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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Whitehead and Leibniz on written events (and God being up for grabs)

I've been thinking of Whitehead's system as a monadology that turns Leibniz up side down. In the last pages of Process and Reality - on God and the world - Whitehead comes up with a conception of God as an incomplete actual entity whose derivative nature depends on what takes place in the world. This could be read as an interesting reversion in the direction of fit present in Leibniz. Leibniz has that events are somehow written in the predicates that constitute his substantial monads - according to Couturat's principle of reason, any event follows from the nature of the worldly monads. These monads where chosen by God when he chose the best of all possible world - God dealt with worlds, not with specific monads. In Whitehead, the nature of God is itself under constant creation by the world, ever enlarging itself. Events are not what follows from God's creation of the world but rather they are inscribed in God's (derivative) nature. Events don't follow what is written, they write. Whatever takes place produces the writing: the ever enlarging inscription of the nature of God. Instead of what has been written, the world is what writes up God.

Indeed, God's imperfection is what makes the world improve. Whitehead can also be read as a radical form of Jewish Tikkum Olam (the doctrine that the world was made imperfect so that we can gradually improve it through our deeds). In Whitehead God itself is open to the improvement that can be achieved by our (worldly) deeds. God, and not only the world, is therefore up for grabs. Does anyone know of a Jewish take on process theology?

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