Forms of Concrescence: Alfred North Whitehead's Philosophy and Computer Programming Structures

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Bucknell University Press, 1993 - Philosophy - 166 pages
"From Greek beginnings to contemporary expression, there have been two competing viewpoints of mathematical existence: a procedural one that understands mathematical objects to be created and a Platonic one that accepts eternal, unchanging, and primordial objects that are discovered. Typically, those who espouse a procedural understanding also must explain how mathematical structures are objective. And those who, like Alfred North Whitehead, maintain a Platonic view also must explain how these ideal objects are apprehended by the activities of reason. Whitehead's progressive affirmation of the processive nature of actual entities, in contrast to his affirmation of the primordial nature of mathematical and other eternal objects, introduced an aspect of incoherence into his philosophy. In this study, author Oranville C. Henry reinterprets Whitehead's philosophy by a procedural understanding of mathematics that is best expressed in the algorithmic lan guages of computer programs. The computing language chosen here is an expression of predicate logic called Prolog." "A Prolog program may describe any general situation in formal language. Prolog is employed to describe, but not to represent, the nontemporal activities of the concrescence of an actual entity from its initial simple physical feelings in a conformal phase, through a supplementary phase, to its determinate consummation in a "satisfaction." In this manner, one distinguishes between physical and conceptual prehensions and characterizes a variety of feelings, including simple physical feelings (hybrid and pure), strain feelings, and intellectual feelings. By asserting Whitehead's ontological principle that any explanation is ultimately an analysis of actual entities, the author uses his descriptive programs of actual entities to formalize White head's philosophy, including discussions on feeling and seeing a nexus, the distinctions between perception in the mode of causal efficacy and presentational immediacy, the nature of space and time, and presentations of various models of God as understood by process philosophers." "Considerable explanation is given about Whitehead's own history of understanding eternal objects. Henry attempts to show further how and why a procedural understanding of mathematics in a specific Prolog format - in contrast with Whitehead's affirmation of a Platonic understanding of mathematics - not only seems better integrated with his later philosophical work, but also how this procedural understanding of mathematics may fulfill Whitehead's intended directions for further evolution of his philosophy. Detailed discussions of the nature of philosophical mechanism are presented to show that a use of mechanistic programs can illuminate, not obscure, Whitehead's fundamental assertion of the freedom of decision for each actual entity." "This work is presented under the guiding assumption that no previous knowledge of computing is required to understand the material."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
 

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Contents

The Analysis of Actual Entities
39
The Logic of and among Programs
57
Feeling and Seeing a Nexus
69
Eternal Objects
87
Eternal Objects from a Mathematical and Computing Perspective
109
God and Religion
123
Notes
147
Bibliography
153
Index
161
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Page 39 - That the first analysis of an actual entity, into its most concrete elements, discloses it to be a concrescence of prehensions, which have originated in its process of becoming. All further analysis is an analysis of prehensions. Analysis in terms of prehensions is termed 'division.' (xi) That every prehension consists of three factors: (a) the 'subject' which is prehending, namely, the actual entity in which that prehension is a concrete element; (b) the 'datum...
Page 40 - In a process of concrescence, there is a succession of phases in which new prehensions arise by integration of prehensions in antecedent phases. In these integrations 'feelings...

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