Becoming actual occasions in the present (subjects) ‘prehend’ all past occasions (objects) in varying degrees, synthesizing them into something unique. The past penetrates into the present, such that everything in the universe is ultimately related, although the effect of the past fades over time to virtually nothing. In this model, contemporary events have no causal efficacy on one another, so cause always precedes effect. Additionally, occasions are dipolar: the ‘physical pole’ prehends the finite past and the ‘mental pole’ conceptually prehends the mental past, which offers novel possibilities. These relevant possibilities that are felt and realized by the becoming occasion are called ‘eternal objects’, which are like Plato’s forms, although for Whitehead they are passive while ‘matter’ (which is actually energy) is active. As such, the eternal objects must be ordered and actualized by actual entities. Without the novelty introduced by the ordering of eternal objects for each occasion, the past would entirely determine the present and there would be no real freedom. For Whitehead, freedom is so essential that it is universally present even without conscious decision-making. He argues that in every occasion there is a purposive element called the ‘subjective aim’, as well as its ‘subjective form’ – how the occasion uniquely prehends the past. The subjective aim and form are largely repeated in immediately subsequent occasions. The final synthesis of the becoming occasion is its ‘satisfaction’, after which they ‘perish’ and become an influence on all future occasions.
|John B. Cobb Jr.|