Coming to Be

Toward a Thomistic-Whiteheadian Metaphysics of Becoming

By James W. Felt

Subjects: Process Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791448106, 152 pages, November 2000
Hardcover : 9780791448090, 152 pages, December 2000

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Table of contents


1. Sketch of the Project


1. 1 Development in Philosophy
1. 2 Strengths of Thomas's Metaphysics
1. 3 Weaknesses of Thomas's Metaphysics
1. 4 Strengths of Whitehead's Metaphysics
1. 5 Weaknesses of Whitehead's Metaphysics
1. 6 General Contours of a Revised Metaphysics


2. Metaphysics and Experience


2. 1 Metaphysics as Making Sense of Experience
2. 2 Some Main Characteristics of Experience


3. Descriptive Model of a Primary Being


3. 1 Names and Norms
3. 2 The Fundamental Character of a Primary Being
3. 3 What to Take and to Leave from Thomas
3. 4 What to Take and to Leave from Whitehead


4. Metaphysical Model of a Primary Being


4. 1 Some Metaphysical Characteristics of a Primary Being
4. 2 The Time of a Primary Being
4. 3 Conclusion


5. Thomistic and Whiteheadian Accounts of Coming to Be


5. 1 The Thomistic and Whiteheadian Accounts of Coming to Be
5. 2 The Whiteheadian Account of Coming o Be


6. A Revised Account of Coming to Be


6. 1 Aim and First Assumptions
6. 2 The Activity (Agere) of a Primary Being
6. 3 The Interactions of Primary Beings
6. 4 Coming into Being (Fieri)


7. Evaluation and Prospects


7. 1 The Primary Being and Human Experience
7. 2 The Primary Being and Thomistic Ontology
7. 3 The Consistency of the Theory of Primary Beings
7. 4 Requirements for Further Development
7. 5 Some Applications to Theology
7. 6 Conclusion




Synthesizes Thomistic and Whiteheadian metaphysics.


This book explores the possibility of using the twentieth-century "process" philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead to modernize the thirteenth-century metaphysics of St. Thomas Aquinas in order to make better philosophical sense of the evolutionary processes of the world. Due to certain limitations, neither philosophy has been able to provide satisfactory metaphysical accounts of the world. In joining the two, these individual limitations are avoided, and the advantages of each—Thomistic metaphysics with its deeper ontology, Whiteheadian metaphysics with its ability to account for the evolutionary advances now apparent in the universe—provide a revised theory that is a kind of "process-enriched Thomism. "

James W. Felt is John Nobili Professor of Philosophy at Santa Clara University and the author of Making Sense of Your Freedom: Philosophy for the Perplexed.


"James Felt has pulled off a remarkable achievement in creative philosophizing by bringing together in sympathetic yet keenly critical dialogue two quite different major philosophical systems, and sketching out a possible viable synthesis using the strong points of each to correct the weak spots of the other. One does not have to agree with every point to recognize how illuminating and challenging this insightful attempt has turned out to be. " — W. Norris Clarke, S. J., Fordham University

"A synthesis of classical theism and process metaphysics such as Felt proposes is long overdue. " — Joseph A. Bracken, coeditor of Trinity in Process: A Relational Theology of God

"The topic is fundamental in both Whiteheadian and in Thomistic scholarship. The author raises questions that I believe are urgent for both traditions. His argument advances the discussion in significant ways, and its seriousness will be recognized by all. " — David L. Schindler, author of Heart of the World, Center of the Church: Communio, Ecclesiology, Liberalism, and Liberation