Saturday, January 16, 2010

Reading Process and Reality (09)

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).

A lure for feeling
It is evident...that the primary function of theories is as a lure for feeling, thereby providing immediacy of enjoyment and purpose. Unfortunately theories, under their name of 'propositions,' have been handed over to logicians, who have countenanced the doctrine that their one function is to be judged as to their truth or falsehood. (184)

It is difficult to believe that all logicians as they read Hamlet's speech, "To be, or not to be: ..." commence by judging whether the initial proposition be true or false, and keep up the task of judgement throughout the whole thirty-five lines. Surely, at some point in the reading, judgement is eclipsed by aesthetic delight. The speech, for the theatre audience, is purely theoretical, a mere lure for feeling. (185)

The penumbral welter of alternatives
Anyone who at bedtime consciously reviews the events of the day is subconsciously projecting them against the penumbral welter of alternatives. He is unconsciously deciding feelings so as to maximize his primary feeling, and to secure its propagation beyond his immediate present occasion. (187)