whitehead's at Trinity College, and a longtime collaborator and friend.

In 1910, Whitehead resigned his senior lectureship in mathematics at Trinity and moved to London without first obtaining another job.[38] After being unemployed for a year, he accepted a position as lecturer in applied mathematics and mechanics at University College London, but was passed over a year later for the Goldsmid Chair of Applied Mathematics and Mechanics, a position for which he had hoped to be seriously considered.[39]

In 1914, Whitehead accepted a position as professor of applied mathematics at the newly chartered Imperial College London, where his old friend Andrew Forsyth had recently been appointed chief professor of mathematics.[40]

In 1918, Whitehead's academic responsibilities began to seriously expand as he accepted a number of high administrative positions within the University of London system, of which Imperial College London was a member at the time. He was elected dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of London in late 1918 (a post he held for four years), a member of the University of London's Senate in 1919, and chairman of the Senate's Academic (leadership) Council in 1920, a post which he held until he departed for America in 1924.[40] Whitehead was able to exert his newfound influence to successfully lobby for a new history of science department, help establish a Bachelor of Science degree (previously only Bachelor of Arts degrees had been offered), and make the school more accessible to less wealthy students.[41]

Toward the end of his time in England, Whitehead turned his attention to philosophy. Though he had no advanced training in philosophy, his philosophical work soon became highly regarded. After publishing The Concept of Nature in 1920, he served as president of the Aristotelian Society from 1922 to 1923.[42]

Move to the United States, 1924

In 1924, Henry Osborn Taylor invited the 63-year-old Whitehead to join the faculty at Harvard University as a professor of philosophy.[43] The Whiteheads would spend the rest of their lives in the United States.

During his time at Harvard, Whitehead produced his most important philosophical contributions. In 1925, he wrote Science and the Modern World, which was immediately hailed as an alternative to the Cartesian dualism then prevalent in popular science.[44] He was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that same year.[45] He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 1926.[46] Lectures from 1927 to 1928, were published in 1929 as a book named Process and Reality, which has been compared to Immanuel Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.[24]

Family and death

In 1890, Whitehead married Evelyn Wade, an Irishwoman raised in France; they had a daughter, Jessie, and two sons, Thomas and Eric.[33] Thomas followed his father to Harvard in 1931, to teach at the Business School. Eric died in action at the age of 19, while serving in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I.[47]

From 1910, the Whiteheads had a cottage in the village of Lockeridge, near Marlborough, Wiltshire; from there he completed Principia Mathematica.[48][49]

The Whiteheads remained in the United States after moving to Harvard in 1924. Alfred retired from Harvard in 1937 and remained in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until his death on 30 December 1947.[50]


The two-volume biography of Whitehead by Victor Lowe[51] is the most definitive presentation of the life of Whitehead. However, many details of Whitehead's life remain obscure because he left no Nachlass (personal archive); his family carried out his instructions that all of his papers be destroyed after his death.[52] Additionally, Whitehead was known for his "almost fanatical belief in the right to privacy," and for writing very few personal letters of the kind that would help to gain insight on his life.[52] Wrote Lowe in his preface, "No professional biographer in his right mind would touch him."[26]

Led by Executive Editor Brian G. Henning and General Editor George R. Lucas Jr., the Whitehead Research Project of the Center for Process Studies is currently working on a critical edition of Whitehead's published and unpublished works.[53] The first volume of the Edinburgh Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Alfred North Whitehead was published in 2017 by Paul A. Bogaard and Jason Bell as The Harvard Lectures of Alfred North Whitehead, 1924–1925: The Philosophical Presuppositions of Science.[54]

Mathematics and logic

In addition to numerous articles on mathematics, Whitehead wrote three major books on the subject: A Treatise on Universal Algebra (1898), Principia Mathematica (co-written with Bertrand Russell and published in three volumes between 1910 and 1913), and An Introduction to Mathematics (1911). The former two books were aimed exclusively at professional mathematicians, while the latter book was intended for a larger audience, covering the history of mathematics and its philosophical foundations.[55] Principia Mathematica in particular is regarded as one of the most important works in mathematical logic of the 20th century.

In addition to his legacy as a co-writer of Principia Mathematica, Whitehead's theory of "extensive abstraction" is considered foundational for the branch of ontology and computer science known as "mereotopology," a theory describing spatial relations among wholes, parts, parts of parts, and the boundaries between parts.[56]

A Treatise on Universal Algebra

In A Treatise on Universal Algebra (1898), the term universal algebra had essentially the same meaning that it has today: the study of algebraic structures themselves, rather than examples ("models") of algebraic structures.[57] Whitehead credits William Rowan Hamilton and Augustus De Morgan as originators of the subject matter, and James Joseph Sylvester with coining the term itself.[57][58]

At the time, structures such as Lie algebras and hyperbolic quaternions drew attention to the need to expand algebraic structures beyond the associatively multiplicative class. In a review Alexander Macfarlane wrote: "The main idea of the work is not unification of the several methods, nor generalization of ordinary algebra so as to include them, but rather the comparative study of their several structures."[59] In a separate review, G. B. Mathews wrote, "It possesses a unity of design which is really remarkable, considering the variety of its themes."[60]

A Treatise on Universal Algebra sought to examine Hermann Grassmann's theory of extension ("Ausdehnungslehre"), Boole's algebra of logic, and Hamilton's quaternions (this last number system was to be taken up in Volume II, which was never finished due to Whitehead's work on Principia Mathematica).[61] Whitehead wrote in the preface:

Such algebras have an intrinsic value for separate detailed study; also they are worthy of comparative study, for the sake of the light thereby thrown on the general theory of symbolic reasoning, and on algebraic symbolism in particular... The idea of a generalized conception of space has been made prominent, in the belief that the properties and operations involved in it can be made to form a uniform method of interpretation of the various algebras.[62]

Whitehead, however, had no results of a general nature.[57] His hope of "form[ing] a uniform method of interpretation of the various algebras" presumably would have been developed in Volume II, had Whitehead completed it. Further work on the subject was minimal until the early 1930s, when Garrett Birkhoff and Øystein Ore began publishing on universal algebras.[63]

Principia Mathematica

The title page of the shortened version of the Principia Mathematica to *56

Principia Mathematica (1910–1913) is Whitehead's most famous mathematical work. Written with former student Bertrand RussellPrincipia Mathematica is considered one of the twentieth century's most important works in mathematics, and placed 23rd in a list of the top 100 English-language nonfiction books of the twentieth century by Modern Library.[22]

Principia Mathematica's purpose was to describe a set of axioms and inference rules in symbolic logic from which all mathematical truths could in principle be proven. Whitehead and Russell were working on such a foundational level of mathematics and logic that it took them until page 86 of Volume II to prove that 1+1=2, a proof humorously accompanied by the comment, "The above proposition is occasionally useful."[64]

Whitehead and Russell had thought originally that Principia Mathematica would take a year to complete; it ended up taking them ten years.[65] When it came time for publication, the three-volume work was so long (more than 2,000 pages) and its audience so narrow (professional mathematicians) that it was initially published at a loss of 600 pounds, 300 of which was paid by Cambridge University Press, 200 by the Royal Society of London, and 50 apiece by Whitehead and Russell themselves.[65] Despite the initial loss, today there is likely no major academic library in the world which does not hold a copy of Principia Mathematica.[66]

The ultimate substantive legacy of Principia Mathematica is mixed. It is generally accepted that Kurt Gödel's incompleteness theorem of 1931 definitively demonstrated that for any set of axioms and inference rules proposed to encapsulate mathematics, there would in fact be some truths of mathematics which could not be deduced from them, and hence that Principia Mathematica could never achieve its aims.[67] However, Gödel could not have come to this conclusion without Whitehead and Russell's book. In this way, Principia Mathematica's legacy might be described as its key role in disproving the possibility of achieving its own stated goals.[68] But beyond this somewhat ironic legacy, the book popularized modern mathematical logic and drew important connections between logic, epistemology, and metaphysics.[69]

An Introduction to Mathematics

Unlike Whitehead's previous two books on mathematics, An Introduction to Mathematics (1911) was not aimed exclusively at professional mathematicians but was intended for a larger audience. The book covered the nature of mathematics, its unity and internal structure, and its applicability to nature.[55] Whitehead wrote in the opening chapter:

The object of the following Chapters is not to teach mathematics, but to enable students from the very beginning of their course to know what the science is about, and why it is necessarily the foundation of exact thought as applied to natural phenomena.[70]

The book can be seen as an attempt to understand the growth in unity and interconnection of mathematics as a whole, as well as an examination of the mutual influence of mathematics and philosophy, language, and physics.[71] Although the book is little-read, in some ways it prefigures certain points of Whitehead's later work in philosophy and metaphysics.[72]

Views on education

Whitehead showed a deep concern for educational reform at all levels. In addition to his numerous individually written works on the subject, Whitehead was appointed by Britain's Prime Minister David Lloyd George as part of a 20-person committee to investigate the educational systems and practices of the UK in 1921 and recommend reform.[73]

Whitehead's most complete work on education is the 1929 book The Aims of Education and Other Essays, which collected numerous essays and addresses by Whitehead on the subject published between 1912 and 1927. The essay from which Aims of Education derived its name was delivered as an address in 1916 when Whitehead was president of the London Branch of the Mathematical Association. In it, he cautioned against the teaching of what he called "inert ideas" – ideas that are disconnected scraps of information, with no application to real life or culture. He opined that "education with inert ideas is not only useless: it is, above all things, harmful."[74]

Rather than teach small parts of a large number of subjects, Whitehead advocated teaching a relatively few important concepts that the student could organically link to many different areas of knowledge, discovering their application in actual life.[75] For Whitehead, education should be the exact opposite of the multidisciplinary, value-free school model[74][76] – it should be transdisciplinary, and laden with values and general principles that provide students with a bedrock of wisdom and help them to make connections between areas of knowledge that are usually regarded as separate.

In order to make this sort of teaching a reality, however, Whitehead pointed to the need to minimize the importance of (or radically alter) standard examinations for school entrance. Whitehead writes:

Every school is bound on pain of extinction to train its boys for a small set of definite examinations. No headmaster has a free hand to develop his general education or his specialist studies in accordance with the opportunities of his school, which are created by its staff, its environment, its class of boys, and its endowments. I suggest that no system of external tests which aims primarily at examining individual scholars can result in anything but educational waste.[77]

Whitehead argued that curriculum should be developed specifically for its own students by its own staff, or else risk total stagnation, interrupted only by occasional movements from one group of inert ideas to another.

Above all else in his educational writings, Whitehead emphasized the importance of imagination and the free play of ideas. In his essay "Universities and Their Function", Whitehead writes provocatively on imagination:

Imagination is not to be divorced from the facts: it is a way of illuminating the facts. It works by eliciting the general principles which apply to the facts, as they exist, and then by an intellectual survey of alternative possibilities which are consistent with those principles. It enables men to construct an intellectual vision of a new world.[78]

Whitehead's philosophy of education might adequately be summarized in his statement that "knowledge does not keep any better than fish."[79] In other words, bits of disconnected knowledge are meaningless; all knowledge must find some imaginative application to the students' own lives, or else it becomes so much useless trivia, and the students themselves become good at parroting facts but not thinking for themselves.

Philosophy and metaphysics

Richard Rummell's 1906 watercolor landscape view of Harvard University, facing northeast.[80] Whitehead taught at Harvard from 1924 to 1937.

Whitehead did not begin his career as a philosopher.[26] In fact, he never had any formal training in philosophy beyond his undergraduate education. Early in his life, he showed great interest in and respect for philosophy and metaphysics, but it is evident that he considered himself a rank amateur. In one letter to his friend and former student Bertrand Russell, after discussing whether science aimed to be explanatory or merely descriptive, he wrote: "This further question lands us in the ocean of metaphysic, onto which my profound ignorance of that science forbids me to enter."[81] Ironically, in later life, Whitehead would become one of the 20th century's foremost metaphysicians.

However, interest in metaphysics – the philosophical investigation of the nature of the universe and existence – had become unfashionable by the time Whitehead began writing in earnest about it in the 1920s. The ever-more impressive accomplishments of empirical science had led to a general consensus in academia that the development of comprehensive metaphysical systems was a waste of time because they were not subject to empirical testing.[82]

Whitehead was unimpressed by this objection. In the notes of one of his students for a 1927 class, Whitehead was quoted as saying: "Every scientific man in order to preserve his reputation has to say he dislikes metaphysics. What he means is he dislikes having his metaphysics criticized."[83] In Whitehead's view, scientists and philosophers make metaphysical assumptions about how the universe works all the time, but such assumptions are not easily seen precisely because they remain unexamined and unquestioned. While Whitehead acknowledged that "philosophers can never hope finally to formulate these metaphysical first principles,"[84] he argued that people need to continually reimagine their basic assumptions about how the universe works if philosophy and science are to make any real progress, even if that progress remains permanently asymptotic. For this reason, Whitehead regarded metaphysical investigations as essential to both good science and good philosophy.[85]

Perhaps foremost among what Whitehead considered faulty metaphysical assumptions was the Cartesian idea that reality is fundamentally constructed of bits of matter that exist totally independently of one another, which he rejected in favour of an event-based or "process" ontology in which events are primary and are fundamentally interrelated and dependent on one another.[86] He also argued that the most basic elements of reality can all be regarded as experiential, indeed that everything is constituted by its experience. He used the term "experience" very broadly so that even inanimate processes such as electron collisions are said to manifest some degree of experience. In this, he went against Descartes' separation of two different kinds of real existence, either exclusively material or else exclusively mental.[87] Whitehead referred to his metaphysical system as "philosophy of organism," but it would become known more widely as "process philosophy."[87]

Whitehead's philosophy was highly original, and soon garnered interest in philosophical circles. After publishing The Concept of Nature in 1920, he served as president of the Aristotelian Society from 1922 to 1923, and Henri Bergson was quoted as saying that Whitehead was "the best philosopher writing in English."[88] So impressive and different was Whitehead's philosophy that in 1924 he was invited to join the faculty at Harvard University as a professor of philosophy at 63 years of age.[43]

Eckhart Hall at the University of Chicago. Beginning with the arrival of Henry Nelson Wieman in 1927, Chicago's Divinity School become closely associated with Whitehead's thought for about thirty years.[89]

This is not to say that Whitehead's thought was widely accepted or even well understood. His philosophical work is generally considered to be among the most difficult to understand in all of the Western canon.[24] Even professional philosophers struggled to follow Whitehead's writings. One famous story illustrating the level of difficulty of Whitehead's philosophy centres around the delivery of Whitehead's Gifford lectures in 1927–28 – following Arthur Eddington's lectures of the year previous – which Whitehead would later publish as Process and Reality:

Eddington was a marvellous popular lecturer who had enthralled an audience of 600 for his entire course. The same audience turned up to Whitehead's first lecture but it was completely unintelligible, not merely to the world at large but to the elect. My father remarked to me afterwards that if he had not known Whitehead well he would have suspected that it was an imposter making it up as he went along... The audience at subsequent lectures was only about half a dozen in all.[90]

It may not be inappropriate to speculate that some fair portion of the respect generally shown to Whitehead by his philosophical peers at the time arose from their sheer bafflement. The Chicago theologian Shailer Mathews once remarked of Whitehead's 1926 book Religion in the Making: "It is infuriating, and I must say embarrassing as well, to read page after page of relatively familiar words without understanding a single sentence."[91]

However, Mathews' frustration with Whitehead's books did not negatively affect his interest. In fact, there were numerous philosophers and theologians at Chicago's Divinity School that perceived the importance of what Whitehead was doing without fully grasping all of the details and implications. In 1927, they invited one of America's only Whitehead experts, Henry Nelson Wieman, to Chicago to give a lecture explaining Whitehead's thoughts.[91] Wieman's lecture was so brilliant that he was promptly hired to the faculty and taught there for twenty years, and for at least thirty years afterwards Chicago's Divinity School was closely associated with Whitehead's thought.[89]

Shortly after Whitehead's book Process and Reality appeared in 1929, Wieman famously wrote in his 1930 review:

Not many people will read Whitehead's recent book in this generation; not many will read it in any generation. But its influence will radiate through concentric circles of popularization until the common man will think and work in the light of it, not knowing whence the light came. After a few decades of discussion and analysis, one will be able to understand it more readily than can now be done.[92]

Wieman's words proved prophetic. Though Process and Reality has been called "arguably the most impressive single metaphysical text of the twentieth century,"[93] it has been little-read and little-understood, partly because it demands – as Isabelle Stengers puts it – "that its readers accept the adventure of the questions that will separate them from every consensus."[94] Whitehead questioned Western philosophy's most dearly held assumptions about how the universe works — but in doing so, he managed to anticipate a number of 21st century scientific and philosophical problems and provide novel solutions.[95]

Whitehead's conception of reality

Whitehead was convinced that the scientific notion of matter was misleading as a way of describing the ultimate nature of things. In his 1925 book Science and the Modern World, he wrote that:

There persists ... [a] fixed scientific cosmology which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread through space in a flux of configurations. In itself, such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what it does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations which do not spring from the nature of its being. It is this assumption that I call "scientific materialism." Also, it is an assumption which I shall challenge as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived.[86]

In Whitehead's view, there are a number of problems with this notion of "irreducible brute matter." First, it obscures and minimizes the importance of change. By thinking of any material thing (like a rock, or a person) as being fundamentally the same thing throughout time, with any changes to it being secondary to its "nature," scientific materialism hides the fact that nothing ever stays the same. For Whitehead, change is fundamental and inescapable; he emphasizes that "all things flow."[96]

In Whitehead's view, then, concepts such as "quality," "matter," and "form" are problematic. These "classical" concepts fail to adequately account for change, and overlook the active and experiential nature of the most basic elements of the world. They are useful abstractions but are not the world's basic building blocks.[97] What is ordinarily conceived of as a single person, for instance, is philosophically described as a continuum of overlapping events.[98] After all, people change all the time, if only because they have aged by another second and had some further experience. These occasions of experience are logically distinct but are progressively connected in what Whitehead calls a "society" of events.[99] By assuming that enduring objects are the most real and fundamental things in the universe, materialists have mistaken the abstract for the concrete (what Whitehead calls the "fallacy of misplaced concreteness").[87][100]

To put it another way, a thing or person is often seen as having a "defining essence" or a "core identity" that is unchanging, and describes what the thing or person really is. In this way of thinking, things and people are seen as fundamentally the same through time, with any changes being qualitative and secondary to their core identity (e.g., "Mark's hair has turned grey as he has gotten older, but he is still the same person"). But in Whitehead's cosmology, the only fundamentally existent things are discrete "occasions of experience" that overlap one another in time and space, and jointly make up the enduring person or thing. On the other hand, what ordinary thinking often regards as "the essence of a thing" or "the identity/core of a person" is an abstract generalization of what is regarded as that person or thing's most important or salient features across time. Identities do not define people; people define identities. Everything changes from moment to moment and to think of anything as having an "enduring essence" misses the fact that "all things flow," though it is often a useful way of speaking.

Whitehead pointed to the limitations of language as one of the main culprits in maintaining a materialistic way of thinking and acknowledged that it may be difficult to ever wholly move past such ideas in everyday speech.[101] After all, every moment of each person's life can hardly be given a different proper name, and it is easy and convenient to think of people and objects as remaining fundamentally the same things, rather than constantly keeping in mind that each thing is a different thing from what it was a moment ago. Yet the limitations of everyday living and everyday speech should not prevent people from realizing that "material substances" or "essences" are a convenient generalized description of a continuum of particular, concrete processes. No one questions that a ten-year-old person is quite different by the time he or she turns thirty years old, and in many ways is not the same person at all; Whitehead points out that it is not philosophically or ontologically sound to think that a person is the same from one second to the next.

John Locke was one of Whitehead's primary influences. In the preface to Process and Reality, Whitehead wrote: "The writer who most fully anticipated the main positions of the philosophy of organism is John Locke in his Essay."[5]

A second problem with materialism is that it obscures the importance of relations. It sees every object as distinct and discrete from all other objects. Each object is simply an inert clump of matter that is only externally related to other things. The idea of matter as primary makes people think of objects as being fundamentally separate in time and space, and not necessarily related to anything. But in Whitehead's view, relations take a primary role, perhaps even more important than the relata themselves.[102] A student taking notes in one of Whitehead's fall 1924 classes wrote that, "Reality applies to connections, and only relatively to the things connected. (A) is real for (B), and (B) is real for (A), but [they are] not absolutely real independent of each other."[103] In fact, Whitehead describes any entity as in some sense nothing more and nothing less than the sum of its relations to other entities – its synthesis of and reaction to the world around it.[104] A real thing is just that which forces the rest of the universe to in some way conform to it; that is to say, if theoretically, a thing made strictly no difference to any other entity (i.e., it was not related to any other entity), it could not be said to really exist.[105] Relations are not secondary to what a thing is; they are what the thing is.

It must be emphasized,[why?] however, that an entity is not merely a sum of its relations, but also a valuation of them and reaction to them.[106] For Whitehead, creativity is the absolute principle of existence, and every entity (whether it is a human being, a tree, or an electron) has some degree of novelty in how it responds to other entities and is not fully determined by causal or mechanistic laws.[107] Most entities do not have consciousness.[108] As a human being's actions cannot always be predicted, the same can be said of where a tree's roots will grow, or how an electron will move, or whether it will rain tomorrow. Moreover, the inability to predict an electron's movement (for instance) is not due to faulty understanding or inadequate technology; rather, the fundamental creativity/freedom of all entities means that there will always remain phenomena that are unpredictable.[109]

The other side of creativity/freedom as the absolute principle is that every entity is constrained by the social structure of existence (i.e., its relations); each actual entity must conform to the settled conditions of the world around it.[105] Freedom always exists within limits. But an entity's uniqueness and individuality arise from its own self-determination as to just how it will take account of the world within the limits that have been set for it.[110]

In summary, Whitehead rejects the idea of separate and unchanging bits of matter as the most basic building blocks of reality, in favour of the idea of reality as interrelated events in the process. He conceives of reality as composed of processes of dynamic "becoming" rather than static "being," emphasizing that all physical things change and evolve and that changeless "essences" such as matter are mere abstractions from the interrelated events that are the final real things that make up the world.[87]

Theory of perception

Since Whitehead's metaphysics described a universe in which all entities experience, he needed a new way of describing perception that was not limited to living, self-conscious beings. The term he coined was "prehension," which comes from the Latin prehensio, meaning "to seize".[111] The term is meant to indicate a kind of perception that can be conscious or unconscious, applying to people as well as electrons. It is also intended to make clear Whitehead's rejection of the theory of representative perception, in which the mind only has private ideas about other entities.[111] For Whitehead, the term "prehension" indicates that the perceiver actually incorporates aspects of the perceived thing into itself.[111] In this way, entities are constituted by their perceptions and relations, rather than being independent of them. Further, Whitehead regards perception as occurring in two modes, causal efficacy (or "physical prehension") and presentational immediacy (or "conceptual prehension").[108]

Whitehead describes causal efficacy as "the experience dominating the primitive living organisms, which have a sense for the fate from which they have emerged, and the fate towards which they go."[112] It is, in other words, the sense of causal relations between entities, a feeling of being influenced and affected by the surrounding environment, unmediated by the senses. Presentational immediacy, on the other hand, is what is usually referred to as "pure sense perception," unmediated by any causal or symbolic interpretation, even unconscious interpretation. In other words, it is pure appearance, which may or may not be delusive (e.g., mistaking an image in a mirror for "the real thing").[113]

In higher organisms (like people), these two modes of perception combine into what Whitehead terms "symbolic reference," which links appearance with causation in a process that is so automatic that both people and animals have difficulty refraining from it. By way of illustration, Whitehead uses the example of a person's encounter with a chair. An ordinary person looks up, sees a coloured shape, and immediately infers that it is a chair. However, an artist, Whitehead supposes, "might not have jumped to the notion of a chair," but instead "might have stopped at the mere contemplation of a beautiful colour and a beautiful shape."[114] This is not the normal human reaction; most people place objects in categories by habit and instinct, without even thinking about it. Moreover, animals do the same thing. Using the same example, Whitehead points out that a dog "would have acted immediately on the hypothesis of a chair and would have jumped onto it by way of using it as such."[115] In this way, symbolic reference is a fusion of pure sense perceptions on the one hand and causal relations on the other, and that it is in fact the causal relationships that dominate the more basic mentality (as the dog illustrates), while it is the sense perceptions which indicate a higher grade mentality (as the artist illustrates).[116]

Evolution and value

Whitehead believed that when asking questions about the basic facts of existence, questions about value and purpose can never be fully escaped. This is borne out in his thoughts on abiogenesis, or the hypothetical natural process by which life arises from simple organic compounds.

Whitehead makes the startling observation that "life is comparatively deficient in survival value."[117] If humans can only exist for about a hundred years, and rocks for eight hundred million, then one is forced to ask why complex organisms ever evolved in the first place; as Whitehead humorously notes, "they certainly did not appear because they were better at that game than the rocks around them."[118] He then observes that the mark of higher forms of life is that they are actively engaged in modifying their environment, an activity which he theorizes is directed toward the three-fold goal of living, living well, and living better.[119] In other words, Whitehead sees life as directed toward the purpose of increasing its own satisfaction. Without such a goal, he sees the rise of life as totally unintelligible.

For Whitehead, there is no such thing as wholly inert matter. Instead, all things have some measure of freedom or creativity, however small, which allows them to be at least partly self-directed. The process philosopher David Ray Griffin coined the term "panexperientialism" (the idea that all entities experience) to describe Whitehead's view, and to distinguish it from panpsychism (the idea that all matter has consciousness).[120]


"I am also greatly indebted to BergsonWilliam James, and John Dewey. One of my preoccupations has been to rescue their type of thought from the charge of anti-intellectualism, which rightly or wrongly has been associated with it." – Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, preface.[3]

Whitehead's idea of God differs from traditional monotheistic notions.[121] Perhaps his most famous and pointed criticism of the Christian conception of God is that "the Church gave unto God the attributes which belonged exclusively to Caesar."[122] Here, Whitehead is criticizing Christianity for defining God as primarily a divine king who imposes his will on the world, and whose most important attribute is power. As opposed to the most widely accepted forms of Christianity, Whitehead emphasized an idea of God that he called "the brief Galilean vision of humility":

It does not emphasize the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world, which slowly and in quietness operates by love; and it finds purpose in the present immediacy of a kingdom not of this world. Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved; also it is a little oblivious as to morals. It does not look to the future; for it finds its own reward in the immediate present.[123]

For Whitehead, God is not necessarily tied to religion.[124] Rather than springing primarily from religious faith, Whitehead saw God as necessary for his metaphysical system.[124] His system required that an order exist among possibilities, an order that allowed for novelty in the world and provided an aim to all entities. Whitehead posited that these ordered potentials exist in what he called the primordial nature of God. However, Whitehead was also interested in religious experience. This led him to reflect more intensively on what he saw as the second nature of God, the consequent nature. Whitehead's conception of God as a "dipolar"[125] entity has called for fresh theological thinking.

The primordial nature he described as "the unlimited conceptual realization of the absolute wealth of potentiality"[123] — i.e., the unlimited possibility of the universe. This primordial nature is eternal and unchanging, providing entities in the universe with possibilities for realization. Whitehead also calls this primordial aspect "the lure for feeling, the eternal urge of desire,"[126] pulling the entities in the universe toward as-yet unrealized possibilities.

God's consequent nature, on the other hand, is anything but unchanging; it is God's reception of the world's activity. As Whitehead puts it, "[God] saves the world as it passes into the immediacy of his own life. It is the judgment of a tenderness which loses nothing that can be saved."[127] In other words, God saves and cherishes all experiences forever, and those experiences go on to change the way God interacts with the world. In this way, God is really changed by what happens in the world and the wider universe, lending the actions of finite creatures an eternal significance.

Whitehead thus sees God and the world as fulfilling one another. He sees entities in the world as fluent and changing things that yearn for a permanence which only God can provide by taking them into God's self, thereafter changing God and affecting the rest of the universe throughout time. On the other hand, he sees God as permanent but as deficient in actuality and change: alone, God is merely eternally unrealized possibilities and requires the world to actualize them. God gives creatures permanence, while the creatures give God actuality and change. Here it is worthwhile to quote Whitehead at length:

"In this way God is completed by the individual, fluent satisfactions of finite fact, and the temporal occasions are completed by their everlasting union with their transformed selves, purged into conformation with the eternal order which is the final absolute 'wisdom.' The final summary can only be expressed in terms of a group of antitheses, whose apparent self-contradictions depend on neglect of the diverse categories of existence. In each antithesis there is a shift of meaning which converts the opposition into a contrast.

"It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.

"It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.

"It is as true to say that, in comparison with the World, God is actual eminently, as that, in comparison with God, the World is actual eminently.

"It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.

"It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.

"It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God...

"What is done in the world is transformed into a reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world... In this sense, God is the great companion – the fellow-sufferer who understands."[128]

The above is some of Whitehead's most evocative writing about God, and was powerful enough to inspire the movement known as process theology, a vibrant theological school of thought that continues to thrive today.[129][130]


For Whitehead, the core of religion was individual. While he acknowledged that individuals cannot ever be fully separated from their society, he argued that life is an internal fact for its own sake before it is an external fact relating to others.[131] His most famous remark on religion is that "religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness ... and if you are never solitary, you are never religious."[132] Whitehead saw religion as a system of general truths that transformed a person's character.[133] He took special care to note that while religion is often a good influence, it is not necessarily good – an idea which he called a "dangerous delusion" (e.g., a religion might encourage the violent extermination of a rival religion's adherents).[134]

However, while Whitehead saw religion as beginning in solitariness, he also saw religion as necessarily expanding beyond the individual. In keeping with his process metaphysics in which relations are primary, he wrote that religion necessitates the realization of "the value of the objective world which is a community derivative from the interrelations of its component individuals."[135] In other words, the universe is a community which makes itself whole through the relatedness of each individual entity to all the others; meaning and value do not exist for the individual alone, but only in the context of the universal community. Whitehead writes further that each entity "can find no such value till it has merged its individual claim with that of the objective universe. Religion is world loyalty. The spirit at once surrenders itself to this universal claim and appropriates it for itself."[136] In this way, the individual and universal/social aspects of religion are mutually dependent. A connection between the works of William DeWitt Hyde and Whitehead further elucidates this necessary duality of social and individual roles in religious experience.[137] Whitehead also described religion more technically as "an ultimate craving to infuse into the insistent particularity of emotion that non-temporal generality which primarily belongs to conceptual thought alone."[138] In other words, religion takes deeply felt emotions and contextualizes them within a system of general truths about the world, helping people to identify their wider meaning and significance. For Whitehead, religion served as a kind of bridge between philosophy and the emotions and purposes of a particular society.[139] It is the task of religion to make philosophy applicable to the everyday lives of ordinary people.


Isabelle Stengers wrote that "Whiteheadians are recruited among both philosophers and theologians, and the palette has been enriched by practitioners from the most diverse horizons, from ecology to feminism, practices that unite political struggle and spirituality with the sciences of education."[94] In recent decades, attention to Whitehead's work has become more widespread, with interest extending to intellectuals in Europe and China, and coming from such diverse fields as ecology, physics, biology, education, economics, and psychology. One of the first theologians to attempt to interact with Whitehead's thought was the future Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple. In Temple's Gifford Lectures of 1932-1934 (subsequently published as "Nature, Man and God"), Whitehead is one of a number of philosophers of the emergent evolution approach with which Temple interacts.[140] However, it was not until the 1970s and 1980s that Whitehead's thought drew much attention outside of a small group of philosophers and theologians, primarily Americans, and even today he is not considered especially influential outside of relatively specialized circles.

Early followers of Whitehead were found primarily at the University of Chicago Divinity School, where Henry Nelson Wieman initiated an interest in Whitehead's work that would last for about thirty years.[89] Professors such as Wieman, Charles HartshorneBernard Loomer, Bernard Meland, and Daniel Day Williams made Whitehead's philosophy arguably the most important intellectual thread running through the divinity school.[141] They taught generations of Whitehead scholars, the most notable of whom is John B. Cobb.

Although interest in Whitehead has since faded at Chicago's divinity school, Cobb effectively grabbed the torch and planted it firmly in Claremont, California, where he began teaching at Claremont School of Theology in 1958 and founded the Center for Process Studies with David Ray Griffin in 1973.[142] Largely due to Cobb's influence, today Claremont remains strongly identified with Whitehead's process thought.[143][144]

But while Claremont remains the most concentrated hub of Whiteheadian activity, the place where Whitehead's thought currently seems to be growing the most quickly is in China. In order to address the challenges of modernization and industrialization, China has begun to blend traditions of TaoismBuddhism, and Confucianism with Whitehead's "constructive post-modern" philosophy in order to create an "ecological civilization".[76] To date, the Chinese government has encouraged the building of twenty-three university-based centres for the study of Whitehead's philosophy,[76][145] and books by process philosophers John Cobb and David Ray Griffin are becoming required reading for Chinese graduate students.[76] Cobb has attributed China's interest in process philosophy partly to Whitehead's stress on the mutual interdependence of humanity and nature, as well as his emphasis on an educational system that includes the teaching of values rather than simply bare facts.[76]

Overall, however, Whitehead's influence is very difficult to characterize. In English-speaking countries, his primary works are little-studied outside of Claremont and a select number of liberal graduate-level theology and philosophy programs. Outside of these circles, his influence is relatively small and diffuse and has tended to come chiefly through the work of his students and admirers rather than Whitehead himself.[146] For instance, Whitehead was a teacher and long-time friend and collaborator of Bertrand Russell, and he also taught and supervised the dissertation of Willard Van Orman Quine,[147] both of whom are important figures in analytic philosophy – the dominant strain of philosophy in English-speaking countries in the 20th century.[148] Whitehead has also had high-profile admirers in the continental tradition, such as French post-structuralist philosopher Gilles Deleuze, who once dryly remarked of Whitehead that "he stands provisionally as the last great Anglo-American philosopher before Wittgenstein's disciples spread their misty confusion, sufficiency, and terror."[149] French sociologist and anthropologist Bruno Latour even went so far as to call Whitehead "the greatest philosopher of the 20th century."[150]

Deleuze's and Latour's opinions, however, are minority ones, as Whitehead has not been recognized as particularly influential within the most dominant philosophical schools.[151] It is impossible to say exactly why Whitehead's influence has not been more widespread, but it may be partly due to his metaphysical ideas seeming somewhat counterintuitive (such as his assertion that matter is an abstraction), or his inclusion of theistic elements in his philosophy,[152] or the perception of metaphysics itself as passé, or simply the sheer difficulty and density of his prose.[24]

Process philosophy and theology

Philosopher Nicholas Rescher. Rescher is a proponent of both Whiteheadian process philosophy and American pragmatism.

Historically, Whitehead's work has been most influential in the field of American progressive theology.[129][144] The most important early proponent of Whitehead's thought in a theological context was Charles Hartshorne, who spent a semester at Harvard as Whitehead's teaching assistant in 1925, and is widely credited with developing Whitehead's process philosophy into a full-blown process theology.[153] Other notable process theologians include John B. CobbDavid Ray GriffinMarjorie Hewitt SuchockiC. Robert MesleRoland Faber, and Catherine Keller.

Process theology typically stresses God's relational nature. Rather than seeing God as impassive or emotionless, process theologians view God as "the fellow sufferer who understands," and as the being who is supremely affected by temporal events.[154] Hartshorne points out that people would not praise a human ruler who was unaffected by either the joys or sorrows of his followers – so why would this be a praiseworthy quality in God?[155] Instead, as the being who is most affected by the world, God is the being who can most appropriately respond to the world. However, process theology has been formulated in a wide variety of ways. C. Robert Mesle, for instance, advocates a "process naturalism" — i.e., a process theology without God.[156]

In fact, process theology is difficult to define because process theologians are so diverse and transdisciplinary in their views and interests. John B. Cobb is a process theologian who has also written books on biology and economics. Roland Faber and Catherine Keller integrate Whitehead with poststructuralistpostcolonialist, and feminist theory. Charles Birch was both a theologian and a geneticistFranklin I. Gamwell writes on theology and political theory. In Syntheism - Creating God in The Internet Age, futurologists Alexander Bard and Jan Söderqvist repeatedly credit Whitehead for the process theology they see rising out of the participatory culture expected to dominate the digital era.

Process philosophy is even more difficult to pin down than process theology. In practice, the two fields cannot be neatly separated. The 32-volume State University of New York series in constructive postmodern thought edited by process philosopher and theologian David Ray Griffin displays the range of areas in which different process philosophers work, including physics, ecology, medicine, public policy, nonviolence, politics, and psychology.[157]

One philosophical school which has historically had a close relationship with process philosophy is American pragmatism. Whitehead himself thought highly of William James and John Dewey, and acknowledged his indebtedness to them in the preface to Process and Reality.[3] Charles Hartshorne (along with Paul Weiss) edited the collected papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, one of the founders of pragmatism. Noted neopragmatist Richard Rorty was in turn a student of Hartshorne.[158] Today, Nicholas Rescher is one example of a philosopher who advocates both process philosophy and pragmatism.

In addition, while they might not properly be called process philosophers, Whitehead has been influential in the philosophy of Gilles DeleuzeMilič ČapekIsabelle StengersBruno LatourSusanne Langer, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.[citation needed]


Theoretical physicist David Bohm. Bohm is one example of a scientist influenced by Whitehead's philosophy.[159]

Scientists of the early 20th century for whom Whitehead's work has been influential include physical chemist Ilya Prigogine, biologist Conrad Hal Waddington, and geneticists Charles Birch and Sewall Wright.[18] Henry Murray dedicated his "Explorations in Personality" to Whitehead, a contemporary at Harvard.

In physics, Whitehead's theory of gravitation articulated a view that might perhaps be regarded as dual to Albert Einstein's general relativity. It has been severely criticized.[160][161] Yutaka Tanaka suggested that the gravitational constant disagrees with experimental findings, and proposed that Einstein's work does not actually refute Whitehead's formulation.[162] Whitehead's view has now been rendered obsolete, with the discovery of gravitational waves, phenomena observed locally that largely violate the kind of local flatness of space that Whitehead assumes. Consequently, Whitehead's cosmology must be regarded as a local approximation, and his assumption of a uniform spatio-temporal geometry, Minkowskian in particular, as an often-locally-adequate approximation. An exact replacement of Whitehead's cosmology would need to admit a Riemannian geometry. Also, although Whitehead himself gave only secondary consideration to quantum theory, his metaphysics of processes has proved attractive to some physicists in that field. Henry Stapp and David Bohm are among those whose work has been influenced by Whitehead.[159]

In the 21st century, Whiteheadian thought is still a stimulating influence: Timothy E. Eastman and Hank Keeton's Physics and Whitehead (2004)[163] and Michael Epperson's Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (2004)[164] and Foundations of Relational Realism: A Topological Approach to Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Nature (2013),[165] aim to offer Whiteheadian approaches to physics. Brian G. Henning, Adam Scarfe, and Dorion Sagan's Beyond Mechanism (2013) and Rupert Sheldrake's Science Set Free (2012) are examples of Whiteheadian approaches to biology.

Ecology, economy, and sustainability

Theologian, philosopher, and environmentalist John B. Cobb founded the Center for Process Studies in Claremont, California with David Ray Griffin in 1973, and is often regarded as the preeminent scholar in the field of process philosophy and process theology.[166][167][168][169]

One of the most promising applications of Whitehead's thought in recent years has been in the area of ecological civilization, sustainability, and environmental ethics.

"Because Whitehead's holistic metaphysics of value lends itself so readily to an ecological point of view, many see his work as a promising alternative to the traditional mechanistic worldview, providing a detailed metaphysical picture of a world constituted by a web of interdependent relations."[24]

This work has been pioneered by John B. Cobb, whose book Is It Too Late? A Theology of Ecology (1971) was the first single-authored book in environmental ethics.[170] Cobb also co-authored a book with leading ecological economist and steady-state theorist Herman Daly entitled For the Common Good: Redirecting the Economy toward Community, the Environment, and a Sustainable Future (1989), which applied Whitehead's thought to economics, and received the Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order. Cobb followed this with a second book, Sustaining the Common Good: A Christian Perspective on the Global Economy (1994), which aimed to challenge "economists' zealous faith in the great god of growth."[171]


Whitehead is widely known for his influence in education theory. His philosophy inspired the formation of the Association for Process Philosophy of Education (APPE), which published eleven volumes of a journal titled Process Papers on process philosophy and education from 1996 to 2008.[172] Whitehead's theories on education also led to the formation of new modes of learning and new models of teaching.

One such model is the ANISA model developed by Daniel C. Jordan, which sought to address a lack of understanding of the nature of people in current education systems. As Jordan and Raymond P. Shepard put it: "Because it has not defined the nature of man, education is in the untenable position of having to devote its energies to the development of curricula without any coherent ideas about the nature of the creature for whom they are intended."[173]

Another model is the FEELS model developed by Xie Bangxiu and deployed successfully in China. "FEELS" stands for five things in curriculum and education: Flexible-goals, Engaged-learner, Embodied-knowledge, Learning-through-interactions, and Supportive-teacher.[174] It is used for understanding and evaluating educational curriculum under the assumption that the purpose of education is to "help a person become whole." This work is in part the product of cooperation between Chinese government organizations and the Institute for the Postmodern Development of China.[76]

Whitehead's philosophy of education has also found institutional support in Canada, where the University of Saskatchewan created a Process Philosophy Research Unit and sponsored several conferences on process philosophy and education.[175] Howard Woodhouse at the University of Saskatchewan remains a strong proponent of Whiteheadian education.[176]

Three recent books which further develop Whitehead's philosophy of education include: Modes of Learning: Whitehead's Metaphysics and the Stages of Education (2012) by George Allan; The Adventure of Education: Process Philosophers on Learning, Teaching, and Research (2009) by Adam Scarfe; and "Educating for an Ecological Civilization: Interdisciplinary, Experiential, and Relational Learning" (2017) edited by Marcus Ford and Stephen Rowe. "Beyond the Modern University: Toward a Constructive Postmodern University," (2002) is another text that explores the importance of Whitehead's metaphysics for thinking about higher education.

Business administration

Whitehead has had some influence on philosophy of business administration and organizational theory. This has led in part to a focus on identifying and investigating the effect of temporal events (as opposed to static things) within organizations through an "organization studies" discourse that accommodates a variety of 'weak' and 'strong' process perspectives from a number of philosophers.[177] One of the leading figures having an explicitly Whiteheadian and panexperientialist stance towards management is Mark Dibben,[178] who works in what he calls "applied process thought" to articulate a philosophy of management and business administration as part of a wider examination of the social sciences through the lens of process metaphysics. For Dibben, this allows "a comprehensive exploration of life as perpetually active experiencing, as opposed to occasional – and thoroughly passive – happening."[179] Dibben has published two books on applied process thought, Applied Process Thought I: Initial Explorations in Theory and Research (2008), and Applied Process Thought II: Following a Trail Ablaze (2009), as well as other papers in this vein in the fields of philosophy of management and business ethics.[180]

Margaret Stout and Carrie M. Staton have also written recently on the mutual influence of Whitehead and Mary Parker Follett, a pioneer in the fields of organizational theory and organizational behavior. Stout and Staton see both Whitehead and Follett as sharing an ontology that "understands becoming as a relational process; difference as being related, yet unique; and the purpose of becoming as harmonizing difference."[181] This connection is further analyzed by Stout and Jeannine M. Love in Integrative Process: Follettian Thinking from Ontology to Administration[182]

Political views

Whitehead's political views sometimes appear to be libertarian without the label. He wrote:

Now the intercourse between individuals and between social groups takes one of two forms, force or persuasion. Commerce is the great example of intercourse by way of persuasion. Warslavery, and governmental compulsion exemplify the reign of force.[183]

On the other hand, many Whitehead scholars read his work as providing a philosophical foundation for the social liberalism of the New Liberal movement that was prominent throughout Whitehead's adult life. Morris wrote that "... there is good reason for claiming that Whitehead shared the social and political ideals of the new liberals."[184]

Primary works

Books written by Whitehead, listed by date of publication.

In addition, the Whitehead Research Project of the Center for Process Studies is currently working on a critical edition of Whitehead's writings, which is set to include notes taken by Whitehead's students during his Harvard classes, correspondence, and corrected editions of his books.[53]

  • Paul A. Bogaard and Jason Bell, eds. The Harvard Lectures of Alfred North Whitehead, 1924–1925: Philosophical Presuppositions of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.

See also


  1. Jump up to:a b Alfred North Whitehead at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  2. Jump up to:a b c Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: The Free Press, 1978), 39.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d e Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: The Free Press, 1978), xii.
  4. ^ Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: The Free Press, 1978), xiii.
  5. Jump up to:a b c Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: The Free Press, 1978), xi.
  6. Jump up to:a b c d Michel Weber and Will Desmond, eds., Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought, Volume 1 (Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, 2008), 17.
  7. Jump up to:a b c d e John B. Cobb Jr. and David Ray Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 174.
  8. Jump up to:a b c d Michel Weber and Will Desmond, eds., Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought, Volume 1 (Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, 2008), 26.
  9. ^ An Interview with Donald Davidson.
  10. ^ Gilles Deleuze and Claire Parnet, Dialogues II, Columbia University Press, 2007, p. vii.
  11. Jump up to:a b John B. Cobb Jr. and David Ray Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 164-165.
  12. ^ John B. Cobb Jr. and David Ray Griffin, Process Theology: An Introductory Exposition (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), 175.
  13. ^ Thomas J. Fararo, "On the Foundations of the Theory of Action in Whitehead and Parsons", in Explorations in General Theory in Social Science, ed. Jan J. Loubser et al. (New York: The Free Press, 1976), chapter 5.
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  15. ^ "Alfred North Whitehead - Biography"European Graduate School. Archived from the original on 3 September 2013. Retrieved 12 December 2013.
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  18. Jump up to:a b Charles Birch, "Why Aren't We Zombies? Neo-Darwinism and Process Thought", in Back to Darwin: A Richer Account of Evolution, ed. John B. Cobb Jr. (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 252.
  19. ^ "Young Voegelin in America". 6 March 2011.
  20. ^ "Integrating Whitehead".
  21. ^ Griffin, David Ray (2001). Reenchantment without Supernaturalism: A Process Philosophy of Religion. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, vii.
  22. Jump up to:a b "The Modern Library's Top 100 Nonfiction Books of the Century". 30 April 1999. The New York Times. Accessed 21 November 2013.
  23. Jump up to:a b C. Robert MesleProcess-Relational Philosophy: An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead (West Conshohocken: Templeton Foundation Press, 2009), 9.
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Further reading

For the most comprehensive list of resources related to Whitehead, see the thematic bibliography of the Center for Process Studies.

  • Casati, Roberto, and Achille C. VarziParts and Places: The Structures of Spatial Representation. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1999.
  • Ford, Lewis. Emergence of Whitehead's Metaphysics, 1925–1929. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1985.
  • Hartshorne, CharlesWhitehead's Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935–1970. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press, 1972.
  • Henning, Brian G. The Ethics of Creativity: Beauty, Morality, and Nature in a Processive Cosmos. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005.
  • Holtz, Harald and Ernest Wolf-Gazo, eds. Whitehead und der Prozeßbegriff / Whitehead and The Idea of Process. Proceedings of the First International Whitehead-Symposion. Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg i. B. / München, 1984. ISBN 3-495-47517-6
  • Jones, Judith A. Intensity: An Essay in Whiteheadian Ontology. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Press, 1998.
  • Kraus, Elizabeth M. The Metaphysics of Experience. New York: Fordham University Press, 1979.
  • Malik, Charles H. The Systems of Whitehead's Metaphysics. Zouq Mosbeh, Lebanon: Notre Dame Louaize, 2016. 436 pp.
  • McDaniel, Jay. What is Process Thought?: Seven Answers to Seven Questions. Claremont: P&F Press, 2008.
  • McHenry, Leemon. The Event Universe: The Revisionary Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015.
  • Nobo, Jorge L. Whitehead's Metaphysics of Extension and Solidarity. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1986.
  • Price, Lucien. Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead. New York: Mentor Books, 1956.
  • Quine, Willard Van Orman. "Whitehead and the rise of modern logic." In The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, edited by Paul Arthur Schilpp, 125–163. Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1941.
  • Rapp, Friedrich and Reiner Wiehl, eds. Whiteheads Metaphysik der Kreativität. Internationales Whitehead-Symposium Bad Homburg 1983. Verlag Karl Alber, Freiburg i. B. / München, 1986. ISBN 3-495-47612-1
  • Rescher, NicholasProcess Metaphysics. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995.
  • Rescher, NicholasProcess Philosophy: A Survey of Basic Issues. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2001.
  • Roelker, Nancy LymanAn Application Of Whitehead's Concepts Of Conformity and Novelty to the Philosophy of History. Unpublished dissertation, 1940, Harvard University. Held in John Hay Library's Special Collections at Brown University.[1]
  • Schilpp, Paul Arthur, ed. The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead. Evanston and Chicago: Northwestern University Press, 1941. Part of the Library of Living Philosophers series.
  • Siebers, Johan. The Method of Speculative Philosophy: An Essay on the Foundations of Whitehead's Metaphysics. Kassel: Kassel University Press GmbH, 2002. ISBN 3-933146-79-8
  • Smith, Olav Bryant. Myths of the Self: Narrative Identity and Postmodern Metaphysics. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2004. ISBN 0-7391-0843-3

– Contains a section called "Alfred North Whitehead: Toward a More Fundamental Ontology" that is an overview of Whitehead's metaphysics.

External links