The American philosopher Charles Hartshorne once remarked, “The great adventures of my life have been books.” By this I suppose he meant both the reading of certain great books and also the adventures of writing more than twenty books of his own.
The adventures of ideas last for a lifetime, even for someone who enjoys exceptional longevity, as did Hartshorne, who lived to 103, and was especially active, intellectually, in his eighth and ninth decades. These essays express some of the adventures I’ve enjoyed with books, ideas, and the thinkers behind them. Many have already appeared in print, in periodicals, and three of the longer ones are papers I presented at national conventions.
The division into four sections, symbolized by the four elements—Air, Earth, Water, and Fire—is perhaps more intuitive than cerebral, but there is method nonetheless.
In Part One, the clear air of reason provides room, and ground, for adventurous flights of imagination and, especially in the Goethe piece, a cleansing, or better, a transformation of the windows of perception.
Part Two is more down-to-earth and invites participation in several practical adventures or techniques for cultivating mental and spiritual faculties and growing in consciousness.
The path of spirituality, explored in Part Three, is symbolized by water, one of our richest metaphors that finds protean expression in this path as well as in all great literature and in the other arts.
Part Four concerns the liberating and refining fire of philosophy, namely the adventurous frontier of process philosophy, as first conceived and clearly formulated by Alfred North Whitehead, further developed by Charles Hartshorne, and now carried robustly forward by the worldwide community of process thinkers and scholars.
Traveling with Whitehead, understanding his new way of thinking, can be both a challenge and the best of fun, as two examples reveal:
In what may seem at first almost as baffling as a Zen koan, Whitehead invites us to wonder about this question: “Does the thinker create the thought, or the thought, the thinker?” You know how Descartes would answer, or at least I think you do; I am, therefore, confident that, even now, you are beginning to suspect that Whitehead’s answer,* and thinking, is the exact opposite, and that he reverses, and thereby corrects, what was topsy-turvy in the thought of Descartes.
In yet another utterance to make you stop and wonder, Whitehead makes the assertion that “No thinker thinks twice.” While we may easily agree with Heraclitus that no one steps twice into the same river . . . but more about this later.
Thinking is the best way to travel!
*Whitehead’s answer can be found in his magnum opus, Process and Reality, in section 3 of chapter 6, pp. 147-51 (Corrected Edition).
1. Butterflies: Metaphors of Transformation
2. The Way of Flow
3. Ken Wilber’s Mandalic Model of Reality
4. Let There Be—Levity!
5. Reason It Through: An Invitation to Critical Thinking
6. Intuition: Language of the Soul
7. Goethe’s Way of Seeing: The Science and the Poetics of Perception
1. Rhythms of Rest and Rejuvenation
2. Awaken Your Inner Socrates
3. Fully Present in the Present Moment
4. Inner Tech: The Way of Conscious Evolution
5. Juggling: Hold Infinity in the Palm of Your Hand
6. Sometimes a (Not So) Great Notion
7. Countdown to Silence
1. The Still Waters of Morning Silence
2. The Fourfold Path of Jesus
3. Kalogenesis: Beauty Arising
4. The Most Powerful Force in the Universe
5. A Science of Spirituality
6. The Way of Jesus: Where Ends Are Beginnings
7. Mansions of Silence
1. An Introduction to Process Thought in Five Easy Pieces
2. The Prosaic Fallacy
3. Light and Levity in Mysticism and the New Physics
4. Permanence and Change
5. The Adventurous Frontier of Process Spirituality
6. God in Three Questions
7. The Revolution in Metaphysics