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Charles Hartshorne: A Biography – Introduction

By Donald Wayne Viney

Charles Hartshorne in 1981
Photo by Donald Viney

Charles Hartshorne (1897-2000) was the leading representative of what has come to be called process philosophy during the second half of the twentieth century; but his career spanned the better part of the century, and his influence extended beyond philosophy to include theology, psychology, and ornithology.…

Charles Hartshorne: The Final Years

By Donald Wayne Viney

A Staggering Productivity

Hartshorne continued his remarkable productivity into his nineties. Whitehead’s Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935-1970 (1972), a collection of previously published pieces, was followed by two shorter works that treat Whitehead in historical context: Aquinas to Whitehead: Seven Centuries of Metaphysics of Religion (1976), a succinct historical overview and defense of dipolar theism, and Whitehead’s View of Reality (1981), which he co-authored with Creighton Peden (Hartshorne contributed the first three chapters).…

Charles Hartshorne: Immortality, Evil, and Beauty

The only form of immortality for creatures that Hartshorne admits is what Whitehead called “objective immortality.” God’s memory is the measure of the reality of the past. Hence, everything a creature has been, all of its joys and sorrows, achievements and failures, are preserved in the mind of God as objectively immortal.…

Charles Hartshorne: Dipolar Theism

By Donald Wayne Viney

God is required by Hartshorne’s metaphysics of indeterminism and psychicalism. Ordered or law-like relations in nature must be explained, if at all, by the creativity of one or many of the actualities comprising the universe. The order in question, however, is cosmic in scope.…

Charles Hartshorne: Psychicalism

By Donald Wayne Viney

Human experience provides the clearest example of the novel actualities that emerge in the “creative advance.” Of course, many nonhuman forms of experience exist. The title of Thomas Nagel’s article “What is it like to be a bat?” (1974) poses a meaningful, if unusual, question.…

Charles Hartshorne: Indeterminism

Whitehead’s philosophy
continued to influence

Hartshorne’s metaphysical position is indeterministic, psychicalist, and theistic. The most pervasive fact of experience, according to Hartshorne, is creativity, the becoming of novel actualities. Whitehead said in Process and Reality that the “many become one and are increased by one.” Hartshorne expresses the same idea by saying that “to be is to create.” The extent of novelty is a matter of degree, ranging from a minimum in the nearly exact repetition of pattern at the inorganic level to the maximum in artistic creation at the human level.…

Charles Hartshorne: The Austin Years

By Donald Wayne Viney

A Creative Metaphysical Synthesis

The most complete statement of Hartshorne’s neoclassical metaphysics is found in Creative Synthesis and Philosophic Method (1970). He rejects the understanding of metaphysics as a search for a reality behind the veil of experience, and he has little patience with dogmatism, special claims to insight, or the search for indubitable truths.…

Charles Hartshorne: The Emory Years

By Donald Wayne Viney

The Ontological Argument and the Case for Theism

In 1955 Hartshorne left Chicago for Emory University in Atlanta. He traveled to Hawaii, the Philippines, Japan, and Taiwan in 1958. In 1962 he moved to the University of Texas at Austin.…

Charles Hartshorne: Travel Abroad

By Donald Wayne Viney

A Philosopher Speaks of God and of Birds

In 1948-1949 Hartshorne lectured in German at the University of Frankfurt am Main and in French at the Sorbonne in Paris. During this time he met Anders Nygen, Karl Barth, Karl Jaspers, and Jean Wahl.…

Charles Hartshorne: The Meadville-Lombard Appointment

by Donald Wayne Viney

The Divine Relativity

In 1947 Hartshorne received a joint appointment at Chicago in the Philosophy Department and the Meadville/Lombard Theological School. Thus, he knew the central figures in the so-called Chicago School of Theology: Henry Nelson Wieman, Daniel Day Williams, Bernard Meland, and Bernard Loomer.…

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