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Observations placeholder

North Whitehead, Alfred – 07 Event based processing versus objective based processing



Type of Spiritual Experience


The actual entities and their relationships can be changed by the events of the last change – thus a sort of ongoing saga of cause and effect, cause and effect, or because the actual entity has its own desires and its own functions, it has the option of executing processes to fulfil its desires – setting out on a path of its own choosing.

Thus every actual entity can be event driven or desire driven [or a mixture in a sense of both].  Externally driven or internally driven.

Fifi may be being dragged along on a lead attached to her collar; every moment these established relationships between the entities – lead, collar, owner, Fifi – are determining what happens next in time – which processes may be executed.  She is event driven.

But Fifi may be a feisty little dog, with a powerful will and a determination to become a rocket scientist, and thus she uses a learnt process that enables her to slip her collar, and a given process ‘to run like the wind’ and thus escape her owner and follow her destiny.

But there is a third rider to this; Fifi can only ever do functionally what exists functionally within the system of the universe.

Whitehead talks of the 'general' potentiality’, which is the bundle of possibilities, mutually consistent or alternative, provided by the multiplicity of ‘eternal objects’ – the classes in the Tree of Life. 

Fifi is a dog, and a poodle at that, without hands and without speech, as such even though her little heart is set upon becoming a rocket scientist, the very nature of the class of eternal object she belongs to is going to limit what she can actually do functionally.

Whitehead did not know that very occasionally people – during a spiritual experience and thus gaining access to the Tree of Life as a whole – obtain access to functions that are not normally part of their package.  We have examples on this site of men who have temporarily gained the functin which enables them t have a dog's sense of smell.

So there is hope for Fifi.

A description of the experience


Chapter I  - Fact And Form

Section VII

Every actual entity is what it is, and is with its definite status in the universe, determined by its internal relations to other actual entities.

'Change' is the description of the adventures of eternal objects in the evolving universe of actual things.

Chapter II The Extensive Continuum

Section II

The actual world is the 'objective content' of each new creation. Thus we have always to consider two meanings of  potentiality:

 (a) the 'general' potentiality, which is the bundle of possibilities, mutually consistent or alternative, provided by the multiplicity of eternal objects, and

(b) the 'real' potentiality, which is conditioned by the data provided by the actual world.

General potentiality is absolute, and real potentiality is relative to some actual entity, taken as a standpoint whereby the actual world is denned [sic]. It must be remembered that the phrase 'actual world' is like 'yesterday' and 'tomorrow’ in that it alters its meaning according to standpoint. The actual world must always mean the community of all actual entities, including the primordial actual entity called 'God' and the temporal actual entities.

The source of the experience

North Whitehead, Alfred

Concepts, symbols and science items


Tree of life

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps