Panentheism.  Revisionism.  Anarchocapitalism.



Essays by Me

Essays by Others

Process, Insight, and Empirical Method 

An Argument for the Compatibility of the Philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and Bernard J. F. Lonergan and Its Implications for Foundational Theology.

A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the Divinity School, The University of Chicago, for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

December 1983

Thomas Hosinski, C.S.C.

Chapter III:

The Influence of Empirical Method in Whitehead’s and Lonergan’s Analyses of Human Subjectivity [Continued]

Whitehead’s Analysis of Human Subjectivity [Continued]


Sense Perception and Causal Efficacy: The “Withness” of the Body and the Persistence of Personal Identity

In this subsection I shall be considering only one phase of our experience of subjectivity, the one I was principally concerned with in the preceding subsection; that is, that at the outset of any occasion of experience we find the objective world given to us as the datum for our experience.  As we saw very briefly, the philosophical tradition was unable to find any ground for this conviction of common human experience and this was due, in Whitehead’s interpretation, to taking sense-perception alone as constituting the fundamental fact in the subjective enjoyment of experience and applying substance-quality categories in the analysis of the subjective enjoyment of experience so conceived.  The result has been various philosophical schemes of interpretation which clash with the convictions of our common experience. The resolution of this problem, then, ought to begin by considering whether the subjective enjoyment of experience in its original phase is at the most basic level an instance of sense-perception; and whether the subject enjoying the experience can be understood metaphysically to be a substance needing nothing but itself in order to exist. As we shall see, these two questions are intimately related.  Accordingly, I shall begin by considering whether the most basic fact in the dative phase of human experience is an instance of sense-perception.


The Analysis of Human Subjectivity: The Dative Phase

Let us consider the following situation.

The following is a modification of the example with which Whitehead begins his discussion in S, I, ii, p. 2-4.

Suppose that a friend of mine—an artist—and I have taken a long walk, and that we have been accompanied by my pet dog.  At the conclusion of our walk we enter the living room of my home, and the gaze of all three of us happens to fall on a chair.  My artist friend is struck by the beautiful color and shape of the chair set against the neutral color and stark lines of the wall behind it.  At the same moment I begin to move toward the chair with the intention of resting in it, and so does my dog.  What is it that the three of us have perceived?  In the first place, what all three of us have seen is a mere colored shape in a particular location relative to us.  The artist was able to contemplate that colored shape alone, but the dog and I passed immediately from our perception of the colored shape to a perception of an object in which we intended to rest.  The dog and I perceived something we could use for the purpose of rest even though we saw only a colored shape.  Moreover, the particular color of the chair, which was essential to the artist’s contemplation, was entirely irrelevant to our purposes.

This example illustrates several important points about the nature of our perception, points which seem to contradict the sensationalist account of perception.  That account tells us, most simply, that what we perceive is in fact only the colored shape. When we think of that colored shape as an object, a chair, we are actually drawing a conclusion from a rather complex chain of inference.  We recall our past experience of colors and shapes, we compare this present colored shape to those in which we have rested in the past, and we draw the probable conclusion that we are now in the presence of the kind of shape we call (and are in the habit of using as) a chair.  But are such complex inferential operations really required to get from the colored shape to the chair?  In our example there are two bits of evidence indicating that they are not.  First, the artist was the one who contemplated only the colored shape and did not pass to the notion of a chair.  An artist is a highly trained person.  Only at the cost of hard work in a course of training does he or she acquire this ability to contemplate color, shape, and relative position while ignoring the notion of an object or its utility.  Human beings do not need extensive training only in order to keep from engaging in complex chains of inference.  Quite the reverse: we find the avoidance of complex inference all too easy.  Secondly, the dog in our example passed as swiftly as did I from the perception of the colored shape to the notion of an object upon which to rest in comfort.  Unless we are prepared to argue that the average dog is as proficient in complex chains of logical inference as is a human being, this too seems to indicate that such high levels of intellectual operation are not at work.  The transition from perception of a colored shape to an object which can be used for purposes having nothing to do with color seems not to be dependent upon our higher rational abilities.  In fact, among the thousands of times in our lives when we sit in chairs we have never seen before, there is hardly a one in which we devote even a passing thought to whether that colored shape is a chair.  We seem to have expectations about the colored shapes as objects, expectations which hardly ever pass through conscious analysis. Only if the perceived shape is truly odd do we even devote conscious attention to the matter.

This seems to indicate that in our naive experience (and in the dog’s) we perceive more than mere barren sensa, colored shapes.  The notion of a mere colored shape seems, rather, to be a high abstraction from our total act of perception, an abstraction achieved only by training and quite advanced mental abilities.  Visually a colored shape in a certain place is all we perceive, yet our total act of perception seems to include something more than a mere colored shape.

Another of Whitehead’s examples makes this point quite well.  “A young man does not initiate his experience by dancing with impressions of sensation, and then proceed to conjecture a partner.  His experience takes the converse route.” PR, IV.4.ii (M, p. 481; C, pp. 315-316).

The subjective enjoyment of experience, even for a dog, seems to involve some element that does not depend on sensuous perception and yet is connected with the sense data.  There is, then, a complexity in the initial phase of our experience (our total act of perception), but it is not a complexity of uniquely human mental operations.  Since the dog clearly enjoys the same complexity of, perception, there must be, below the level of reflective thought, a joining together of sensuous perception with some element we might call “nonsensuous perception.”  

It is the observation of examples such as this, and the testimony of our common sense and action that we are experiencing more than mere sense data, that leads Whitehead to formulate his theory of the total act of perception.  If I am to keep my study within manageable bounds I cannot here embark upon a detailed account of Whitehead’s theory.

The major references for Whitehead’s theory of perception are: SMW, IV, pp. 97-107; V, pp. 128-134; IX, pp. 209-219; S, I & II, pp. 1-59; PR, 11.2 (M, pp. 95-126; C, pp. 61-82); II.4.vii-ix (M, pp. 184-196; C, pp. 121-128); 11.8 (M, pp. 255-279; C, pp. 168-183); IV.4-5 (M, pp. 472-508; C, pp. 310-333); AI, XI, pp. 175-190; XIV, pp. 209-219; MT, II, pp. 20-41 passim; VI, pp. 105-125; VIII, pp. 148-169.  Most of the standard commentaries on Whitehead’s thought have discussions of the theory.

I will instead highlight a few of the main elements of that theory which are important for my purposes.  It will be easiest simply to layout the bare bones of Whitehead’s theory, and then to enter into brief discussions of the major points.

In terms of the analysis summarized above, Whitehead hypothesizes that our total act of perception is a fusion of two sorts of perception.  What is normally referred to as “sense-perception” he calls “perception in the mode of presentational immediacy.”  The other, non-sensuous element that seems to be involved in the total act he calls “perception in the mode of causal efficacy.”  The activity that fuses these two modes of perception into one complex perception he calls “symbolic reference.”  This is an activity of the perceiving subject which refers data given in presentational immediacy to data given in causal efficacy, or vice versa.  Symbolic reference, then, is an activity of the perceiving subject alone and belongs to a late phase of subjective experience.  The activities involved in the two simple modes of perception, however, can with equal truth be referred to both the perceiving subject and actual things being perceived.

This statement is a great oversimplification of Whitehead’s theory, but it is, within limitations, accurate.  The limitations concern mainly percep-tion in the mode of presentational immediacy.  The eternal objects which constitute the sensa illustrate for the percipient certain regions of the extensive continuum and the geometrical relationships involved.  Ultimately, however, these eternal objects are ingredient not only in the percipient occasion, but also in a chain of occasions which the present percipient occasion is inheriting.  That chain is constituted most immediately by bodily occasions but extends to occasion outside the body.  The pure mode of presentational immediacy, then, objectifies a datum by abstraction; it lifts into prominence an eternal object ingredient in the datum and uses it to illustrate a certain region of the extensive continuum in the percipient’s present.  One cannot simply identify the percept in presentational immediacy with the entity perceived in causal efficacy because of the complexity of the eternal object’s ingression.  That is, the entity perceived in causal efficacy lies in the past of the percipient occasion, while the eternal object perceived in presentational immediacy is projected to illustrate a region in the present of the percipient.  Further, there is possible error introduced by “reversion,” and there is further complexity introduced by “transmutation” in the later phases of concrescence whereby the eternal objects properly ingredient in actual entities are applied by the percipient to nexus.  See references in previous note to S and PR.

In formulating his theory in this way, Whitehead is accepting the testimony of common sense.  We all know that “symbolic reference” can be mistaken. For example, we may see the image of a chair in a large mirror and if we fail to notice that we are looking into a mirror we mistake the mirror-image to be illustrating the space behind the mirror.  [See S, I, x, pp. 18-19; I, xi, pp. 23-24; PR, II.2.i (M, pp. 99-100; C, p. 64).] The mistaken symbolic reference is ours as perceiving subjects.  But we are not mistaken that we have seen a colored shape nor that something is being illustrated.  In other words, in the two simple modes of perception the data is given to us from the world around us, and we can consider these data in two equally true ways: as the activities by which we receive those data and as the activities of “object” entities which have produced those data for us to receive.

Let us now return to our originating question.  Is the most fundamental fact in the dative phase of an occasion of experience an instance of sense perception?  In order to answer this question we must consider the nature of  perception in the mode of presentational immediacy.

Gaze at a patch of red.  In itself as an object, and apart from other factors of concern, this patch of red, as the mere object of that present act of perception, is silent as to the past or the future.  How it originates, how it will vanish, whether indeed there was a past, and whether there will be a future, are not disclosed by its own nature.  No material for the interpretation of sensa is provided by the sensa themselves, as they stand starkly, barely, present and immediate.  We do interpret them; but no thanks for the feat is due to them. [AI, XI, xii, pp. 180-181.]

Whitehead, in short, is insisting that if we restrict our attention to the sensa themselves, we find clarity but barrenness.  We perceive only colored shapes having certain geometric relationships to out standpoint. Yet, we do interpret these sensa.  The fact that these interpretations are by and large satisfying to common sense (though in some instances liable to error) is proved in the pragmatic test of our actions and in the common usages of language. 

But the evidence on which these interpretations are based is entirely drawn from the vast background and foreground of non-sensuous perception with which sense-perception is fused, and without which it can never be.  We can discern no clean-cut sense-perception wholly concerned with present fact.  [Ibid., p. 181.]

Whitehead is arguing, in other words, that sense-perception is not the most basic fact in the dative phase of an occasion of experience, and that sense-perception depends entirely upon perception in the more primitive mode of causal efficacy.

In order to make this claim he must be able to point to some evidence for the existence of this mode of non-sensuous perception.  This is where consideration of the most basic fact of our lives, so easily overlooked and taken for granted, is crucial: we, as perceiving subjects, have bodies, and our sense-perception is entirely dependent on the prior functioning of our bodies.  We are directly aware that we see “with our eyes,” hear “with our ears,” feel “with our hands,” and so on.  These are vague feelings, but in them we are directly aware that our sense-perception does depend entirely on the prior functioning of the body.  Secondly, Whitehead argues [MT, VIII, p. 159.], we know from experiments in physiology that a person can be made to have delusive sense-perceptions simply by making his or her body function internally by various methods (drugs, electrical currents, etc.).  Thus in any given instance of sense-perception the percipient occasion that we call “ourselves in the present moment” is inheriting a rather, extended chain of bodily experiences.  For example, consider what is involved when we say something such as “I see a patch of red.”  Abstracting from the detailed physiological account, there is a datum being passed from the excited “cells of the retina, through the train of actual entities forming the relevant nerves, up to the brain. Any direct relation of eye to brain is entirely overshadowed by this intensity of indirect transmission.” [PR, II.4.v (M, p. 180; C, p. 118).] What we call our sensations, in other words, are the feelings we inherit from the interconnected chains of bodily experiences, transmitted to the present experiencing occasion in our brain that we call ourselves.

The conclusion which the philosophy of organism draws, is that in human experience the fundamental fact of perception is the inclusion, in the datum, of the objectification of an antecedent part of the human body with such-and-such experiences . . .

This survey supports the view that the predominant basis of perception is perception of the various bodily organs, as passing on their experiences by channels of transmission and enhancement. . . .

The crude aboriginal character of direct perception is inheritance.  What is inherited is feeling-tone with evidence of its origin: in other words, vector feeling-tone. [Ibid,  (M, pp. 180, 181, 182; C, pp. 118, 119).]

This is the evidence in our experience that Whitehead frequently

See PR, II.2.i (M, pp. 98-101; C, pp. 63-65); and “Index” (C. ed.), entry “Body: withness of.”

calls the “withness of the body;” that is, the direct awareness that all our sense-perception depends entirely upon the prior functioning of our bodies, the awareness that we see with our eyes, and so on. This aspect of our experience is where we find our direct awareness of “causal efficacy:” we see because we have functioning eyes.

As to the direct knowledge of the actual world as a datum for the immediacy of feeling, we first refer to Descartes in Meditation I, “These hands and this body are mine”; also to Hume in his many assertions of the type, we see with our eyes.  Such statements witness to direct knowledge of the antecedent functioning of the body in sense-perception.  Both agree—though Hume more explicitly—that sense-perception of the contemporary world is accompanied by perception of the “withness” of the body.  It is this withness that makes the body the starting point for our knowledge of the circumambient world.  We find here our direct knowledge of “causal efficacy.” [PR, (M, p. 125; C, p. 81).]

As is clear from this quotation, Whitehead is arguing that it is through perception in the mode of causal efficacy that we have direct awareness or intuition of the objectivity of the world through the inheritance of our antecedent bodily states.  This means understanding that our bodies are actually a part of the world, a particularly intimate part, to be sure; but on equal terms with everything else we experience in nature.

See Ibid. & II.8.i (M, pp. 258-259; C, p. 170); and, most persuasively, MT, II, pp. 21-22; VI, v, pp. 114-115; VIII, pp. 158-160.

It also means that perception in the mode of causal efficacy is always a receiving from the past, the past of a split-second ago.  The feelings that we perceive now originated as feelings or experiences of our bodily organs a few split-seconds ago and were transmitted through the occasions of our nervous system to the brain where the presiding “ego” occasion inherits them.  In fact this continual inheritance by the presiding “ego” occasion of the immediately past feelings of bodily organs is one of the major reasons why we identify ourselves so strongly with our bodies.

There is also a second type of inheritance by the presiding ego occasion that we can recognize in our primitive experience.  We have not only the experience of identity with our bodies, but also the experience of personal identity over time.  In other words, the presiding “ego” occasion inherits not only the immediately past experiences of bodily organs, but also the experience of immediately past presiding “ego” occasions.

In human experience, the most compelling example of non-sensuous perception is our knowledge of our own immediate past .... [O]ur immediate past is constituted by that occasion, or by that group of fused occasions, which enters into experience devoid of any perceptible medium intervening between it and the present immediate fact.  Roughly speaking, it is that portion of our past lying between a tenth of a second and half a second ago.  It is gone, and yet it is here.  It is our indubitable self, the foundation of our present existence.  [AI, XI, xii, p. 181.]

The present occasion of experience, then, is constituted in its initial phase by a two-fold inheritance from the past: the feelings of the functioning body and the feeling of identity with the experience of past presiding “ego” occasions.  A split-second ago I was feeling this or that emotion, making this or that observation, entertaining this or that idea, and these stubborn facts are the ground of my present experience.

The body is mine, and the antecedent experience is mine.  Still more, there is only one ego, to claim the body and to claim the stream of experience.  I submit that we have here the fundamental basic persuasion on which we found the whole practice of our existence.

MT, VIII, p. 161. See PR, II.4.x (M, p. 197; C, p. 129): “. . . in our experience, we essentially arise out of our bodies which are the stubborn facts of the immediate relevant past.  We are also carried on by our immediate past of personal experience; we finish a sentence because we have begun it.”

This two-fold inheritance of the immediate past, of which we have direct awareness, is the strongest evidence in our experience for the existence of non-sensuous perception or perception in the mode of causal efficacy.  In human experience it is a compelling example of how the actual world presents itself as the datum for a present occasion of experience.  Further, our experience testifies that most fundamentally the subject’s reception of this datum is not through mere sensation, that is, a bare, passive, uninvolved receptivity merely entertaining sense data.  Rather the human subject’s reception of the datum has the character of “feeling” or “emotion.”

Whitehead’s use of these words to describe the fundamental character of prehensions and their subjective forms is clearly derived from an understanding of human experience, and equally clearly extends the meaning of those words far beyond normal usage when applied to any occasion of experience in the metaphysical theory.  They become technical terms, along with prehension and subjective form, used for their suggestiveness. There is, however, a serious question as to their meaning when thus extended.  What does it mean to say that an occasion in a sub-atomic particle has “feelings?”  In Whitehead’s view such usage is justified because he is convinced that it is on the level of human feelings and emotions that we find the analogue for the “how” of experience.  Since in human experience all reception of data occurs accompanied by subjective feeling, then it is legitimate to hypothesize that any occasion of experience is a reception of given data with subjective feeling.  (This is one of the reasons why Whitehead’s ontology and metaphysics can be characterized as aesthetic.)  Ultimately, however, Whitehead admits that “however such elements of language be stabilized as technicalities, they remain metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap.” PR, I.1.ii (M, p. 6; C, p. 4).

The initial phase of any act of experience is what Whitehead terms the “conformation of feeling.”

[See AI, XI, xiv, pp. 183-184; and PR, passim (see “Index” to C. ed., entry “Conformity, conformal feelings.”)]

This means that in the initial phase of any present occasion of experience the subject “feels” the immediate past occasion of experience in the same way as it subjectively felt.  Initially the present continues the feelings of the past.  That is how the datum makes itself felt, and how it is received.

An example will clarify what Whitehead means. Let us take the example of an angry man and let us consider the present occasion of his experience.

[Whitehead uses this example in AI,  XI, xiv, pp. 183-184.]

How is the man angry now?  According to White-head’s analysis we must understand the anger in the present to be the inheritance of the immediate past, both the antecedent bodily experiences and the antecedent personal experience.  In the immediate past the man was angry.  This involved both the physiological experience of anger and the personal (“mental”) experience of anger.  The initial phase of the man’s present experience is the inheritance of his immediate past, and this inheritance is two-fold.  His present “ego” occasion is inheriting the physiological feelings of anger from the body and is inheriting (or remembering) the immediate past “ego” occasion as experiencing anger.  The datum for his present experience is his immediate past with its feelings of anger, and he inherits that datum with that same feeling of anger.  In short, the man’s present feeling conforms to the feelings of his past.  The subjective form (the “how”) of his present experience is the same feeling that was the subjective form of his immediate past experience.

I must note here two points I shall discuss below. First, it is clear that in this doctrine of the conformation of feeling in the initial phase of an occasion of experience Whitehead finds, as he says, “the primary ground for the continuity of nature.” (Ibid.)  It is to this activity in experience that he appeals in order to illustrate the actual basis of the notions of connexity, order, law, and causation. Secondly, note that this doctrine raises the problem of the basis of novelty.  How does the man cease being angry?  How can anything new arise if experience always begins with the conformation of feeling?  This is the problem addressed by the rest of Whitehead’s theory of concrescence and which I shall consider in the following subsections.

Whitehead argues that this example, though particularly vivid, illustrates what happens in every occasion of experience in its initial phase.  I ought to note that Whitehead’s theory of conformation of feeling is not restricted to the sort of experience we usually term “emotional” but includes as well what we would call purposive or intentional experience. Intentions and purposes, in other words, arise from feelings (in Whitehead’s technical usage), are themselves felt, and are inherited in exactly the same way described above.  Again, an example will clarify what Whitehead means.  Let us consider a human being uttering a sentence.  [See , XI, xiii, pp. 181-182; and PR, II.4.x (M, p. 197; C, p. 129).] Even the briefest of sentences spans several occasions in the life-history of a person.  By the time the speaker reaches the concluding syllable of the sentence, all the other syllables in the sentence lie in his or her past.  Considered as mere sensation or sensuous perception there is nothing in any of the spoken syllables that has any inherent connection or reference to any of the other syllables.  They are mere sounds.  Indeed, the sentence might never before have been uttered in the history of the human race, and so presented to the speaker and to us an entirely novel combination of mere sounds.  Yet the speaker was somehow carried from one occasion to another until the sentence was complete, and we, the listeners, were carried along with him or her.  The complete sentence illustrates some inherent connection between several occasions in the life histories of the speaker and ourselves, yet consideration of the mere sensa, the sounds, reveals no basis for such connection.

In Whitehead’s understanding, this is another example of the primacy of non-sensuous perception and can only be understood as each successive occasion in the speaker’s life-history inheriting the as yet incompletely actualized intention of uttering the entire sentence.  The subjective form of each occasion—the intention to utter the complete sentence—is inherited conformally in the initial phase of each succeeding occasion until the intention is fulfilled.

This account, of course, remains incomplete until I discuss in the following subsections the responsive and originative phases of an occasion of experience, and introduce the notion of subjective aim.

We have here, Whitehead insists, an instance of perception in the mode of causal efficacy: “we finish a sentence because we have begun it.” [PR, II.4.x (M, p. 197; C, p. 129).] The past with its subjective form of intent to utter the complete sentence is felt and continued in the present occasion; the subjective form of the present occasion conforms to the feeling it inherits from its past.  While such non-sensuous perception does not have the sharp and vivid precision of sense-perception, still there can be no doubt about its existence in our experience. [AI, XI, xii,  pp. 182-183.]

These examples point to the evidence in our experience establishing not only that perception in the mode of causal efficacy exists, but also that it is the more primitive mode of perception. Sense perception, or perception in the mode of presentational immediacy, has been shown to be wholly dependent upon perception in the mode of causal efficacy. Underlying the vivid and precise awareness of our sense perception we find the subtle but fundamental awareness that we see, hear, taste, smell, and feel only because we have a body that is functioning. The common-sense obviousness of this point is initially an obstacle to grasping its significance. But once the point has been grasped, its obviousness is a compelling piece of evidence for the existence and primitiveness of perception in the mode of causal efficacy. Further, such basic elements of our common experience as emotion and purpose—which on the sensationalist account are made to be the dubious outcome of apparently groundless inferences concerning the data of sense—now find their ground in the more primitive portion of our experience underlying sense perception, that portion of experience ignored by the sensationalist account.

See, among many possible references, PR, II.7.ii (M, p. 246; C, p. 162): “Experience has been explained in a thoroughly topsy-turvy fashion, the wrong end first.  In particular, emotional and purposeful experience have been made to follow upon Hume’s impressions of sensation.”

Emotions and purposes are incorrectly interpreted if understood as private subjective passions and notions read into the data of experience.  Instead, they arise from the data themselves as the present subject inherits its past.  Since feeling and purpose are in fact rooted in the experience of causal efficacy, Whitehead concludes, they are more primitive elements of experience than are sense perception and inference.

These observations of the character of our experience necessitate a revised understanding of the subject enjoying experience.  The subject can no longer be understood metaphysically to be a substance requiring nothing but itself in order to exist.  On the contrary, the most primitive aspects of human experience are feelings of derivation: the inheritance of bodily states and the inheritance of past personal experience with the conformation of feeling.  The subject enjoying experience, then, is not some isolated, independent substance.  In the initial phase of a present occasion of experience the subject arises from the world it inherits with conformity of feeling.  The subject is not a substance but a center of activity, a functioning, a process: it is the unity of that occasion of experience arising from the becoming of the experience itself.  The subject of a present occasion of experience is initially created in its activity of receiving the past.  The actual world, the objective content of the datum for present experience, is the essential ground for the creation of subjectivity.  In short, the subject cannot be (or, more precisely, cannot become) without its initial dependence upon and inheritance of the actual objective world of the immediate past.  In other words, the objective actual world as the datum for experience is the initial condition of the possibility of subjectivity.  Subjectivity is derivative from objectivity.  One can with equal truth regard this interface between objectivity and subjectivity, between the immediate past and the present, as both the activity of the objective world making itself felt in the present (its immediate future),

This is what Whitehead calls the “superjective nature” of an actual entity.

and the activity of the subject in its initial phase of receiving the world as datum for experience.  The subject is created from and by the past but in the present by its own activity of receiving the past.  The subject, in its initial phase, is the feeling here and now of what is there and then to be felt.

This is the “vector character” of feeling or prehension in its initial phase.  See, for example, PR, II.3.i (M, p. 133; C, p. 87): “Feelings are ‘vectors’; for they feel what is there and transform it into what is here.”  Or again, see II.3.v (M, p. 182; C, p. 119): “The crude aboriginal character of direct perception is inheritance.  What is inherited is feeling-tone with evidence of its origin: in other words, vector feeling-tone.”  See also SMW, IX, p. 217: “Thus no individual subject can have indepen-dent reality, since it is a prehension of limited aspects of subjects other than itself.”

The primitive form of physical experience is emotional—blind emotion—received as felt elsewhere in another occasion and conformally appropriated as a subjective passion.  In the language appropriate to the higher stages of experience, the primitive element is sym-pathy, that is, feeling the feeling in another and feeling conformally with another.

PR, II.7.iii (M, p. 246; C, p. 162).  This, of course, is only the first part of the story of subjectivity.  Its completion lies in the following subsections.

The subject, then, cannot be conceived as an independent substance requiring nothing but itself in order to exist and qualified by abstract universals (i.e., the mere entertainment of sense-data).  From the beginning the subject is involved in dependent and constitutive relationships to the actual objective world.  In the dative phase of experience the subject begins to arise from the activity of receiving the objective actual world into itself.  The subject is thus to be conceived as the product of its own “constructive functioning”;

The full meaning of this statement will not appear until we consider the later phases of concrescence.  But it is germane to the present topic of the initial receptive phase of experience to point out that it is the foregoing analysis of the initial phase and its relation to the subject that causes Whitehead to invert Kant’s analysis, and yet pay him the highest of compliments. See PR, II.6.v (M, p. 236; C, p. 156): “Thus for Kant the process whereby there is experience is a process from subjectivity to apparent objectivity.  The philosophy of organism inverts this analysis, and explains the process as proceeding from objectivity to subjectivity, namely, from the objectivity, whereby the external world is a datum, to the subjectivity, whereby there is one individual experience. . . .

“We have come now to Kant, the great philosopher who first, fully and explicitly, introduced into philosophy the conception of an act of experience as a constructive functioning, trans-forming subjectivity into objectivity, or objectivity into subjectivity; the order is immaterial in comparison with the general idea.”

but that functioning begins with the completely dependent activity of accepting into itself the legacy of particular existents in its past (i.e., the experience of other subjects objectified for it by conformation of feeling). Only by such a revised understanding of the subject can philosophy pay its due to the deliverance of our common experience that the present, in a fundamental and unavoidable way, is the child of the past.

This description of Whitehead’s revised under-standing of the subject must await completion in the next subsections.  We have now seen, however, an important part of Whitehead’s analysis of human subjectivity, and I must consider how he generalizes this analysis into a metaphysical interpretation of reality.


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The Metaphysical Hypothesis: The Theory of Concrescence, Initial Phase

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