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Process-Relational Philosophy

An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead

C. Robert Mesle

Process thought is the foundation for studies in many areas of contemporary philosophy, theology, political theory, educational theory, and the religion-science dialogue. It is derived from Alfred North Whitehead's philosophy, known as process theology, which lays a groundwork for integrating evolutionary biology, physics, philosophy of mind, theology, environmental ethics, religious pluralism, education, economics, and more.

In Process-Relational Philosophy, C. Robert Mesle breaks down Whitehead's complex writings, providing a simple but accurate introduction to the vision that underlies much of contemporary process philosophy and theology. In doing so, he points to a "way beyond both reductive materialism and the traps of Cartesian dualism by showing reality as a relational process in which minds arise from bodies, in which freedom and creativity are foundational to process, in which the relational power of persuasion is more basic than the unilateral power of coercion."

Because process-relational philosophy addresses the deep intuitions of a relational world basic to environmental and global thinking, it is being incorporated into undergraduate and graduate courses in philosophy, educational theory and practice, environmental ethics, and science and values, among others. Process-Relational Philosophy: A Basic Introduction makes Whitehead's creative vision accessible to all students and general readers.

Being and Becoming: A Personal Preface / ix

Chapter 1: A Process-Relational World: An Adventure That Matters / 3

Chapter 2: Imaginative Generalization: The Search for a Comprehensive Vision / 11

Chapter 3: Minds, Bodies, and Experience: Envisioning a Unified Self / 20

Chapter 4: Experience All the Way Down: Seeking an Imaginative Leap / 31

Chapter 5: Reality as Relational Process: Substance and Process / 42

Chapter 6: Reality as a Causal Web: A Constructive Postmodernism / 54

Chapter 7: Unilateral Power: Power, Value, and Reality / 65

Chapter 8: Relational Power: So What? 72

Chapter 9: Creativity, Freedom, and God: What Makes Freedom Possible? / 79

Chapter 10: Looking Ahead: The Future of Process-Relational Thought / 89

Appendix: Getting Technical: Whitehead’s Language / 93

Notes / 111

Suggested Reading / 119

Index / 121