Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reading Process and Reality (06)

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (Gifford Lectures 1927-28, Corrected Edition), ed. David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne (New York: The Free Press, 1978).

The feeling is one thing
A feeling cannot be abstracted from the actual entity entertaining it. This actual entity is termed the 'subject' of the feeling. It is in virtue of its subject that the feeling is one thing. If we abstract the subject from the feeling we are left with many things. Thus a feeling is a particular in the same sense in which each actual entity is a particular. It is one aspect of its own subject.
The term 'subject' has been retained because in this sense it is familiar in philosophy. But it is misleading. The term 'superject' would be better. The subject-superject is the purpose of the process originating the feelings. The feelings are inseparable from the end at which they aim; and this end is the feeler. The feelings aim at the feeler, as their final cause. The feelings are what they are in order that their subject may be what it is. Then transcendently, since the subject is what it is in virtue of its feelings, it is only by means of its feelings that the subject objectively conditions the creativity transcendent beyond itself.
Moral Responsibility
In our own relatively high grade of human existence, this doctrine of feelings and their subject is best illustrated by our notion of moral responsibility. The subject is responsible for being what it is in virtue of its feelings. It is also derivatively responsible for the consequences of its existence because they flow from its feelings. (221-222)