An Enduring Self: Problems for Process Philosophy
by J.P. Moreland
- Title: An Enduring Self: The Achilles' Heel of Process Philosophy
- Date: 1988
- Source: Process Studies 17:3 (Fall 1988), 193-199
- Article Type: Journal Article
- Audience: Advanced
- Kingdom Categories: Life of the Mind
Various forms of process thought commonly deny the existence of an enduring self which maintains absolute identity through change.
Regardless of whether time is taken to be continuous or discreet, or whether one holds to an A-series or B-series view of time, process thought is committed to some form of ancestral chain model of the self wherein the self is a series of interrelated actual occasions in which earlier occasions are prehended by later members of the chain to form a serial nexus. There is no stable essence running through all members of the chain; the "persistent" self is a derived unification of momentary selves.
In this article, I try to argue that this model of the self is the Achilles' heel of process philosophy by presenting and clarifying a Kantian style epistemological argument for an enduring I. If successful, I try to show that the denial of an enduring self is guilty of self-referential inconsistency.
There may be a successful account of acts of knowing within a Whiteheadian ancestral chain model which avoids the force of the epistemological argument. But if no such account is available, then the enduring self may, indeed, be the Achilles' heel of process metaphysics.
Related Content: If this article interests you, you might also want to consider the following:
- "Restoring the Substance to the Soul of Psychology" (article)
- Consciousness and the Existence of God (book)
- The Recalcitrant Imago Dei (book)
- It offers a handy critique of process philosophy's underlying assumption about the nature of the self.
- It presents implications for critiques of the self offered by some Buddhist and Mormon views and panentheistic views.
- It shows how the views about the self from Thomas Reid and Edmund Husserl are relevant to process discussion about the self.