Whitehead on Creative Process
In Process and Reality (1929), Whitehead describes his method:
The true method of discovery is like the flight of an aeroplane. It starts from
the ground of particular observation; it makes a flight in the thin air of imaginative
generalization; and it again lands for renewed observation rendered
acute by rational interpretation. (PR, 5)
Whitehead starts by observing experience. Whitehead finds that every
occasion of experience is partly (largely) determined by previous occasions
of experience, and partly determined by the experiencing self.
Whitehead sees the process of occasions of experience contributing to
subsequent occasions of experience as a creative process wherein each
present occasion makes its own novel contribution to other future occasions.
Then, by imaginative generalization, Whitehead hypothesizes that
all reality consists of actual occasions experiencing inheritances from the
past in partly self-chosen (self-creative) ways, thereby making somewhat
novel-creative contributions to future occasions of experience.
actual occasion of experience, “The many become one, and are increased
by one” (PR, 21). Whitehead holds that “creativity” is an ultimate category—“
the universal of universals” (PR, 1)—applicable to every actual
occasion in some measure, however slight. Although Whitehead’s own
designation for his philsophy was “philosophy of organism” (PR, 18), his
philosophy came to be called “process” because it emphasized the necessarily
creative “process of becoming” (PR, 24, 29).
Relative to “process,” Whitehead’s designation has the advantage
of more nearly explicating a metaphysical connection between reality
and experience. Individual organisms are experiencing entities. They
feel and interact with others. They are social beings in the creative
process of contributing to other becomings.
Thus, an organic conception
of reality denies the mechanical view of nature as mostly bits and
particles of inert matter.