the self

Prehension & the Self

I am struggling to understand the process view of the person. I understand the notion of the person as a sequence of actual occasions. I understand the concrescence of each occasion, based on the prehension of God, through God of ideals, and of other (past) occasions. This all makes sense. But there is a "core" of it which remains inexplicable: namely that process thought says that in its becoming, the occasion chooses how to take account of God's prompting, of its environment, and of its past; that it is influenced deeply but not determined by these. Very well then: "what" is making that choice, and how? How do we account for this decision rather than that being made? When we look beneath all influences external to the occasion, "what" do we find at its core? A freedom which is ultimately not rationally analyzable. Somehow in the center of the occasion's becoming there is a mystery untouched by the process analysis. What is the uniqueness of the person, beyond its history of becoming, and where and how does that uniqueness subsist?
Publication Month: 
November 2005
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

This question goes to the heart of both metaphysical and theological issues. It raises the most basic issues. A good many people use process theology at more superficial levels without coming to terms with the basic conceptual shift that its full appropriation requires. In this short essay I will focus on that. Needless to say, this will be more demanding of the reader than most of what I write in these monthly columns.

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