Tag Archive: Whitehead


Differences are starting to emerge in our group reading of Integral Ecology, with Tim Morton taking a grumpy stance from the back of the car while others are measured but generally more positive in their assessments. Tim’s main criticism seems to be the Object-Oriented Ontological one that E/Z’s categories “map perfectly onto normal everyday human prejudices,” and specifically prejudices against non-sentient beings. Tim writes:

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This is the concluding part of a three-part article. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 here. They should be read in the sequence in which they were published.


 

The True, the Good, and the Beautiful

All of this can be related to the triad of the True, the Good, and the Beautiful — or, in their Peircian sequence, aesthetics, ethics, and logic. Aesthetics, as Peirce conceived it, is most directly concerned with firstness; ethics, with secondness; and logic, with thirdness.

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This continues from the previous post, where Shinzen Young’s model of core mindfulness practices was expanded into a system of classifying what a human bodymind can do. Here the model is deepened following the process-relational insights that are at the core of Shinzen’s system as well as of other (especially Mahayana and Vajrayana) Buddhist systems, and of the philosophies of A. N. Whitehead and, in some respects, of C. S. Peirce, Gilles Deleuze, and other process-relational thinkers. This part is followed by a concluding segment, found here.



 

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Working with Shinzen Young‘s system of mindfulness training, which I’ve described here before, and thinking it through in the process-relational logic I’ve been developing on this blog (and elsewhere), is resulting in a certain re-mix of Shinzen’s ideas, and of Buddhism more generally, with Peirce’s, Whitehead’s, Wilber’s, Deleuze’s, and others’. Here’s a crack at where it’s taking me…

I’ve divided this into three parts due to its length. Part 1 builds on Shinzen’s “5 ways to know yourself as a spiritual being,” which presents five core mindfulness practices, to develop a basic classification of ways in which the human bodymind can know itself and the world. Part 2 deepens the model by pushing beyond traditional dualisms through incorporating what Shinzen calls “flow,” which is analogous to the central insight of process-relational philosophies about the fundamentally processual nature of subjectivity or mentality, objectivity or materiality, and the dynamic and interdependent relationship between the two. Part 3 provides some concluding thoughts and caveats.


 

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The beatnik brotherhood

Graham Harman’s note reiterating his position that Whitehead, Latour, Deleuze, Bergson, and Simondon (among others) do not make up a coherent philosophical “lump” — “pack” or “tribe” might be more colorful terms here (if philosophers were cats, how herdable would they be?) — makes me want to clarify my own position on these thinkers.

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Process integralism

Further on the integral theory front, I wanted to mention another angle on the Wilber-Whitehead conversation.

Bonnitta Roy’s article “A Process Model of Integral Theory” (pdf) in the December 2006 issue of Integral Review is a thought-provoking attempt to advance post-metaphysical integral theory further toward process thought and Dzogchen Buddhism (what better combination?). View full article »

Thinking with Whitehead

Isabelle Stengers’s Thinking With Whitehead arrived in the mail today. The publication of the English translation of this tome, a long nine years after the French original, is a genuine Event in the world of process-relational philosophy (or whatever you’d like to name the “beatnik brotherhood,” as Harman calls it, of philosophers of immanence and becoming — a brother/sisterhood that Harman asserts does not constitute a counter-current to the hegemonic alliance of philosophies of essence, substance, and onto-theological transcendence, but that Deleuzians and others would like to think does).

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In defiance of the idea that Nature — the thing, or the idea (capitalized or not), or both — is either dead or unnecessary, I feel like posting some favorite passages from “Nature Alive,” the second of A. N. Whitehead’s two 1933 lectures on nature, published in Modes of Thought (1938/1968), which you can read the full text of online.

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This post continues from the previous in this series, which looked at integral ecophilosopher Sean Esbjorn-Hargens’s writing on the ontology of climate change. Here I examine the relationship between leading integral theorist Ken Wilber, integralist Esbjorn-Hargens, and process philosopher Alfred North Whitehead.

It’s a little difficult to separate Wilber’s and Esbjorn-Hargens’s views on Whitehead. I will  simply refer to “IT” (Integral Theory) in speaking of both their views, though these are generally ascribable to Wilber. (And I should note that identification of the term “Integral Theory” with Wilber himself is not uncontested.) I will use “KW” (Wilber) or “EH” (Esbjorn-Hargens) when quoting from specific written sources. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes attributed to EH will be from his article “Integrating Whitehead: Towards an Environmental Ethic,” which is found online, undated and unpaginated, at the integralworld.net website. Most of the Wilber references are either from “Appendix A: My Criticism of Whitehead as True but Partial,” found here, or from printed sources, especially The Eye of Spirit: An Integral Vision for a World Gone Slightly Mad (1997) and Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution (orig. 1995, revised 2000).

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