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Symbols of Power in Hartshorne: A New World View

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Designed by Herbert F. Vetter

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January 26, 1962

Dear Mr. Vetter,

Thanks so much for sending me your manuscript. Of course I am deeply moved by your estimate of my work, in relation to your general theme. I do not note any “misrepresentation”.

I think that “reality = God” is valid, though capable of several meanings. More than one of these is correct, in my view, but perhaps not all. If it means that the divine reality contains all else, I affirm it. If it means that to be real, in any fashion, is to be some aspect or function of God, I also agree. But some writers take it to mean that anything is identical with God, and hence with anything else. This is a non-sequitur of the two meanings given above, and I don’t know how much one needs worry about it. But the old “pantheism” tended to give it this perverse meaning. The trouble is that “reality” has no single meaning. It sometimes means, all that is real. It sometimes means, the status or property of being real. Either way, it can be equated with God, but only provided that God be taken also in different aspects or senses. Is there a single reality, complete once for all or is there a partly new reality each time we refer to it. The same protean character can be attributed to a deity. Thus your equation may be valid, but requires proper interpretation. Reality as a whole, and taken as ideally integrated into a single spiritual whole or conscious experience, is indeed God; but there is no reality once and for all, and no concrete actuality of God complete once and for all, but an ever-growing reality or divine actuality…

Einstein’s equation describes God, but whether in his eternal nature or only as in this cosmic epoch depends upon whether it is an empirical or a purely a priori law. Only if the latter does it describe God as eternal.

Best wishes,
Charles Hartshorne