American Religious Empiricism and the Possibility of an Ecstatic Naturalist Process Metaphysics
Keywords:Ecstatic naturalism, American religious empiricism, process philosophy, process theology, metaphysics, Robert Corrington.
AbstractThe most forceful critiques Robert Corrington mounts against Whiteheadianism target several problematic tendencies in the system of Whitehead, Hartshorne, and other leading Whiteheadian theologians rather than raze the entire legacy of process philosophy and theology. Actually, there is an alternate school of process philosophy and theology—the empiricist school—that embraces the broad contours of a processive and relational worldview while making many of the very same criticisms of Whitehead and his more rationalistic followers. But I argue an even bolder thesis: process empiricism shares enough in common with Corrington’s perspective to be ‘emancipatorily reenacted’ as an iteration of ecstatic naturalism, albeit a unique iteration. Collectively, the five American religious empiricists featured in this essay—Henry Nelson Wieman, Bernard Loomer, William Dean, Nancy Frankenberry, and Donald Crosby—open up a conceptual space within the Whiteheadian tradition for developing a kind of ecstatically inflected, ordinally chastened, and unequivocally naturalistic process metaphysics.
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