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Language about God in Whitehead’s Philosophy

Dissimilarities and Similarities between Aquinas and Whitehead

Palmyre M.F. Oomen
Published Online: 2015-10-14 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0018


The way Whitehead speaks of God in his ‘philosophy of organism,’ and the evaluation thereof, is the subject of this article. The background of this issue is the position - broadly shared in theology, and here represented by Aquinas - that one should not speak ‘carelessly’ about God. Does Whitehead violate this rule, or does his language for God express God’s otherness and relatedness to the world in a new intriguing way? In order to answer this question an introduction into Whitehead’s philosophy is given, and especially into his category of existence, the ‘actual entity.’ For Whitehead God is an actual entity, and so is the most trivial puff of existence. His perception of the similarity and greater dissimilarity between God and the worldly actual entities (and clusters thereof) is analyzed. In the main and final section of this article these insights are used as a tool to decrypt Whitehead’s God-language. Here the status of Whitehead’s and Aquinas’ statements about God are compared, Whitehead’s ideas concerning the analogical character of concrete language are discussed, and it is argued that in Whitehead’s philosophy too there is no discourse about God without a shift or breakdown of the ‘ordinary’ meaning of language.

Keywords: Alfred North Whitehead; Thomas Aquinas; language about God; analogy; God as one actual entity; reversal of God’s poles


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About the article

Received: 2015-09-01

Accepted: 2015-09-21

Published Online: 2015-10-14

Citation Information: Open Theology, Volume 1, Issue 1, ISSN (Online) 2300-6579, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/opth-2015-0018.

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©2015 Palmyre M.F. Oomen. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License. BY-NC-ND 3.0

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