Whitehead Collection

As we seek to understand Whitehead, we begin to collect artifacts – what he might call "stubborn facts" – that might illuminate his philosophy.

We are particularly intrigued that it was Whitehead who coined the term "creativity" and first used it in a lecture given in 1927. So quickly did that word go into circulation that its original intended meaning was obscured. We seek to illuminate it.

Creativity was considered as one of the three ultimates. We seek to understand more deeply. But much is opaque. Sometimes the three are referred to as God and "actual occasions" or "the World". Other references talk about "finite beings":

> Moreover, the Whiteheadian doctrine of three ultimates—the one supreme being or God, the many finite beings or the cosmos, and being itself or creativity... stanford

Others talk about the "world" with reference to the Tao. book

John Cobb was said to refer to the three ultimates as God, Creativity and the Cosmos source

An here is an explanation of creativity: >The ultimate abstract principle of actual existence for Whitehead is creativity. Creativity is a term coined by Whitehead to show a _power in the world that allows the presence of an actual entity_, a new actual entity, and multiple actual entities. Creativity is the principle of novelty. It is manifest in what can be called 'singular causality'. (emph mine) wikipedia

Whitehead's Trivium source

Perhaps an entity can not be separated from its creation, nor that source if its creation - bringing us back to his originating trivium: God, Creation and the World bound together by something he calls "feeling", where occasion might be thought of as "the beingness" that only happens within the moment.

We sense that there is a corelation between Whiteheads concept of "creativity" and Friston's concept of "surprise" – both of which are emergent by nature. more on surprise . A dynamic that we sense relates back to the learning theories of Piaget that ties back to meaning making.

This dynamic is defined by interaction, "feeling", that may be related Alexander's idea of "forces": >The concept of ‘forces’, which is central to both Alexander’s first and second theories of architecture, also lack formal definition in his canonical texts. The best explanations appear in Alexander’s secondary texts including The Atoms of Environmental Structure (Alexander and Poyner 1967), which implies that forces are ‘tendencies’, and From a set of Forces to a Form (Alexander 1966), where the only definition is found. However, even with access to these additional texts, the definition of a ‘force’ remains ambiguous with both ‘force’ and ‘tendency’ relying upon the other term in their definitions. source

One wonders if forces are tendencies that are felt – giving rise to"creativity" - that which sits in dynamic relationship with chaos (God) and the order (World). Here we are tying the thinking of Alexander explicitly to Whitehead – providing the underlying nature of something he might call "wholeness".

Whitehead is difficult to understand, in part because he created so much of his own vocabulary. Here is John's glossary of Whitehead terms: glossary

Here is the best definition of an "actual occasion" that I have found – one that is essentially Holonic in nature.

On actual occasions: >This is a theory of monads; but it differs from Leibniz's in that his monads change. In the organic theory, they merely become. Each **monadic creature** is a mode of the process of 'feeling' the world, of housing the world in one unit of complex feeling, in every way determinate. Such a unit is an '**actual occasion**'; it is the ultimate creature derivative from the creative process. Part II Chapt II Sect VI

On Feelings: >Since no feeling can be abstracted from its subject, this transmission is merely another way of considering the objectification of actual entities. Part III Chapt III Sect II

On prehension: >In the genetic theory, the cell is exhibited as appropriating for the foundation of its own existence, the various elements of the universe out of which it arises. Each process of appropriation of a particular element is termed a **prehension**. Part III Chapt I Sect I

On prehension and feelings: >The possibility of finite truths depends on the fact that the satisfaction of an actual entity is divisible into a variety of determinate operations. The operations are '**prehensions**' But the negative prehensions which consist of exclusions from contribution to the concrescence can be treated in their subordination to the positive prehensions. These positive prehensions are termed '**feelings**'. Part III Chapt I Sect II

On organism: >The philosophy of organism is a cell-theory of actuality. Each ultimate unit of fact is a cell-complex, not analysable into components with equivalent completeness of actuality. Part III Chapt I Sect I

On creativity:

>But, of course, there is **no meaning to 'creativity' apart from its 'creatures,'** and no meaning to 'God' apart from the 'creativity' and the 'temporal creatures,' and no meaning to the 'temporal creatures' apart from 'creativity' and 'God.' Part III Chapt I Sect V

>This primary phase of simple physical feelings constitutes the machinery by reason of which the creativity transcends the world already actual, and yet remains conditioned by that actual world in its new impersonation. Part III Chapt II Sect I >

>If we prefer the phraseology, we can say that God and the actual world jointly constitute the character of the creativity for the initial phase of the novel concrescence. Part III Chapt III Sect I

>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. Part V Chapt I Sect V

On perception and imagination: >It is evident that an affirmative intuitive judgment is very analogous to a conscious perception. A conscious perception is a very simplified type of affirmative intuitive judgment; and a direct affirmative intuitive judgment is a very sophisticated case of conscious perception. The difference between the two has its origin in the fact that one involves a perceptive feeling, and the other involves an imaginative feeling. Part III Chapt V Sect VI