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What is Process Thought?



With a foundation in the metaphysical system of Alfred North Whitehead (among others), and a methodology that integrates both speculation and empirical verification, process thought brings its unique metaphysical perspective to bear on many fields of reflection and action. 

Ultimately, process thought seeks to integrate and reconcile the diverse facets of human experience (i.e. ethical, religious, aesthetic, and scientific intuitions) into one coherent explanatory scheme. The most common applications of process thought are in the fields of philosophy and theology. However, process has also found a meaningful foothold in many other discussions, including ecology, economics, physics, biology, education, psychology, feminism, and cultural studies.

Basic Doctrines

Process metaphysics, in general, seeks to elucidate the developmental nature of reality, emphasizing becoming rather than static existence or being. It also stresses the inter-relatedness of all entities. Process describes reality as ultimately made up of experiential events rather than enduring inert substances. The particular character of every event, and consequently the world, is the result of a selective process where the relevant past is creatively brought together to become that new event. Reality is conceived as a process of creative advance in which many past events are integrated in the events of the present, and in turn are taken up by future events. The universe proceeds as "the many become one, and are increased by one" in a sequence of integrations at every level and moment of existence. Process thought thus replaces the traditional Western "substance metaphysic" with an "event metaphysic." Terms that further characterize process thought are inter-relatedness, unity-in-diversity, non-dualism, panentheism, mutual transformation, person-in-community, and panexperientialism. The following links are helpful short essays written by scholars that describe and summarize process thought.

Process Philosophy

Process Theology


The term "process thought" encompasses work in three main areasof writing and discussion: process philosophy, process theology, and process interdisciplinary thought about complex issues.

  • Process Philosophy applies the work of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne to standard philosophical problems. A major vehicle for this is the journal Process Studies.
  • Process Theology interprets doctrines in Christianity and other world religions in terms of the relational worldview generated by Whitehead and later developers of his work. In addition to the academic journal Process Studies, a popular vehicle for the dissemination of the theological application is Creative Transformation, the magazine of the Process and Faith Program.
  • Process Interdisciplinary Thought addresses issues outside the areas of academic philosophy and theology, for example in education, physics, ecology, economics, social theory, women's studies, and psychology. In addition to the academic journal Process Studies, major vehicles of this application are the Conferences and Seminars of the Center for Process Studies, reported in its newsletter Process Perspectives, and the State University of New York (SUNY) Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought, edited by David Ray Griffin.
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