chapter  13
13 Pages

Actual occasions and eternal objects: the process metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead

For Alfred North Whitehead, the idea (or “eternal object”, as he would have it) fi nds its place within a “process philosophy” that he calls “the philosophy of organism” (in Process and Reality). His emphasis on systemic unity, on fi nal causation and on the reality of the idea can all be compared directly to the inheritance of German speculative idealism. In his assertion of the fundamental indeterminacy of the event (or “actual occasion”, as he terms it), and of the ontological generality of “decision” in that context, he revives, also, the broader German idealist (and Romantic) concern with the relation between freedom and nature. Unlike the German idealists, however, Whitehead attempts to solve the problem by placing freedom, and creativity, at the heart of every “atomic” component of nature.