Creativity in American philosophy by Charles Hartshorne

By Charles Hartshorne

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So here are five speculative problems concerning which we apparently are scarcely wiser than the Marxist world. The chief difference is that the latter has more confidence in its answers than most of us have, a difference perhaps not wholly in our favor. I believe that the Marxist is in serious error on all five topics, although least so in respect to the fourth (substances and events). I admit that he does have some true insights; for instance, "the transformation of quantity into quality" has a certain validity.

God might have 'made' a different world, or even none at all. But a cause at liberty to produce not only all sorts of effects, but also no effect, is a very strange cause indeed! There is another difficulty. Not only do most of the examples concern physical causes of physical effects, whereas we are seeking to conceive an 'immaterial' cause of physical effects, but we have to Page 16 conceive also the creation of minds, or at least, of thoughts and feelings as well as of bodies. Let us now consider what Edwards did with this problem.

The "glory of God" is more literally the aim of existence in Whitehead's or Peirce's philosophy than in conventional Christianity. The "times that try men's souls" also sift their philosophies. If I am right, suitable working ideas are in principle derivable from neoclassical metaphysics, as I call it; but they need focusing on the actual needs and dangers. Page 14 Chapter 2 Jonathan Edwards on God and Causality Edwards (1703-1758) was a giant intellect, but an intellect in prison. The confining bars are apparent in the very doctrine for which he has been primarily admired by some: his contention that moral freedom is compatible with strict causal determinism.

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