North Whitehead, Alfred – 03 System, Processes, Functions and ‘becoming’
Type of Spiritual Experience
An actual entity [atom or aggregate] is a self-willing thing, it drives its own processes. It may respond to an event – an incoming signal – or it may have its own objectives which serve to make it drive itself. But in Whitehead’s hypothesis an Actual Entity only exists when it is working, doing things, executing its processes.
Where it is not responding to a message sent to it, it is constantly broadcasting what it is – what its relationships are.
Where it is acting on an external event or an internal objective, it may be adding new relationships and breaking off unwanted ones.
Fifi the poodle is unconsciously always telling the other actual entities that she is a poodle, and a dog, with big brown eyes and a white fluffy coat and she has a collar with her name on it. But in an act of sheer petulant will, she may decide consciously to discard her collar - break off the relationship.
This concept of becoming is exceptionally important in Whitehead’s schema, because the executions of these broadcasting and other processes determines the click click click that is time – the before and after of history or the future.
As the shuttle of the loom zoots across the warp threads one execution of the processes takes place and the universe renews itself. A new universe is born every time the shuttle passes, and the old version with all its actual entities and relationships becomes the past – history – but a history that can be explored during spiritual experience [exploring group perception and out of body]
As just one of millions of warp threads we [our consciousness and perceptions] can only perceive the current weft thread. But the shuttle keeps on moving, the flow of control is continuous.
It is worth remembering the link with the one-electron universe postulate, proposed by John Wheeler in a telephone call to Richard Feynman in the spring of 1940. It hypothesises that all electrons and positrons are actually manifestations of a single entity moving backwards and forwards in time. Analogously – the shuttle.
Wheeler suggested that any given moment in time is represented by a slice across spacetime, and would meet the warp lines a great many times. At those points, half of each warp line will be directed forward in time and half will be directed ‘backwards’.
A description of the experience
Part I The Speculative Scheme
Chapter II The Categoreal Scheme
That the actual world is a process, and that the process is the becoming of actual entities. ……………
An entity is actual, when it has significance for itself. By this it is meant that an actual entity functions in respect to its own determination. Thus an actual entity combines self-identity with self-diversity.
That an actual entity by functioning in respect to itself plays diverse roles in self-formation without losing its self-identity. It is self- creative: and in its process of creation transforms its diversity of roles into one coherent role. Thus 'becoming' is the transformation of incoherence into coherence, and in each particular instance ceases with this attainment.
It is fundamental to [this] metaphysical doctrine …., that the notion of an actual entity as the unchanging subject of change is completely abandoned. An actual entity is at once the subject experiencing and the superject of its experiences. It is subject-superject, and neither half of this description can for a moment be lost sight of. ….
Forms suffer changing relations; actual entities 'perpetually perish' subjectively, but are immortal objectively. Actuality in perishing acquires objectivity, while it loses subjective immediacy. It loses the final causation which is its internal principle of unrest, and it acquires efficient causation whereby it is a ground of obligation characterizing the creativity.