I apologize to my fellow classmates and Professor Brown for not being present last week.
I feel I must preface this post by stating point-blank that I have never had the pleasure of being enrolled in a formal course on Philosophy. I have been in courses wherein the heavy hitters (Foucault, Rousseau, Nietzsche, etc.) were touched upon, but were never the main focus.
During my first podcast project (which was lost due to me deleting a file I thought was superfluous) Diane McGurren mentioned that some people exist on a completely different plane. We call them geniuses. Dr. Turner is a prime example. After reading Victor Lowe’s The Philosophy of Whitehead, it is clear to me that Lowe felt the same way about his former teacher. According to Lowe, “(Whitehead) has become the most quoted and the least accepted of twentieth-century thinkers” (226).
Of the two readings I found Lowe’s more accessible and thought-provoking. This is probably due to the fact that I am not familiar with Whitehead’s work, so some of Hanna’s in-depth critique flew well over my head. If I had the time and philosophical background to read Whitehead’s work I feel I may have more appreciated Hanna’s work – but more on that later.
I am not normally a highlighting fiend. However, I found myself highlighting many of Lowe’s lines. Many lines I find beautifully written, such as (on discussing Whitehead’s metaphysics as a modern Platonism) “In truth, this philosophy generalized perfectly, in the terms of the European philosophical tradition, the attitude of that rarest of men–he whose feet are on the ground while his eyes are turned upward” (234).
I appreciate Lowe’s thoughts as to why some are hostile to systematic philosophy. Although I am not hostile to philosophy per se, I have debated enough philosophers in my years to know that such debates are never won. Lowe offers one explanation for this hostility. “One reason is that practically all philosophers presented their schemes of thought as closed systems, and claimed to arrive in principle at a complete understanding of the world. These claims have been shown up, and so systematic philosophy has received a bad name: we condemn the arrogance of philosophers, with their neat, closed little systems, each sure of his truth and of the error of other philosophers.” Lowe adds that Whitehead once said, “”We must have systems, but we must keep them open.” That was the final word in the philosophy of the wisest man of our period” (239). I appreciate this quote and believe that such arrogance is not confined to philosophy but is present in nearly every creative field because no one wants to be wrong.
One concept I found particularly interesting is Whitehead’s concept that nothing in the universe is ever really dead. He also portrays nature in a way I haven’t thought of before. I was also interested in his discussion about the impact of experiences. He writes, “Your present experience, as a whole, is another process–a synthesizing process of feeling this wide environment, that is, of bringing its factors to a new head, self-enclosed and privately enjoyed” (228).
This discussion in particular spawned a daydream of sorts. I began thinking “OK, we create experiences and these experiences are always colored by our past experiences.” Now this past weekend I spent hours editing down 2.5 hours of conversation to 1, in short creating a new experience. This new experience is, in a sense, its own because through editing down the audio no one was present for the experience I created. This all makes perfect sense in my head but I fear I may not be as clear as I need to be.
I found Hanna’s work very challenging. It was as if I couldn’t find a point of entry and at times I thought Hanna was writing in circles. However, it is evident that Hanna did heavy research for this project. Some mentioning of creativity correlated with some points which can be heard in my project. On page 136 Hanna writes “The very meaning of what it is to be an entity is contained in the triad of creativity, many, and one.” During the podcast Diane mentioned that human beings have an innate need to create- whether that be a work of art, a scrapbook, or even a sandwich. However, this line does seem to be in conflict with Lowe. Lowe commented that one way Whitefield was different from his contemporaries was his inclusion of the natural world. So I am interested in what constitutes an “entity” to Hanna, because not every entity is creative (if we are to consider animals entities.) Or do you even need to be animate to be considered an entity? However, it should be noted that in this essay this discussion of entities was part of a discussion of Whitehead’s The Category of the Ultimate, so it is more than likely that I am missing a piece of the puzzle. On page 139 he writes “… creativity may at once be the “universal of universals” and yet “behind” all the universals is its distinctive universality. I am still working this statement out in my head.
Overall I found both readings worthwhile and am sorry I missed what I am sure was an enlightening discussion. I def. have plenty of questions regarding Hanna’s essay.
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