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Final Interpretation in PR
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Process and Reality
An Essay in Cosmology
Alfred North Whitehead
Corrected Edition
Edited By
David Ray Griffin
Donald W. Sherburne
[512] THE chief danger to philosophy is narrowness in the selection of evidence. This narrowness
arises from the idiosyncrasies and timidities of particular authors, of particular social groups, of
particular schools of thought, of particular epochs in the history of civilization. The evidence relied
upon is arbitrarily biased by the temperaments of individuals, by the provincialities of groups, and
by the limitations of schemes of thought.
The evil, resulting from this distortion of evidence, is at its worst in the consideration of the topic
of the final part of this investigation—ultimate ideals. We must commence this topic by an
endeavour to state impartially the general types of the great ideals which have prevailed at sundry
seasons and places. Our test in the selection,?to be impartial, must be pragmatic: the chosen stage
of exemplification must be such as to compel attention, by its own intrinsic interest, or by the
intrinsic interest of the results which flow from it. For example, the stern self-restraint of the Roman
farmers in the early history of the Republic issued in the great epoch of the Roman Empire; and the
stern self-restraint of the early Puritans in New England issued in the flowering of New England
culture. The epoch of the Covenanters has had for its issue the deep impression which modern
civilization owes to Scotland. Neither the Roman farmers, nor the American Puritans, nor the
Covenanters, can wholly command allegiance. Also they differ from each other. But in either case,
there is greatness there, greatly exemplified. In contrast to this example, we find the flowering time
of the aesthetic culture of ancient Greece, the Augustan epoch in Rome, the Italian Renaissance, the
Elizabethan epoch in England, the Restoration epoch in England, [513] French and Teutonic
civilization throughout the centuries of the modern world, Modern Paris, and Modern New York.
Moralists have much to say about some of these societies. Yet, while there is any critical judgment
in the lives of men, such achievements can never be forgotten. In the estimation of either type of
these contrasted examples, sheer contempt betokens blindness. In each of these instances, there are
elements which compel admiration. There is a greatness in the lives of those who build up religious
systems, a greatness in action, in idea and in self-subordination, embodied in instance after instance
through centuries of growth. There is a greatness in the rebels who destroy such systems:
they are the Titans who storm heaven, armed with passionate sincerity. It may be that the revolt is
the mere assertion by youth of its right to its proper brilliance, to that final good of immediate joy.
Philosophy may not neglect the multifariousness of the world—the fairies dance, and Christ is
nailed to the cross.
There are various contrasted qualities of temperament, which control the formation of the
mentalities of different epochs. In a previous chapter (Part II, Ch. X) attention has already been
drawn to the sense of permanence dominating the invocation ‘Abide with Me,?and the sense of flux
dominating the sequel ‘Fast Falls the Eventide.?Ideals fashion themselves round these two notions,
permanence and flux. In the inescapable flux, there is something that abides; in the overwhelming
permanence, there is an element that escapes into flux. Permanence can be snatched only out of
flux; and the passing moment can find its adequate intensity only by its submission to permanence.
Those who would disjoin the two elements can find no interpretation of patent facts.
The four symbolic figures in the Medici chapel in Florence—Michelangelo’s masterpieces of
statuary, Day [514] and Night, Evening and Dawn—exhibit the everlasting elements in the passage
of fact. The figures stay there, reclining in their recurring sequence, forever showing the essences in
the nature of things. The perfect realization is not merely the exemplification of what in abstraction
is timeless. It does more: it implants timelessness on what in its essence is passing. The perfect
moment is fade-less in the lapse of time. Time has then lost its character of ‘perpetual perishing? it
becomes the ‘moving image of eternity.?
Another contrast is equally essential for the understanding of ideals—the contrast between order
as the condition for excellence, and order as stifling the freshness of living. This contrast is met
with in the theory of education. The condition for excellence is a thorough training in technique.
Sheer skill must pass out of the sphere of conscious exercise, and must have assumed the character
of unconscious habit. The first, the second, and the third condition for high achievement is
scholarship, in that enlarged sense including knowledge and acquired instinct controlling action.
The paradox which wrecks so many promising theories of education is that the training which
produces skill is so very apt to stifle imaginative zest. Skill demands repetition, and imaginative
zest is tinged with impulse. Up to a certain point each gain in skill opens new paths for the imagination.
But in each individual formal training has its limit of usefulness. Be-
yond that limit there is degeneration: ‘The lilies of the field toil not, neither do they spin.?
The social history of mankind exhibits great organizations in their alternating functions of
conditions for progress, and of contrivances for stunting humanity. The history of the Mediterranean
lands, and of western Europe, is the history of the blessing and the curse?of political organizations,
of religious organizations, of [515] schemes of thought, of social agencies for large purposes. The
moment of dominance, prayed for, worked for, sacrificed for, by generations of the noblest spirits,
marks the turning point where the blessing passes into the curse. Some new principle of refreshment
is required. The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.
Life refuses to be embalmed alive. The more prolonged the halt in some unrelieved system of order,
the greater the crash of the dead society.
The same principle is exhibited by the tedium arising from the unrelieved dominance of a fashion
in art. Europe, having covered itself with treasures of Gothic architecture, entered upon generations
of satiation. These jaded epochs seem to have lost all sense of that particular form of loveliness. It
seems as though the last delicacies of feeling require some element of novelty to relieve their
massive inheritance from bygone system. Order is not sufficient. What is required, is something
much more complex. It is order entering upon novelty; so that the massiveness of order does not
degenerate into mere repetition; and so that the novelty is always reflected upon a background of
But the two elements must not really be disjoined. It belongs to the goodness of the world, that its
settled order should deal tenderly with the faint discordant light of the dawn of another age. Also
order, as it sinks into the background before new conditions, has its requirements. The old
dominance should be transformed into the firm foundations, upon which new feelings arise,
drawing their intensities from delicacies of contrast between system and freshness. In either
alternative of excess, whether the past be lost, or be dominant, the present is enfeebled. This is only
an application of Aristotle’s doctrine of the ‘golden mean.?The lesson of the transmutation of causal
efficacy into presentational immediacy is that great ends are reached by life in the present; life
novel and immediate, but deriving its richness by its full inheritance from the rightly organized
[516] animal body. It is by reason of the body, with its miracle of order, that the treasures of the past
environment are poured into the living occasion. The final percipient route of occasions is perhaps
some thread of happenings wandering in ‘empty?space amid the interstices of the brain. It toils not,
neither does it spin. It receives from the past; it lives in the present. It is shaken by its intensities of
private feeling, adversion or aversion. In its turn, this culmination of bodily life transmits itself as
an element of novelty throughout the avenues of the body. Its sole use to the body is its vivid
originality: it is the organ of novelty.
The world is thus faced by the paradox that, at least in its higher actualities, it craves for novelty
and yet is haunted by terror at the loss of the past, with its familiarities and its loved ones. It seeks
escape from time in its character of ‘perpetually perishing.?Part of the joy of the new years is the
hope of the old round of seasons, with their stable facts—of friendship, and love, and old
association. Yet conjointly with this terror, the present as mere unrelieved preservation of the past
assumes the character of a horror of the past, rejection of it, revolt:
To die be given, or attain,
Fierce work it were to do again.*
Each new epoch enters upon its career by waging unrelenting war upon the aesthetic gods of its
immediate predecessor. Yet the culminating fact of conscious, rational life refuses to conceive itself
as a transient enjoyment, transiently useful. In the order of the physical world its r?e is defined by
its introduction of novelty. But, just as physical feelings are haunted by the vague insistence of
causality, so the higher intellectual feelings are haunted by the vague insistence of another order,
where there is no unrest, no travel, no shipwreck: ‘There shall be no more sea.
[517] This is the problem which gradually shapes itself as religion reaches its higher phases in
civilized communities. The most general formulation of the religious problem is the question
whether the process of the temporal world passes into the formation of other actualities, bound
together in an order in which novelty does not mean loss.
The ultimate evil in the temporal world is deeper than any specific evil. It lies in the fact that the
past fades, that time is a ‘perpetual perishing.?Objectification involves elimination. The present fact
has not the past fact with it in any full immediacy. The process of time veils the past below
distinctive feeling. There is a unison of becoming among things in the present. Why should there
not be novelty without loss of this direct unison of immediacy among things? In the temporal world,
it is the empirical fact that process entails loss: the past is present under an abstraction. But there is
no reason, of any ultimate metaphysical generality, why this should be the whole story. The nature
of evil is that the characters of things are mutually obstructive. Thus the depths of life require a
process of selection. But the selection is elimination as the first step towards another temporal order
seeking to minimize obstructive modes. Selection is at once the measure of evil, and the process of
its evasion. It means?discarding the element of obstructiveness in fact. No element in fact is
ineffectual: thus the struggle with evil is a process of building up a mode of utilization by the
provision of intermediate elements introducing a complex structure of harmony. The triviality in
some initial reconstruction of order expresses the fact that actualities are being produced, which,
trivial in their own
proper character of immediate ‘ends,?are proper ‘means?for the emergence of a world at once lucid,
and intrinsically of immediate worth.
The evil of the world is that those elements which are translucent so far as transmission is
concerned, in themselves are of slight weight; and that those elements [518] with individual weight,
by their discord, impose upon vivid immediacy the obligation that it fade into night. ‘He giveth his
In our cosmological construction we are, therefore,?left with the final opposites, joy and sorrow,
good and evil, disjunction and conjunction—that is to say, the many in one—flux and permanence,
greatness and triviality, freedom and necessity, God and the World. In this list, the pairs of opposites
are in experience with a certain ultimate directness of intuition, except in the case of the last pair.
God and the World introduce the note of interpretation. They embody the interpretation of the cosmological
problem in terms of a fundamental metaphysical doctrine as to the quality of creative
origination, namely, conceptual appetition and physical realization. This topic constitutes the last
chapter of Cosmology.
[519] So long as the temporal world is conceived as a self-sufficient completion of the creative
act, explicable by its derivation from an ultimate principle which is at once eminently real and the
unmoved mover, from this conclusion there is no escape: the best that we can say of the turmoil is,
‘For so he giveth his beloved—sleep.?This is the message of religions of the Buddhistic type, and in
some sense it is true. In this final discussion we have to ask, whether metaphysical principles
impose the belief that it is the whole truth. The complexity of the world must be reflected in the
answer. It is childish to enter upon thought with the simple-minded question, V/hat is the world
made of? The task of reason is to fathom the deeper depths of the many-sidedness of things. We
must not expect simple answers to far-reaching questions. However far our gaze penetrates, there
are always heights beyond which block our vision.
The notion of God as the ‘unmoved mover?is derived from Aristotle, at least so far as Western
thought is concerned. The notion of God as ‘eminently real?is a favourite doctrine of Christian
theology. The combination of the two into the doctrine of an aboriginal, eminently real,
transcendent creator, at whose fiat the world came into being, and whose imposed will it obeys, is
the fallacy which has infused tragedy into the histories of Christianity and of Mahometanism.
When the Western world accepted Christianity, Caesar conquered; and the received text of
Western theology was edited by his lawyers. The code of Justinian and the theology of Justinian are
two volumes expressing [520] one movement of the human spirit. The brief Galilean vision of
humility flickered throughout the ages, uncertainly. In the official formulation of the religion it has
assumed the trivial form of the mere attribution to the Jews that they cherished a misconception
about their Messiah. But the deeper idolatry, of the fashioning of God in the image of the Egyptian,
Persian, and Roman imperial rulers, was retained. The Church gave unto God the attributes which
belonged exclusively to Caesar.
In the great formative period of theistic philosophy, which ended with the rise of Mahometanism,
after a continuance coeval with civilization, three strains of thought emerge which, amid many
variations in detail, respectively fashion God in the image of an imperial ruler, God in the
image of a personification of moral energy, God in the image of an ultimate philosophical principle.
Hume’s Dialogues criticize unanswerably these modes of explaining the system of the world.
The three schools of thought can be associated respectively with the divine Caesars, the Hebrew
prophets, and Aristotle. But Aristotle was antedated by Indian, and Buddhistic, thought; the Hebrew
prophets can be paralleled in traces of earlier thought; Mahometanism and the divine Caesars
merely represent the most natural, obvious, idolatrous theistic?symbolism, at all epochs and places.
The history of theistic philosophy exhibits various stages of combination of these three diverse
ways of entertaining the problem. There is, however, in the Galilean origin of Christianity yet
another suggestion which does not fit very well with any of the three main strands of thought. 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 operate 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 [521] a little oblivious as to morals. It does not look to the future; for it finds its
own reward in the immediate present.
Apart from any reference to existing religions as they are, or as they ought to be, we must
investigate dispassionately what the metaphysical principles, here developed, require on these
points, as to the nature of Cod. There is nothing here in the nature of proof. There is merely the
confrontation of the theoretic system with a certain rendering of the facts. But the unsystematized
report upon the facts is itself highly controversial, and the system is confessedly inadequate. The
deductions from it in this particular sphere of thought cannot be looked upon as more than
suggestions as to how the problem is transformed in the light of that system. What follows is merely
an attempt to add another speaker to that masterpiece, Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural
Religion. Any cogency of argument entirely depends upon elucidation of somewhat exceptional
elements in our conscious experience—those elements which may roughly be classed together as
religious and moral intuitions.
In the first place, God is not to be treated as an exception to all metaphysical principles, invoked
to save their collapse. He is their chief exemplification.
Viewed as primordial, he is the unlimited conceptual realization of the absolute wealth of
potentiality. In this aspect, he is not before all creation, but with all creation. But, as primordial, so
far is he from ‘eminent reality,?that in this abstraction he is ‘deficiently actual’—and this in two
ways. His feelings are only conceptual and so lack the fulness of actuality. Secondly, conceptual
feelings, apart from complex integration with physical feelings, are devoid of consciousness in their
subjective forms.
Thus, when we make a distinction of reason, and con- [522] sider God in the abstraction of a
primordial actuality, we must ascribe to him neither fulness of feeling, nor consciousness. He is the
unconditioned actuality of conceptual feeling at the base of things; so that, by reason of this primordial
actuality, there is an order in the relevance of eternal objects to the process of creation. His
unity of conceptual operations is a free creative act, untrammelled by reference to any particular
course of things. It is deflected neither by love, nor by hatred, for what in fact comes to pass. The
particularities of the actual world presuppose it; while it merely presupposes the general
metaphysical character of creative advance, of which it is the primordial exemplification. The
primordial nature of God is the acquirement by creativity of a primordial character.
His conceptual actuality at once exemplifies and establishes the categoreal conditions. The
conceptual feelings, which compose his primordial nature, exemplify in their subjective forms their
mutual sensitivity and their subjective unity of subjective aim. These subjective forms are valuations
determining the relative relevance of eternal objects for each occasion of actuality.
He is the lure for feeling, the eternal urge of desire. His particular relevance to each creative act,?
as it arises from its own conditioned standpoint in the world, constitutes him the initial ‘object of
desire?establishing the initial phase of each subjective aim. A quotation from Aristotle’s
Metaphysics1 expresses some analogies to, and some differences from, this line of thought:
And since that which is moved and moves?is intermediate, there is something?which
moves without being moved, being eternal, substance, and actuality. And the object of desire
and the object of thought move in this way; they move without being moved. The primary
objects of desire and of thought?are the same. For the apparent good is the object of
appetite, and the real good is the primary object of rational wish.?But desire is conse- [523]
quent on opinion rather than opinion on desire; for the thinking is the starting-point. And
thought is moved by the object of thought, and one of the two columns?of opposites is in
itself the object of thought; . . .
Aristotle had not made the distinction between conceptual feelings and the intellectual feelings
which alone involve consciousness. But if ‘conceptual feeling,?with its subjective form of
valuation, be substituted for ‘thought,?‘thinking,?and ‘opinion,?in the above quotation, the
agreement is exact.
There is another side to the nature of God which cannot be omitted. Throughout this exposition of
the philosophy of organism we have been
1 Metaphysics 1072a 23-32,?trans. by Professor W. D. Ross. My attention was called to the
appositeness of this particular quotation by Mr. F. J. Carson.
considering the primary action of God on the world. From this point of view, he is the principle of
concretion—the principle whereby there is initiated a definite outcome from a situation otherwise
riddled with ambiguity. Thus, so far, the primordial side of the nature of God has alone been
But God, as well as being primordial, is also consequent. He is the beginning and the end. He is
not the beginning in the sense of being in the past of all members. He is the presupposed actuality
of conceptual operation, in unison of becoming with every other creative act. Thus,?by reason of
the relativity of all things, there is a reaction of the world on God. The completion of God’s nature
into a fulness of physical feeling is derived from the objectification of the world in God. He shares
with every new creation its actual world; and the concrescent creature is objectified in God as a
novel element in God’s objectification of that actual world. This prehension into God of each
creature is directed with the subjective aim, and clothed with the subjective form, wholly derivative
from his all-inclusive primordial valuation. God’s conceptual nature is unchanged, by reason of its
final completeness. But his derivative [524] nature is consequent upon the creative advance of the
Thus, analogously to all actual entities, the nature of God is dipolar. He has a primordial nature
and a consequent nature. The consequent nature of God is conscious; and it is the realization of the
actual world in the unity of his nature, and through the transformation of his wisdom. The
primordial nature is conceptual, the consequent nature is the weaving of God’s physical feelings
upon his primordial concepts.
One side of God’s nature is constituted by his conceptual experience. This experience is the
primordial fact in the world, limited by no actuality which it presupposes. It is therefore infinite,
devoid of all negative prehensions. This side of his nature is free, complete, primordial, eternal,
actually deficient, and unconscious. The other side originates with physical experience derived from
the temporal world, and then acquires integration with the primordial side. It is determined,
incomplete, consequent, ‘everlasting,?fully actual, and conscious. His necessary goodness
expresses the determination of his consequent nature.
Conceptual experience can be infinite, but it belongs to the nature of physical experience that it is
finite. An actual entity in the temporal world is to be conceived as originated by physical experience
with its process of completion motivated by consequent, conceptual experience initially derived
from God. God is to be conceived as originated by conceptual experience with his process of
completion motivated by consequent, physical experience, initially derived from the temporal
The perfection of God’s subjective aim, derived from the completeness of his primordial nature,
issues into the character of his consequent nature.
In it there is no loss, no obstruction. The world is felt in a unison of immediacy. The property of
combining creative advance with [525] the retention of mutual immediacy is what in the previous
section is meant by the term ‘everlasting.?
The wisdom of subjective aim prehends every actuality for what it can be in such a perfected
system—its sufferings, its sorrows, its failures, its triumphs, its immediacies of joy—woven by
rightness of feeling into the harmony of the universal feeling, which is always immediate, always
many, always one, always with novel advance, moving onward and never perishing. The revolts of
destructive evil, purely self-regarding, are dismissed into their triviality of merely individual facts;
and yet the good they did achieve in individual joy, in individual sorrow, in the introduction of
needed contrast, is yet saved by its relation to the completed whole. The image—and it is but an
image—the image under which this operative growth of God’s nature is best conceived, is that of a
tender care that nothing be lost.
The consequent nature of God is his judgment on the world. He 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. It is also the judgment of a wisdom which uses what in the temporal world is mere wreckage.
Another image which is also required to understand his consequent nature?is that of his infinite
patience. The universe includes a threefold creative act composed of (i) the one infinite conceptual
realization, (ii) the multiple solidarity of free physical realizations in the temporal world, (iii) the
ultimate unity of the multiplicity of actual fact with the primordial conceptual fact. If we conceive
the first term and the last term in their unity over against the intermediate multiple freedom of
physical realizations in the temporal world, we conceive of the patience of God, tenderly saving the
turmoil of the intermediate world by the completion of his own nature. The sheer force of things lies
in the intermediate physical process: this is the energy of physical production. God’s role is not the
combat of productive force [526] with productive force, of destructive force with destructive force;
it lies in the patient operation of the overpowering rationality of his conceptual harmonization. He
does not create the world, he saves it: or, more accurately, he is the poet of the world, with tender
patience leading** it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness.
The vicious separation of the flux from the permanence leads to the concept of an entirely static
God, with eminent reality, in relation to an entirely fluent world, with deficient reality. But if the
opposites, static and fluent, have once been so explained as separately to characterize diverse
actualities, the interplay between the thing which is static and the things which are fluent involves
contradiction at every step in its explanation. Such philosophies must include the notion of ‘illusion?
as a fundamental
principle—the notion of ‘mere appearance.?This is the final Platonic?problem.
Undoubtedly, the intuitions of Greek, Hebrew, and Christian thought have alike embodied the
notions of a static God condescending to the world, and of a world either thoroughly fluent, or
accidentally static, but finally fluent—’heaven and earth shall pass away.?In some schools of
thought, the fluency of the world is mitigated by the assumption that selected components in the
world are exempt from this final fluency, and achieve a static survival. Such components are not
separated by any decisive line from analogous components for which the assumption is not made.
Further, the survival is construed in terms of a final pair of opposites, happiness for some, torture
for others.
Such systems have the common character of starting with a fundamental intuition which we do
mean to express, and of entangling themselves in verbal expressions, which carry consequences at
variance with the initial intuition of permanence in fluency and of fluency in permanence.
[527] But civilized intuition has always, although obscurely, grasped the problem as double and
not as single. There is not the mere problem of fluency and permanence. There is the double
problem: actuality with permanence, requiring fluency as its completion; and actuality with fluency,
requiring permanence as its completion. The first half of the problem concerns the completion of
God’s primordial nature by the derivation of his consequent nature from the temporal world. The
second half of the problem concerns the completion of each fluent actual occasion by its function of
objective immortality, devoid of ‘perpetual perishing,?that is to say, ‘everlasting.?
This double problem cannot be separated into two distinct problems. Either side can only be
explained in terms of the other. The consequent nature of God is the fluent world become
‘everlasting?by its objective immortality in God. Also the objective immortality of actual occasions
requires the primordial permanence of God, whereby the creative advance ever re-establishes itself
endowed with initial subjective aim derived from the relevance of God to the evolving world.
But objective immortality within the temporal world does not solve the problem set by the
penetration of the finer religious intuition. ‘Everlastingness?has been lost; and ‘everlastingness?is
the content of that vision upon which the finer religions are built—the ‘many?absorbed
everlastingly in the final unity. The problems of the fluency of God and of the everlastingness of
passing experience are solved by the same factor in the universe. This factor is the temporal world
perfected by its reception and its reformation, as a fulfilment of the primordial appetition which is
the basis of all order. 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 sum-
mary can [528] only be expressed in terms of a group of antitheses, whose apparent selfcontradictions
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.
God and the World are the contrasted opposites in terms of which Creativity achieves its supreme
task of transforming disjoined multiplicity, with its diversities in opposition, into concrescent unity,
with its diversities in contrast. In each actuality there?are two concrescent poles of realization
—’enjoyment?and ‘appetition,?that is, the ‘physical?and the ‘conceptual.?For God the conceptual
is prior to the physical, for the World the physical poles are prior to the conceptual poles.
A physical pole is in its own nature exclusive, bounded by contradiction:
a conceptual pole is in its own nature all-embracing, unbounded by contradiction. The former
derives its share of infinity from the infinity of appetition; the latter derives its share of limitation
from the exclusiveness of enjoyment. Thus, by reason of his priority of appetition, there can be but
one primordial nature for God; and, by reason of their priority of enjoyment, there must be one
history of many actualities in the physical world.
[529] God and the World stand over against each other, expressing the final metaphysical truth
that appetitive vision and physical enjoyment have equal claim to priority in creation. But no two
actualities can be torn apart: each is all in all. Thus each temporal occasion embodies God, and is
embodied in God. In God’s nature, permanence is primordial and flux is derivative from the World:
in the World’s nature, flux is primordial and permanence is derivative from God. Also the World’s
nature is a primordial datum for God; and God’s nature is a primordial datum for the World.
Creation achieves the reconciliation of permanence and flux when it has reached its final term
which is everlastingness—the Apotheosis of the World.
Opposed elements stand to each other in mutual requirement. In their unity, they inhibit or
contrast. God and the World stand to each other in this opposed requirement. God is the infinite
ground of all mentality, the unity of vision seeking physical multiplicity. The World is the
of finites, actualities seeking a perfected unity. Neither God, nor the World, reaches static
completion. Both are in the grip of the ultimate metaphysical ground, the creative advance into
novelty. Either of them, God and the World, is the instrument of novelty for the other.
In every respect God and the World move conversely to each other in respect to their process.
God is primordially one, namely, he is the primordial unity of relevance of the many potential
forms;?in the process he acquires a consequent multiplicity, which the primordial character absorbs
into its own unity. The World is primordially many, namely, the many actual occasions with their
physical finitude; in the process it acquires a consequent unity, which is a novel occasion and is
absorbed into the multiplicity of the primordial character. Thus God is to be conceived as one and as
many in the converse sense in which the World is to be conceived as many and as one. The theme of
Cosmology, which is the basis of all reli- [530] gions, is the story of the dynamic effort of the World
passing into everlasting unity, and of the static majesty of God’s vision, accomplishing its purpose
of completion by absorption of the World’s multiplicity of effort.
The consequent nature of God is the fulfilment of his experience by his reception of the multiple
freedom of actuality into the harmony of his own actualization. It is God as really actual,
completing the deficiency of his mere conceptual actuality.
Every categoreal type of existence in the world presupposes the other types in terms of which it is
explained. Thus the many eternal objects conceived in their bare isolated multiplicity lack any
existent character. They require the transition to the conception of them as efficaciously existent by
reason of God’s conceptual realization of them.
But God’s conceptual realization is nonsense if thought of under the guise of a barren, eternal
hypothesis. It is God’s conceptual realization performing an efficacious r?e in multiple unifications
of the universe, which are free creations of actualities arising out of decided situations. Again this
discordant multiplicity of actual things, requiring each other and neglecting each other, utilizing and
discarding, perishing and yet claiming life as obstinate matter of fact, requires an enlargement of the
understanding to the comprehension of another phase in the nature of things. In this later phase, the
many actualities are one actuality, and the one actuality is many actualities. Each actuality has its
present life and its immediate passage into novelty; but its passage is not its death. This final phase
of passage in God’s nature is ever enlarging itself. In it the complete adjustment of the immediacy
of joy and suffering reaches the final end of creation. This end is existence in the perfect unity of
adjustment as means, and in the perfect multiplicity of the attainment of individual types of [531]
existence. The function of being a means is not disjoined from the function of being an end. The
sense of worth beyond itself is immediately enjoyed as an overpowering element in the individual
self-attainment. It is in this way that the immediacy of sorrow and pain is transformed into an
element of triumph. This is the notion of redemption through suffering?which haunts the world. It
is the generalization of its very minor exemplification as the aesthetic value of discords in art.
Thus the universe is to be conceived as attaining the active self-expression of its own variety of
opposites—of its own freedom and its own necessity, of its own multiplicity and its own unity, of its
own imperfection and its own perfection. All the ‘opposites?are elements in the nature of things,
and are incorrigibly there. The concept of ‘God?is the way in which we understand this incredible
fact—that what cannot be, yet is.
Thus the consequent nature of God is composed of a multiplicity of elements with individual selfrealization.
It is just as much a multiplicity as it is a unity; it is just as much one immediate fact as it
is an unresting advance beyond itself. Thus the actuality of God must also be understood as a
multiplicity of actual components in process of creation. This is God in his function of the kingdom
of heaven.
Each actuality in the temporal world has its reception into God’s nature. The corresponding
element in God’s nature is not temporal actuality, but is the transmutation of that temporal actuality
into a living, ever-present fact. An enduring personality in the temporal world is a route of
occasions in which the successors with some peculiar completeness sum up their predecessors. The
correlate fact in God’s nature is an even more complete unity of life in a chain of elements for
which succession does not mean loss of immediate unison. This element in God’s nature inherits
from the temporal counterpart [532] according to the same principle as in the temporal world the
future inherits from the past. Thus in the sense in which the present occasion is the person now, and
yet with his own past, so the counterpart in God is that person in God.
But the principle of universal relativity is not to be stopped at the consequent nature of God. This
nature itself passes into the temporal world according to its gradation of relevance to the various
concrescent occasions. There are thus four creative phases in which the universe accomplishes its
actuality. There is first the phase of conceptual origination, deficient in actuality, but infinite in its
adjustment of valuation. Secondly, there is the temporal phase of physical origination, with its
multiplicity of actualities. In this phase full actuality is attained; but there is deficiency in the solidarity
of individuals with each other. This phase derives its determinate conditions from the first
phase. Thirdly, there is the phase of perfected actuality, in which the many are one everlastingly,
without the qualifica-
tion of any loss either of individual identity or of completeness of unity. In everlastingness,
immediacy is reconciled with objective immortality. This phase derives the conditions of its being
from the two antecedent phases. In the fourth phase, the creative action completes itself. For the
perfected actuality passes back into the temporal world, and qualifies this world so that each
temporal actuality includes it as an immediate fact of relevant experience. For the kingdom of
heaven is with us today. The action of the fourth phase is the love of God for the world. It is the
particular providence for particular occasions. What is done in the world is transformed into a
reality in heaven, and the reality in heaven passes back into the world. By reason of this reciprocal
relation, the love in the world passes into the love in heaven, and floods back again into the world.
In this sense, God is the great companion—the fellow-sufferer who understands.
[533] We find here the final application of the doctrine of objective immortality. Throughout the
perishing occasions in the life of each temporal Creature, the inward source of distaste or of
refreshment, the judge arising out of the very nature of things, redeemer or goddess of mischief, is
the transformation of Itself, everlasting in the Being of God. In this way, the insistent craving is
justified—the insistent craving that zest for existence be refreshed by the ever-present, unfading
importance of our immediate actions, which perish and yet live for evermore.
All divergencies (or, in some instances, types of divergencies) from one or both of the two
original editions are signaled in the text by either a single obelisk (? or a double obelisk (?. Single
obelisks indicate changes which are usually obvious and often trivial. Double obelisks indicate two
sorts of changes: (1) they indicate changes which are not so obvious and which may affect the sense
of the text, and (2) they are used to flag the first occurrences of changes which are very trivial and
have been changed subsequently without further notation—changes such as inserting hyphens in
words which had been hyphenated in only some of their occurrences.
A note is provided below for each obelisk; it describes the change made, indicates whether the
divergence is from only one edition or both, and, where this was deemed appropriate, provides
justification for the change. (W’e have not noted those divergencies from the Cambridge edition
which merely reflect such American editorial conventions as putting periods and commas inside
rather than outside quotation marks.)
There are also notes for some passages where no changes have been made. These notes are
signaled in the text by either a single asterisk (*) or a double asterisk (**). Single asterisks indicate
comments which are non-controversial, as, for example, when we indicate marginalia found in
Whitehead’s personal copies of Process and Reality. Double asterisks indicate comments about
other possible readings of the text; these often reflect actual suggestions for changes made by
Whitehead scholars.
Some of the notes do not quite fit neatly into one or another of these four classes, but by and large
they do, and this system tells the reader which notes are most worthwhile consulting. It would
probably make sense for the general reader to ignore notes indicated by single obelisks.
Where a change from the Macmillan edition is involved, the letter “M,?followed by the page and
line of the passage in Macmillan, is placed in parentheses after the description of the change; where
a change from the Cambridge edition is involved, the same is done with the letter “C.?For example,
?M 42.4)?means page 42, line 4 of the Macmillan edition. (In counting the lines on a page, section
and chapter headings have been counted, but running heads at the tops of pages have not.) Very
often a note is followed by both an M reference and a C reference; this indicates that the present
text deviates from both original editions, which, unless we indicate otherwise, had the same reading.
In many places, however, the two original editions diverged. A note followed by a reference to only
one edition signifies that only the edition referenced was modified and that this corrected text
therefore follows the reading of the unmentioned edition. For example, the note “changed ‘nation?to
‘notion?(M 51.9)?indicates that the word “notion?was misspelled in only the
Macmillan edition. In such a case we have not actually introduced a change, but have simply made
this new edition conform to one of the original editions (in this case Cambridge).
The external sources cited as the basis for some of the changes have been identified in the Editors?
?337.14 inserted comma after ‘selection?(M 512.17; C 477.17)
?339.6 deleted comma after ‘curse?(M 514.36; C 479.33)
* 340.11 Mathew Arnold’s poem, “Resignation,?which was written as advice to his sister,
begins with the following two lines in italics:
To die be given us, or attain!
Fierce work it were, to do again.
These lines are presented as sentiments expressed by pilgrims on the way to Mecca. Whitehead
evidently quoted these lines (imperfectly) from memory, and they clearly conveyed a different
message to him from the one implied by the title of Arnold’s poem.
?340.38 deleted ‘the?after ‘means?(M 517.26; C 482.20)
?341.8 inserted comma after ‘therefore?(M 518.4)
?342.3 inserted ‘SECTION I?(M 519.3)
?343.9 changed ‘theistic idolatrous?to ‘idolatrous theistic?(M 520.26; C 485.21)
?344.20 inserted comma after ‘creative act?(M 522.24)
?344.25 changed ‘mover?to ‘moves?(M 522.30; C 487.23)
?344.26 changed ‘a mover?to ‘something?(M 522.31; C 487.24)
?344.29 inserted ‘move in this way; they move without being moved. The primary objects
of desire and of thought?(M 522.33; C 487.26)
?344.31 changed ‘desire?to ‘wish?(M 522.35; C 487.28)
?344.33 deleted ‘side?after ‘one?and changed ‘list?to ‘two columns?(M 523.3; C
?344 fn.1 changed ?072?to ?072a 23-32?(M 522 fn.1; C 487 fn.1)
?345.9 inserted comma after ‘Thus?(M 523.26)
?346.21 deleted comma after ‘nature?(M 525.25; C 490.10)
** 346.35 In his Macmillan copy, Whitehead crossed out ‘leading?and wrote both
“persuading?and “swaying?in the margin. No change was made in the text, partly because
Whitehead did not clearly specify a substitute.
?347.1 capitalized ‘Platonic?(M 526.18; C 491.3)
?348.2 changed ‘self-contradiction?to ‘self-contradictions?(M 528.2); changed ‘depends?
to ‘depend?(C 492.21)
?348.20 changed ‘these?to ‘there?(M 528.24)
?349.7 changed colon after ‘forms?to semicolon (M 529.29; C 494.7)
?350.6 deleted comma after ‘suffering?(M 531.7; C 495.20)—This change was made by
Whitehead on Mrs. Greene’s typescript.

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