Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History, and Us (book review)

REVIEW: The Shock of the Anthropocene: The Earth, History, and Us (2016, Verso), by Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz 

The Anthropocene names both a time and a condition: the geo-epoch after the Holocene and the increasingly fragile intertwining of the human and nonhuman. Since being popularized by the chemist Paul Crutzen in 2000, it has frequently appeared in academia and broader culture, especially in articles and books covering climate change. Although the Anthropocene might seem to be just another word for the environmental crisis, it goes further by naming “a geological revolution of human origin” (xi). Many scientists now agree that we no longer live in the Holocene, the previous geo-epoch of 11,500 years that, thanks to its relatively stable climate, enabled the flourishing of human civilizations on five continents. Today, humanity has become a geological force, and not just a biological one. In The Shock of the Anthropocene, historians Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz critically examine the profound implications of this turn to the Anthropocene, “the new age of humans.”

When did the Anthropocene begin? Many scientists argue that it started in the 19th century during the Industrial Revolution with the growing use of coal, which pushed CO2 levels beyond the Holocene maximum of 284 ppm to 290 ppm (currently above 400 ppm). As Christophe Bonneuil and Jean-Baptiste Fressoz explain, this marked a “break…of geological amplitude and not simply historical...it was with the power of fossil fuels that human activities so profoundly transformed the Earth system’s biology and geology” (16). Human activity has continued to transform the planet in profound ways: current CO2 levels have not been equaled for millions of years; global warming is predicted to reach levels unmatched for 15 million years; the great extinction of biodiversity now taking place has previously occurred just five times in 4.5 billion years; distributions of species have been hugely modified; evidence of massive urbanization, industrial production, mining, and agricultural activities will likely be inscribed in the stratigraphic record, along with new substances that humans have produced, such as plastics and pesticides. Consequently, millions of years from now, it is highly probable that all of this will leave geological evidence of human activity in ice cores and the sedimentological record.

Bonneuil and Fressoz (hereafter BF) not only provide an excellent introduction to the science, history, and philosophy of the Anthropocene, but they also present a series of powerful arguments against its official narrative. To be sure, they see value in the concept, and ultimately embrace a version of it. The Anthropocene necessarily challenges bifurcating modes of thought that intensified in modernity, because it “abolishes the break between nature and culture, between human history and the history of life on Earth” (19). Such thinking formed “the cultural precondition for the swing into the Anthropocene" by enabling radical anthropocentrism, individualism, and the externalization of nature as virtually infinite – thus rendering planetary limits invisible. As such, modern science became concerned with an apolitical nature while the humanities and social sciences focused on an anatural society/culture

But the Anthropocene overturns these views by signaling “the return of the Earth into the world that Western industrial modernity on the whole represented to itself as being above an earthly foundation.” It magnifies planetary limits, thus giving the lie to economic and political theories that view nature as little more than a place to extract resources and deposit waste. By abolishing the dualism of nature and society, the Anthropocene implies a worldview in which society is shot through with “biophysical processes”, while flows of matter-energy are “polarized by socially structured human activities.” Affirming this worldview, BF note that their perspective is influenced by the philosophies of Whitehead and Deleuze, the science studies of Bruno Latour, and the eco-Marxism of Jason Moore.

Despite the conceptual potency of the Anthropocene, BF argue that its official “narrative of awakening” must be resisted. This narrative goes something like this: humanity is now a decisive geological force, rivaling many of the great forces of Nature in its planetary impact. Scientists are the heroes because they have awakened us to the environmental crisis and our unsustainable ways. While the ‘moderns’ are at fault for initiating this crisis, they did not have our science or awareness that they were destroying the planet. But now we know, thanks to the scientists, and must look to them for solutions.

However, BF argue that this narrative is flawed in multiple ways. First, it implies an abstract conception of humanity, as if all humans are equally to blame for initiating the Anthropocene. They argue that it was “bourgeois and industrial Enlightenment” humans in particular who not only promoted bifurcating, anthropocentric worldviews, but who also erected the extractive socio-economic mechanisms that swung us into the Anthropocene. BF therefore insist on a Marxist and postcolonial grid that emphasizes differentiated human histories (of power, class, etc.). Moreover, just as the causes of the Anthropocene must be differentiated, so the human consequences of the Anthropocene need to be viewed as “common but differentiated.”

Second, BF argue that the official narrative of the Anthropocene falsely asserts that moderns lacked environmental warnings. In fact, “Our planet’s entry into the Anthropocene did not follow a frenetic modernism ignorant of the environment but, on the contrary, decades of reflection and concern as to the human degradation of our Earth” (76). Early modern societies were not uniformly guided by mechanistic worldviews, the authors claim. Perhaps surprisingly, organicist cosmologies and “environmental prudences” that opposed industrial exploitations were apparently quite common. Even so, one must ask: how truly widespread were these “prudences”? And were these worldviews not still anthropocentric in viewing nature as instrumentally rather than intrinsically valuable? Yet the authors are persuasive in their argument that to ignore earlier environmental sensitivities is to depoliticize the Anthropocene. In other words, we must acknowledge that earlier environmental discourses not only existed, but were actively repressed by those in power – many of whom knowingly destroyed the environment. Shockingly, the authors demonstrate that moderns continued their industrial projects despite knowing that they were environmentally disastrous. For example, upon recognizing that humanity faced a choice between “a brief greatness” with dirty coal or “continued mediocrity” without it, economist William Jevons argued for the former in 1866 (195). As the authors write,
“The conclusion that forces itself on us, disturbing as it may be, is that our ancestors destroyed environments in full awareness of what they were doing...The historical problem, therefore, is not the emergence of an ‘environmental awareness’ but rather the reverse: to understand the schizophrenic nature of modernity, which continued to view humans as the products of their environment at the same time as it let them damage and destroy it.” (197) 
The third critique that the authors make of the Anthropocene narrative is that it tends to assume a generalized “modernity”, which needs to be differentiated more carefully. Throughout the book, BF present historically detailed arguments to show that the real roots of the Anthropocene are, more specifically, the forces of industrial modernity: capitalism (“Capitalocene”), modern warfare (“Thanatocene”), consumerism (“Phagocene”), and American and British imperialism. These structural forces and industrial processes have been uniquely powerful in transforming the Earth, which is why the authors insist on pluralizing the Anthropocene narrative that too easily becomes the basis for an apolitical “view-from-nowhere.” Merely critiquing a generalized “modernity” is thus unhelpful and inaccurate. The authors’ call to further investigate how power differentials and social inequalities have enabled the destruction of environments ought to be taken with full seriousness.

Finally, by elevating a small group of scientists above the uninformed masses, BF worry that the official narrative of the Anthropocene could legitimize a “technocratic”, “oligarchic”, and “marketoriented geopower” (49, 288). Without criticizing this grand narrative, which utilizes seductive rhetoric of epochal rupture and novelty, scientists will “hold a monopoly position in defining what is happening to us and in prescribing what needs to be done” (80). Although B&F affirm the importance of contemporary science, a democratic “politics from below” must also be maintained so that other voices can be heard. They argue that we cannot leave all debates about solutions to the “geocratic experts”, especially when so many of them support dangerous geo-engineering projects. Such proposals view the Earth in radically instrumental terms, thereby denying its alterity “in order to occupy it entirely and transform it into a techno-nature, an Earth entirely permeated by human activity” (61). Furthermore, these “techno-fixes” ignore the really crucial questions about the “basic industrial structure of modern society” (94) and its exploitative capitalist system – which are precisely what need to be challenged and revolutionized for the sake of the planet.

This is an important and challenging book that will undoubtedly become a central point of reference in ongoing debates about the Anthropocene. As an interdisciplinary text that impressively blends science, history, and philosophy, it deserves to be widely read. General readers might especially benefit from the first section of the book, which discusses the origins and various interpretations of the Anthropocene. It will also be valuable for philosophers and theologians who are interested in environmental ethics, political theology, and eco-theology.

[This review is not to be cited without permission from the author.]

Friday, February 12, 2016

REVIEW: "Deep Pantheism" by Robert Corrington

This is certainly one of Corrington’s most important works to date. For those who have never read his previous books, Deep Pantheism is an excellent place to start. It is relatively short, clearly written, and his core argument for the theological position of deep pantheism is compelling. What always impresses me about Corrington is how he manages to synthesize so many other thinkers into his religious or ecstatic naturalism. He draws deeply on the American philosophical tradition, especially James, Dewey, Emerson, and Peirce. He also engages the Continental tradition, such as Heidegger, Schelling, Schopenhauer, and Jaspers, along with psychoanalytic theorists like Jung and Rank. In this book, he adds a creative appropriation of the Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo. As a Unitarian (post-Christian) philosopher, Corrington also remains in critical dialogue with the broad tradition of liberal theology, from Schleiermacher’s romanticism to Tillich’s existentialism and Whiteheadian process theology.

Regarding the latter, Corrington views deep pantheism as a distinct alternative to process panentheism (or any type of theism, for that matter), which typically views God as the source of ideal possibilities and the all-inclusive whole of the world. By contrast, Corrington views god in radically pluralistic, naturalistic, and immanent terms. Negatively, deep pantheism rejects the monotheistic idea of God as personal, supernatural, creator, etc. As a naturalist, Corrington claims that “nature is all that there is”, so god is a product of – rather than the producer of – nature.

For Corrington, nature is internally divided into nature naturing (“nature perennially creating itself out of itself alone”) and nature natured (“nature’s products”, or “natural complexes”). Nothing transcends nature, so transcendence is always in and of nature itself. Thus deep pantheism affirms a fully naturalistic god on the side of nature natured, which is a natural complex like everything else. It does not represent a being that is any more or less real than other complexes. It is not a unifying, omnipotent god – an Order of all orders that intervenes, guides the universe towards a final goal, responds to prayers, etc. Nor is this a “flat” pantheism that simply views all of nature as sacred. As such, while “deep” suggests the unconscious depths of nature naturing, we might also name this pantheism “pluralistic,” for there are a “million Godheads” (Aurobindo) emergent from nature. And what is the ‘function’ of the gods in relation to humans? As Corrington writes, they can be “felt as a moment of intensity that goads the self toward a more inclusive and robust realization of its ongoing link to the infinite, but as encountered from the perspective of its own inescapable finitude” (16).

Although these multiple divinities lack an absolute source of unity – and thus are capable of partly explaining multiple, clashing revelations and such – they also participate in what Corrington calls “the Wisdom”, which is a new concept for his work (81). The Wisdom is an internally complex “repository of natural wisdom available” to the human process (84). It too is an evolving natural complex (although unusually vast and complex), which is an emergent from nature naturing. It is the natural “font” of god-ing energies, and thus manifests itself as the finite/infinite gods to human selves through the mediation of naturalistic spirits. However ambiguously and inconsistently, the Wisdom can sometimes provide a deeper wisdom or “higher counsel” to the human process. Among other things, it can provoke mindfulness, comfort the afflicted, and undermine racism by opening the human process to more inclusive communities of interpretation. Beyond the Wisdom, Corrington suggests the apophatic concept of “the Encompassing” (Jaspers), which is a “traitless nothingness” that encircles nature as a whole. In the end, Corrington integrates these  concepts into a "new Transcendentalism", which is his attempt to forge a path between Schopenhauer's pessimism and the early Emerson's optimism: "Honoring both perspectives, it sees the richness and sublime power of many of the potencies of nature naturing, while also recognizing the demonic depths of nature" (98).

Whether one ultimately agrees with Corrington’s deep pantheism or not, this is a fascinating and adventurous work of contemporary theology that will stir the imagination. It will especially appeal to post-Christians, Unitarian Universalists, and "spiritual but not religious" persons. I also recommended it to anyone who is more broadly interested in philosophical theology and religious naturalism.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Best of 2015: Movies, Music, Books

Every year I post top ten lists of the movies, music, and books that I loved during the year. I've always been a list-maker, so this is a post that I look forward to creating every year. For a variety of reasons, compiling my 2015 list has taken longer than usual. While I've had my music and book list ready for some time, it has taken additional time to see a broad enough sampling of the most buzzed about movies of 2015. To be sure, I haven't seen all of them - including a number of Oscar nominated films, which I would likely enjoy. Despite these limitations, I managed to see a lot of great movies last year. My final qualification for this list is about my book selections. A number of the books on my list were not technically first published in 2015, but within the last couple of years (although in some cases, they were published in paperback in 2015). Having said that, these are the movies, music, and books that I loved in 2015:

MOVIES:
1) Ex Machina, directed by Alex Garland
2) Love and Mercy, directed by Bill Pohlad
3) Mad Max: Fury Road, directed by George Miller
4) Straight Outta Compton, directed by F. Gary Gray
5) The End of the Tour, directed by James Ponsoldt
6) Sicario, directed by Dennis Villeneuve
7) The Room, directed by Lenny Abrahamson
8) The RevenantAlejandro G. Iñárritu
9) The Danish Girl, directed by Tom Hooper
10) Chi-Raq, directed by Spike Lee

Honorable Mentions: The ExperimenterStar Wars: The Force AwakensBridge of Spies; Spotlight; Tangerine; The Martian; Inside Out; Best of Enemies: Buckley vs. Vidal; The Gift; Wildlike.




MUSIC
1) Sufjan Stevens, Carrie and Lowell
2) Father John Misty, I Love You, Honey
3) Kendrick Lamar, To Pimp a Butterfly
4) Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free
5) Leon Bridges, Coming Home
6) Kacy Musgraves, Pageant Material
7) Ryan Adams, 1984
8) Coldplay, Head Full of Dreams
9) Josh Ritter, Sermon On the Rocks
10) City and Colour, If I Should Go Before You

Honorable Mentions: Death Cab For Cutie, Kintsugi; Caitlin Canty, Reckless Sunshine; The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World; The Weeknd, Beauty Behind the Madness; Adele, 25; Bjork, Vulnicura; Mutemath, Vitals; Wilco, Star Wars; Of Monsters and Men, Beneath the Skin.



BOOKS:
1) Kantian Reason and Hegelian Spirit: The Idealistic Logic of Modern Theology (paperback edition, 2015) by Gary Dorrien
2) Deleuze and the Naming of God: Post-Secularism and the Future of Immanence (paperback edition, 2015) by Daniel C. Barber
3) Reimagining the Sacred by Richard Kearney and Jans Zimmerman (eds.)
4) Unprecedented: Can Civilization Survive the CO2 Crisis? by David Ray Griffin
5) Thinking With Whitehead (paperback edition, 2014) by Isabelle Stengers
6) Deep Pantheism: Toward a New Transcendentalism by Robert S. Corrington
7) Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (paperback edition, 2015) by Charles Marsh
8) This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein
9) The Homebrewed Christianity Guide to Jesus: Lord, Liar, Lunatic, or Awesome? by Tripp Fuller
10) The Uncontrolling Love of God by Thomas Jay Oord
Older books that I also loved in 2015: The Fragility of Things by William Connolly; A World of Becoming by William Connolly; A Black Theology of Liberation by James Cone; Religion and Ecology by Whitney Bauman; Process Theology as Political Theology by John Cobb; Pragmatism by William James; Josiah Royce: Selected Spiritual Writings by Josiah Royce; The New Gospel of Christian Atheism by Thomas Altizer; What is Philosophy? by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; A Thousand Plateaus by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari; Hegel and Christian Theology by Peter Hodgson; The End of Certainty by Ilya Prigogene.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

On Eternal Objects: Whiteheadian Idealism or Empiricism?

What I want to explore in this post is one of the most controversial concepts in Whitehead’s metaphysics: the “eternal objects” (EOs), which he also calls “pure potentials” or “pure possibilities.” In the end, how one interprets EOs largely determines one’s view of Whitehead’s overall system: whether in terms of idealism or empiricism.

At a basic level, EOs make sense of the conviction that “thought is wider than nature” - or better, that potentiality is wider than actuality. For Whitehead, reality cannot be reduced to the actual, which would imply a static world without genuine novelty or creativity. There would be no unrealized potential in such a cosmos. Some sphere of genuinely real possibility is therefore required to make sense of alternatives, contingencies, the “could-have-been-otherwise.”

This sphere is different from – although continuously interpenetrating – actuality. While actuality is intrinsically agential and determinate, EOs are indeterminate and non-agential (i.e., powerless “quasi-causes”). Borrowing Deleuzian language, Roland Faber therefore likes to say that while the actual exists, EOs insist as transcendental conditions for novelty and creativity. Both are real, but differently. As such, EOs

...answer the question of how the creative passage of…becoming can be a passage that is also creative and still escapes these two pitfalls of mere perpetual perishing into worthlessness, on the one hand, and mere eternal repetition of the Same, on the other. (DM, 139). 

More specifically, EOs account for things like sensory qualities (‘redness’), tactile qualities (‘softness’), conceptual abstractions (shapes and numbers), contrasts, relations, patterns, and emotions that differently condition actualities. Without pre-determining anything, EOs uniquely contribute to an entity’s becoming. Although comparable to universals like Ideas, Platonic forms, and predicates, Whitehead denies that EOs are universal essences in any traditional sense. They are not a priori logical structures for the world's particulars, but dynamic conditions for novelty and creativity.

As a radical empiricist, Whitehead argues that concrete actualities are “the only reasons.” As such, one cannot talk about eternal objects as the more ultimate reasons behind things. Actualities are not simply built up out of static universals. And unlike Platonic forms, EOs cannot be encountered outside of actual experience (as in a realm of pure reason or contemplation). As such, Whitehead converts Platonic idealism into radical empiricism. EOs are therefore not the ultimate ground of intelligibility or rationality, for reason/intelligibility refer exclusively to actual experience. This is also a consequence of Whitehead’s further – and deceptively simple – definition of eternal objects:

The first principle is that an eternal object…is what it is (SMW, 159) 

According to Stengers, this implies that EOs are singularities that are not primarily defined as “models” or “analogues” for actual entities. In other words: actual entities do not “resemble” the EOs that condition them. If they did, an EO would then be something other than “what it is”, having instead become a model for something other than itself and thus capable of being “characterized on the basis of some of its privileged cases of ingression” (TWW, 211). But even if EOs do remain in some sense transcendent to actuality, Whitehead strips them “of any ‘eminent value’, to which things of this world owe their legitimacy” (TWW, 208).

With this in mind, Steven Shaviro explains the function of EOs as adverbial rather than substantive: they merely express how actual entities relate to one another, rather than dictating what they in fact become. Consequently, EOs are ultimately unknowable and unnamable, as Stengers notes, because “the verbs ‘to know’ and ‘to name’ refer to (sophisticated) modes of feeling, which presuppose the [actual] determination of the ‘how.’” Again: the only reasons are concrete actualities. Stengers continues:

[EOs] are not determinant, but ‘potential for determination.’ They are what determination requires, the definition of the ‘how’ of each feeling, but no particular ‘how’ constitutes a privileged path allowing us to rise back up toward an eternal object…in other words, they explain nothing, justify nothing, guarantee nothing, privilege nothing, especially not intellectual operations in search of abstraction (TWW, 302-303). 

This interpretation of Whitehead is not the only one possible, and it is not without difficulties. It foregrounds some of Whitehead’s convictions to make sense of a very difficult concept in his metaphysics, but one can go about this in another fashion. I have relied primarily on Stengers, Shaviro, and Faber’s readings of Whitehead, but even these careful readers of process philosophy admit to some ambiguous statements in Whitehead’s texts that favor a more idealistic interpretation – which I should note has influenced a great deal of process theology (see Gary Dorrien’s idealistic reading of Whitehead in Kantian Reason and Hegelian Spirit). Ultimately, one’s theological commitments will strongly influence one’s interpretation of Whitehead, whether along idealistic lines or through an empiricist lens.

Having said that, the empiricist reading is intriguing to me, in part because it brings Whitehead closer to Deleuze. In fact, Deleuze implies such a reading of Whitehead in his late work, The Fold, where he relates his concept of the Virtual to EOs. Deleuze opposes the virtual to most concepts of the possible, which tend to function as universal essences that the temporal world actualizes as a sort of pre-formatted blueprint that merely lacks reality. As such, the possible is able to explain reality. But as I have tried to show, EOs are more like the virtual in that they do not lack reality, and they are not universal essences that can be experienced beyond the actual. Thus Stengers notes that, like the virtual, EOs take on differential “modes of ingression” within the actual, so it is impossible for an EO to be “conceived in the image of its actualization” (TWW, 214). On this reading, Whitehead's EOs are less like an eternal model and more like conditioning problems; correspondingly, actualities are creative responses to such problems rather than imitations of models.

In another post, I want to begin to think through the theological implications of this interpretation of EOs. Because Whitehead introduces God as that infinite process that necessarily provides a “place” for eternal objects, one cannot rethink the nature of the possible without also rethinking the nature of divinity.

Works cited:

Roland Faber, The Divine Manifold
Isabelle Stengers, Thinking With Whitehead 
Steven Shaviro, "Eternal Objects" (see also Without Criteria)
Philip Rose, On Whitehead
Gilles Deleuze, The Fold
Gary Dorrien, Kantian Reason and Hegelian Spirit
AN Whitehead, Process and Reality
------------------, Science and the Modern World

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

My Video Presentation at 2015 Whitehead Conference

Below is the video of my presentation at one of the many tracks at the 2015 Whitehead conference in Claremont, CA. In the paper, I discuss the ways in which Whitehead's philosophy offers an ecological corrective to Western anthropocentrism. I focus on Whitehead's critique of the bifurcation of nature - a problem that was arguably radicalized by Kant and his followers - and that is now being appropriated by so-called "New Realists" like Steven Shaviro, Tim Morton, William Connolly, Karen Barad, Jane Bennett, and others. I also point out the eco-theological implications of Whitehead's theo-cosmology as it has been explicated by John Cobb and David Ray Griffin. Finally, I conclude with a discussion of Connolly's Whiteheadian critique of neoliberalism and his call for secular and religious persons to form "pluralist eco-assemblages" that resist the ecologically destructive ideology of neoliberalism. You'll also see my friend Tripp Fuller pushing me to unpack some of the deeper theological implications of the paper for the last 10 minutes of the video. 


Thursday, December 3, 2015

God, the All-Enfolder: Josiah Royce's Idealism

I've been reading the great American Idealist Josiah Royce (1855-1916) this week and enjoying it immensely. I've read a good amount of Hegel, the most important philosophical Idealist, but Royce offers a clarity that one does not find in the former. What interests me at the moment about Royce is his early argument for the Infinite Thought or Spirit as that which grounds the reality of error - and therefore truth and goodness. Royce then went on to argue that religion is not primarily about the individual, but about communal "loyalty", which becomes his defining theme and ultimate virtue: "Loyalty to loyalty," he wrote. While Royce's idealistic panentheism evolves over time - in ways that anticipate both Tillich and Whitehead, interestingly - I cannot resist sharing this quote from an early essay, "The Possibility of Error":

"Everything finite we can doubt, but not the Infinite. That eludes even skepticism. The world-builders, and the theodicies that were to justify them, we could well doubt. The apologetic devices wearied us. All the ontologies of the realistic schools were just pictures, that we could accept or reject as we chose by means of postulates. We tried to escape them all. We forsook all those gods; but here we have found something that abides...No power it is to be resisted, no plan-maker to be foiled by fallen angels, nothing finite, nothing striving, seeking, losing, altering, growing weary; the All-Enfolder it is, and we know its name. Not Heart, nor Love, though these also are in it and of it; Thought it is, and all things are for Thought, and in it we live and move."

Josiah Royce (right) with William James
In particular, I am intrigued to find Royce's theological metaphor of the "All-Enfolder", which resonates with Catherine Keller's recent work that synthesizes Cusa, Deleuze, and Whitehead to think of God in similar terms: the divine enfolding-unfolding, or the "Ultimate Entanglement."

One final quote that I'd like to share from Royce's later writings anticipates Whitehead's emphasis on the God who suffers, along with Moltmann's distinctly Christian image of the crucified God:

"But now, as it is, if we have the true insight of deeper idealism, we can turn from our chaos to him...the suffering God...who actually and in our flesh bears the sins of the world, and whose natural body is pierced by the capricious wounds that hateful fools inflict upon him - it is this thought, I say, that traditional Christianity has in its deep symbolism first taught the world, but that, in its fullness only an idealistic interpretation can really and rationally express...What in time is hopelessly lost, is attained for him in his eternity." (quoted in Cornel West Reader, 181-182)


Monday, October 26, 2015

Moltmann, Whitehead, & Process Theology

For the last few years, I have done a fair amount of work with the theology of Jurgen Moltmann and the process philosophy of Whitehead. I even wrote my masters thesis on the ecotheologies of Moltmann and John Cobb. Before that, I wrote a paper for a course on Whitehead that explored the ways that Moltmann appropriated the former's cosmology in various ways. It was a paper that I was proud of, but it needed quite a bit of work before I was comfortable sharing it. I did, however, post a portion of the paper on this blog (until recently), which was titled "Is Moltmann a Process Theologian?" (the short answer: no, but he does affirm open theism and elements of Whitehead's cosmology).

I have finally had a reason to thoroughly rewrite that paper over recent weeks and have decided to share it on my Academia profile. It now includes a more substantive analysis of Moltmann's post-Barthian methodology and what I think is a far more nuanced reading of Whitehead's metaphysics (thanks largely to my studies with both Catherine Keller and Roland Faber). For Moltmann and Whitehead nerds: while the paper draws most heavily on the former's God in Creation and the latter's Process and Reality, I engage most of their major publications in the paper.

In just one month, I'll be at AAR in Atlanta and am really looking forward to hearing Moltmann speak at the Homebrewed Christianity event on Friday and the open and relational theologies group over the weekend. Especially if you plan to be there too, maybe this essay will prove interesting or even helpful for you as you gear up to engage one of the world's greatest living theologians.

READ THE ESSAY HERE: "God & Creation in Process: Moltmann's Critical Appropriation of Whitehead's Cosmology"