Origins and Evolution of Self Consciousness: Appendix

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Origins of Self

10 Chapters, 160 pages, 36,000 words

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The Origins of Self


Notes and References

Copyright © 2013 Stephen J. Brewer

Using this appendix

I wrote 'The Origins of Self' in an easy going non-academic style and with the exception of the last chapter, free of footnotes and references. This leaves me open to the criticism that my facts are unjustified and my conclusions unfounded. Therefore, the work of referencing and annotation has been my chance to double check that this book

Appendix Topics and Book Cross Reference

Book Page
the title (explanation of) v
narrative theory (of self) vi
emotions (animal) 5
lumbering robots (and neo-Darwinism) 7
control genes (references) 11
RNA world (references) 15
biochemical pathways (examples of) 17
embodied chemical mind (what is mind?) 19
iteration (and evolution process) 24
selfish gene (problems with Dawkin's concept) 25
mechanistic vision (limitations of)27
consciousness as epi-phenomena (problems with) 30
living chemistry (re. vitalism) 36
consciousness (reasons for panexperientialism) 38
science undermining humanity (dangers of) 39
philosopher ('know everything about nothing source') 41
careful (life as "care") 42
emergent evolution (issues with emergence of mind from life) 43
theories (Whitehead's view) 45
emergence of consciousness (from physical feelings) 46
consciousness (bottom up approach) 48
self-consciousness (mirror test) 48
total unity (of living processes) 52
experiences (basis is energetic events) 54
motivational force (emotions as) 58
Maxwell's demon (information processing in evolution) 62
tricking senses (consciousness as error checking process) 64
redness of red (qualia as forms of energy) 67
enjoyable experiences (seeking for, as evolutionary drive) 70
subjective state (why ignored by physical science) 72
limitations of science (that ignores subjective experience) 72
process just does.. (purpose of completion as aim) 75
unity of body and mind (Whitehead's atomic creatures) 78
living chemistry (how animate and inanimate differ) 77
subjective aim (need for becoming an actual entity) 80
forms of matter (rules and cellular automata) 81
emergence and eternal objects (Whitehead's eternal objects) 82
dynamic cycle (as source of self regeneration) 85
centre of stability (self as a self-regenerating systems) 86
revealed world (need for self to be logically consistent) 88
physical-chemical strains (water as unifying chemical) 92
visual data (how processed) 94
projection of valuations (qualia, stains and Whitehead's presentational immediacy) 94
event horizon (as example of timeless state) 97
constant existence (as timeless cyclical state vs being in time) 99
existentialist philosophers (and the reflected self) 109
theory of mind (demonstrated in animals) 109
animal communication (as origin of human language) 110
freedom (through story telling) 114
the social contract (Rousseau) 117
total is zero (energy in universe) 124
alienation of science (dangers of) 129
ontological principle (expl.) 136
presentational Immediacy (expl.) 136
actual entities, prehensions and nexus (expl.) 137
ultimate matter of fact (expl.) 137
subjective Forms (expl.) 137
contrasts (expl.) 138
eternal Objects (expl.) 138
panexperientialism (expl.) 138
consciousness in energetic events (Whitehead's view of self) 139
God and the World (re: Whitehead) 141
process theology (examples of papers) 144
God (as necessary metaphysical postulate) 144

is indeed based on an academically secure footing. I have published this appendix to give the same opportunity to any critical reader to check and critique my sources, as well as for those who wish to further explore this topic.

To make full use of modern information technology and to provide flexibility, this appendix is in a separate html document that can be accessed online. In it, each footnote is referenced back to its corresponding page in the printed version of the book. This allows the printed version to be complete while allowing the appendix to remain a 'work in progress' able to accommodate any amendments or clarifications as they arise. This html format also allows easy movement back and forth between the footnote's references which are, where ever possible online and open source. In my researches, I have found such value in these open source documents, I decided to produce an open source version of this book. This also allows direct cross referencing to the the appendix using hyperlinks from a downloadable pdf file when both documents can to be viewed side by side. However, the printed word offers such a convenience and aesthetic pleasure that I believe a printed version of 'The Origins of Self' still provides the most satisfactory and convenient way to read this book.


p(v): title 'The Origins of Self'

The book’s title is based on Darwin’s 'Origin of Species' but you will notice a subtle shift in emphasis. Whereas Darwin describes the process by which the many (species) arise from the singular, the Origins of Self describes the process by which the one entity if formed from the many. This process is described by Whitehead as:

The ultimate metaphysical principle - the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction. The novel entity is at once the togetherness of the 'many' which it finds, and also it is one among the disjunctive 'many' which it leaves; it is a novel entity, disjunctively among the many entities which it synthesizes. The many become one, and are increased by one. In their natures, entities are disjunctively 'many' in process of passage into conjunctive unity.” 1

The way in which our human 'self' is the result of the process of evolution described by Darwin is the concern of this book. It is sketched out by Dennett in a paper with yet another play on this title 'The Origins of Selves'

Now there are selves. There was a time, millions (or billions) of years ago, when there were none--at least none on this planet. So there has to be--as a matter of logic--a true story to be told about how there came to be creatures with selves.“ 2

p (vi): narrative theory - of self

Narrative theories are entirely concerned with the form of self found in the highly evolved human form of self-consciousness.

Rather than seeing one's life as simply "one damned thing after another," the individual attempts to understand life events as systematically related. They are rendered intelligible by locating them in a sequence or "unfolding process". -- One's present identity is thus not a sudden and mysterious event, but a sensible result of a life story. [–] Such creations of narrative order may be essential in giving one's life a sense of meaning and direction.” 3


Narrative, I have argued, is the cognitive structure that draws together temporal events into a coherent whole. Among the various types of stories, both factual and fictional, created by narrative structuring, the story of a person's own self is central in providing meaning and identity to individuals. The process of constructing one's own self-story differs in significant ways from the process by which literary authors construct novels that use imaginative settings, characters, and events.” 4

This is not saying that the self is a fiction, it is about how we humans make sense of our lives by telling ourselves stories. The self that Freya is searching for is the one that is constructing and telling the stories to itself. It is the one she believes is present in all animals, but since most animals do not have a language, they could not construct a verbal story; they are not intellectual beings thinking in abstract thoughts. Therefore if animals have a self, it would need to be constructed out of any emotional experiences it might have.

Chapter 1

p 5: emotions (animal)

In the 'Origin of the Species' Darwin gives conflicting statements about whether all animals feel emotions:

When we reflect on this struggle [for life], we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy and the happy survive and multiply.” (my emphasis) 5

whereas in ‘The Descent Of Man’ Darwin very firmly states his belief that animals do in fact have a full range of emotions.

To return to our immediate subject: the lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery. Happiness is never better exhibited than by young animals, such as puppies, kittens, lambs, &c., when playing together, like our own children. Even insects play together, as has been described by that excellent observer, P. Huber,7 who saw ants chasing and pretending to bite each other, like so many puppies. 6

p 7: Lumbering robots

See Selfish Gene below

p11: control genes

Homeobox genes 7 are able to regulate whole clusters of subordinate genes. By determining how many copies of genes are made, they are able to control the development of important anatomical structures. Therefore, small mutations in these genes can have major effects on the size and shape of an animals' body and organs such as digit shape and brain size. This explains why animals such as apes and man can have almost identical genes, yet look and behave so differently. In a review of the evidence, Carroll concluded that :

[--] regulatory sequences are so often the basis for the evolution of form that, when considering the evolution of anatomy (including neural circuitry), regulatory sequence evolution should be the primary hypothesis considered.”8

Chapter 2

p15: RNA world

This hypothesis is based on the ability of RNA to catalyse its own formation. As an auto-catalyst and an essential component of living systems, it is hypothesised that RNA played an essential role in the early evolution of life. This pre-biotic stage of evolution was called the RNA world. 9

p17: biochemical pathways

Describing the complex of chemical transformations needed to produce all the biochemicals used by cells was the major focus of the early pioneers of biochemistry. The next level of effort has been to understand how cells interact and relate to each other using chemical signals. These results have been presented in the form of maps .10 Studying these gives some idea of the complexity of molecular level processes used by life as well as the effort required to understand these processes.

p19: embodied chemical mind

Dennett describes primitive life as:

An impersonal, unreflective, robotic, mindless little scrap of machinery.” 11

and I would agree that an embodied chemical mind would be unreflective, because reflection is only possible for self-conscious creatures. Also, by our current legal definition of personhood, the word person only applies to humans, so presumably the description ‘impersonal’ must be true of any animal 12 (see discussion of moral implications 13). Actually, the argument about 'chemical mind' is all down to how we define 'mind'. We usually define mind in terms of the human and conscious kind e.g.:

“the element or complex of elements in an individual that feels, perceives, thinks, wills, and especially reasons” and “the conscious mental events and capabilities in an organism”

But there is a much broader definition:

“the organized conscious and unconscious adaptive mental activity of an organism” 14

and it is this that describes the sort of ‘mind’ that exists in in these simplest of life forms. The only issue with Dennett's use of the terms ‘robotic’ is that at present, robots have such limited ability to adapt to their environment, and of course, they are not self-replicators. The mind required to sustain a self-replicating environmentally adaptive robot would more aptly describe the concept of the 'embodied chemical mind' possessed by primitive cellular life. (See also Tacit Knowledge below.)

Chapter 3

p24: iteration (and evolutionary process)

In contrast to evolution being a single sided algorithmic process dominated by the environment 15, the systems biologist view it as a complex iterative process between the environment and the animal. (It is such simple iterative mathematical processes seen in the Mandelbrot set that are responsible for the generation of beautiful fractal patterns 16.) In a review, William Chamberlin compares the linear evolutionary view with that of the systems approach:

“Systems/emergence theory emphasizes the importance of networks of interacting entities out of which new properties (entities) emerge. This process is fundamental to the creation and evolution of all things in the Universe. It is consistent with current theories of physics, chemistry and biology.

Figure 1 Linear evolution

Figure 2 Evolution caused by a complex interactions of multiple entities, some living and some not. Living nodes are the adaptive systems with the goal of self-reproduction or ‘agents’. 17

(Note the similarity of Fig 2 to the internal complexity of biochemical processes that Freya calls an ‘embodied chemical mind’ (see above).) The complexity theories as expounded by Ilya Prigogine 18 are used to understand how chaotic systems can spontaneously self organize and provide new platforms of stability. Mitchell and Newman have defined these complex systems as:

[--]a group or organization which is made up of many interacting parts. Archetypal complex systems include the global climate, economies, ant colonies, and immune systems. In such systems the individual parts called “components" or “agents" and the interactions between them often lead to large-scale behaviours which are not easily predicted from a knowledge only of the behaviour of the individual agents. Such collective effects are called “emergent" behaviours. Examples of emergent behaviours include short and long-term climate changes, price fluctuations in markets, foraging and building by ants, and the ability of immune systems to distinguish “self” from “other” and to protect the former and eradicate the latter.” 19

One of the advances in this understanding is to incorporate the concept of an ‘agent’ into the process of evolution. This is relevant to the argument being made that the agency of the organism itself must be recognized.

p25: selfish gene

Richard Dawkins in his popular book “The Selfish Gene” concludes that animals are for the survival of their genes, rather than genes being for the survival and reproduction of the entire animal. He also uses the term “Lumbering Robot” to describe humans. This rather ‘purple phrase’ as Dawkins describes it, comes from his conclusion that the animal body is a survival machine for the collection of genes it happens to be carrying (see 20).

It will be argued that this is an entirely corrupted view of life. This is because Dawkins, as a geneticist, has failed to understand the implications of his discipline's artificial division of the living processes into vehicles and replicators. With this dissection, he has killed the very organisms is claiming to understand (see below). If he was to step back from this narrow professional view, it would become quite obvious it is the entire living system that is a self-replicator, not any individual part. This is, in fact, well illustrated in the case of the primordial living process seen in the RNA self-replicator (see above), where we have both genetic material and functional body united in a single chemical structure.

Chapter 4

p27: mechanistic vision

The mechanistic explanation of evolution means that animals are automatons. The problem is this makes consciousness difficult to explain and Daniel Dennett summarizes the problem thus:

Artificial intelligence says you are composed of automata, Darwinism says you are descended from automata, if you admit the latter, how can anything born of automata be anything but a much fancier automaton?” 21

The only solution Dennett can provide is that awareness emerges due to the shear complexity of mental processes found in advanced animals. 22 The problem with this is that it requires the operation of strong emergence and this causes major scientific and philosophical problems (see below).

p30: [consciousness as] ephemeral effect

The mixing of senses is called Synesthesia 23. The evidence for our having only the illusion of willing actions is based on MRI studies showing how an intention to act occurs before we become conscious of it. 24 Similar conclusions have been reached based psychological studies and experiments: and these are summarized by Wegner & Wheatley:

Believing that our conscious thoughts cause our actions is an error based on the illusory experience of will – much like believing that a rabbit has indeed pooped out of a hat.” 25

This work supports the philosophical concept of Epiphenomenalism. This argues that our consciousness does not have any power to cause events to occur (see 26 & 27). My argument from an evolutionary perspective is that if this were true then consciousness would be a waste of mental resources and given its high costs in terms of energy, it would rapidly be de-selected. Elsewhere, I have argued that the purely physical basis for the philosophical arguments maintaining this position have already negated consciousness and so, by definition, cannot rediscover it. 28

p36: living chemistry

Max, in stating that there is no distinction between living chemistry and ordinary chemistry is thinking of the synthesis of the organic chemical called urea. This was often thought to be the ‘killer experiment’ in the demise of vitalism, the pre-scientific concept that life must animated by processes that are non-physical in nature. 29

Chapter 5

p38: consciousness origins [panexperientialism]

The challenge faced by biological science is to explain not just how our bodies but also our consciousness evolved. The 'faith' aspect of this, as it is with all the natural sciences, is it can do this without employing any miraculous interventions, or what Daniel Dennett describes as ‘sky hooks'. 30 In Part I, Freya argued that to prevent this, a primitive precursor an aware self must be present in even the simplest of animals. This faintest glimmer of animal awareness is all that is necessary to tip the balance towards the evolution of living systems with increasing complexity. This process then allows animals to evolve with a powerful will for survival causing a massive boost in complexity resulting in the advanced animals we have today. The problem, as Max pointed out, is that this awareness cannot suddenly emerge with life forms either, otherwise we still have recourse to a 'sky-hook'. Other than the current approach that attempts to deny or ignore the obvious fact of our consciousness, the only other root is to argue that this awareness is built into the fundamental operation of the universe itself. This still leaves a sky-hook, concerning the creation of the universe itself, but at least this is the same one faced by the physical sciences.

This 'panexperientialism' is a concept proposed and substantially supported by the philosopher, A. N. Whitehead in his metaphysical 'Process and Reality'. The aim of the dialogue in Part II is to uncover the many concepts and principles that support this philosophy and to show its appeal in explaining not just evolution but also our place within the universe.

p39: dangerous nonsense - science's undermining humanity

Whitehead was also critical of the way many eminent scientists are undermining our humanity. He identified its cause in the narrowing of perspective caused by the increasing professionalism of scientist during the late 19th and early 20th Century. The problem is:

[Professionalism, including scientific] produces minds in a groove….The groove prevents straying across country…but there is no groove of abstractions which is adequate for the comprehension of human life…..The dangers arising from this aspect of professionalism are great, particularly in our democratic societies…The leading intellects lack balance. They see this set of circumstances, or that set, but not both sets together.” 31

p41: "absolutely nothing about everything" source

Orin and Freya were paraphrasing the following quote attributed to Konrad Lorenz concerning the limitations of scientists and philosophers:

Philosophers are people who know less and less about more and more, until they know nothing about everything. Scientists are people who know more and more about less and less, until they know everything about nothing.” 32

p42: Careful

The argument is presented that the fundamental distinction between living systems and inanimate objects is that life needs to be careful. This neatly ties in with Heidegger’s argument that 'Care" is the fundamental structure that underlies each and every particular human existence.

Dasein's Being [our human existence in the world] reveals itself as care. If we are to work out this basic existential phenomenon, we must distinguish it from phenomena which might be proximately identified with care, such as will, wish, addiction and urge. Care cannot be derived from these, since they themselves are founded upon it.” 33 & 34

In this discussion, Freya is providing an 'ontic' or physical basis for the ontology or becoming of Dasein's as a being caring about itself and the world in which it finds itself.

p43 emergent evolution

Samuel Alexander, a contemporary of Whitehead, attempted to describe evolution as a purely physical phenomenon:

“Mind is, according to our interpretation of the facts, an 'emergent' from life, and life an emergent from a lower physico-chemical level of existence.“

Some of these emerge with new qualities.

“New orders of finites come into existence in Time; the world actually or historically develops from its first or elementary condition of Space - Time, which possesses no quality except what we agreed to call the spatiotemporal quality of motion. But as in the course of Time new complexity of motions comes into existence, a new quality emerges, that is, a new complex possesses as a matter of observed empirical fact a new or emergent quality.”

These emergent entities stand in the relation of being a deity to the lower quality. Thus life is the emergent deity of matter, mind the deity of life, and God, (or some lower angelic entity) the deity of mind:

“Within the all-embracing stuff of Space-Time, the universe exhibits an emergence in Time of successive levels of finite existences, each with its characteristic empirical quality. The highest of these empirical qualities known to us is mind or consciousness. Deity is the next higher empirical quality to the highest we know; and, as shall presently be observed, at any level of existence there is a next higher empirical quality which stands towards the lower quality as deity stands towards mind.”

The problem with this concept is that it produces a infinite succession of emergent qualities. There is thus an infinite regression of Deities. There is also the problem that the new qualities seem to emerge from nowhere (i.e. a succession of 'sky hooks' (see also strong emergence below).

p45: theories

The concept that the scientific method produces absolute laws has long been abandoned. Instead, it attempts to produce a logically self consistent matrix of theoretical forms consistent with the observed world. Whitehead describes the process of scientific discovery thus:

“The true method of discovery is like the flight of an aeroplane. It starts from the ground of a particular observation; it makes a flight in the thin air of imaginative generalization; and it again lands for renewed observation rendered acute by rational interpretation.”


The success of the imaginative experiment is always tested by the applicability of its results beyond the restricted locus from which it originated.” 35

After life-science’s extraordinarily productive ‘flight’ during the 19th and 20th Century, we find it able to explain the mechanical features of our bodies, but unable to explain our awareness of the world. Its solution is to categorize all the aspects of beauty, love, freedom and joy as emerging from the underlying complexity of the system but provides no basis for this other than ‘strong emergence’ (see below).

p46: emergence of consciousness

In the 17th Century philosophy developed by Emmanuel Kant, our experienced (phenomenal) world is entirely divorced from the underlying noumenal world of things-in-themselves. 36 This would be the situation if consciousness was a strongly emergent property of life. However, as Prof. Mark Bedau argues:

There is no evidence that strong emergence plays any role in contemporary science. The scientific irrelevance of strong emergence is easy to understand, given that strong emergent causal powers must be brute natural phenomena. Even if there were such causal powers, they could at best play a primitive role in science. Strong emergence starts where scientific explanation ends (my emphasis). …”

This is not the case if consciousness is an example of 'weak emergence':

Weak emergence refers to the aggregate global behavior of certain systems. The system’s global behavior derives just from the operation of micro-level processes, but the micro-level interactions are interwoven in such a complicated network that the global behavior has no simple explanation.” 37

Emergence of living bodies requires that some micro-level physical entity exits such as protons and electrons. Using the same argument, Orin believes that awareness, consciousness and self consciousness must grow out of micro-level processes. But this means that physical micro-level processes must also have a suitable precursor. In its most simple form, this precursor of consciousness is experience. Thus some primitive form of experience must permeate all physical entities. Whitehead calls these primitive experiences 'physical feelings'

p48: work our way down

Whitehead emphasises that most of the problems with philosophy, and for that matter science, is that it attempts to explain experience from top-down:

Experience has been explained in a thoroughly topsy-turvy fashion, the wrong end first” 38

Over the next several pages, Freya and Orin follow Whitehead's advice and strip back consciousness until they conclude that all our awareness of the world must be derived from simple electronic events happening at the atomic level.

p48: self-consciousness test

During the second year of life, children's begin to recognize themselves in mirrors and this is claimed to indicate that the children have become self-conscious. 39 & 40 Chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans also consistently pass this test, but the relevance of this test to other animals is open to some debate. 41

p52: totally united

Whitehead's description of evolution is totally consistent with the weak emergent view:

It [emergent evolution] is the doctrine of real unities being more than the collective disjunction of component elements.” 42

In other words, the whole is not merely the sum of the parts. The principle is that new species are new wholes, not a collection of parts with an additional member. The vision of animals described by Richard Dawkins (see above) and Daniel Dennett (see above) as a collection of automatons is one in which there is a society of individuals, each one adding a new trick to the society but at any time able to break free when the association is no longer advantageous. In contrast, a new species is a new entirety of both function and action. Every new property, however added, becomes totally integrated with the whole organism. This is ensured by total control, regulation and integration of all components.

p54: experiences

Freya and Orin’s conclusion that simple energetic events must be the source of our experience of the world, bring them very close to the concept of panexperientialism. Ray Griffin, who is one of the two editors producing the corrected edition of Process and Reality, has extensively written about this concept and its relationship to Whitehead’s process philosophy. 43

Chapter 6

p58: motivational force

The psychologist Nico Frijda has studied and written extensively about human emotions, their development and function. He also sees a tie between emotions and actions:

Emotions are, first of all, action dispositions, regardless of whether actual action follows and whether, on occasions, the disposition is for inaction.” 44

By seeing energetic events as having both a physical and experiential component, Whitehead allows us to see emotions as patterns of energy of a specific but highly complex form aimed at ensuring the living system's survival and reproduction. This allows their direct conversion from an emotion into physical action and visa versa:

Generalizing from the language of physics, the experience of M (the subject) is an intensity rising out of specific sensa, directed from A, B, C (sources of experience). There is in fact a directed influx from A, B, C of quantitative feeling, arising from specific forms of feeling. The experience has a vector character, a common measure of intensity, and specific forms of feeling.” 45

p62: demon , (Maxwell's)

Although the measurements and decisions made by Maxwell's demon cannot cause a global decrease in entropy, they can cause a local increase in order. Adami et al, provide a novel interpretation of evolution where the information gathered by the organism and the decisions based on it, are seen as the equivalent to the measurements that allow Maxwell’s demon to sort hot and cold molecules:

Darwinian selection is a filter, allowing only informative measurements (those increasing the ability for an organism to survive) to be preserved. In other words, information cannot be lost in such an event because a mutation corrupting the information is purged due to the corrupted genome's inferior fitness (this holds strictly for asexual populations only). Conversely, a mutation that corrupts the information cannot increase the fitness, because if it did then the population was not at equilibrium in the first place. As a consequence, only mutations that reduce the entropy are kept while mutations that increase it are purged. Because the mutations can be viewed as measurements, this is the classical behavior of the Maxwell Demon.” 46

p64: tricks the taste buds

Well feed mice, when given a choice of a highly flavoured sweetener or plain glucose drink will choose the sweetened drink, but if starved, they will choose the high-energy glucose drink. The authors of this study (Tellez et. al) discuss how the cellular state might be one of the triggers for the response to glucose starvation:

An alternative hypothesis to the above states that dopaminergic cells of the midbrain may be under the direct influence of the intracellular availability of glucose, that is, currently unidentified intracellular nutrient sensors may regulate the synthesis and release of neurotransmitters.” 47

This is consistent with Freya 's argument that although you can send false information to the brain so it thinks it is digesting high calorie foods, you cannot fool the cell. This is because cells actually require sugars for metabolism. Their cell based embodied chemical minds know their own physiological state and in multicellular organisms, will transmit feelings of metabolic distress. The brain is then the organ where the feelings derived from various sources can be compared and decisions made about the actions needed.

p67: redness of red

All inputs processed by our bodies, whether used for nourishment or information, are all different forms of energy. Light for example is energy in the form of an electromagnetic wave . Our perception of colour is not an intrinsic property of the light energy, but is 'assigned' as the result of extensive mental processing. This processing can be seen as a transformation and reformation of this input energy into a new and more complex form that now contains the experience of a particular colour. Lotto & Purves have shown that part of the processing leading to this assignment of colour depends on the colour of the surrounding areas:

With respect to color, ---- that manipulating chromatic stimuli will change the colors perceived in a manner predicted by the empirical significance of the altered stimuli.” 48

They believe these abilities are the result of the practical necessities caused by natural selection as well as learnt behaviours:

In this empirical concept of these illusions [i.e. assigning false colours based on surroundings colours], perceptions of brightness are taken to be associations determined by what inherently ambiguous luminance profiles have most often signified. Such associations would be instantiated by neural connections engendered during phylogeny as a result of natural selection and modified during ontogeny by activity dependent processes.” 49

Colours are just part of the vast range of subjectively generated sensations and experiences known as qualia. 50 Which qualia are brought into play depends on the nature of the input, shades of colour for light, pitch for sound, flavour for taste or hardness for touch. The mechanics of these processes are being intensively studied and the pathways illuminated, but what science does not, or cannot address is why the experience feels the way it does. One of the issues is whether qualia are an invention of the mind (imaginary) or discovered (real). If mind invents these qualia then mind must generate a vast array of strongly emergent phenomena with no origins in any previous state and so no grounding in the actual world. In this case, mind and matter are separated and we have a 'two-substance' world of noumena and phenomena explored by Kant (see above). Since each mind has the possibility of inventing new qualia out of nowhere, there is no guarantee of fidelity between our various disjunctive minds. To avoid this two-substance world and the generation of something out of nothing, Whitehead requires that qualia are discovered. This means these qualities pre-exist as ‘eternal objects’.

But it is actually Whitehead who thinks that qualities pre-exist: he calls them ‘eternal’, after all, and links them with the Platonic forms. No new qualities can ever be produced for Whitehead, for all his reputation as a philosopher of novelty: what is produced in his view is simply new constellations of actual entities, prehended according to pre-existing eternal objects.” 51

Orin does not have these eternal objects pre-existing in the form of some divine lookup table, but has them revealed during the data processing. They are discovered in much the same way that ever more complex mathematical objects are discovered by combining and processing simpler mathematical concepts according to a few rules of logic. (For discussion about whether mathematics itself is discovered or invented see 52 and 53.) Of course, mathematical forms are only a limited portion of the range of eternal objects covered by the Whitehead's concept of the term. These must include the entire range of qualia we can or might experience given the correct mental processing 'equipment'. The specific forms of experiences inherent in qualia such as sweetness and redness would then be revealed by the complex processing of vast numbers of atomic level experiences first by cells and then by brains. It is this processing that produces packets of highly structured energy each carrying with them a specific emotional experience of some type. (See below for Whitehead's need for God in this process.)

p70: enjoyable experiences

Whitehead agrees with Freya's argument that the evolution of complexity is actually driven by an animals subjective desire for enjoyable experiences:

But there is another factor in evolution which is not in the least explained by the doctrine of the survival of the fittest. Why has the trend of evolution been upwards? The fact that organic species have been produced from inorganic distributions of matter, and the fact that in the lapse of time organic species of higher and higher types have evolved are not in the least explained by any doctrine of adaptation to the environment, or of struggle. In fact, the upward trend has been accompanied by a growth of the converse relation. Animals have progressively undertaken the task of adapting the environment to themselves. They have built nests, and social dwelling-places of great complexity; beavers have cut down trees and dammed rivers; insects have elaborated a high community life with a variety of reactions upon the environment. ---- I now state the thesis that the explanation of this active attack on the environment is a three-fold urge: (i) to live, (ii) to live well, (iii) to live better. In fact, the art of life is first to be alive, secondly to be alive in a satisfactory way, and thirdly to acquire an increase in satisfaction.” 54

Chapter 7

p 72: subjective state

Science is based on what Paul Stenner describes as 'shallow empiricism' where the material state is the actual reality, and the subjective state is limited to the human observer.

“I will define ‘‘shallow empiricism’’ as a combination of two aspects that are usually presented as mutually antagonistic but that are actually two sides of a single coin: a ‘‘material aspect’’ and an ‘‘ideal aspect’’. On one side of the coin, the world is presented as essentially made up of meaningless matter. Real ‘‘objective’’ reality is thus brute physical ‘‘stuff’’ or substance. Any attributions of subjectivity (aim, value, enjoyment) to nature itself are to be strictly avoided. When observing nature, the shallow empiricist thus observes only what is publicly observable. To the extent that this is achieved, the subjectivity of the knower can be considered objective. On the other side of the coin, the notion of subjectivity is restricted only to the high-grade experiences of a human knower.”

This leaves the subjective state without any foundation, an artefact of human self consciousness. From this shallow vision, the world becomes distorted and all living things become devalued. Stenner, basing many of his arguments on the concepts of Whitehead, points out the need for the social sciences to use 'deep empiricism' because:

“Far from being a species of empiricism predicated upon the exclusion of subjectivity, deep empiricism radically extends and refines the domain of subjectivity. But in deep empiricism neither “subject” nor “object” play the role of first term or primary substance. On the contrary, as has already been hinted at, the first term is always an actual occasion and an actual occasion is always a fusion of subject and object in the unified event of an experience.” 55

p 72: limited world of science

Gestalt psychology attempts to look at the whole person compared with, for example, the analytical psychology of Freud. The following quote by the gestalt psychologists Kurt Koffka written in 1934 makes the powerful case for science to engage with the subjective state:

Life becomes a flight from science, science a game. And thus science abandons its purpose of treating the whole of existence. If psychology can point the way where science and life will meet, if it can lay the foundations of a system of knowledge that will contain the behaviour of a single atom as well as that of an amoeba, a white rat, a chimpanzee, and a human being, with all the latter's curious activities which we call social conduct, music and art, literature and drama, then an acquaintance with such a psychology should be worth while and repay the time and effort spent in its acquisition.” 56

p 75: process just does what it does

For the cybernetician Stafford Beer, all systems have a purpose:

According to the cybernetician, the purpose of a system is what it does. This is a basic dictum. It stands for a bald fact, which makes a better starting point in seeking understanding than the familiar attributions of good intentions, prejudices about expectations, moral judgements, or sheer ignorance of circumstances.” 57

What life does is to survive and reproduce, so this is the purpose of the system. The problem is that as applied by objective science, it cannot ascribe any feelings to the organism generated by such an aim. Kull et al. describes his concept of purpose or telos and how it needs to be applied to the complex systems found in life science:

“It is a concept of telos that does not refer to unknown vitalist forces, but rather defines telos by a specific class of causal processes. Modern biology has been working on the assumption that there is an incompatibility between these teleological and physical–chemical characterizations of life. Biosemiotic approaches [studying how animals meaningfully communicate] assume that there is no deep incompatibility and that a principled theory unifying these domains is possible.” 58

Whitehead's solution is to unite the emotional and physical into the concept of ‘physical feelings’ (see below). When this is done, any living system can be said to have the subjectively felt purpose implied by the term ‘will for life’.

p 78: unity of body and mind

Whitehead uses the term atomic to describe the wholeness of creatures. This is not the same use as the one we commonly have for atoms as the elemental particles. Instead, it points to the wholeness of self contained systems such as individual atoms, molecules, cells or animals:

The ultimate metaphysical truth is atomism. The creatures are atomic…But atomism does not exclude complexity.” 59

When we reduce such systems, be it water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, or a cell into its biochemical components, then its properties are destroyed. Boogerd et al. express the problem of reductionism when applied to living systems

“It had been noted that dissecting living organisms or even living cells to even the slightest extent removed virtually all properties that one associated with life (as we now know because of the interference with energy metabolism and communication, the depletion of enzymes and coenzymes, or in fact the dependence of anything on virtually everything in the organism). Therefore, it seemed obvious that looking at molecules was not going to help to understand life”.

and this is a problem that systems biology is attempting to overcome

Evolutionary biology studies how living systems came to be, whereas systems biology studies how living systems are; a biology of becoming versus a biology of being. This is a profound difference.” 60

When life is viewed as a collection of competitive components rather than forming a cooperative atomic totality we end up with Daniel Dennett's view that just as life is a collection of tiny machines so the self is a collection of selves, each one vying for dominance. 61

p77: different form (of living chemistry)

At first reading the following quote from Whitehead seems to point to his supporting a form of animism:

The molecules within an animal body exhibit certain peculiarities of behaviour not detected outside an animal body….In a living cell, the statistical balance has been disturbed.”62

In fact, this statement is fully supported by modern biochemistry's understanding of how weak electronic interactions called hydrogen bonds are key factors in structuring proteins, DNA and cells. 63

p80: subjective aim

The concepts of subjective aim, harmony and satisfaction of that aim are part of the process Whitehead calls concrescence, which is the making of an actual entity. This process is about bringing the disunity of the various experiences into a coherent whole:

“That in the becoming of an actual entity, the potential unity of many entities in disjunctive diversity—actual and non-actual—acquires the real unity of the one actual entity; so that the actual entity is the real concrescence of many potentials.”

The result of this concrescence is the ‘satisfaction’

“The concrescence is thus the building up of a determinate 'satisfaction’ which constitutes the completion of the actual togetherness of the discrete components. The process of concrescence terminates with the attainment of a fully determinate 'satisfaction'; and the creativity thereby passes over into the 'given' primary phase for the concrescence of other actual entities. This transcendence is thereby established when there is attainment of determinate 'satisfaction' completing the antecedent entity.”

The form of that satisfaction is determined by the subjective aim:

“The emotional pattern in the subjective form of any one feeling arises from the subjective aim dominating the entire concrescent process.”


This subjective aim is this subject itself determining its own self-creation as one creature.”

This aim is achieved not by elimination of feelings, but by bringing them into contrasts and so achieving a state of harmony. In this state, each component is brought into complementary relationships with all antagonistic experiences eliminated.

“The Category of Subjective Harmony. The valuations of conceptual feelings are mutually determined by the adaptation of those feelings to be contrasted elements congruent with the subjective aim.”


“It follows that balanced complexity is the outcome of this Category of Subjective Aim. Here 'complexity' means the realization of contrasts, of contrasts of contrasts, and so on; and 'balance' means the absence of attenuations due to the elimination of contrasts which some elements in the pattern would introduce and other elements inhibit.”

The satisfaction is the completion of this process of concrescence when the entity becomes a fact in the process of concrescence of other actual entitles. This state lies beyond, or is transcendent from the actual entity aiming at this concrescence.

“The 'objectifications' of the actual entities in the actual world, relative to a definite actual entity, constitute the efficient causes out of which that actual entity arises; the 'subjective aim' at 'satisfaction' constitutes the final cause, or lure, whereby there is determinate concrescence; and that attained 'satisfaction' remains as an element in the content of creative purpose. There is, in this way, transcendence of the creativity; and this transcendence effects determinate objectifications for the renewal of the process in the concrescence of actualities beyond that satisfied superject.”


“Completion is the perishing of immediacy: ‘It never really is.” 64

If we interpret Freya and Orin’s discussion into these terms, then the ‘will for life’ is life’s ‘subjective aim’. To achieve this aim, the organism attempts to bring all the components of a living system into an harmonious relationship. This, however, can never be achieved because it is an open-ended process, subject to continual adjustments as the very act itself changes the nature of the environment. Thus the ‘atomic wholeness’ is never achieved by the living subject itself, it is always out of balance. Although in this way, the subject is never entirely determined, its inputs have been. Thus, by the very act of trying to satisfy its needs, each creature (both animate and inanimate) brings about the atomization of the world into actual entities. (We see here what in quantum mechanical terms is called the ‘collapse of potential into actuality’.)

p81: forms of matter

Considerable excitement has been generated by the ability of cellular automata to produce complex patterns of behaviour based on a few simple rules (for video examples see 65). These are the basis for the ‘game of life' and the concept termed ‘natural computing’. These are claimed to show how complex life forms can evolve based on a few simple rules. Resmussen et al. have tested whether such simple systems could indeed evolve the levels of complexity required by life:

“In biological systems hierarchies with multiple functionalities at different scales can be found everywhere. Clearly there is a coarse-grained hierarchy (which has many refinements and substructures) that may be expressed as ecosystems (including human socio-technical systems), organisms, organs, tissues, cells, organelles, molecules, atoms. Obviously, the properties associated with each level are generated by the collective dynamics of the elements in these dynamical hierarchies.”

The problem is that in order to produce such observed hierarchical systems, the rules must become ever more complex:

The complex systems dogma encourages those studying dynamical hierarchies always to seek models with the simplest possible elements. Our ansatz [assumption], by contrast, encourages us to add complexity to system elements to explore more levels of the hierarchy. When we operate within a given framework at a given level of description, the complex systems dogma is a powerful and successful hypothesis. However, if we stay within that framework and attempt to explain several additional levels of description, our ansatz states that we must make the fundamental rules more complex.” 66

This supports the conclusion that the complexity of living systems can only be supported if underpinned by a complex system of rules. Although these only come into play at each emergent level of organization, they would still have be present as potentials in the precursor state to become actualized. These are examples of Whitehead’s ‘eternal objects’, or ‘pure potentials for the determination of fact ’.

P82: Emergence and eternal objects

It is Whitehead's 'eternal objects' that define the forms of energy making up the material entities from which the physical bodies of animals are built (see 'forms of matter' above). They also are the more transient forms of energy that shape experiences and when processed by advanced minds form our conscious idea's of the world (as discussed in 'redness of read' above). Freya and Orin are arguing that weak emergence (see 'emergence of consciousness' above) is the process by which these 'eternal objects' enter into the world to cause a new factual state to exist, be it material or conceptual. 'Eternal objects', like mathematical objects or algorithmic and iterative processes are metaphysically pre-existing waiting to be actualized when the conditions are right. It is only because they are formed in a reproducible manner that concepts are consistently formed under similar circumstances and matter can form emerge from pure energy. Eternal objects bring order and direct the evolution of the universe along paths that have resulted in the emergence of our human self-consciousness. Without them the universe would be a formless and chaotic.


Chapter 8

p85: dynamic cycle of events

Whitehead argued that as had been found for atoms, protons and electrons would also be in a state of dynamic vibratory motion. The long sought for solid material basis would not be found even in sub-atomic particles:

The atom is only explicable as a society with activities involving rhythms with their definite periods. Again the concept shifted its application: protons and electrons were conceived as materialistic electric charges whose activities could be construed as locomotive adventures. We are now approaching the limits of any reasonable certainty in our scientific knowledge; but again there is evidence that the concept may be mistaken. The mysterious quanta of energy have made their appearance, derived, as it would seem, from the recesses of protons, or of electrons. … Thus the quanta are, themselves, in their own nature, somehow vibratory; but they emanate from the protons and electrons. Thus there is every reason to believe that rhythmic periods cannot be dissociated from the protonic and electronic entities.” 67

The current view of the proton agrees with this interpretation. In fact it is itself composed of a dynamic interplay of sub-atomic particles and forces and it is this that causes its immense stability. 68

Orin's argument that such self-sustaining cycles may also be the basis of the stability of higher orders of organization required for life and consciousness, have also been suggested by Scott & Ghin:

“Conceptualized this way, consciousness is not so much a higher-level phenomenon, which emerges from lower-level stability, as it is a self-referential, self-sustaining embodiment of the higher-level contingent contexts a system has to address (i.e., embody) in order to sustain itself.” (my emphasis)

Part of their justification is that life itself requires the emergence of such self-sustaining systems. These are examples of what they call ‘contextual emergence’.

Once such self-sustaining systems emerged (from autocatalytic systems), they eventually gave rise to a new context that afforded the emergence of more sophisticated self-sustaining systems. Specifically, as more and more self-sustaining systems came to be (i.e., single cell organisms) the chemical energy encapsulated within them provided a potential fuel source for any system capable of capturing such energy and using it to sustain itself. In this example of contextual emergence, the existence of single-cell organisms constitutes the lower-level necessary conditions, while the large-scale availability of such systems constitutes the contingent context that affords the emergence of larger-scale organisms capable of sustaining themselves on the energy encapsulated in single-cell systems.” 69

p86: centre of stability (self as)

Whitehead expresses the need for a self, or personality that endures against the flux of events this way:

“-- 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.”

He rejects the concept of self as an enduring changeless soul because it would fail to introduce novelty:

“The doctrine of the enduring soul with its permanent characteristics is exactly the irrelevant answer to the problem which life presents. That problem is, How can there be originality? And the answer explains how the soul need be no more original than a stone.”

The problem becomes one of how a person can maintain the past in the present. At the turn of the end of the 19th century, psychologist-philosopher William James graphically illustrated a solution to this problem. This was to encapsulate the old self into the current one. The self endures yet changes because it is a summary of previous states:

“To illustrate by diagram, let A, B, and C stand for three successive thoughts, each with its object inside of it.

If B's object be A, and C's object be B; then A, B, and C would stand for three pulses in a consciousness of personal identity. Each pulse would be something different from the others; but B would know and adopt A, and C would know and adopt A and B. Three successive states of the same brain, on which each experience in passing leaves its mark, might very well engender thoughts differing from each other in just such a way as this.” 70

The currently popular narrative theory of self (see above) also needs a mechanism to allow a sense of self-continuity. This has lead to the 'string of pearls model':

That is, to what degree are individual memories necessarily related to the continuing autobiographical narrative of the individual? Our metaphor [memory as string of pearls] implies that such a relationship is indeed necessary and that there is a tight coupling between the sense of self-continuity and the periodic episodes of highly memorable incidents that decorate that thread.” 71

Orin and Freya are proposing a self-regenerative process, similar to those mechanisms responsible for the stability of even the simplest of ‘enduring physical entities’ to lie at the core of this process. The cycle would achieve this by regenerating the summation of previous memories and integrating these into the current state. This then becomes the basis for the next regenerative cycle. It is a state of dynamic cumulative stability. This solution satisfies Whitehead's requirements:

“An enduring personality in the temporal world is a route of occasions in which the successors with some peculiar completeness sum up their predecessors.”

Human consciousness is, however, not unique in this ability. Instead it is but the highest example of four types overlapping grades of enduring occasions:

In the actual world we discern four grades of actual occasions, grades which are not to be sharply distinguished from each other. First, and lowest, there are the actual occasions in so-called 'empty space'; secondly, there are the actual occasions which are moments in the life-histories of enduring non-living objects, such as electrons or other primitive organisms; thirdly, there are the actual occasions which are moments in the life-histories of enduring living objects; fourthly, there are the actual occasions which are moments in the life-histories of enduring objects with conscious knowledge.” 72

p88: revealed world

The world we perceive is logical because in order to achieve ‘subjective unity’ the inputted data must be processed in such a way that internal inconsistencies are eliminated. This is expressed in Whitehead's first two “Categories of Obligation”:

“(i) The Category of Subjective Unity, The many feelings which belong to an incomplete phase in the process of an actual entity, though unintegrated by reason of the incompleteness of the phase, are compatible for integration by reason of the unity of their subject.

  1. The Category of Objective Identity. ---This category expresses that each element has one self-consistent function, however complex. Logic is the general analysis of self-consistency.” (my emphasis)

It is only because actual entities are put together in a self-consistent way that on deconstruction we find a logical design. This is the reason why analytical science works. This does not mean is that the future of the universe of actual entities is pre-determined. The environment providing the inputs used by an actual entity to construct itself is continuously changing. This means that the actual entities making up the world are always in a state of flux and the future of the universe is undetermined.

This ninth Categoreal Obligation states that 'The concrescence of each individual actual entity is internally determined and is externally free.' [However although] the evolution of history can be rationalized by the consideration of the determination of successors by antecedents on the other hand, the evolution of history is incapable of rationalization because it exhibits a selected flux of participating forms. No reason, internal to history, can be assigned why that flux of forms, rather than another flux, should have been illustrated.” 73

In this way, we can see how by the subject's aim to unify its experiences (see above) ensures that the element of chaos present in the immediate is ordered to achieve ‘order out of chaos’.

p92: physical-chemical strains

The concept of strains is central to Whitehead’s understanding of how vector-like interactions connects and spatializes the world for the subject:

“A strain is a complex integration of simpler feelings; and it includes in its complex character simpler feelings in which the qualities concerned are more particularly associated with this seat. But the geometrical interest which dominates the growth of a strain lifts into importance the complete lines, planes, and three-dimensional flats, which are defined by the seat of the strain. In the process of integration, these wider geometrical elements acquire implication with the qualities originated in the simpler stages.


“It is obvious that important feelings of strain involve complex processes of concrescence. They are accordingly only to be found in comparatively high-grade actual entities. They do not in any respect necessarily involve consciousness, or even that approach to consciousness which we associate with life. But we shall find that the behaviour of enduring physical objects is only explicable by reference to the peculiarities of their strains. 74

Orin and Freya discuss how weak chemical interactions 'called Vander Waals forces' 75 could allow micro-organisms to detect other entities in their environment. In this way, even these 'low grade' organisms can spatialize their environment and locate food and competitors. Whitehead also claims that the way each entity is linked to its neighbours by the exchange of such feeling vectors would produce the order we see in the universe (in both space and time). He calls this process he calls Extensive Connection and devotes an entire section to its exposition. However, as Claus Ringel points out, there are considerable issues with the completeness and integration of this section with the rest of Process and Reality. Before venturing into this area of cosmology, you may wish to read his attempts to clarify Whitehead's argument. 76

p94: visual data

In attempts to understand how we can process such vast amounts of visual data, VanRullen &Thorpe have studied how animals so rapidly recognize threats and novel objects in their environments. They conclude that the speed of response can only be achieved by using a neural network concept known as feed-forward information processing. This system does not involve using any form of visual memory and is automatic.

We conclude that --- the speed of ultra-rapid visual categorisation of natural scenes does not depend on the target category, and that this processing could rely primarily on feed-forward, automatic mechanisms.” 77

This concept is inspiring groups working on developing machine visual systems:

Event-driven vision sensors take inspiration from biology. Each pixel sends out an event (spike) when it senses something meaningful is happening, without any notion of a frame. --- These events can be processed "as they flow" by a cascade of event (convolution) processors. As a result, input and output event flows are practically coincident in time, and objects can be recognized as soon as the sensor provides enough meaningful events.” 78

Of course, for Whitehead these events are not merely forms of energy but pulses of emotions connecting us to the world. Therefore, there is no need to introduce a bridge between this processing and our resulting experiences and involvement in the world.

p94: projecting our valuations

Orin and Freya conclude that much of the world we perceive is constructed by projecting our subjectively derived valuations onto it. Thus the projection screen does not occur inside our heads with a homunculus looking at it, instead the world is our screen and the properties of objects projected onto this ‘screen’ are based on our valuations derived from our complex processing of the data. Even so, the objects are not imaginary, because our valuations are derived from real data. Without actual entities providing this input, there would be no data to process. Whitehead describes this form of output as Presentational Immediacy. Our real interaction with the actual entities through our feelings is called Causal Efficacy and the process of projection 'Transmutation’. All these processes need to be operating in order to produce our known world. The location of the entity to be ‘painted’ is identified by its ‘strain’ (see above)

“The feeling must be a 'strain in the sense defined in the previous section. Now this strain involves a geometricized region, which in this case also involves a 'focal' region as part of itself. This 'focal' region is a region of dense concurrence of straight lines defined by the 'seat'. It is the region onto which there is so-called 'projection’.”


Presentational immediacy arises from the integration of a strain-feeling and a 'physical purpose,' so that, by the Category of Transmutation, the sensum involved in the 'physical purpose' is projected onto some external focal region defined by projectors.” 79

These concepts are well described in an essay by Maclachlan. 80 (Note: Whitehead’s lectures, 'Symbolism, its Meaning and Effect’ that are extensively quoted in Maclachlan paper are available online. 81)

p97: event horizon

Orin’s comment about time being frozen at the event horizon of a black hole is only true from the point of view of a person observing something else falling into the black hole. From the point of view of the subject, clock time continues as normal. 82

At our ‘macro-level’ processes run from high to low energy states. Therefore, water flows down and not up-hill. This irreversibility is considered to be the reason why there is an 'arrow of time'. This, however, is not found at the sub-atomic level. On this scale processes can run forward or backwards with no loss of energy and therefore with no arrow of time. They are said to be time-symmetrical. Presumably, the failure of these time-symmetric processes must occur if subatomic particles are to decay and there is evidence that B-mesons do indeed violate this symmetry. 83

p99: one constant existence

For Whitehead, the self is the transmitted mentality from a past occasion to the current occasion. The self is maintained because each transmission is a summation of previous occasions (see above) so that each cycle increases the depth of experience:

The defining characteristic of a living person is some definite type of [mentality] transmitted from occasion to occasion of its existence… By this transmission the mental originality of the living occasions receives a character and a depth. Apart from canalization [roughly speaking the physical structure of the body but see Bergson 84 to understand Whitehead’s use of the term], depth of originality would spell disaster for the animal body. With it, personal mentality can be evolved, so as to combine its individual originality with the safety of the material organism on which it depends.”

Each cycle therefore causes an accumulation of the self’s character, although in pathological cases, this may become too much for the system to maintain

“---There are limits to such unified control, which indicate dissociation of personality, multiple personalities in successive alternations, and even multiple personalities in joint possession.”

This process, as Freya states, is itself dynamic and this does not seem to be compatible with self being ‘the still point of the turning world ’. 85 As Orin points out, however, every vortex has an unmoving centre and this would be analogues to Orin's timeless centre for self. Interestingly, the practice of meditation is concerned with stilling the mind and approaching such a timeless state. This timeless point could well be the origins of the religious experience. 86

Chapter 9

p109: existentialist philosophers

Existentialist philosophy is a development of Kant's phenomenology (see above) focussing on the nature of a self that is detached from the noumenal (the actual but unknowable) world. Although we argue that this is no such division, the feeling of separation caused by self-objectification has profound psychological consequences, and it is this that this philosophy explores. Both Sartre and Heidegger were concerned with the nature of existence for such a self-conscious and detached being, as well as how it could be free. Sartre talks about how such a being, able to observe itself has lost itself outside of itself:

By reflection the for-itself [the self conscious being trying to gain knowledge of its own being], which has lost itself outside itself, attempts to put itself outside its own being.” 87

And Heidegger using the term for self ‘Dasein’ as ‘being there’, and ‘thrown into the world’ and the fear this raises making us run from ourselves into the ‘they’ which means we fail to live authentically.

We may now summarize our characterization of authentic Being-towards-death as we have projected it existentially: anticipation reveals to Dasein its lostness in the they-self, and brings it face to face with the possibility of being itself, primarily unsupported by concernful solicitude, but of being itself, rather, in an impassioned freedom towards death-as-freedom which has been released from the Illusions of the "they", and which is factical, certain of itself, and anxious.” 88

p109: theory of mind

In a recent review, Nathan Emery discusses the controversial concept that higher apes and even birds, may all have a theory of mind:

“Five years ago, the idea that a bird could think about another’s mental states [have a theory of mind] was preposterous. Research into primate social cognition had revealed many interesting insights into what chimpanzees may know about other minds, but a scathing paper reviewing the evidence for mental attribution in primates suggested that all previous experiments had demonstrated associative learning, rather than theory of mind.”

There is, however, a growing evidence that social birds are able to 'put themselves in the shoes' of their rivals.

It took a series of experiments on chimpanzee food competition, with a high ecological validity, to revitalize the field. A similar approach has been adopted for food-caching corvids [birds of the raven and crow family] with equal amounts of success.” 89

p110: animals communicate

The science of semiosis, is an attempt to see nature as a dynamic network of communications between actively participating agents. It seeks to to understand not just how animals communicate with each other though chemical, sound and visual signals, but also how meaning is carried and created by these signs:

In the minds of scholars and lay persons alike, the concept of the sign is usually associated with the linguistic realm, in which signs are used as a vehicle of communication between human agents. However, in the most general sense, a sign can be considered to be a “carrier of meaning” and as such it exists in biology. The reason I put the expression “carrier of meaning” in quotation marks is that meaning cannot be carried as if it were an object. This is a misleading metaphor. Meaning always involves a response and is thus an activity rather than an object. --- Why do I emphasize the idea of meaning as a response? For two reasons: first, to dismiss the misconception that meaning is encapsulated in the message; and second, to introduce the idea that the sign is not a “carrier of meaning” but a trigger for meaning-making.”90

To understand how this subjective meaning or ideas can be generated by the physical exchange of signs (chemical, sound, visual), Whitehead introduces the concept of 'prehensions'.

“Actual entities involve each other by reason of their prehensions of each other. There are thus real individual facts of the togetherness of actual entities, which are real, individual, and particular, in the same sense in which actual entities and the prehensions are real, individual, and particular. Any such particular fact of togetherness among actual entities is called a 'nexus' [a written contract]. ”

The prehension of another actual entity occurs through the transmission of a physical feeling, but the meaning the subject assigns to that feeling is derived from an eternal object providing the conceptual component.

Prehensions of actual entities—i.e., prehensions whose data involve actual entities—are termed 'physical prehensions'; and prehensions of eternal objects are termed 'conceptual prehensions.

And importantly when discussing 'low grade' organisms:

Consciousness is not necessarily involved in the subjective forms of either type of prehension. 91

Tacit knowledge is the term coined by the philosopher of science, Michael Polanyi. It is developed to describe how a the explicite description of the world attempted by science is only possible becasue it is based a non-verbal understanding of the world. In his authoritive review of this concept, Yu Zhenhua attributes the following to Polanyi

“While tacit knowledge can be possessed by itself, explicit knowledge (verbally expressible knowledge) must rely on being tacitly understood and applied. Hence all knowledge is either tacit or rooted in tacit knowledge. A wholly explicit knowledge is unthinkable”and he concludes: "These words can be regarded as a paradigmatic expression of the primordiality of the tacit dimension and as a rebuke of the absurdity of the ideal of wholly explicit knowledge." 91a

And in line with the concept of 'Embodied Chemical Mind' (see above)

"He [Polanyi] argues that the human ability to know has a biological origin and is continuous with animals’ inarticulate intelligence. He further traces tacit powers back to the activities of protozoa or even ultramicroscopic, virus-like specks of living matter. The emergence of language boosts human tacit powers, but it does not change their tacit character." 91b

In Whiteheadean terms, any knowledge of the world conveyed by the use of language is only possible through our non-verbal 'prehensions' of the world. This is the basis for the argument that an artificial intelligence could not know the world purely through explicit (word based) knowledge (see p120 of Origins of Self).

p114: freedom (through stories)

For Whitehead, language is not used to express true or false propositions, but as ‘lures for feeling’ that is to generate emotional states:

“It is difficult to believe that all logicians as they read Hamlet's speech, "To be, or not to be: . . ." commence by judging whether the initial proposition be true or false, and keep up the task of judgement throughout the whole thirty-five lines. Surely, at some point in the reading, judgement is eclipsed by aesthetic delight. The speech, for the theatre audience, is purely theoretical, a mere lure for feeling.

Again, consider strong religious emotion—consider a Christian meditating on the sayings in the Gospels. He is not judging 'true or false'; he is eliciting their value as elements in feeling. In fact, he may ground his judgement of truth upon his realization of value. But such a procedure is impossible, if the primary function of propositions is to be elements in judgements.”

Orin’s argument that language sets us creatively free within the rule-based systems of logic seems to be confirmed by Chomsky:

I think that the study of language can provide some glimmerings of understanding of rule-governed behavior and the possibilities for free and creative action within the framework of a system of rules that in part, at least, reflect intrinsic properties of human mental organization.” 92

The random combination of words according to these rules is not a truly creative act. Therefore, if Chomsky is to argue for a real creative use of language then as Margaret Drach argues, that creativity must pre-exist the language that uses it. She critique's his work as such:

--Thus it is emphasized that the mere unboundedness of human speech would not distinguish it from animal behavior or exclude a mechanistic explanation. “Animal behavior is typically regarded by the Cartesians as unbounded, but not stimulus free, and hence not ‘creative’ in the sense of human speech .... The unboundedness of human speech, as an expression of limitless thought, is an entirely different matter, because of the freedom from stimulus control and appropriateness to new situations.” It is “‘appropriateness of behavior to situations’ ... that is held to be beyond the bounds of mechanical explanation, in its full human variety” 93

The answer provided by Whitehead is that creativity is not restricted to humans, or animals but is in fact a fundamental principle required to explain the creative advance of the entire universe.

“-- creativity is the ultimate behind all forms, inexplicable by forms, [but] conditioned by its creatures.”

This inherent creativity allows novel entities to be generated:

“An actual occasion is a novel entity diverse from any entity in the 'many' which it unifies. Thus 'creativity' introduces novelty into the content of the many, which are the universe disjunctively. The 'creative advance' is the application of this ultimate principle of creativity to each novel situation which it originates.”

Language itself allows humans to have imaginative freedom, but this freedom is still limited by being 'conditioned by its creatures':

But there is no such fact as absolute freedom; every actual entity possesses only such freedom as is inherent in the primary phase 'given' by its standpoint of relativity to its actual universe. Freedom, givenness, potentiality, are notions which presuppose each other and limit each other.” 94

p117: social contract

Jean Jacques Rousseau famously developed the concept of how a ‘Social Contract’ is needed between the state and the individual citizen if a civil system is to be sustained:

“The passage from the state of nature to the civil state produces a very remarkable change in man, by substituting justice for instinct in his conduct, and giving his actions the morality they had formerly lacked. Then only, when the voice of duty takes the place of physical impulses and right of appetite, does man, who so far had considered only himself, find that he is forced to act on different principles, and to consult his reason before listening to his inclinations. Although, in this state, he deprives himself of some advantages which he got from nature, he gains in return others so great, his faculties are so stimulated and developed, his ideas so extended, his feelings so ennobled, and his whole soul so uplifted, that, did not the abuses of this new condition often degrade him below that which he left, he would be bound to bless continually the happy moment which took him from it for ever, and, instead of a stupid and unimaginative animal, made him an intelligent being and a man.”

The concept of equality of citizens is key, but:

Under bad governments, this equality is only apparent and illusory: it serves only to-keep the pauper in his poverty and the rich man in the position he has usurped. In fact, laws are always of use to those who possess and harmful to those who have nothing: from which it follows that the social state is advantageous to men only when all have something and none too much.” 95

Whitehead expands the concept of human society with all its problems and advantages, to become an example of a universal state. Social interactions are, in fact, required for the creative movement itself:

“Each task of creation is a social effort, employing the whole universe. Each novel actuality is a new partner adding a new condition. Every new condition can be absorbed into additional fullness of attainment. On the other hand, each condition is exclusive, intolerant of diversities --. A new actuality may appear in the wrong society, amid which its claims to efficacy act mainly as inhibitions. -- Insistence on birth at the wrong season is the trick of evil. In other words, the novel fact may throw back, inhibit, and delay. But the advance, when it does arrive, will be richer in content, more fully conditioned, and more stable. For in its objective efficacy an actual entity can only inhibit by reason of its alternative positive contribution.”

and just as the laws of human social systems are the outcome of human relationships, so:

“--- even the laws of nature are the outcome of the social environment”.

Whitehead then applies this vision to the problems we experience in our human civilization:

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 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.” 96

p124: total is zero (energy in universe)

Physicists believe that if you add up the negative energy of gravity and the positive energy of matter, then the overall total will be zero.

It came from nothing, and its total energy is zero, but it nevertheless has incredible structure and complexity.” 97

Theoretical physics tries to find the mathematical objects describing the various forms of energy (matter and electromagnetic waves) that now exist. Some theoretical physicists, particularly those working from the direction of quantum mechanics, maintain that all the potential forms of energy are simultaneously present. This is the multi-universe model where all possible states co-exist. This eliminates the need for an ‘observer’ or a ‘measurement’ of the quantum state to be made in order to ‘collapse’ the indeterminate into a determined state. After all, how can the universe observe itself since it is self contained? This allowed Julian Barbour, for example, to developed his concept of a timeless multi-universe called Platonia (after Plato and his platonic forms) in which everything is composed of a huge collection of Nows that are all simultaneously present.

“--- my claim that time does not exist --- starts from the philosophical conviction that the only true things are complete possible configurations of the universe, unchanging Nows. Unchanging things do not travel in time from Now to Now.”


“The appearance [presumably our subjective experience] of time arises solely because the mist [i.e. the ‘mist’ formed from a concentration of Nows that have a high probability of existing] is concentrated on time capsules and a Now that is a time capsule is more likely to be experienced than one that is not.”

Certain of these ‘time capsules’ are self-aware, i.e. human brains:

The structure capable of making a now self-aware is eternal and timeless. Yesterday seems to come before today because today contains records (memories) of yesterday. Nothing in the known facts is changed by imaging them hung on a ‘line of time’ – or even reversing their positions on the line.” 98

Therefore the flux of events we think we experience is an illusion caused by accumulated records present in each particular ‘time capsule’ forming any particular Now. Although this theory describes the self as being ‘timeless’ each one is entirely static. This does not agree with our experience of the world as a place of dynamic change. In contrast, Orin and Freya argue for a dynamic form of timelessness achieved through the process of self-regenerative (see above). This theory also demonstrates the dangers of theoreticians forgetting the abstractions upon which their mathematical structures are based. For example, space is described in terms of unreal zero dimensional points 99 and time is measured by clocks that have no arrow of time because they are time-symmetric. Thus, the theory takes flight from the reality of our everyday experience and returns with an alienating description of what we actually are. As Whitehead explains:

“And yet-it is quite unbelievable. This conception of the universe is surely framed in terms of high abstractions, and the paradox only arises because we have mistaken our abstraction for concrete realities.”

He also believed that philosophy's key role is to correct such errors:

You cannot think without abstractions; accordingly, it is of the utmost importance to be vigilant in critically revising your modes of abstraction. It is here that philosophy finds its niche as essential to the healthy progress of society; it is the critic of abstractions.” 100

A better way of looking at the multi-universe is as an example of Whitehead’s ‘eternal objects’ (see above), that is abstract mathematical objects with only the potential for existence. They provide the structure and order to the world by shaping energy into various forms of matter and radiation, but only a limited number of these potentials become actual during the real creative movement of the universe.

p129: alienated (science)

An interesting perspective of the social dangers caused to society by the alienation of science, can be seen in the following definition provided by Shiqing He in a paper to the Beijing Law Review

The alienation of science & technology is a kind of abnormal phenomenon coming from the research or use of science & technology. It makes science & technology from the tool that serves and brings benefit to human into the power that controls and harms humans.” 101

Whitehead’s argument, made in the 1920’s that such an effect would be caused by the ‘professionalization’ of Western society, was the theme of C. P. Snow’s ‘Two Cultures’ published in the 1950’s.

Literary intellectuals at one pole—at the other scientists, and as the most representative, the physical scientists. Between the two a gulf of mutual incomprehension—sometimes (particularly among the young) hostility and dislike, but most of all lack of understanding. They have a curious distorted image of each other. Their attitudes are so different that, even on the level of emotion, they can't find much common ground.” 102

The postmodernist movement can be seen in part as a reaction against the modernist view that the scientific method is the superior route to our understanding of the world. Instead, they argue it is intellectually inferior to understanding the subjective thought processes and biases that underpin this scientific world view:

Effectively, postmodernism denies the validity of the intellectual core of the modernist (i.e. rational) view on the basis that modernity cannot be defended using its own methodologies. Implicit in this attack is a confidence that the postmodern knowledge structure is ultimately more fundamental than the scientific, evidence-based knowledge building, because postmodernism is primarily an understanding about the structure and organisation of the thought process – not an application of one particular (e.g. the scientific) approach.” 103

(But see Griffin for his discussion about why Whitehead's philosophy is in fact postmodern. 104)

Perhaps a more balanced view requires the perspective provided by a true outsider to the whole process. The origins, effects and cause of this alienation are very clearly described by the Thai Buddhist philosopher, B. P. Payutto. Part of this excellent paper describes the danger of the alienation of science and nature as follows:

Science is essentially one with nature, but these days most people feel that what we call science is not natural. -- Science seems to be an intruder on nature. -- When science has completely invaded the world of nature, we may be left with only a scientific or 'artificial' world. Human beings are natural beings, living in a natural world, but in the future we may find ourselves living in an artificial world. If we want human beings to live harmoniously with this artificial world it may be necessary to adapt the human body, becoming artificial people living in an artificial world. --- Science, in its attempts to 'improve on' the human environment, seems to have turned it into a scientific world. Many new and exciting inventions have been made, but science has not been able to adjust people's lives to meet them.” 105

Chapter 10

p136: Ontological Principle

This is a statement of our faith in both reason and science. It is quite simply that all effects have a cause (see discussion about emergence above).

P136: Presentational Immediacy

See Projection of Valuations above

P137: Actual Entities, Prehensions and Nexus,

Whitehead describes actual entities, prehensions, and nexus as:

“the ultimate facts of immediate actual experience. All else is, for our experience, derivative abstraction.”

Actual Entities

Actual entities are the ultimate reality:

“Actual entities'-also termed 'actual occasions'—are the final real things - of which the world is made up. There is no going behind actual entities to find anything more real. They differ among themselves: God is an actual entity, and so is the most trivial puff of existence in far-off empty space. But, though there are gradations of importance, and diversities of function, yet in the principles which actuality exemplifies all are on the same level.”

They do not consist of physical substances such as atoms, instead they are experiences of a particular form (see also Panexperientialism below).

“The final facts are, all alike, actual entities; and these actual entities are drops of experience, complex and interdependent.”


These are experiences derived from another actual entity. They are described in physics as vectors which are packets of energy (or information) with direction, magnitude and specific form. For example light is energy in the form of electromagnetism. It has a certain wavelength and magnitude and is derived from a specific source: What must be kept in mind is the overall effect is to transmit experiences from one entity to another:

“Actual entities involve each other by reason of their prehensions of each other. There are thus real individual facts of the togetherness of actual entities, which are real, individual, and particular, in the same sense in which actual entities and the prehensions are real, individual, and particular.”


A nexus is defined as a linkage or series of linkages between entities. Historically, it was a publicly declared legal agreement between parties. Whitehead uses the term in a similar way to mean:

“Any such particular fact of togetherness among actual entities is called a nexus.”

These terms are illustrated by the way he describes the formation of a society as a nexus of actual entities bonded together through their mutual prehensions of each other:

“A nexus enjoys 'social order' where (i) there is a common element of form illustrated in the definiteness of each of its included actual entities, and (ii) this common element of form arises in each member of the nexus by reason of the conditions imposed upon it by its prehensions of some other members of the nexus, and (iii) these prehensions impose that condition of reproduction by reason of their inclusion of positive feelings of that common form. Such a nexus is called a 'society' and the common form is the 'defining characteristic' of the society.“ 106

P137: Ultimate matter of fact

For Whitehead, 'creativity, that is the process where a unified experience is derived from many sources, is the ultimate driving force of the universe:

“'Creativity' is the universal of universals characterizing ultimate matter of fact. It is that ultimate principle by which the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively. It lies in the nature of things that the many enter into complex unity.”


“'Creativity' is the principle of novelty. An actual occasion is a novel entity diverse from any entity in the 'many' which it unifies. Thus 'creativity' introduces novelty into the content of the many, which are the universe disjunctively. The 'creative advance' is the application of this ultimate principle of creativity to each novel situation which it originates.” 107

P137: Subjective Forms

These are the types of experience the subject may have as the prehensions of other actual entities are processed. Whitehead lists the following examples:

“That there are many species of subjective forms, such as emotions, valuations, purposes, adversions, aversions, consciousness, etc.” 108

P138: Contrasts

The problem a living system needs to solve is how to process vast numbers of prehensions without bundling them all together and averaging them out. The solution Whitehead offers is to form opposing experiences into contrasts. Therefore black and white patches are not merged into a general greyness. He is not attempting to detail how our brains achieve this; instead he provides process perspective on how this important ability can be addressed:

“The harmonized relations of the parts of the body constitute this wealth of inheritance into a harmony of contrasts, issuing into intensity of experience. The inhibitions of opposites have been adjusted into the contrasts of opposites.”

And in terms of how we maintain our sense of self and an attachment to the world and how delicate this whole process is:

“The human mind is thus conscious of its bodily inheritance. There is also an enduring object formed by the inheritance from presiding occasion to presiding occasion. This endurance of the mind is only one more example of the general principle on which the body is constructed. This route of presiding occasions probably wanders from part to part of the brain, dissociated from the physical material atoms. But central personal dominance is only partial, and in pathological cases is apt to vanish.” 109

P138: Eternal Objects

For discussion, see 'Emergence and Eternal Objects' above

p138: panexperientialism

The following observation points out the problems faced by any biologist who is trying to find the basis of consciousness by using the concept of panexperientialism:

He [a colleague] said panexperientialism was to believe that atoms had brains. Rather it is to propose that atoms have a subjective aspect which is called experience or feeling, though of a very elemental kind. We have no direct experiential basis for affirming that all basic actualities, such as atoms, are devoid of experience so why affirm that the world is made of entities devoid of experience or what Whitehead called 'vacuous actualities'?” 110

p139: consciousness in energetic events

In an excellent paper, Olav Smith examines the problem Whitehead faced in explaining how personal identity can be maintained when the experiences on which it is based are fleeting:

“Whitehead concludes that there are actually three ways in which we can speak of the self. a) The first is the individual occasion of experience that is most concrete in its functional activity. b) The second is the historic route of occasions that stretches from birth to death. c) And, finally, there is the unity of style, or form, that is passed on from occasion to occasion.” 111 (My lettering)

To what extent do Freya and Orin’s explanation of the human self agree with this analysis? Considering the most concrete form of self described in (a); then because of the atomic unity of the actual entity's embodied mind, any occasion of experience belongs to the whole structure, not parts of it such as a receptor or cell or brain. (Notice the very act of identifying any particular part of the whole as being a occasion of experience destroys this unity.) There is no space inside this unity, and so this self is not to be found located in a particular place within it such as the brain. (This is why the self is mistakenly thought to be immaterial.) Jumping to (c) this unity of ‘style’ becomes the unified embodied mind’s process of dynamic regeneration, akin to that used by the simplest of actual entities but now used to regenerate the extraordinarily complex human embodied mind. Finally, we can consider the historic component of self (b). This requires an actual entity to have the ability to record certain important events. When this happens, the cycle is not regenerative, but accumulative. With a purely self-regenerative process, an actual entity is not in time, but with this cumulative process an historic route of occasions can be mapped out and so these failures to self-regenerate provide the experience of being in time.

p141: God and the World

The final section of Process and Reality contains the chapter 'God and the World.' It is difficult to do justice to this work which needs to be read in full, but the following is my attempt to bring some of his major concepts to light. The God he describes needs to unite satisfactorily the God revealed mainly through Christian theology with the scientific understanding of the material world:

“The theme of Cosmology, which is the basis of all religions, is the story of the dynamic effort of the World passing into everlasting unity, and the majesty of God's vision accomplishing its purpose of completion by absorption of the World's multiplicity of effort.”

To understand how this process works, Whitehead ascribes both a primordial and a consequent nature to God:

“He is the beginning and the end. The primordial nature of God is conceptual, [free, complete, primordial, eternal, actually deficient and unconscious] the consequent nature is the weaving of God's physical feelings upon his primordial concepts [determined, incomplete, consequent, 'everlasting,' fully actual and conscious]. [Where 'everlasting' is the property of combining creative advance with the retention of mutual immediacy.] His necessary goodness expresses the determination of his consequent nature [which 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. “

God must create, that is his nature, and this requires the production of the world of temporal creatures:

“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.'”

This creativity means that God and the World are interdependent and dynamically interactive:

“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 (i.e. its elevation to divine status).” 112

p144: process theology

His metaphysics has been of considerable interest to a number of theologians and have given rise to the discipline of 'process theology'. An example of the discussion concerning the theological evaluation of his views from a Christian perspective can be found in the following, The Metaphysical Ground of the Whiteheadian God 113; Divine Subjective Aim 114; Freedom and Faithfulness in Whitehead’s God 115.

p144 God (as a necessary metaphysical postulate)

Discovering God in the form of his goodness acting through the moral laws of human society is very much obscured by the way organized religion has conducted itself throughout history. It is a human activity filled with all sorts of personally selfish aims (as required for life of course), which usually fails to live up to its high moral codes. The great theistic hope for science is that it can avoid the pitfalls of this moral disclosure of God and demonstrate her presence and nature in her creation. Instead, we have the rise of physicalism. This is the belief that science can explain every aspect of the world including our conscious experience of it, without calling on God. Whitehead does not agree, and Heisenberg seems to be saying a similar thing:

The first gulp from the glass of natural sciences will turn you into an atheist, but at the bottom of the glass God is waiting for you.”116

At the foundations of our scientific cosmology, we find very strong evidence pointing to a single creative act in the form of the 'Big-Bang'. If this is the case then not only do we have the problem of how all this energy could be created from nothing, we also need to explain how it could contain the potential to produce all the innumerable forms of energy we presently find in the universe. These are not just physical entities but also those complex forms of energy that are our mental and conceptual ideas of these things.

The process where new and more complex forms of energy emerge from the combination of simpler forms is called weak emergence. The alternative evolutionary process based on 'strong emergence' is unacceptable to science because it means that we would be separated from reality by a whole series of inexplicable and mysterious events (see above). With weak emergence, the evolution of the universe and its creature's mental experience of it (whether real or an illusion) requires the realization of a selection of these potentials as actual entities. A major issue is now uncovered because the potential for all physical and conceptual experiences must have been present when the universe was created. Here at the 'bottom of the glass' we find a deep of mystery; the need to understand the source of these potentials for actuality. Following St. Augustine who placed Plato's perfected forms in the 'mind of God, Whitehead does the same with his massiveley extended concept of 'eternal objects'. From this perspective, the process of creation is the unfolding of these potentials into a multitude of different creatures. Thus, by postulating God as a source of all eternal objects, she becomes an essential component needed to explain the evolution of the universe and all its creatures.

This is not a proof of God because you cannot prove any of the postulates used to generate a theory or metaphysics from within the derived theory. However, we have found that natural science needs to understand the origin not just of energy and its physical forms, but also the innumerable forms this energy can take to provide our mental experiences of these objects. The thesis advanced here is that these 'eternal objects' (see above) are discovered (not invented) during the process of emergent evolution, a process driven by the iterative exchange of various forms of energy between the subject and its environment. (This process is analogous to an embryo's mental and physical development that also requires an iterative relationship with its environment.) Thus, eternal objects are not held in the mind of God as a look-up table but spontaneously emerge as a result of processing and integrating inputted forms of energy-data. Never-the-less, the need for all these potentials to be present at the moment of the universe's creation provides a very powerful argument for there being a vastly superior intelligence underpinning the creation of our universe and its creatures. The God Postulate can now be seen as a reasonable component of any cosmological theory.

At the end of Karl Sagan’s science fiction novel ‘Contact’ he describes a super computer calculating the value of pi to an inconceivably high number of decimal places.

“Hiding in the alternating patterns of digits, deep inside the transcendental number, was a perfect circle, its form traced out by unities in a field of noughts. The universe was made on purpose, the circle said. In whatever galaxy you happen to find yourself, you take the circumference of a circle, divide it by its diameter, measure closely enough, and uncover a miracle--another circle, drawn kilometres downstream of the decimal point. There would be richer messages farther in. It doesn't matter what you look like, or what you're made of, or where you come from.

As long as you live in this universe, and have a modest talent for mathematics, sooner or later you’ll find it. It’s already here. It’s inside everything. You don’t have to leave your planet to find it. In the fabric of space and in the nature of matter, as in a great work of art, there is, written small, the artist’s signature. Standing over humans, gods, and demons, subsuming Caretakers and Tunnel builders, there is an intelligence that antedates the universe. The circle had closed. She found what she had been searching for.” 117

If you accept Whitehead's metaphysics, you don't have to wait for this evidence. Instead, the presence of God is expressed all around us in the order and beauty of the world. Before our very eyes and revealed for all who wish to see is the 'Kingdom of God'.


1) Process and Reality an Essay In Cosmology1929, by Alfred North Whitehead Corrected Edition (David Ray Griffin & Donald W. Sherburne eds. 1978), p21 The Free Press New York:

2) The Origins of Selves, Daniel Dennett, Cogito, 3, 163-73, Autumn 1989. Reprinted in Daniel Kolak and R. Martin, eds., Self & Identity: Contemporary Philosophical Issues, Macmillan, 1991.

3) Narratives of Self, Kenneth Gergen & Mary Gergen, in studies in Social Identity. NY Praeger, 1983 Chapter 12 p225:

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5) ‘The Origin of Species’ (1859), Charles Darwin, chapter III: Struggle for Existence

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10) Roche "Biochemical Pathways"

11) Darwin’s Dangerous Idea’ p203 Daniel Dennett, The Penguin Press, 1995

12) Definition impersonal “not existing as a person : not having human qualities or characteristics”

15) Darwin’s Dangerous Idea ,Ch. 5 Processes as Algorithms, p52 , Daniel Dennett, The Penguin Press, 1995

16) Unveiling the Mandelbrot set by Robert L. Devaney

17) Networks, Emergence, Iteration and Evolution, E:CO Issue Vol. 11 No. 4 2009 pp. 91-98 William Chamberlin

18) Order out of Chaos; Ilya Prigogine William Heinemann London, 1984

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27) Epiphenomenalism Explained, Norman Bacrac, Philosophy Now Issue 81 October/November 2010.

28) Epiphenomenalism Explained Away, Steve Brewer Letters, Philosophy Now Issue 83, March/April 2011

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36) Emmanuel Kant, phenomena and noumenon

37) Downward causation and autonomy in weak emergence. M. A. Bedau. 2003. Principia 6: 5-50. p5

38) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p 162

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edited by Antony S. R. Manstead, Nico Frijda, Agneta Fischer Cambridge University Press; book preview at;

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47) Abbreviated title: “Glucose Utilization and Artificial Sweeteners” 2013 Luis A Tellez, Xueying Ren, Wenfei Hab, Sara Medina, Jozélia G Ferreira, Catherine W Yeckel and Ivan E de Araujo; Published online before print September 23, 2013, jphysiol.2013.263103:

48) An empirical explanation of color contrast, R. Beau Lotto and Dale Purves PNAS 2000 97: 12834-12839.

For the actual effect see: also

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Graham Harman, editors) Melbourne, Australia

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58) Theses on Biosemiotics: Prolegomena to a Theoretical Biology; Kalevi Kull, Terrence Deacon, Claus Emmeche, Jesper Hoffmeyer and Frederik Stjernfelt Chapter 2, p31-32 in Towards A Semiotic Biology (Claus Emmeche, Kalevi Kull eds) Imperial College Press, London

59) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p35-36

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62) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p106

63) The Structure of Proteins by Jim Clark 2004 (last modified October 2012)

64) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , pp 22, 85, 275, 69, 27, 278, 87, 85 (sequentially)

65) Cellular Automata Series - Video 4 - Growth and Edges, S. Bala Murugan Naicker

66) 17 Ansatz for Dynamical Hierarchies by Steen Rasmussen, Nils A. Baas, Bernd Mayer, and Martin Nillson, p305 and 330 in Emergence: Contemporary Readings in Philosophy and Science (Mark A. Bedau and Paul Humphreys eds) The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts,%20Humphrey's%20-%20Emergence.%20Contemporary%20Readings%20in%20Philosophy%20and%20Science.pdf

67) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p78 & 79

69) (Proto-) Consciousness as a Contextually Emergent Property of Self-Sustaining Systems; J. Scott Jordan & Marcello Ghin, Mind & Matter Vol. 4(1), pp. 45–68

70) The Principles of Psychology, William James (1890) CHAPTER X. The Consciousness of Self (sense of personal identity).

71) Memory as a String of Pearls by Peter A. Hancock and Nushien Shahnami KronoScope 10:1-2 (2010) 77-82

72) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p338, p104, p350, p177 (sequential references)

73) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p26 & 46

74) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p310 & 311

75) Strain (chemistry)

and Intermolecular Bonding - Van Der Waals Forces; Jim Clark 2000 (last modified September 2012)

76) Whitehead’s Theory of Extension in Process and Reality by Claus Michael Ringel (an abridged version of a text written in 2001 for the Whitehead colloquium at the University of Bielefeld.

77) Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Ultra-rapid visual categorisation of natural and artifactual objects Rufin VanRullen, Simon J Thorpe Perception, 2001, volume 30, pages 655- 668

78) Mapping from Frame-Driven to Frame-Free Event-Driven Vision Systems by Low-Rate Rate Coding and Coincidence Processing--Application to Feed forward ConvNets. Pérez-Carrasco JA, Zhao B, Serrano C, Acha B, Serrano-Gotarredona T, Chen S, Linares-Barranco B IEEE Trans Pattern Anal Mach Intell. 2013 Nov;35(11):2706-19. (abstract only)

79) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p312 & 323

80) Whitehead’s Theory of Perception by D.L.C. Maclachlan, 1972 Process Studies, pp. 227-230, Vol. 21, Claremont, CA USA

81) Symbolism Its Meaning and Effect Barbour-Page Lectures University of Virginia 1927 Alfred North Whitehead

82) What happens to you if you fall into a black hole?, Original by Matt McIrvin Updated 1995

83) Direction of Time Fuzzy for Subatomic Particles, Clara Moskowitz, LiveScience Senior Writer | November 25, 2012

84) Creative Evolution By Henri Bergson (Translation By Arthur Mitchell) 1911, Henry Holt, N.Y.:

85) Four Quartets "Burnt Norton" T.S. Eliot:

86) What is Meditation?, The World Community for Christian Meditation

87) Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology Jean-Paul Sartre 1943, p153 (first published, London: Methuen & Co, 1958; currently in print, London: Routledge, 1995) and

SARTRE'S BEING AND NOTHINGNESS A Reader's Guide by SEBASTIAN GARDNER 2009; Continuum International Publishing Group, London & New York NY 10038

88) Being and Time, Martin Heidegger 1926; Translated by John Macquarrie & Edward Robinson 1962 Harper & Row, New York & London

89) Cognitive ornithology: the evolution of avian intelligence Nathan J. Emery; p33: Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2006) 361, 23–43

90) Why Do We Need Signs in Biology? by Yair Neuman Chapter 11, p195 in Towards A Semiotic Biology (Claus Emmeche, Kalevi Kull eds) Imperial College Press, London

91) Process and Reality Corrected Edition, P20 & 23

91a,b)Tacit Knowledge/Knowing and the Problem of Articulation,
Yu Zhenhua 2003 Tradition & Discovery The Polanyi Society Periodical Volume XXX Number 2 2003--2004 p16 & p17

92) Language and Freedom, N. Chomsky, p101; RESONANCE March 1996 p85-104

93) The Creative Aspect of Chomsky’s Use of the Notion of Creativity; Margaret Drach, p58: The Philosophical Review, XC, No. 1 (January 1981)

94) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p20 & 133

95) The Social Contract or Principles of Political Right (1762) by Jean Jacques Rousseau Translated by G. D. H. Cole p14 & p113 (footnote 5);

96) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p223, p204, p339

97) A Universe from Nothing by Alexei V. Filippenko and Jay M. Pasachoff (2001)

98) Julian Barbour The End of Time, 1999 p49. 52 & 53; Orion Books, London, see also

99) On the epistemological status of mathematical objects in Plato’s philosophical system Floris T. van Vugt, 2003

100) Science and The modern World, A. N. Whitehead p56 & 59: Free Press NY. Online version:

101) On Legal Regulation of the Alienation of Science and Technology, Shiqing He, Beijing Law Review, 2011, 2, 119-126 (abstract)

102) The Two Cultures, C.P. Snow 1959 The Rede Lecture, Cambridge University Press p2:

103) Postmodernism and Science, Sean Devine New Zealand Science Review Vol 61 (1) 2004, p2-5, p3:

105) Buddhism as the Foundation of Science, Bhikkhu Prayudh Payutto

106) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p20, 18, 20 & 34

107) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p21

108) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p24

109) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p109

111) The Social Self of Whitehead’s Organic Philosophy by Olav Bryant Smith; European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, 2010, II, I, p12:

112) Process and Reality Corrected Edition , p349, 345, 349 & 348

113)The Metaphysical Ground of the Whiteheadian God by Marjorie Suchocki; from Process Studies, pp. 237-246, Vol. 5, Number 4, 1975.

115) Freedom and Faithfulness In Whitehead’s God, Delwin Brown article appeared in Process Studies, pp. 137-146, Vol. 2, Number 2, Summer, 1972.

116) Heisenberg, as cited in Hildebrand, Ulrich. 1988. “Das Universum - Hinweis auf Gott?”, in Ethos (die Zeitschrift für die ganze Familie), No. 10

117) Contact by Karl Sagan, 1985; Pockets Books, New York pp430-431