Monday, August 8, 2011

Does Process Theology Endanger Personalism?

Leon of After Nature posted the following More on Whitehead: Process Catholicism that provokes a question from me.  Is this sort of work endangering to personalist views?  That is, personalism broadly holds that the category of the human is ontologically essential, and it is a common doctrine of Catholicism.   The danger is that allowing "subjectivity" to be a general feature of the cosmos de-emphasizes human subjectivity to the point of depersonalizing it.  I have a difficult time seeing how one can depersonalize subjectivity without diminishing the human person, especially in a Catholic framework.  I can image that there are ways around my critique, but that leads to me ask why is it explained in this way?  Rhetoric is the only answer I can imagine, which makes me wonder what is at play.  Puzzlement.


  1. Jason,
    I set out some responses in the links below.

    Thank and hope all is well,


  2. Looking at the post, I noticed an interesting definition of subjectivity as potency and power, which, Leon implies, is active within the constitution of the world.

    This is very similar to guiding principles of virtue or "de" 德 in Confucianism and Doaism. Whiel Daoism is more famous for appealing to 德, the term is also an important part of Mencius' thought.

    The idea of "de" 德 is that it's a person's particular power or efficacy to interact with the changing environment of the world around them, and to guide and direct processes towards completion or through transformation.

    However, neither of these cosmologies adhere to substance metaphysics, but despite this, there are important religious and spiritual elements in both traditions that suggest spirituality may be a process. Classical Chinese cosmology in general locates the divine as an element in the process of change, and human beings, as persons within that process, have capacities and virtues for creating harmony and success, or chaos and failure.