Experience and relations in the metaphysics of A.N. Whitehead and F.H. Bradley
McHenry, Leemon Benton
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The central purpose of this thesis is to examine the affinities and contrasts in the metaphysical systems of A. N. Whitehead and F. H. Bradley. Not only does this thesis aim to explore thoroughly and show exactly where these two philosophers agree, it also attempts to provide an analysis and evaluation of the arguments where conflict does arise.After a brief introduction which sets out Whitehead's and Bradley's respective positions on philosophic method and approach to metaphysics, Chapter II "Immediate Experience and Feeling ", shows where Whitehead and Bradley unite in their reaction against the ontology of scientific materialism of the 17th century cosmology. At this point various affinities are shown concerning the central role of the doctrine of feeling. But in Chapter III "The Analysis of Experience ", Whitehead's interpretation of feeling in terms of a distinctive pluralistic ontology is seen to conflict with Bradley's doctrine, and thus the stage is set for the central Chapter IV "Relations: Internal and External ". In this chapter Whitehead is confronted with Bradley's very rigorous and exhaustive analysis of the relational form. Despite Bradley's arguments it is here concluded that Whitehead's scheme can be shown to be consistent, given various modifications of the pluralist ontology in terms of the temporal asymmetry of one -way dependence. In Chapter V "Extension and Whole -Part Relations ", an attempt is made to defend the new doctrine of event -pluralism against a recent version of the ontology of material substance; and it is shown how such an ontology of events can account for the physical bodies which make up the system of nature. In the remainder of this chapter and the following Chapter VI "Time ", special problems of space and time are raised in connection with Whitehead's and Bradley's very different conceptions of the extended universe; and various attempts are made to defend Whitehead's view of process against an eternalistic view of the universe largely consistent with the Bradleian Absolute. However in the course of evaluating the arguments, it is discovered that Whitehead's ultimate metaphysical position must make certain concessions to the theory of eternalism; and this gives rise to the final Chapter VII "God and the Absolute ", where it is concluded that Whitehead's God must be seen as an 'Absolute open at one end'. Here Whitehead and Bradley merge on the notion of universal absorption of all finite actualities into one eternal actual entity; though Whitehead's conception, in the end, differs in the sense that God is not the only real entity, but one divine actuality which is in unison of becoming with the whole of creation.