Editor’s Note: The following essay is a revised version of the author’s presentation to the First International Conference in Sinology, 1980, Academia Sinica, Taipei, published in its Proceedings, Section of Thought and Philosophy, Vol. I, pp. 117-182, 1981.  It in turn was an expanded version of his paper presented to the First Conference on Whitehead and Chinese Thought, 1976, co-sponsored by the Center for Process Studies, Claremont, CA. and Colorado Women’s College, Denver, CO.  Grateful acknowledgement is due to Dr. John Cobb, Jr. and Dr. Antony Yu in USA and to the late President Chen Lifu and Professor Hua Zhonglin of the Confucius-Mencius Society, for their invitations to attend the Conference, respectively.











Thomé H. Fang Institute, Inc.

Mobile, Alabama, USA



Originally Presented to

The First International Conference on Sinology

Academia Sinica, Taipei




Prologue    1

I.                   Introduction    2


1.  The Hartshorne Thesis Revisited:

It is Time to Complete the Circle    2

2.      “Seeking the Other Half!”    6

3.      To Become? or Not To Become?

             -- the Question for the Indians    8

4.      An Archimedian Point in Comparative Philosophy    12


II.                  The Status of Creativity in the Chinese, Indian, and Western Traditions    13


III.                Creativity and Its Religious imposts    30



1.      Is Confucianism Theistic?    32

2.      Process Theology and Its Meaning to the East    35

3.      Creation and Evolution    39

4.      The Chinese Precocious Postmodern Mentality    41

(a)         Creative Humanism: A Ninefold Characterization    42

(b)         Value-Pervasiveness    45

(c)         A Threefold View of Creativity: I-Ching and Whitehead    46 

(d)         Creativity as the Ultimate Category

           -- A Fourfold Characterization:    48

          (1)   Ontologically    48

          (2)   Cosmogenetically    49

          (3)    Phenomenologically    50

          (4)    Charactereologically    51

                        (e)     The Dipolar Conception of God and Creativity


IV.                Creativity and Its Philosophico-Anthropological Imports    57


1.   Whitehead and Kang as a Point of Departure    58

2.   Max Scheler & the Chinese Philosophical Anthropology    59

3.   Value, Man, and Culture    62

4.   Three Ways of Approaching God    68

5.   Towards a Spiritually Exalted World Community    70





“To Be? or Not to Be?” That is the question for Hamlet and men of the West in general;

“To Become? or Not to Become?” That is the question for the Indians, Hinduists and Buddhists alike;

“To Be is To Become!”  That, for the Chinese, is not a question at all, but a conviction, inspired by the “Vision of the Whole.”


Much of this study results from reflections upon three theses of Charles Hartshorne and one from Max Scheler, all to be critically clarified in the pages that follow.  In both comparative philosophy and religion it is necessary to realize that due recognition of similarities and sympathetic appreciation of differences are equally important.  As Plato once said, even the wolf deserves a hearing; for Whitehead, contrast is the mode of synthesis.  Mere difference in details, however, should not blur our vision of unity of experiences and aspirations, nor obscure our insight into the most feasible meeting ground for the East and West which can be located in the multi-dimensional concept of Creativity and surveyed from metaphysics to religion, and from religion to philosophical anthropology in light of a world perspective.  Many of our findings will focus attention on a rich and precious common heritage of mankind which we hope will serve as a solid basis for the construction of what Scheler calls “a spiritually exalted world community”[1] for ages to come.

When, after climbing a mountain in a mist, one reaches the summit, the mist suddenly clears, the vista of the vast area below becomes visible, and the commanding view all-around is identical in every direction.  At the beginning of this century the well-known travelling philosopher Herman Keyserling had already strongly advocated the importance of “Getting beyond the East and West.”[2] 

But, “How?” One wonders.  That is the question -- for all of us today!

I.                  Introduction


1.         The Hartshorne Thesis Revisited:  It’s Time to Complete the Circle!

Perhaps the best approach to the main contentions of this paper is by way of a brief review of the Hartshorne thesis as enunciated in two of his essays, “The Development of Process Philosophy” and “Personal Identity from A to Z.”[3]  Such an attempt, I believe, will yield illuminating results that will justify both the theses maintained in this study and the calling for such a “summit meeting.”

In the first essay, Professor Hartshorne has treated the process tendency in human thought in a historical perspective, hence providing as an excellent point of departure for our discussions at this Conference.

It is universally recognized that Hartshorne has not only distinguished himself as an eminent Whiteheadian scholar, but has also played a leading role in the initiation of a new thought movement since the 50s known as the “process movement” in theology and philosophy.  It is impacting areas such as sociology, anthropology, aesthetics, comparative religion, psychotherapy, ecology, futurology, postmodernism, etc.  It just may create a new intellectual climate in the West.  His unique contribution to this movement deserves high credit and commands our heartfelt admiration and appreciation.  This whole movement of process thought, through further development, may be a great step for-ward towards what the late Professor Charles Moore has justly called a “world philosophical synthesis.”[4]  Of such a great prospect few process philosophers in the West have become fully aware.

In a certain sense, “The Development of Process Philosophy” may well be regarded The Processist Manifesto of our century, because its author has quite impressively presented the case of process thought in human history as a whole, bringing to light its full philosophico-religious imports for our modern age.  His scope of vision stretches from the ancient times down to the present and from the East to the West.  The essay reveals the tendency of process thought as a common theme and heritage for all humankind; it has been, and will continue to be, shared by thinking people the world over. According to Hartshorne, process philosophy is nothing new; or, as William James put it, but “a new name for some old ways of thinking.”  It is a grand old idea whose origin can be traced way back to the ancient Egypt, India, and Medieval Europe, with Ikhnaton, Heraclitus, the Buddha, and Fauto Sccino as its chief representative respectively.  Excellent and admirable as it is in many other aspects, his account nevertheless suffers from one important defect:  While maintaining that Ikhnaton of Egypt (ca. 1275-58 B.C.) is “the earliest theist of all who has conceived God as fashioning Himself”and that Buddhism is “the earliest great tradition which espoused a philosophy of Becoming,”[5] he seems to have totally forgotten another equally great yet far earlier tradition in human history which in its five to seven millenia of continuous development has created independently a system of process philosophy par excellence, -- a tradition that is no less time-honored than the Egyptian civilization, and no less impressive than Buddhism, whether in terms of its achievement in the past or its significance for the furture.

I refer, of course, to the leading philosophical tradition of China which I have elsewhere chosen to characterize as a tradition of “Creative Humanism.”[6] It has every legitimate right to a prominent position in the world history of process thought.  For it is a long great tradition that has been continuously developed out of the original insights as embodied in I-C’hing: The Book of Creativity, the authorship of which can be dated back to Fu Hsi (ca. 2852 B.C.); its germinating ideas were further elaborated by King Wen (ca. 1172-1122 B.C.) and Duke Zhou (d. 1094 B.C.); it received the philosophically most sophisticated and suggestive interpretation from Confucius (551-479 B.C.); and his school; it developed later into its idealistic and naturalistic wings in Confucianism and Taoism respectively and culminated, as a result of confluence with certain congenial strains of Buddhist thought, in the form of Neo-Confucianism of the Song and Ming periods from the 12th century onwards.   It still remains a living force and an inexhaustible source of inspiration for the best of Chinese minds today, and is capable of developing into greater intellectual heights in concrescence with certain most congenial as well as challenging elements from Western sources.  It is towards such an essentially creative process of a world philosophical synthesis that we are seeking the second phase of florescence of a philosophic wisdom of the Hua Yan type which was once so brilliantly exhibited in the Hua Yan (Avatamsaka or “Flowery Splendor”) School of the Mahāyāna Buddhism in China proper.  This school teaches the importance of viewing the flux of passing events “under the aspect of eternity”(sub species aeternitatis) in light of cosmic sublimity and orients towards what the Chinese call the world of “Tai He”-- equivalent to the Whiteheadian concept of “Peace”as “Harmony of Harmonies.”[7]

That Hartshorne has neglected such a great tradition of process philosophy in the East despite its striking similarity with the Whiteheadian system is unfortunate and regrettable.  Recently, Hartshorne had spoken on “Some Process Themes in Chinese Thought” at the Conference on “Whitehead and Chinese Philosophy,” Denver, Colorado, USA, in 1976. As he told me later in 1979, had he known more about Chinese philosophy, surely he would have included it in his important historical account.  It is now time to complete the circle!

It is noteworthy that both Indian and European traditions are characterized notably by a substance-oriented tendency that has preceded and accompanied process themes for thousands of years; whereas Chinese thought, on the contrary, has from time immemorial persisted most impressively as a grand tradition of typical process philosophy, through and through, beginning with I-Ching: The Book of Creativity, notwithstanding that it also has as Prelude an archaic ontology in the form of a proto-philosophy of eternity as embodied in the symbolism of “The Great Centricity” (“f” hence the symbolic character “) in The Book of Ancient History. 

We may therefore safely maintain that, ever since the founding of the Zhou Dynasty in the 12th century B.C., non-process philosophies have remained no more than a non-existence in the leading trends of Chinese thought, and that the shift from the totem of  f” (“Great Centericity”) to that of “[” (the “Ultimate Ultimacy,” well known as “taiji”) signifies resolutely, “Farewell, Non-process philosophies!”  This predominantly process-oriented tendency in Chinese outlook Professor Thomé H. Fang has attributed to the basic difference between the Western and Oriental modes of thought.  Most Western philosophers, as a rule, seem to have inhereted from their forebearers a sort of change-phobia in their “metaphysical mood.”  Thus observes Fang:

“Philosophers in the West, whenever they speak of Being, usually posit it as some-thing given beforehand.  Anything not thus given is susceptible of falling into nothing, which is somehow a sign of dread. This metaphysical mood tends to make ontology static.  Especially the Greeks, to whom any change would be for the worse, could not tolerate any drift into nothing. This led most of them to the denial of temporality in the constitution of Being, and to the dislocation of Nothing in the world of reality together with its appearances.  Let Not-Being drop into the pit of illusion!  Even in the modern period the duration of time, reduced by mathematical physics to a series of specious successions of timeless instants, cannot really account for the continuity of change and becoming.  It is the Aristotelian shifting “now” torn into invisibly tiny bits of nothingness. Similarly the Hegelian macroscopic philosophy of dialectical history, dogmatically affirmed in the form of systematic developedness, is deprived of authentic historicity.  There is no genuine becoming in any being which has been laid out beforehand.”[8]

With regard to the process vs. non-process tendency prevailent in philosophies East and West, the case can be summed up as chiefly a matter of “rule and exceptions”:

“The reason for all this is that Western ontology has been grounded on a formal logic fixed in formulas of static identity.  Plato in later dialogues, especially in the Sophist, Bergson in Creative Evolution, Whitehead in Process and Reality, and Heidegger in Being and Time are exceptions.  These exceptions, however, prove the rule which always applies in Oriental philosophy.”[9]

In this sense, the independent development of a typical process philosophy by great Chinese minds in the past is quite a unique and remarkable phenomenon in history of human thought, in terms of homogeneity, continuity, and massiveness.  Let us take a further look into the case by reference to Hartshorne’s recent article “Personal Identity from A to Z.”  At the end of this article he concludes thus emphatically: “I repeat: it is time to join the Buddhist tradition, the most subtle of all very old international philosophical-religious traditions. Buddha’s insights were appreciated by his disciples, while Plato’s were half lost immediately.”[10]

Echoing this call of Hartshorne’s, there seems to be heard a voice as if coming from the wilderness in the image of a tender care “that nothing be lost”; “Thou shalt not forget the Chinese tradition!”  Here we have every good reason to believe that one would be just as happy to see that Whitehead’s insights, no less than Buddha’s, are to be duly appreciated by his followers.  For it is expressly stated in Whitehead’s Process and Reality:  “In this general position the philosophy of organism seems to approximate more closely to some strains of Indian, or Chinese, thought, than to Western Asiatic, or European thought.”[11]  Obviously here the connective “or” is used in the conjunctive, rather than the disjunctive, sense of the term.  In place of Hartshorne’s statement, we venture to declare forthrightly:  “For all process philosophers in the West, it is time to join both the Chinese and the Buddhist traditions, the two most impressive of all very old international philosophical-religious traditions.  Process philosophers all over the world, Unite!”

2. “Seeking the Other Half”

It is apparent, therefore, that Hartshorne’s thesis on Ikhnaton of Egypt as the earliest process theologian and on Buddhism as the earliest process tradition needs be revised.  At any rate, however, the honor of seniority must be duly accorded the Chinese philosophical tradition for its approximately five to seven millennia of continuous development, beginning with I-Ching: The Book of Creativity.

Apart from observations on the affinity between Whitehead and Eastern thought in general, I propose to point out specifically:  Firstly, that whitehead’s position of organism is closer to the Eastern than the Western; secondly, that as far as its relation with Indian thought is concerned, his process outlook is closer to Buddism than to Hinduism or Brahmanism; and thirdly, that as far as its most fundamental aspects are concerned, his philosophy as a whole is more congenial with the Chinese than the Buddhist views.  In brief, we maintain:  It is more Eastern than Western, more Buddhist than Hinduist; and, above all, more Chinese than Buddhist.

To substantiate the first claim, one needs only refer to the Eastern vs. Western contrast drawn by Whitehead himself in his statement “For one side makes process ultimate; the other side makes fact ultimate.”[12]

With regard to the second claim, the case has been well settled by Hartshorne and Kenneth Inada in two publications comparing the Buddha’s ‘anatman’ with Whitehead’s ‘actual entity’ or ‘actual occasion.’[13] Moreover, the Whiteheadian concept of God in terms of universal relativity (especially in Hartshorne’s revised version, which defines God as “divine relativity”)[14] parallels the later Mahāyānaic concept of ‘Buddha-Nature’ in terms of universal immanence via mutual ingression and mutual prehension characterizing the dharma-dhatu origination.  Both the Whiteheadian and the Buddhist conceptions stand in sheer contrast to the Hinduist view of Brahman as the Ultimate Reality in terms of eternity and permanence.  Here again, the main difference hinges on the process vs. substance contrast: for one side makes process or Becoming ultimate; the other side makes substance or Being ultimate, as acutely observes Whitehead.

But when we come to consider the third claim, that fundamentally Whitehead’s main position is nearer to the Chinese than to the Buddhist standpoint, the case does not seem to be so obvious as in the former two, and is likely to create more issues than it settles.  For instance, how is one to justify that Whitehead is found to be more Chinese than Buddhist, since all these three systems have evidently one great theme in common, in that they are all remarkably process-oriented in general outlook?  Is it true that, for Buddhism as for the other two systems, the concept of “creativity” is also one of crucial importance and has always occupied a prominent position in their respective theoretical schemes?

Here we seem to be facing a sort of the Gordian Knot, if not a deadlock.  And as such, it must be cut through -- with a sure and determined hand, such that all the seemingly baffling puzzles may be cleared up and the case seen in its true light.  A clue, however, can be found in Buddhism both as a philosophy and a religion at once.  As a philosophy, Buddhism espouses a creativity perspective in cosmology and cosmogony, while it adopts at the same time a nīrvāna perspective in ontology and meontology primarily for religious reason.  We may now proceed to distinguish one persepctive from the other.  By thus disentangling the hybrid character inherent in Buddhism and contrasting it with the homogeneity of the Chinese and Whiteheadian systems wherein the ultimate is the ground-concept of Creativity throughout, we succeed in cutting through the Gordian knot at one stroke.

Moreover, the above “creativity vs. nīrvāna” distinction provides us also with another clue to the main difference between the Chinese and the Indian Buddhist way as reflected in their value orientations and life ideals.  For typical Confucian philosophers such as Wang Chuanshan (1619-1692) and Xiong Shili (1889-1969),b the Chinese way is characterized by (I) reverence for life as creativity in contrast to seeking for nirvāna; (2) elucidation of Being as distinct from indulgence in Nothingness; (3) dynamic mode of activity in stead of static mode of inaction; (4) following human nature rather than denial of the will and curbing of desires; added to these by Xiong is (5) great illuminancy as the alpha and the omega of creativity in contrast to avidya as the origin of things.[15] Such a fivefold characterization of two types of life ideals and lifestyles marks the Chinese way as much closer to Whitehead, one of whose favorite themes is: “Advance or decadence!”[16]

3.   To Become or Not to Become?  That Is the Question for the Indians:

The overcoming of the traditional “nīrvāna vs. creativity” contrast begun in Buddhism by fusing these two perspectives into a higher (indeed the highest) unity remains a great feat for the Chinese to accomplish.  Their accomplishment in this regard was hailed by D. T. Suzuki as “one of the wonderful intellectual achievements performed by the Chinese mind” and was held to be “of the highest importance to the history of world thought.”[17]  I propose to dwell on this topic at some length for both its intrinsic importance and its direct relevance to the present study, in the hope of closing one of the greatest koans in world comparative philosophy: namely, the case of the Chinese-Buddhist-Western convergence on Creativity. To begin with, let us differentiate it into four salient points for further consideration: (I) that both the Chinese and the Western process philosophies are fundamentally alike in that they are all grounded on Creativity as the Ultimate in the metaphysical and religious sense as well; (2) that in view of the hybridness of Buddhism which, especially in its early form, has adopted a “creativity” perspective in cosmology and cosmogony while committing itself to a “nīrvāna” perspective in ontology or even meontology for religious reason, it is nevertheless the religious concern that precedes over any speculative or metaphysical interest in the system as a whole, as a matter of emphasis or value, so to speak, and noticeably there is the Buddhist tendency to transcend from the conditioned to the unconditioned, from the realm of creativity to that of non-creativity, that is, from the realm of Becoming to that of Being, thus orientating towards the ideal of nīrvāna as the Buddhist “Summum Bonum.”[18]  This marks Buddhism from the Western process philosophy on the one hand and from Chinese philosophy of creativity on the other, in spite of the process themes they share in common; (3) that since Buddhism embodies not only a philosophy of temporality, change, and becoming in cosmology and cosmogony, but also a philosophy of eternity, being, and permanence in ontology or even meontology, the question of how to bridge over the temporality vs. eternity, flux vs. permanence polarity in the evolution of Buddhism for a millenia since the death of the Buddha sheds great deal of light not only on this perennial issue itself, but also on what follows from it as a corollary thesis more radical in character to be set forth in (4), that were Buddhism to be put on equal par with the Chinese and Western process position it must be made Chinese enough! as is best exemplified in the case of two distinguished Chinese Schools of Buddhism, the Tian Tai and Hua Yan (the Shadhama-pundarika and the Avatamsaka).  This last point leads to the realization that a world philosophical synthesis as Charles Moore envisaged is possible:  The necessary groundwork for this feast is to be located in the trinity of the Chinese-Buddhist-Western insights and reinforced by other related existential-phenomenological themes in modern philosophy.  On the basis of such a solid groundwork some important break through in world philosophy is seen to be highly feasible.  Let us examine these observations each in turn.

First of all, let us focus on the category of the ultimate as involved in each of the three systems. “In every philosophical theory,” says Whitehead, “there is an ultimate. In the philosophy of organism, this ultimate is termed ‘creativity.”[19]  This is precisely the case with Chinese philosophy.  The same, however, can hardly be said of Buddhism without due qualification. Neither the Whiteheadian nor the Chinese system is a religion in the ordinary sense of the term, though profoundly religious in character and key-note, with Creativity as the supreme metaphysical principle in both.  Creativity for Chinese philosophy, as for process thought in the West, is both the ultimate category in metaphysics and the “ultimate concern” in religion, to use Paul Tillich’s language.  In the Chinese philosophical classics, because of the symbolic and flexible character of the language, it is termed interchangeably ‘sheng’ (creativity), ‘sheng sheng’ (creative creativity), ‘Tian’ (Heaven), ‘Dao’ (the Way), ‘Tian-Dao’ (the Way of Heaven), ‘Qian-yuan’ (principle of creative origination), ‘cheng’ (authenticity itself), ‘xin’ (mind), ‘xing’ (nature), and the most troublesome Confucian concept, ‘Ren,’c which defies any literal translation and is to be grasped ontologically in terms of Creativity Itself and axiologically as the Confucian Summum Bonum, as dynamically and creatively conceived in the process view of Reality as Goodness in the making.  In sum, “Ren” represents the supreme principle of the axiological and ontological unity in Chinese philosophy, characterized by its value-centric tendency in ontology, caIled doctrine of continuation of Goodness for fulfillment of Nature (“ji shan cheng xing” in Chinese).d

Whitehead’s view of Creativity sounds so congenial to the Chinese mind that much of what he has said about this ultimate principle may well be adopted as the fittest and finest rendering of the Chinese insights into the elegance of his Victorian English.  On the other hand, much of the great insights in Chinese process philosophy cloaked in the peculiarly “elusive, vague,” symbolic, non-technical, natural language, paradoxically, can all be rendered intelligible and explicit in light of such an allegedly “muddle-headed” system as Whitehead’s.  The task of formulating the essentials of Chinese metaphysics in the Whiteheadian terminology has been admirably accomplished by Professor Thom¾ H. Fang in his earlier book The Chinese View of Life: The Philosophy of Comprehensive Harmony (1956) to be succeeded by his posthumous opus magnum, Chinese Philosophy; Its Spirit and its Development (1981).  The Chinese-Whiteheadian affinity on Creativity, to be sure, is not a matter of parallel notions in letter, but in spirit, that is, in mentality (mind-set) and world perspective.  Cassirer seems to have underrated his case when he states that “the real difference between languages is not a difference of sounds and signs, but one of world perspectives (Weltansichten).”[20]  This enlightening remark of Cassirer’s should be borne in mind by any comparative philosophers on cross-cultural problems.

To indicate the similarity between the Chinese and the recent Western process views of Creativity, I may paraphrase in the Whiteheadian language some archaic key notions in the Confucian Commentaries on Appendices to I-Ching and compare them to statements in Process and Reality as follows: For the ancient Chinese sages, Reality is seen “in light of the perpetually Creative Creativity, which manifests Itself in the alI-encompassing process of cosmic transformation in due measure and proportion”; and is to be conceived “under the image of a tender care,”enabling all things to complete and fulfil their own nature, such that nothing be lost”; thus functioning as the supreme unifying principle of all existences in the universe in dynamic operations.”(“sheng sheng zhi wei yi”; “fan wei tian di zhi hua er bu guo; qu cheng wan wu er bu yi”; “tian xia tong gui er shu tu, yi zhi er bai lu”; or “tian xia zhi dong zhen fu yi”; or with Wang Pi, “Tong zhi you zung; hui zhi you yuan.”)e  The same ideas can be found in Whitehead’s words as follows:

“Creativity is the universal of universals characterizing the ultimate matter of fact. It is that ultimate principle by which the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe disjunctively. ... The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction.”[21]

“The process of creation is the form of unity in the universe.”[22]

While maintaining that “Creativity is without a character of its own,”[23] Whitehead, without realizing it, is stating a typically Chinese theme as emphasized in the forementioned Confucian Commentaries: “Creativity is without a substance of its own, of no simple location in space, its functioning is confined to no particular directions whatsoever”; (“shen wu fang; yi wu ti”; “yi wu si; wu wei.”)f  While describing the nature of God as an exemplification of Creativity to be conceived only under the images of (l) “a tender care that nothing be lost”; or (2) “infinite patience.” “He does not create the world, he saves it; or, more accurately, he is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness”;[24] again unaware to himself perhaps, Whitehead is restating the Chinese conception of the Way of Heaven as embodied in the I-Ching, and the Book of Odes, for instances, “qu cheng wan wu er bu yi” in the former case, and “wei tian zhi ming, wu mu pu yi”g in the latter.  In neither case is there any need for translation, for the same ideas have already been excellently “translated” by Whitehead himself, and could not be put any better otherwise.  The grasp of the nature of Heaven in light of the image of a tender care or infinite patience, rather than that of a creator, is a great poetic vision from which derived all the Confucian metaphysical wisdom,[25] charged with religious imports crystallized into profound insights, e.g., insight into the “creatively creative creativity”as the “really real reality” in face of the “mysteriously mysterious mystery,” the mystery of Creativity Itself.

So much for the Chinese-Whiteheadian comparison in respect of the concept of Creativity and its fundamental status both as the ultimate metaphysical principle and the ultimate concern in its full religious implication.  May this clarification serve as a clue to the claim made above as regards the Chinese-Whiteheadian similarity in the most fundamental aspects.

4.     An Archimedian Point in Comparative Philosophy

The translation of “I-Ching” into “The Book of Changes” indeed is quite as unfortunate as the labelling of the typically Whiteheadian position as “process philosophy,” because in either case the title fails to convey the full import as intended and creates instead the somewhat misleading impression that is often associated indiscriminately with all process philosophers.  For example, I have heard it said in the academics that the process philosophers are those for whom everything comes and goes, and nothing stays and holds, hence no “Truth” in the sense of what is permanent and holds always.  This may be said of process philosophers of the Heraclitean type, certainly not of the Whiteheadians, nor even of Plato in his later Dialogues.  The inadequacy of labels in this particular case is due to “deficiencies of language” rather than “weakness of insight.”[26]  For the moment, suffice it to point out that, properly understood, “I-Ching”should be rendered by “The Book of Creativity,” just as Whitehead’s Process and Reality, should read “Process as Reality.”  Get rid of this ugly word “and” and replace it with the beautiful “as.” “And,” “and,” how many evils (e.g., vaious kinds of vicious bifurcations) have been done in thy name in the entire history of Western thought!  Whatever reservations this may provoke, let us bear in mind above all that one of Whitehead’s great insights lies in the notion of “prehensive unification”in terms of ingression of “eternal objects” into actual occasions in the realm of events and the superjective aims of each actual individual entity towards the realm of reason (and from there towards the Most High).  This parallels the Chinese doctrine of interpenetrative unification by mutual prehensions. (“xiang ji xiang ru, hu che jiao rong, pang tong tong guan.”) h  With the titles of the I-Ching and Process and Reality thus clarified so as to suggest the central notion of Creativity as Reality for one and Proces as Reaslity for the other, we will be in a better position to appreciate what Professor David Hall meant by “the meeting of the twain,”[27] to rid of the cliche of Kipling’s, which has been resounding in the Western ears for almost a century.  But, in my opinion, such as encounter on Creativity between the East and West could be further dramatized as “the seeking for the other half” in the Platonic sense (The Symposium), though “the meeting of the twain” indicates an experience that indeed is thrilling enough in itself, yet nevertheless it may not be so productive or inducing as the Platonic metaphor with all its suggestiveness.  We have now located for the first time perhaps an “Archimedian Point” in the world of comparative philosophy.



II.       The Status of Creativity in The Chinese, Indian, and Western Traditions

In approaching Buddhism one must, as hinted earlier, adopt two distinct yet related perspectives: the creativity perspective and the nīrvāna one.  Also we have mentioned that were Buddhism to be put on equal par, in terms of degrees of similarity, with the Chinese and Whiteheadian process philosophies in the most fundamental aspects, it must be made Chinese enough.  In this section we attempt to justify this claim by reference to the status of Creativity in these three grand traditions.  Needless to say, the sinicization of Buddhism is a story far too long to be retold here, and we must cut a long story short.  A clue, however, is available: How can the creativity perspective and the nīrvāna one be fused into one seamless whole?  And this is precisely what has actually happened in China, to the effect that Buddhism is made not only to speak Chinese, but even with a Chinese accent and, in addition, with a Whiteheadian accent if rendered properly into English!  

In fact, the problem of the polarity between the two perspectives, or put differently, between the one and many, temporality and eternity, flux and permanence, becoming and being, etc., is a moot problem in the philosophical traditions of the East and West alike (e.g., the problem of Chorismos for Plato).  But, Have we been aware that, if thought out and thought aright, it proves at most a pseudo-problem of one’s own making!  Let us first take a closer look at the case of Buddhism in its early development.

The multifarious nature of Buddhism is well recognized in the West: it has been differently characterized by different viewers.  For instances, Whitehead sees in Buddhism “a most colossal example in history of applied metaphysics.” “Christianity took the opposite road.  It has always been a religion seeking a metaphysics, in contrast to Buddhism which is a metaphysics generating a religion.”[28]  In the words of Theodore de Bary, Buddhism is “essentially a metaphysical system linked to a method of applied psychology.”  For Edward Conze, it is “dialectical pragmatism with a psychological turn.”[29]  Its great psychotherapeutic insights have impressed Western psychologists, such as Carl lung, Erich Fromm, and Abraham Maslow, etc., to mention a few.[30]  Each of the above characterizations throws light on our understanding of certain essential aspects of Buddhism in general.  But it is important to recognize that Buddhism persists primarily as a religion.  It is a religion, but more than a mere system of rituals and dogmas; a philosophy, but more than a mere system of concepts.  It is the embodiment of both, thus making poasbile the way of self-fulfillment by self-cultivation, that is, self-education, par excellence.  It aims primarily and ultimately at the teaching of a certain way of life, an enlightened way of life, so to speak, inspired by compassion and love and guided by wisdom and commitment.  The ethical motivation, psychological insights, philosophical outlook, dialectical method, the paradoxical and even “bizzare” techniques as employed in the Chan (Zen) Sect, are all to be taken into account as what the Chinese Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi calls “the bait for the fish.”[31]  Once you get the fish, forget about the bait!  To the question why, in addition to the “creativity” perspective as adopted in cosmology and cosmogony for a world theory, is there the need for the “nīrvāna” perspective in religion?  The answer from the Buddhist standpoint, I assume, would be: “Man cannot live on a world theory alone.” And the tendency to transcend from the realm of becoming to that of being, from the changing world of flux to the eternal world of permanence, from here to eternity, as we might say, is more pronounced in Buddhism than in any other religions of Asia, and perhaps throughout the world.  As Whitehead has put it, “Buddhism, like Christianity, teaches a doctrine of escape.”[32] -- though a statement that may provoke controversies. But, philosophically considered, this demand for a pure ontology of eternity for religious reason creates one of the biggest problems in metaphysics -- the same problem that has so bafflingly faced Plato, namely, the problem of Chorismos (separation) between the phenomenal and the noumenal worlds. The threefold mark of Buddhism indicates clearly the Buddhist tendency towards relief: (1) impermanence (anitya) of all events; (2) no-self (anātman) of all existences; (3) universal suffering (duhkha) of all constituents of being; added to these is the fourth aspect, (4) “nīrvāna,” thus making the fourfold mark of the position genuine of Buddhism.i  The concept of “nīrvāna”is tied up with that of  “duhka.”  And the doctrine of pratītya-samutpāda (dependent or Relational origination) implies and is implied by the doctrine of anatman, both pointing to the notion of sūnyāta (emptiness or opennes).  It is seen that the notion of “pratītya-samutpāda” as the Buddhist equivalent to the Whiteheadian “creative process” is set in contrast to the notion of “nīrvāna.”Hence the dualist view of the realm of samskrita dharmas vs. the realm of asamskrita dharmas, that is, the realm of Creativity vs. the realm of Non-Creativity, within the early Buddhist framework, in spite of the Buddha’s original insights as embodied in Primordial Buddhism, especially as enunciated in the Avatamsaka Sūtra (The Flowery Splendor Sūtra; or The Flower Ornament Treatise),j which is said to be beyond the comprehesion of the majority of his immediate disciples.

Since the introduction of Buddhism into China in the first century, the development of the Buddhist speculative metaphysics in confluence with the Chinese philosophical tradition, especially the Confucian and Taoist schools, has within the span of five hundred years issued in splendid results due to the ingenuity of several distinguished Chinese monks. Notably, Dao-sheng (374-434), Seng Zhao (348-414), Hui Yuan (523-592) , and Du Shun (557-640),k the first founder of the Hua Yan School.  Seng Zhao’s great contribution was his interpretation, from the perspective of Taoist metaphysics, of the philosophy of supreme wisdom as formulated in four doctrines presented in the famous Zhao-Treatise. They are: (1) the correlative view of motion and rest; (2) the unitary view of being and nothingness: (3) the supreme wisdom (prajñā­) as knowledge of no-knowledge, and (4) the namelessness of nīrvāna.l  They exemplify to a superior degree the typically Chinese trans-dualistic mode of thought.  Dao Sheng surprised his religious comrades by anticipating the Buddha’s doctrine of universal participation of Buddha-Nature even before the Mah­­­ā-pārinīrvāna Sūtra was translated into Chinese.  His bold assertion that all sentient or non-sentient beings participate in Buddha-Nature (not excepting even the “icchantika,” the infidel) was perfectly confirmed by the words of the Buddha himself as stated in the Sūtra itself translated a few years later, while he arrived at this insightful comprehension purely on the basis of the Confucian teachings on the perfectibility of human nature, especially Mencius’ doctrine of sagehood.

Hui Yuan is of crucial importance for the development of Mahāyāna Buddhism in China.  For almost a thousand years since the death of the Budhha, the tension between the nīrvāna-oriented and the creativity-oriented perspectives has remained unsolved, even within the Mahāyānaic theoretical framework.  The nīrvāna view, however, is emphasized in defiance of the creativity one by opposing the world of process to that of reality.  This nirvana-oriented tendency is represented by what may be called the Mahāpari-nīrvāna system, based mainly on the Mahāpārinīrvāna Sūtra and the Saddharma-pundarīka Sūtra,m whereas the creativity-oriented tendency in gradually refined versions is represented by what may be titled as the Tathāgata-Garbha system (Teaching “the  matrix of the Thus-Come”), supported by a host of important classic Sūitras as taught especially in the Yogācāra (the Consciousness-Only) Sect, including the Yogācāra-Bhumi Sūtra, the Mahāyāna-Sampārigraha Sūtra, the Lankāvatāra Sūtra, the Sūndhi-Nirvo-canna Sūtra, the Srimala Sūtra, the Madhyānta-Vibhanga, the Vijñāpti-Siddhi, the Vi-jñāpti- Matrata-Vimsika, the Vijiiapri-Marrara-Trimsika, etc.  The gap between these two systems, however, was bridged over by the appearance at this juncture (the 5-6th centuries) of the Awakening of Faith in the Mahāyāna Doctrine;n its authorship and translatorship, according to tradition, were attributed to Asvaghosa (ca. 100 A. D.) and Paramartha (in 554) respectively.  But the authenticity in both cases turns out to be highly questionable on the grounds (1) that, stylistically considered, it reads so fluently and beautifully Chinese with no traces of the clumsy style so typical of any other translation works done by the same “translator,” Paramartha; (2) that there had been found no Sanskrit version in India until many years later when the great Chinese monk Xuan Zhuang (596-644) , at the request of the Indian Buddhists, undertook the task of translating it into Sanskrit under the title of the Mahāyāna-sraddhi-utpadda.[33]  It is evidently a forgery, but a masterpiece, unique of its own kind.  Philosophically considered, the great significance of this masterpiece of forgery (whose real authorship still remains unknown) lies in the fact that it shows the Chinese genius of harmonization has reasserted itself in appropriation of the Buddhist thought by recasting the latter in a typically Chinese mould and fusing various streams into one unified whole the two persistently antagonistic traditions in the Mahāyānaic Buddhism at the sacrifice of neither: the philosophy of eternity as represented by the Mahāparinīrvāna tradition on the one hand and the philosophy of creativity (pratītya-samutpāda) as represented by the Tathāgata-Garbha tradition on the other. Both the nīrvāna perspective and the creativity perspectives are equally affirmed in terms of importance and are treated as two aspects of one and the same True Reality (Bhūtatathatā) called the Comprehensive Realm of One-Truth or One-Mind as seen in light of what is typical of the Chinese way of looking at the world, the dynamic (process) view of reality and the functional view of substance.  Here the key notion is that of manifestation: The relation between process and reality, function and substance, is interpreted in the Buddhist’s favorite metaphor as one between the waves and the sea itself.  Just as the waves are said to be the manifestation of the sea itself, so is process said to be the manifestation of reality itself, functionally considered, of course.  Apart from the sea there are no waves; and apart from the waves there is no sea to be seen at all.  Hence, the solution or dissolution at one stroke of the moot problem of the One and the Many.  In The Awakening of Faith it is stated thus:

In the One Mind we may distinguish two aspects, The one is the Mind as thusness (tāthāta), the other is the Mind as life-and-death (utpadanirrodha). Each in itself constitutes all things, and both are so closely interrelated that one cannot be separated from the other.

What is meant by the Mind as Thusness (i. e. , Reality) is the oneness of the totality of things, the great, all-including whole, the quintessence of the doctrine.  The Mind as birth-and-death comes forth (as the law of causation) from the Tathāgāta’s womb.  But the mortal (i.e., birth-and-death) and the immortal (i.e., Thusness) coincide with each other.[34]

This passage abounds in germinating ideas that are to characterize the subsequent developement of Mahāyāna Buddhism on the Chinese soil.  For instances, “interrelatedness,” “all-inclusive ness,” “the oneness of the totality of things,” “constitutiveness or interpenetrativeness of flux and permanence,” etc.  It points to anew direction. Yet how Spinozistic in approach and Whiteheadian in tone!  Just replace “Mind” by “Creativity,” “two aspects” by “eternal objects and the actual occasions,” or more specifically, “the pole of mental prehension and the pole of physical prehension.”

The Awakening of Faith, in the truest sense, is a work that has awakened the best philosophical minds of China and India from their dogmatical slumber either in the nīrvāna-oriented or in the creativity-oriented traditions.  It awakens a new faith, a new hope. A greater break-through along this line of thought is made by Hui Yuan who, on the basis of the enlightening insights derived therefrom, undertook to revise radically the traditional doctrine of relational origination in all its previous forms as taught in the Yogācāra tradition, and instead he proposed the doctrine of universal relational rrigination (pratītya-samutpāda by Bhutathatā or dharmakaya.  There are four types of the doctrine of relational originationo all together: (1) relational origination by karmatic causation; (2) relational origination by alāya-Vijñāna (i.e., transformation through the store-consciousness); (3) relational origination by the Tathāgāta-Garbha (i.e., transformation through the matrix of the Thus-Come); and finally, (4) universal relational origination by the Bhutathatā.  Thus the original separation between the realm of the samskrita dharmas vs. that of the asamskrita dharmas is seen in a new light as perfectly integrated.  That the limitations of the doctrines of the first three types must be broken down thoroughly is the main idea which Hui Yuan has advanced in his “Exposition of the Meaning of Mahāyāna” (Chapter XX).  From the aII-comprehensive perspective, the original one-sided process philosophy in traditional Buddhism must be reconstructed.

This new doctrine of universal relational origination initiated by Hui Yuan has become the real point of departure for the Hua Yan School founded by Du Shun, “developed by Zhih Yan (602-668), elaborated by Fa Zang (643-720), and further expounded by Cheng Guan (760-820) and Zong Mi (d. 841).”[35]  Du Shun calls it “doctrine of infinite relational origination (wu-jin yuan-qi),p which may be subtitled in the Whiteheadian language as “doctrine of infinite co-prehension.”  This is the Chinese philosophy of infinitude, originating in I-Ching: the Book of Creativity and developed by Zhuangzi, in Buddhist dress.  Du Shun is such a great philosophical mind with synoptic vision that he is able to stand on the shoulders of his precedessors, particularly Hui Yuan. The great significance of his contribution to Chinese Buddhism lies in (a) relegation in proper order of the essentials of various doctrines into a well organized comprehensive system and (b) three grand views of the dharma-dhatu.  As regards the former program of proper relegation of Buddhist doctrines through critical classification, we need only mention that ten tenets are subsumed in a masterful fasion under five principles:[36] (1) the existence of dharmas (events) and the non-existence of atman (substantive self-nature), corresponding to the teaching of the Hināyāna School (which includes six tenets) ; (2) samsara as nīrvāna, i. e. , samskrita as asamskrita (process as reality), corresponding to the fundamental teachings of the Mahāyāna School; (3) interpenetrativeness of reason and dharmas (events), corresponding to the consummatory teachings of the Mahāyāna School; (4) transcendence beyond words and contemplation, corresponding to the abrupt teachings of the Chan (Zen) Sect of the Mahāyāana School; (5) the Hua Yan samadhi (meditation on the coalescence of subject and object as the consummate wisdom),q corresponding to the round (perfect) teachings of the Mahāyāna School.  Thus it is seen that on the basis of these five categorical principles Du Shun has relegated into proper order all the essentials of Buddhism, both of the Hināyāna and the Mahāyāna Schools, and that the Hua Yan position is characterized by all those “fundamental, abrupt, consummatory, and round, i. e. , perfect”r phases of Mahāyāna Buddhism.  In sum, the Hua Yan School represents theoretically the culminating unification of the entire Buddhist tradition.

The true greatness of Du Shun as a chorismatic founder of a new sect in Buddhism lies not so much in his establishment of the Hua Yan School in China that opened up a new path in philosophy and religion as in his being able to formulate synoptically his far reaching insight and great vision into a few key-premises whereby the entire course of the subsequent movement of this school is charted out and its central themes defined accordingly.  As J. Takakusu well observed, “The foundation-stone of the Kegon (Hua Yan) doctrine was laid down once for all by the famous Du Shun.”[37]  This very foundation-stone is none other than the “three grand views of dharma-dhatu”as Reality-in-ltself: namely, (1) the true void as the ultimate reality-in-itself; (2) the interpenetrativeness of reason and events and (3) the dovetailing of all events in the form of comprehensive co-inherence and universal co-prehensions.  The subsequent progress of the Hua Yan School consists of further elucidation and elaboration of the insights implied in Du Shun’s three grand views, particularly by his immediate successors, Zhi Yan, Fa Zang, Cheng Guan, and Zong Mi.  It is therefore no exaggerating to say that the entire tradition of the Hua Yan system consists of but a series of footnotes to Du Shun, its progenitor, whose towering stature in the world of speculative philosophy remains unsurpassed.  As regards the theoretical scheme of the Hua Yan philosophy, such as the doctrine of the fourfold realm of dharmas (events), doctrine of perfect harmony of sixfold characteristics of all events, and the ten tenets on profound mysterys (as the subdivisions of the five principles mentioned above), no detailed account will be attempted here.  To illustrate the striking similarity between Whitehead and the Hua Yan system, one may take as an example the doctrine of the fourfold realm of dharmas.  The whole universe, according to this doctrine, is a fourfold realm of events by virtue of co-inherence and co-prehension: It involves (a) the differential rearm of events; (b) the intergrative realm of reason; (c) the interpenetrative realm of reason and events; and (d) the interlacing realm of all events.t  In the main, the differential realm of events corresponds to the Whiteheadian world of physical objects by way of physical prehension. The integrative realm of reason corresponds to the Whiteheadian world of eternal objects by way of mental prehension. The interpenetrative realm of reason and events corresponds to the Whitehedian world of actual occasions.  And the interlacing realm of all events corresponds to the Whiteheadian world of the nexi of actual occasions mutually prehending through concrescence and integrated into higher synthesis?[38]  Both in Whitehead and Hua Yan philosophy, the tendency towards the organismic whole by co-prehensive unification is evident, and in both cases, the grand presupposition is the principle of Interpenetration of all events (functionally considered); the principle of mutual ingression of all events (substantially considered); hence the ontological principle, “Apart from events, no reason”(shih wai wu li),u or as Whitehead puts it, “No actual entity, then no reason”; and, above all, the principle of One-Many: for Hua Yan, it is the idea of “One as Many, and Many as One” (by mutual ingression, “xiang qi”),v and of “All in One and One in All(by mutual prehension or interpenetration, “xiang ru”;w whereas, for Whitehead, it is the ultimate principle of Creativity “by which the Many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively.” A remarkable difference, however, exists between Whitehead and the Hua Yan system. The former is asymmetrical whereas the latter is symmetrical in the doctrine of prehension, as pointed out independently by Professors Hartshorne and Thomé H. Fang.[39]

In regard to Du Shun’s three grand views of dharma-dhatu, a student of Whitehead and process philosophy may perceive immediately that of all the three grand views, even the first one, on “the true void as the ultimate reality-in-itself,” is no less Whiteheadian than the other two.  In the theoretical scheme of Hua Yan philosophy, this cardinal principle of the “true void” is further elaborated to show:[40]  (a) that the worlds of physical properties can be dissolved into the nature of the void, just as the phenomena are transmuted into the noumena; (b) that the void as the ultimate reality is constitutive of, and identifiable with, the assemblage of purified physical phenomena; (c) that the void and the physical are mutually congruent; and (d) that eventually, after the inpenetrable inerita of the physical is explained away in terms of the efficacy of mental and spiritual transmutations and through the insinuation of the ontic essence -- the true nature of the void -- into the physical all one-sided characterizations in respect of the physical and the void are transcended in the highest integral truth of the Middle Path.x

Bearing this passage in mind, we may now turn to Whitehead for further confirmation. We find that the above fourfold characterization of the true void as the Ultimate Reality is, to an amazing degree, well echoed by passages in Whitehead’s Adventures of Ideas, where he relates Epicurus’ doctrine of “The Great Void” to Plato’s doctrine of  “The Receptacle.” It is only to be noticed that what Plato terms “The Receptacle” and what Epicurus terms “The Great Void,” Whitehead terms “Process”-- which is but another name for “Creativity.” And just a few lines later he directs attention to the “Space-Time”in modern mathematical physics, concluding emphatically:  “At the present moment, physical science is nearer to it (Plato’s doctrine) than at any period since Plato’s death.”[41] To sum up: the Platonic “Receptacle,” the Epicurean “Great Void,” the Whiteheadian “Creativity,” as well as the Buddhist “True Void,” the Confucian “Yu-Zhou,” and the Taoist “Way,” are just different names used to designate no more and no less that great unifying principle of the Uni-Verse (conceived as a harmonized and harmonizing whole) , whose function “is the imposition of a unity upon the events of Nature.”[42]

 For the present, we may just lay down the following approximations: The “True Void” (Du Shun) = The “Great Void” (Epicurus) = The “Receptacle” (Plato) = “Process”or “Creativity” (Whiteheadian) = “Space-Time” (in modern mathematical physics since Planck and Einstein) = “Yu-Zhou”y (“Cosmos” in Chinese) = “Xuan Bin”z (the mysterious matrix of creativity in the imag of the Great Female, Par Excellence” in Laozi).  Both Plato’s and Eplcurus’ doctrines are said to be “emphatIc assertions of a real communication of ultimate actualities.”  “This communication,” remarks Whitehead,

“is not accidental.  It is part of the essential nature of each physical actuality that it is itself an element qualifying the Receptacle, and that the qualification of the Receptacle enter into its own nature.  In itself, with the various actualities abstracted from it, the Receptacle participates in no forms, according to Plato.”[43]

Yet while speaking of the Receptacle in Plato’s metaphorical language as, e. g., “the fostermother of all becoming,” “a natural matrix for all things,” “the matrix for all begettings,” “invisible, formless, and all receptive,” “bare of all forms,” etc., Whitehead points out,

“It receives its forms by reason of its inclusion of actualities, and in a way not to be abstracted from those actualities.  The Receptacle, as discussed in Plato’s Timaeus, is the way in which Plato conceived the many actualities of the physical world as components in each other’s natures.”[44]

In short, “It is Plato’s doctrine of the immanence of Law, derived from the mutual immanence of actualities.  It is Plato’s doctrine of the medium of intercommunication.”

“We speak in the singular of The Universe, of Nature, of fusiV which can be translated as Process. There is the one all-embracing fact which is the advancing history of the one Universe. This community of the world which is the matrix for all begetting, and whose essence is process, with retension of connectedness, this community is what Plato terms The Receptacle. .... The space-time of modern mathematical physics, conceived in abstraction from the particular mathematical formulae which applies to the happenings in it, is almost exactly Plato’s Receptacle. .... Thus, as Plato declares, space-time in itself is bare of all forms.”[45]

The above quotation from Whitehead is enlightening indeed, although the reader may well safeguard himself against any possible Whiteheadian twist of Plato, if he so wishes. But that is not our chief concern here.  At any rate, it sounds quite an Adventure of Ideas, as the title of the work properly indicates.  He has unknowingly adventured into the intellectual kingdom of the Far East.  The points of direct relevance to our issue under discussion can be summairized as follows:

(1) The principle of the ‘True Void” in the Hua Yan School is interchangeable with the Whiteheadian “Creativity” as well as Plato’s “Receptacle,” in the sense that they have all espoused the idea that “The process of creation is the form of unity of the Universe.”

(2) The Buddhist “Middle Path” can be related to the Platonic-Whiteheadian “Medium of Intercommunication”; also the same can be said of the Chinese notion of “the Great Concentricity as the Grand Norm as well as the Ultimate Ultimacy”aa (as first set forth in the Book of Ancient History); it is to be noted that all these, the “Middle Path,” the “Medium of Intercommunication,” and the “Great Concentricity” are notions that suggest the idea of “the principle of the unity of the Universe” and, as such, must be taken in their full methodologico-cosmologico-axiologico-ontologico-meontological sen-ses.  Hence, the proper name of “China”as “the Country of Con-centricity”(zhong guo), symbolized by “f.ab

(3) The key-notion in all these cases is the idea of the immanence of Law and that of mutual immanence: between the phenomenal and the noumenal, the physical and the conceptual, the realm of flux and the realm of permanence, the physical properties and the ontic essences, there is always the medium of intercommunication, which accounts for the unity of polarities, whether called the Void in the Buddhist-Epicurean terms, or the Receptacle in the Platonic terms, or Process or Creativity in the Whiteheadian terms.

(4) Such a Whiteheadian adventure of ideas can be extended to both the Confucian and the Taoist realms of thought: for instances, the notion of “Space-Time” in modern mathematico-physical sciences is equivalent to the Chinese notion of “yu zhou” (literally, “Space-Time” as a unified field of the Cosmos) ; and the Platonic notion of the Receptacle as “the fostermother of all becoming,” “the natural matrix for all begetting,” “invisible, formless, and all-receptive,” “bare of all forms,” imposing “a common relationship on all that happens,” yet without imposing “what that relationship shall be,” is precisely a twin-concept to the Taoist “Xuan Bin” (in the image of “the Great Female, par excellence described in The Works of Laozi)[46] as “the invisible, inaudible, intangible,” “the Great Form without forms,” “the great Shape without shape;” “the Great Natural Matrix,” “the Root of Heaven and Earth whereby all things in the Universe are begot,” appearing as if “the all-receptive,” yet “the all-completing,” characterized by “creation without possession, action without self-assertion, development without domination”;ac but, for lack of a better term, it is termed “The Way” (“Dao” in Chinese); nevertheless, “Dao” or its other equivalents such as the Confucian “Ren” or the “Way of Heaven,” are all interchangeable terms for the ultimate metaphysical principle of Life designated as “Creative Creativity.”ad

(5) While characterizing the entire tradition of European thought as “consisting of a series of footnotes to Plato,”[47]  Whitehead, whose own system is no exception to it, refers particularly to the Platonic cosmology as discussed in the Timaeus, and his Process and Reality, therefore, can be said to consist essentially of a series of footnotes to that “obscure and difficult” notion of Plato’s, termed “The Receptacle,” which means for him quite an inexhaustible source of inspiration.

(6) It is to be further noted (a) that, on the one hand, he seems to have found in Plato’s “Receptacle” a proto-theory of the dipolar nature of God in embryo which he develops into its full-fledged form as the consummatory phase of his cosmology and, on the other hand his own theory of “Personal Identity”[48] (a phrase no less obscure and difficult than “The Receptacle”) is Plato’s “Third-Man” in modern dress.

(7) By thus providing a series of footnotes to Plato, Whitehead has also provided an excellent series of footnotes to Confucius, Laozi, and the Buddha, for reasons indicated above.  In addition, the Whiteheadian terminology characterized by elegance and technical precision may serve as an ideal linguisitic vehicle for expressing to the West the essence of Chinese thought and Buddhism as well, neither of which could possibly be rendered more adequately and intelligibly than it might otherwise have been, without doing violence to the original ideas so richly contained in its and philosophical religious classics.

(8) While siding in cosmology with Plato, Epicurus, and (with certain qualification) Leibniz in contrast to Aristotle, Galileo, and Newton in the opposite camp, Whitehead has made statements about the Space-Time in modern mathematical physics as nearer to Plato’s position than at any previous period of time in history, and what he has said in this connection applies equally well to the great sages in the I-Ching, and Confucius in particular.

To return from excursion in the Whiteheadian adventure of ideas.  By locating the highest degree of affinity between Whitehead and the Hua Yan School in their central position in light of the three grand views of dharma-dhatu as laid down by Du Shun, we have touched the core of the problem.  The doctrine of relational origination by Bhūtathatā (or its equivalents, dharmakāya, Būddhatā, etc.) as emphasized in the Hua Yan School, is called “xing-qi”af in Chinese, in the sense of “origination by nature-in-itself.”  In Chinese philosophical usage, “xing”ag is but another name for “Creative Creativity,”ah beginning with I-Ching: The Book of Creativity.  The Avatamsaka Sūtra in India has ever remained as merely a Sūtra, in spite of the fact that it is said to be the embodiment of the Buddha’s supreme and consummatory wisdom.  It is recorded that:

“the meditation into which the Buddha entered before he preached the Avatamsaka doctrine was the Samadhi of Sea Impression (Sagaramudra) in which all the doctrines that were to be preached during his life time and all beings that were to be converted during fifty years of his career were all at once reflected just as all images are reflected in a quiet sea.[49]

The Avatamsaka wisdom, therefore, is taken to be above the head of the common run of the people, i.e., beyond the comprehension of the average laymen and the monks alike; for more than a millenium the Buddha’s great insight had been obscured by a long tradition of a merely half-way or one-sided process philosophy in the form of three less sophisticated types of doctrines of relational origination until Du Shun and his precursor, Hui Yuan, and a host of other eminent Chinese monks developed it into a new school of thought in Mahāyāna Buddhism, by taking a bold step forward and breaking down all the limitations involved in the previous doctrines.  Apart from its religious importance, the founding of the Hua Yan School in China is itself a rare phenomenon of enormous significance to the history of world thought:  It has restored the teachings of the Buddha in their true form, and it has represented the monumental expression of the Chinese metaphysical genius nourished in the Chinese soil as a natural matrix in its great and long cultural and philosophical tradition, without which it is highly questionable whether such a feat of the Hua Yan School would be made possible.  It is true that it is a synthesis, but one that is at once creative and critical in character.  As Oswald Spengler has keenly observed:

“There was no movement of “Buddhism”from India to China, but an acceptance of part of the Indian Buddhists’ store of images by Chinese of a certain spiritual tendency,” that fashioned out a new mode of religious expression having meaning for Chinese and only Chinese Buddhists. ....  Even though Indians and Chinese in those days both felt as Buddhists, they were spiritually as apart as ever.  The same words, the same rites, the same symbol, but two different souls, each going its own way.[50]

The Hua Yan School is but one of the typical Chinese schools of Buddhism, the other two being the Tian Tai and Chan (Zen).ah  Apart from the Chan tradition, the great D. T. Suzuki has spoken highly of Zhi Yi and Fa Zang, founders of the Tian Tai and Hua Yan Schools:

“Zhi Yi was a great Buddhist philosopher, and Fa Zang was still a greater one.  The latter marks the climax of Buddhist thought as it developed in China.  Fa Zang’s systematization of ideas expounded in the Buddhist Sūtra-group known as the Gandavyuha or Avatamsaka (Kegon in japanese and Hua Yan in Chinese) is one of the wonderful intellectual achievements porformed by the Chinese mind and is of the highest importance to the history of world thought. ... Zhi Yi and Fa Zang ....are minds of the highest order, not only in China but in the whole world. ”[51]

This passage justifies perfectly the claim made at the outset: that, were Buddhism to be put on equal par with the philosophical affinity between the Chinese and Western process positions, it must be made Chinese enough.  The phenomenon of the very existence of the Hua Yan and Tian Tai Schools bears the most eloquent witness to the case in question.  Even in the words of J. Takakusu, another great Buddhist scholar of Japan, the Hua Yan School is “indeed a glory of the learned achievement of Chinese Buddhism.”[52]

In concluding this section we may add that, by thus sinicizing Buddhism, the Chinese genius has rendered the Mahāyāna Buddhism all the more Mahāyānaic and the Hua Yan (literally, the “‘Flowery Splendor”) School all the more splendid, in the sense that it is made closer to the original teachings of the Buddha himself.  The Chinese genius of synthesis or creative appropriation has helped consummate Buddhism and has charted out a route to the goal of a world philosophical synthesis at the same time.  Perhaps Suzuki may not be fully aware of how right his judgement was when he said that Zhi Yi and Fa Zang were minds of the highest order not only in China but in the whole world.  Indeed, they are.  Their achievements are of the highest importance to the history of world thought, because they have essentially anticipated by more than a millenium such a great mind in the West as Whitehead, “the culminating unification of the entire Western tradition.”[53]























III. Creativity and Its Religious Imports

D. T. Suzuki remarked in one of his early works that Buddhism is a religion without

 a God, without a soul, and we may add, even without a Bible.  Hartshorne quoted Suzuki as saying that he was not certain whether Buddhism is nontheistic.[54]  Confucius was even heard to have thus advised on religious matters: “Respect the spiritual beings, but keep them at a distance.”  Quotations such as these tend to give rise to questions about the religosity either of Buddhism or Confucianism. Are they religions? One wonders. Of course, not in the same sense as one understands the term in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.  Two pertinent questions, however, deserve our particular attention:  (1) What is meant by religion? (2) In what sense are Confucianism and Buddhism said to be religions?  Such puzzles can be well brushed aside by redefining “religion” in terms of the “ultimate concern,” as with Paul Tillich, or of the “ultimate commitment,” as with Henry Wieman.[55]  That both Confucianism and Buddhism are religions can be established beyond doubt by the simple fact that the ultimate concern for the Confucians, as well as for the Daoists and Mohists alike, is Dao or the Way of Creativity Itself, whereas for the Buddhists, it is Nīrvāna.  While Tillich defines “God” as “the ground of being,” the Chinese rather define “God” or “Heaven” as “the ground of Becoming,” to rid of such ontologically substantative implication as involved in notions of “Being” or “beings.”  We may answer the second question thus briefly: Confucianism has undergone a series of transformations in its religious outlook and has evolved from polytheism and monotheism, to pan-pene-theism ever since the pre-Confucian period that can be historically dated at least to Duke Zhou in the 12th century B.C.  The culminating phase of Buddhism as represented by the Hua Yan School, is a form of ideal-realism, according to Professor Thome H. Fang.[56]

As scanned in a broad perspective, the concept of Creativity has a role to play, in various degrees of ultimacy, almost in all major religions of the world: From the Vedic Hymns to Buddhism and Vedantism in India; from Ikhnaton and Heraclitus to the Whiteheadian process thought in the modern West; from the early dawn of Chinese civilization as traceable to the Book of Ancient History and I-Ching: The Book of Creativity, to the leading trends of thought in the form of Creative Humanism throughout the history of China down to the present.  As regards the status of Creativity in each case, we have noted in the fore-going discussions that the Whiteheadian position proves closer to the Buddhist than to the Hinduist; moreover, even closer to the Chinese than to the Buddhist, by grounding our views on the fundamental status of Creativity in the respective systems. Although there is the “Hymn to Creation” in the Hindu literature, yet it ends unmistakably with a touch of agnosticism :

“The sages searching in their hearts with wisdom Found out the bond of being in non-being. Their ray extended across the darkness: But was the One above or was it under?

Creative force was there, and fertile power: Below was energy, above was impulse.

Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it?

Whence was it born, and whence came this creation? The gods were born after this world’s creation? Then who can know from whence it has arisen?

None knowth whether creation has arisen.

And whether he has or has not produced it: He who surveys it in the highest heaven, He only knows, or haply he may know not.”[57]

At any rate, however, Hinduism is predominantly Brahman-oriented and has therefore espoused a substance-view of Reality, in contrast to Buddhism which has espoused a philosophy of Becoming in cosmology and cosmogony. The Buddhist doctrine of Relational Origination has been found to be comparable (with qualification, of course) to the “Categories of Explanation” in Whitehead’s Process and Reality.[58] But in Buddhism as primarily a religion, the nīrvāna perspective always outweighs the process or creativity one as a matter of emphasis or value.  By thus delimiting our scope of comparative survey through gradual elimination in terms of the increasing degrees of similarity, we are further justified in maintaining the thesis on the twin-character between the Whiteheadian and the Chinese positions in process thought.

1.     Is Confucianism Theistic?

In this section we shall focus on some parallel insights in respect of the religious imports of Creativity as developed in the Chinese and Whiteheadian systems. As the truism goes, that philosophers and theologians tends more likely to disagree among themselves on religious issues than on anything else, I am fully aware of the controversial character of this subject and the theoretically intriguing subtleties and

complexities involved. For example, let us take another Hartshorne thesis in this case (on Confucianism) as a point of departure.  In “Theism in Asian and Western Thought,” Hartshorne states, “With Herlee Creel, I take Confucianism to be vaguely theistic, but with the focus on ethics, not on theology.”[59] Partly true, partly not.  Unfortunately, it is difficult to see, for lack of documented source, whether Hartshorne has misread Creel or been misled by him into such a misimpression about Confucianism in its religious aspects.  As it stands, Hartshorne’s statement is hardly free from the charge of over-generalization and over-simplification.  For the phrase “vaguely theistic” itself is vague enough and, moreover, inadequate.  It applies neither to Confucianism nor to Mohism, which has cherished unmistakably, a theistic belief, emphasizing on the tenet of “identification upward with the Will of Heaven” (“shang tong tian zhih” in Chinese)aj

Ironically, the fittest characterization of Confucianism as a religion derives from “panentheism,” a term coined by Hartshorne himself for Whitehead’s as well as his own position in process theology; but more specifically, it is pan-pene-theism.  Just as the Chinese philosophy of Creativity is predominantly process-oriented, so the Chinese view of “God” (in the sense of “Creativity Itself”) is pre-eminently and unmistakably pan-pene-theistic, and has a long tradition that is traceable at least back to 1121 B.C., since the founding of the Zhou dynasty as a turning-point in Chinese history both politically and intellectually, when King Wen and Duke Zhou, two great pre-Confucius interpreters of I-Ching had succeeded in transforming the previous monotheistic concept of God the Overlord, the Most High (“huang yi shang di, “ or “hao tian shang di” in Chinese)ak into a philosophical or moral God of Supreme Wisdom, Virtue, and Love termed symbolically “the Way of Heaven.”   Thus the early Zhou period marks the transition from mystic religion to rational philosophy in milieu of the historical setting of an ethio-centric culture in ancient China and has laid down, once for all, the foundation-stone for Creative Humanism as the leading trend of Chinese thought that has persistently continued down to the present age.  In this sense, both King Wen and Duke Zhou, whom Confucius greatly admired, can be said to be the pre-existent Confucians in the wake of the sage emperors Yao and Shun in the 23th centry B.C., to rephrase Nietszche’s remark on Plato as “a pre-existent Christian.”[60]  Until the 12th century B.C., as borne out by documented specifications concerning various kinds of sacrificial offerings as recorded in The Book of Ancient History and elaborated in The Book of Propriety, two important Confucian classics, the Chinese people of the archaic period, like most other primitive peoples of the world, have also passed through a variety of religious experiences, such as polytheism, monotheism, and not improbably even a primitive belief in a God of Wrath similar to the Jehovah of the Hebrews in the neolithic period yet awaiting to be “re-discovered” by more archaeological excavations.[61]  Nevertheless, one finds in China no traces of either henotheism or kathenotheism as is so typical of India in the Vedic period and early Greece.  In brief, the evolution of religious outlook even within the historical context of Confucianism can be described as originating from the polytheistic, going through the monotheistic, and, finally culminating in the pan-pene-theistic phase, wherein it has dwelt ever since, anticipating by more than three thousands years the contemporary process theology of the West, in so far as its broad vision and penetrative insights are concerned.

Why, with its focus on ethics rather than on theology? as Hartshorne observes--rightly, I think. Rightly, for it is not only a good point that he has just made, but in his very looking askance at the case of Confucianism as a religion, he has unawares perhaps got to the whole point.  Although one has every legitimate right to one’s preference of a theology to any ethics, yet the truth is that from the Chinese ethio-centric and value-centric viewpoint, ancient or modern, religion is not separated from morality, or vice versa.  For the essence of religion is morality, emphasizing the unity of moral and religious experiences.  Hence, the ethico-religious characteristics of Chinese thought.  The Confucian theology, if there is any, approximates quite closely to the “moral theology” associated with Rant.  In this sense, what Nietzsche has said of Kant as “the great Chinese of Konigsberg”[62] should not be mistaken for a mere joke or witticism; rather, it must be taken seriously.  For both Kant and the traditional Chinese thinkers as a rule, in so far as their religious views are concerned, never hesitate to endorse to the possibility and necessity of a moral theology.  In this connection Richard Kröner’s keen observation is enlightening enough to clarify this piece of the “Chinese puzzle”:  Seeing the fundamental antipathetic duality deeply rooted in the Western mode of thought, Kröner says emphatically:

“Ours is a world of oppositions anyway”;

“It is the most radical opposition we can think of”;

“We confront them in whatever realm of experience or thought we may move; whereas in Asian civilization all the cultural divisions are still embedded in the total stream of life, so that one cannot speak about art as if it were detached from religion; about religion as if it were detached from speculative thought; about this thought as it were detached from mystic feelings; or about these feelings as if these were detached from moral and political wisdom.”[63]

“To the Westerners, it indicates a defect of logic; to the Chinese, it is, however, a penetration of insight.”[64]

This kind of insight, this sort of wisdom, moral, religious, and political, results from what Professor A. W. Levi terms “The Vision of the Whole,”[65] while characterizing in epitome Whitehead’s philosophy of organism (or organicism). It is precisely true of the Chinese way of doing philosophy, religion, morality, art, etc., which, too, is inspired by what Joseph Needham calls “an organismic vision” as typical of the Chinese way.  For the Confucians in particular, it is only natural that theology implies and is implied by ethics!  Both are inspired by such a metaphysical vision. Their religious views on God as Heaven or the Way presupposes a philosophical cosmology inseparably conjoined with a philosophical anthropology.  More on this later.  For the moment, suffice it to mention in passing that the Confucian philosophico-religious outlook in general concentrates on three chief problems of Heaven, Man, and Men’s cultural achievements in the cosmos, by merging the three Ways of Heaven, of Man, and of Nature (called “Earth” in Chinese) into an organismic unity vindicated by the “doctrine of concordance of heavenly and human virtues” in I-Ching, yet explicable in terms of the Renaissance doctrine of harmonic correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm[66] -- a topic to be further discussed in connection with the metaphysical concept of man.

2. Process Theology and Its Meaning to the East

Now let us turn to the Western side for a while. I believe the spiritual comrades on both sides of the East and West are facing the same challenge: namely, how to reconcile the conflict of Faith and Culture as a result of science and technology? The rise and development of process theology in the modern West presents here a good case study that can be held up as a mirror for Oriental thinkers in general, especially in their persistent attempts to reinterpret creatively those great visions and insights in their philosophico-religious tradition that can be ren meaningful and relevant to the modern life. “The term ‘process philosophy’ used by I do not know whom, perhaps my friend Bernard Loomer” is pointing to a profound change which has come over speculative philosophy (metaphysics) in the modern period in Europe and America.”[67] thus begins in his account of “The Development of Process Philosophy.”  If Hartshorne, himself a leading force of this new movement, does not know for sure by whom the philosophical temper of mind in the West was baptized, far less could any one else claim to know for certain.  But, to put in the process-philosophical language, the emergence of a process theology in the modern West, a phenomenal event itself, is quite an impressive “actual occasion” as a result of relational origination.  Skipping over its remote ancestry in Heraclitus of the ancient Greece and its modern progenitor in Leibniz of 17th century Europe, let us start with its dynamic in the middle of the 19th cenutry, with Hegel, Schelling, Marx, Darwin, etc., all classified as “process philosophers,” in so far as they have shared in the process theme that Reality is always in the making, i.e., in the process of and transformation, hence dynamic. In our century, Whitehead is accorded well deservedly with the honor as the chief (if not the sole) progenitor who, more than anyone else, has fathered this new movement of process thought, primarily in physics. Thus observes Ewert H. Cousins:

“Submerged throughout much of Western history, process theme of the nineteenth century with increasing sharpness and impact.  Hegel’s comprehensive vision of the dynamic unfolding of history, was transformed into a dialectic materialism.  In contrast to the rational continental thought, Americans such as Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, and John Dewey developed process themes in the context of an empirical pragmatism.  Alfred North Whitehead combined both rational and empirical elements in his philosophy of organism.”[68]

But so far, this merely touches upon the intellectual aspect of its story, deeper, broader, and far more threatening historical and cultural context remains to be sought after. It is not far to seek, nevertheless, as pointed out by the same writer:

 “In analyzing the impact of culture on theology, we could easily conclude two major forces shaping theology in the twentieth century have been science.”[69]  War and science, and together with it, technology and de-humanization with their combined full impact on human life indeed marks our predicament in the modern world. “To be? Or Not to Be? -- that is the question!  It is merely a question for Hamlet alone? or for all of us who happen to be thrown unto this tiny speck called the Earth in the solar system?  Nowadays we are far less concerned about how to live, than about whether it is still possible for men to live at all, with the spectre of destructiveness of war and war-machineries looming large in the mind and heart of every thinking person in the present day world:  A-Bombs, H-Bombs, N-Bombs, and the ‘God-know-not-what’ kinds of man-slaughtering and world-destroying new devices and new dirty tricks threatening to come in the train of their predecessors!  As for the intellectual impact of sciences on process thought, there are two leading doctrines to be noted above all: Einstein’s relativity-theory and Darwin’s evolutionism.

A fuller and more specific account of the modern “genesis” of process theology has been drawn by W. Norman Pittenger, who has attributed its originating sources to: “(1) the existentialist analysis of subjective human experience; (2) the view that the meaning of history is found not so much in a catalogue of ‘fact’ (although these are essential) as in interpretation and living experience of fact in a community; and (3) the contribution of psychology, especially the ‘depth-psychology’ associated with Freud and Jung.”[70]  Added to these is (4) evolution theories from Henri Bergson, C. Lloyd Morgan, Samuel Alexander, to Teilhard de Chardin.

As seen in light of Toynbee’s “challenge and response” formula on the survival of human civilizations, the process movement in Western theology can be viewed as consisting of a series of “responses” to the “challenges” resulting from the impact of war and science on human situation in the modern age. It aims to take a new outlook the Christian faith. The process theologians, as a rule, are all Christian in their cultural and religious background, yet deeply convinced that the dynamic image of a living and loving God, perpetually self-creating and self-surpassing in the on-going process of the cosmic advance is closer to the Biblical view in the Judaeo-Christian tradition than the Hellenized static concept of God as the Absolute, Eternal Being, the “Unmoved Mover” of Aristotle. Their project, if completely successful, will amount to “the Copernican Revolution” in the field of theology comparable to that of Kant’s in the field of philosophy about two hundred years ago.  Needless to say, to accomplish such a feat in theology is far more difficult than the Kantian enterprise in philosophy.  Modern process thinkers nevertheless are prepared to undertake a considerable reinterpretation of some fundamental ideas, such as “original sin, “ “redemption, “ “incarnation, “ etc. , in the theological framework of the Western tradition, to the effect that there are callings for the de-Hellenization and de-mythologization of the Christian faith.  From the process perspective, the orthodoxy Christian view of “incarnation” is criticized as typical of “excessive christ-centricism”; the doctrines of “original sin” and of “redemption” are both to be reinterpreted, rather than adhered to or abandoned altogether, and are to be imparted with new meanings and insights derivable from a broader context of human experiences of history and culture.[71] Basically, they are trying to reconcile the tension and conflict that have tenaciously existed between faith and culture, with a view to bringing forth some feasible way out as alternatives for the dilemma inherent in modern man’s existential predicament, as Paul Tillich remarks on the mission of his Theology of Culture.[72]  According to Pittenger, the traditional concept of “sin” is to be reinterpreted in terms of “deviation of aim and failure of achievement, “ and the old idea of “redemption” is to be seen in a new light as a matter of “fulfillment” through participation in what Hartshorne calls “reality as an on-going social process.”

“Precisely because they see the world and man within it as dynamic processes, driving towards fulfillment through increasing integration and by the mutual expression of love, they are enabled to see redemption in a much wider context and to understand man’s sinfulness more in terms of deviation of aim and failure of achievement-that is, in failure of love--than in terms of a radical evil, “in the sense of rooted in man’s very nature as such.”[73]

Despite the common cause and heritage for the process thinkers and theologians, they differ widely among themselves, either in essentials or in details as the case varies. Apart from the apparently unbridgeable gulf between the process and the orthodoxy views within the Christian context on the interpretation of the Nature of Deity or Divinity Itse1f, there are noticeable divergences among the processists themselves: For examples, Hegel vs. Marx on the spiritualistic vs. materialistic interpretation of the development of history; Wieman vs. Tillich on the empirical vs. ontological approaches in contemporary theology; Whitehead vs. Hartshorne on the temporality and atemporality of God; Morgan Alexander vs. Teilhard de Chardin on emergent vs. organic evolutionism; and the Teihardians vs. the Whiteheadians on the “Omega patterned” vs. the unpatterned open-ended mode of process of the cosmic advance, etc., to mention a few.

During the last three decades the major generating force of the process movement in theology is often associated with the University of Chicago and the Process Center at Claremont, California, USA, with Charles Hartshorne, Henry Wieman, Bernard Loomer, Bernard Meland, Shubert M. Odgen, Walter E. Stokes, Daniel D. Williams, W. N. Pittenger, John Cobb, Jr., etc. as its chief exponents and representatives, all being profoundly inspired by Whitehead.  In Europe, on the other hand, its chief spokesman is Teilhard de Chardin, who has spent much of his life in paleontological researches in China and is often regarded as the most important European ally for process theology.  Teilhard has developed a system that “would integrate into one comprehensive vision the evolutionary perspective, the contemporary experience of dynamism and convergence, and the faith in Christ.”[74]

But, how far -- if ever -- will this process-evolutionary perspective be accepted by the orthodoxy and even neo-orthodoxy Christian theologians is a question which we better leave for them to answer.  Considering the span of time and the progress ever made, anyone sympathetic with the process motif will think highly of its multi-dimensional achievements and contributions.  Certain signs are encouraging enough: At the Conference on American Philosophy during the 74th Annual Meeting of the APA (American Philosophical Association) 1976, it was concluded that the leading trends of American thought for the next century to come would tend towards neither theism nor atheism, but rather towards the process position.  The hour will come when man no longer feels it necessary to speak of the “East and West” at all.  For both sides there is the lure for perfection illumined, as it were, by the “Vision of the Whole.”

3.     Creation and Evolution

Professor Fang has contrasted three types of creation theories in world thought to evolutionism of the recent times, whether of the emergent or organic type, and finally maintained that the world in evolution is the world of divine creation, seen as the two sides of the same coin, -- a theme to be elucidated in light of the Whiteheadian “ingression” and the Confucian “uplifting” perpetually operative in what the Buddhists call the “dyadic track.”

(1) The theory of personal or impersonal creation can be diversified into three trends:

(a) The Judaeo-Christian religion set out a creation of the world out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo) by the almighty personal God, to be argued about by later philosophical theologians ontologically, cosmologically, or teleologically;

(b) Plato started a theory of creation by way of the Demiurge, transposing the absolute values, already subsistent in the transcendental realm, into the crude material domain, so as to make it orderly.

(c) Earlier than Plato Confucius elaborated a theory of perpetual creation through the primal power, inherent in Heaven, insinuated into earth to be shared by man, with a view to bringing out the grandeur and magnificence of the all-pervasive life throughout the universe. The creative power is cosmic rather than personal.[75]

(2) The theory of superabundant emanation is “exemplified in the Daoist system, followed by the systems of Neo-Confucianism, and in the philosophy of Plotinus. 

(3) The third type of creation theory is represented by the Hua Yen School of Buddhism, based on the Avatamsaka Sūtra, which is both a philosophy and a religion, par excellence.

As a religion, it sees the archetypical Buddha-Vairocana as the infinite ontic substance, manifesting its function in the wondrous wisdom of Manjusri, issuing in the purest deed-acts of Samantabhadra. The wondrous wisdom and the excellent conduct together issue in the perfection represented by Maitreya, the expected Buddha of the future. This exuberant light of Vairocana, radiant throughout the entire universe, constitutes the dharmakaya of the Buddha and comes into the intrinsic nature of man as such, making it a unique center of spontaneous inward enlightenment.[76]

In contrast to the previous three types of creation theories, in which it is asserted that all beings have their origin from above in the Divine (susceptible of being variously interpreted), the evolutionist account of the cosmic genesis starts from the bottom up, ranging from the lowest from 0£ existence, matter, to the ever-ascending levels of life, mind, and spirit, culminating in the Teihardian “Omega-Point …. What Teilhard calls the “noosphere” Fang has regarded as “the ever-creative cultural order continuously enriched with superabundance in efficacious value-ideals.”[77]

The line of evolution exhibited in the higher species of life culminating in active and thinking man is most dynamic and creative in answering the call of the Holy. Mere life is elevated into spiritual life having its fulfillment in superabundance of values and the powerful ideals of values. This life is transformed into mind, ceaselessly enriched by the supremacy of the spirit. This is the advent of the spiritual life of man, forever aspiring to be intimate with the original creativity of God.  The world in evolution is the world of divine creation.[78]

Comparing the Confucian type of creation theory to the Western process theology in respect of its originating sources mentioned above in Pittenger’s account, we may notice some important points of similarity and difference as well. Like its counterpart in the West of the recent times, the classic Chinese process view is also inspired by such existential themes as Care and Concern and imbued profoundly in a historico-cultural consciousness, corresponding to the existential view of subjective human experience and experiential interpretation of the meaning of history. But unlike the Western process theology, it is based neither on the Freudian and Jungian ‘depth-psychology,’ nor the ‘flat-psychology’ associated with the behaviorists; rather it is energized by the ‘height-psychology exemplified in the various versions of Doctrine of Exaltation of Personality implied in such classic works of Confucianism and Neo-Confucianism as Commentaries on I-Ching: The Book of Creativity, Doctrine of the Mean, Works of Mencius, and the Philosophy of Mind of Wang Yangming, etc.  Such a ‘height- psychology,’ anticipating the Schelerian thesis of self-realization as self-deification, can be related and compared to N. Hartmann, Max Scheler, Karl Jaspers, Erich Fromm, Abraham Maslow, etc., in the West.  Moreover, it is charged with axio-ontological insights into Value as the ground of being, comprehended only by what Tillich calls the “ontological reason,” rather than influenced or reinforced by any evolutionary theories.

4.     The Chinese Precocious Postmodern Mentality

What has been just said in the fore-going section provides a relatively full context against which the Chinese precocious postmodern mentality may be seen in a better light. How up-to-date are the great vision and far-reaching insights one may find in the ancient Chinese philosophical classics when compared especially to such a modern tendency in Western thought as the Whiteheadian system!  Both are inspired by the organismic “Vision of the Whole”; both are firmly situated in a fourfold meta-philosophical foundation: (1) trans-dualistic mode of thought, (2) intrinsic reasonableness (regarded by Whitehead as the “final court of appeal” for any philosophizing, (3) Value-pervasiveness in outlook, and (4) threefold view of Creativity; both culminate in a dipolar view of Divinity Itself, called the “Nature of God” for the westerners and the “Way of Heaven” for the Chinese; both have developed a system of philosophico-religious doctrine of the exaltation of human personality, expressed in terms of the “subject-superjective aim” for the whiteheadians and the “uplift of the Great Center in man towards the supreme height of Heaven” for the Confucians (“sheng zhong tu tian”).[79]

It would take bulky volumes to have these common themes fully elaborated.  For brevity’s sake, we may concentrate only on certain points of similarity as fair samples of the Chinese-Whiteheadian affinity, such as the value-centric outlook, the threefold view of Creativity, the fourfold characterization of Creativity as the ultimate category in metaphysics as well as the ultimate concern in religion, and the dipolar view of God or the Way of Heaven, as the Chinese call it.  However, before we proceed to discuss on these points, it would be helpful to outline the characteristic features of Chinese philosophy as a tradition of Creative Humanism or, to put simply, Creativism.

(a) Creative Humanism: A Ninefold Characterization. In spite of the striking similarity between Whitehead and Chinese philosophy, one should not be led to go so far as to identify the one with the other.  Though the emphasis in this study is laid on similarity rather than on difference (which quite deserves a separate study), the following Ninefold Characterization of the essentials of the Chinese views is provided for the purpose of general reference, whereby one may perceive certain clues to further investigations by comparison/contrast between Chinese philosophy and even some other major figures in the West.

(1) Cosmologically, the Chinese Creative Humanism espouses a dynamic, process-

view of the world, taking Creativity as Reality, or to put more dramatically, taking  the creatively creative creativity as the really real reality.

(2) Ontologically, it is value-centric, implying a functional view of substance, and the axiological commitment to value as the ground of being.

(3) Methodologically, it is synthesis-oriented, anti-bifurcational, trans-dualistic, hence reasonably dialectical in that it is free from the Hegelian formal rigidity (which Whitehead calls “childish”) and the Marxist dialectical tendency gone mad that over-emphasizes contradiction, opposition, and conflict as the essence of nature, while minimizing the importance of harmony for life, to say nothing of comprehensive harmony at all.

(4) In philosophy of Existenz, to borrow a term from Karl Jaspers, it is existential through and through in spirit in that the problem of the “Elucidation of Existenz” (ming xing明性, in Chinese) constitutes the central concern for Chinese philosophers since Confucius, who calls the authors of the I-Ching “men of profound care and concern” (you huan 憂患 in Chinese).

 (5) In Philosophy of Action, it is full of the pragmatic spirit as exhibited particularly by the Confucians in their emphasis on the unity of knowing and acting; knowing by Doing, and “realizing the Heavenly Reason in every actual occasion of life.

(6) Epistemologically, it emphasizes the intuitive and experiential, rather than the conceptual and theoretical. as away of knowing and takes the “experiential immediacy” (ti yan 體驗 in Chinese) as an approach to, and a criterion of, truth and meaning.

        (7)   In religion, it represents pan-pene-theism (wan you tong shen lun, 萬有通神) , a position it has adopted since the 12th century B.C. as a twin position to pan-en-theism (wan youzai shen lun, 萬有在神論); it regards creativity as the ultimate concern (Cf. Paul Tillich). Instead of conceiving God as Creator, it has conceived God as Creativity-in-Itself pervading the entire cosmos throughout, emphasizing on the relationship between God and Nature-All as one of interpenetration, rather than identification or inclusion, as is the case with pantheism or panentheism.[80]

(8)   In aesthetics, it adopts a “quality-oriented” position (氣韻 “qi-yun”). Formulated by Xie Hê in the 5th century, 氣韻生動 (“qi-yun sheng-dong”) has remained the master principle in the art of painting. Like the German term “Geist,” it defies translation—literal or otherwise. Most close to this notion is Stephen C. Pepper’s principle of “vividness of quality.”[81]

(9) In ethics it is “empathy-sympathy” oriented.  Confucius has anticipated Jesus’ great teachings embodied in “What you don’t want the others to do to you, don’t do to them,” by five hundred years. The love of this platinum rule is not confined to the Christians alone.  In Learning of Greatness it is formulated as the fair square for human conducts, known as the reciprocity-principle.[82] 

From the above characterization, it can be seen that some strands of Chinese philosophy can be related to its counterparts in some Western thinkers, for instances: Karl Jaspers and the Confucians on the philosophy of Existenz; Martin Heidegger and the Daoists on fundamental ontology and meontology; Jean Paul Sartre, Merleau-Ponty and the Neo-Confucians and Chinese Buddhists on perception and consciousness; the Chinese vijñāna-padians (Xuan Zhuang and Kui Ji) and Husserl on the method of reduction in transcendental phenomenology; Paul Tillich and the Confucians and Neo-Confucians on “Ultimate Concern”; Nicolai Hartmann and the Confucians on teleology of values or, as we call it, axiological idealism; Max Scheler and the Chinese sages on the metaphysical nature of man in philosophical anthropology.  The above is merely suggested as a sort of mapping for further investigations by interested comparative philosophers.  But few other philosophers in the west, to my knowledge, have developed a system that as a whole can be compared with the Chinese viewpoints on various aspects in such a strikingly similar manner as has Whitehead.  The term “creative humanism” or simply “creativism” is deliberately chosen to emphasize the core concept of creativity in the Chinese philosophical tradition.  It is on account of this creativity-oriented tendency and the trans-dualistic mode of thought that the Chinese metaphysical position is one of the transcendent-immanent type.  The above outlined frame of referent reveals also certain points of difference fundamental to Whitehead and the Chinese position, to be here sketched briefly without elaboration: 

Firstly, the Whiteheadian affirmation on value as the ground of being is not so pronounced as the Chinese position when it declares in the opening paragraph of I-Ching: The Book of Creativity: “Great indeed is Qian the Creative, to which everything under Heaven owes its origination. The principle of creative origination is the supreme ground of all that is good. It harmonizes the whole world of beauty and the sublime.” I-Ching is thus grounded on an intrinsically value-centric ontology whereas Whitehead primarily adopts a cosmological approach in which its axio-ontologico-existential insight is at most implicit rather than explicit.

Secondly, I-Ching begins with the affirmation not only of Process as Reality, as is parallel to Whitehead, but also Goodness as Reality characterizing Creativity Itself as Goodness in the making.

Thirdly, for Whitehead value is generally related to the consequent nature of God in the sense that he treats Peace as the Harmony of Harmonies, whereas for I-Ching value is always related to the primordial nature of the Creative, taking the Creative Origination itself as Value at work.

Fourthly, the existential theme of care and concern permeates the entire book of I-Ching throughout, which, as interpreted by Confucius and his followers, should best read The Book of Creativity: Care and Concern, whereas in Whitehead’s Process and Reality such an existential tendency is not so evident or fully pronounced; at best it is implicit.

Putting aside such differences in details or fundamentals, we must recognize the twin-resemblance of these two systems of process philosophy in the world.

(b) Value-Pervasiveness      That both the Whiteheadian and the Chinese philosophical outlook are essentially value-centric in key-note is an observation that can be firmly established. In treating his relation with Chinese philosophy, what strikes us above all is the concept of “beauty” or “value-in-general” as pervasive in nature. This value-centric outlook of the universe is central and basic in both systems: For example, whereas the Chinese conceive of everything in nature as charged with value, Whitehead maintains that “value is inherent in actualities”; or again, whereas Chinese philosophers like Zhuangzi characterize the sage as “one who comprehends the reason of all things in nature on the basis of cosmic beauty,” Whitehead speaks of beauty as “a quality which finds its exemplification in actual occasions.”  Zhuangzi’s statement, if put in our modern language, may be paraphrased thus: “The philosopher is one who, on the basis of the pervasive aesthetic quality in nature, is able to construct a world hypothesis in terms of which every item of our experience can be interpreted.” (i.e., one who, on the basis of the all pervasive cosmic beauty, can comprehend the reason of all events.”)  And the whole secret of the way the Chinese interpret their experience is betrayed by Professor Fang when he says, ‘The Chinese are artists before they become philosophers.[83]

Thus, it is clear that in grasping the idea of beauty (in its general sense) as the central concept, one grasps the core both of the Chinese and the Whiteheadian meta-physics as a world hypothesis, because aesthetic quality is the alpha and the omega in both systems.  And in Whitehead, the typically anthropomorphic concept “feeling” is, for the first time in the West perhaps, given its cosmic dignity.  His Process ani Realily, subtitled as “An Essay in Cosmology,” should read “A Critique of Pure Feeling.”  To be is to be prehended as beautiful; and to be a value is to be a quality felt!

 (c) A Threefold View of Creativity in I-Ching and Whitehead     One of the unfavorable impressions about the process position in general, an impression which is by no means uncommon, is that process philosophers are concerned only with the “here and now, “ or just “what comes and goes” in the flux of Change.  Seen in light of the fore-mentioned trans-dualistic mode of thought, or what I choose to call the polarizational theory of unity of dualities, this rather unfair charge fits more suitably with the process philosophers of the Heraclitean type than with those of the more sophisticated Platonic-Whiteheadian-Chinese type. The main problem in metaphysics that faces Plato, Whitehead and the ancient Chinese philosophers alike is the moot problem of the polarity of Change and Permanence.  From the Chinese standpoint, the clue to the solution, or dissolution, of this problem, consists in the “functional view of substance,” which, again, is an application of the trans-dualistic outlook.  The functional view of substance is of such crucial importance to the Chinese process philosophy that apart from it the doctrines of mutual immanence, of interpenetration, and other related themes and these would remain difficult to understand.  The main concern of the sophisticated process philosopher, to put in Whitehead’s language, is with “intuition of permanence in fluence and of fluence in permanence,” thus to the neglect of neither, while aiming at the unity of both, a dialec-tical unity implied in the polarizational view of dualities.

To see a World in a grain of sand;

And a Heaven in a wild flower.

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand;

And Eternity in an hour!

This is the poetic expression of process philosophy in epitome.  How can one be expected to understand this type of philosophy without being able to appreciate William Blake? “It is typical of the West that its poets are profounder than it’s philosophers.”[84]

In the Chinese philosophical classics, the concept of “yi,” i.e., “Creativity,” is said to comprise three aspects of the process of creative creativity: namely, (1) “bian-yi” (change or flux) ; (2) “bu-yi” (permanence) ; and (3) “yi-jian,” that is, the yang and ying as two modes through which Creativity manifests Itself.  Notice the variation in the word order in the third case of “yi-jian.”  Oversight on this subtle variation in the word order will lead one to take it at its face value, meaning “simple and easy.”  This simple-minded mistake is committed by most of the I-Ching translators in the West, from James Legge to Richard Wilhelm.  Philosophical concepts must be philosophically grasped before one can expect to translate them properly.  Numerous instances in the Confucian Commentaries on I-Ching suggest the idea of opposing the pair-concepts of “yi-jian” to those of “yang-yin” and “qian-kun,” thus “yi-jian” must be taken to mean symbolically the intercomplementary attributes of yang and yin, qian and kun, in the sense of the “creative” or “active” for one, and the “pro-creative” or “receptive” for the other as the two modes of Creativity manifesting Itself in the cosmic process of transformation.  The idea of co-relating “yi-jian” to “yang and yin” and “qian and kun” is fully elucidated by “Kong Yingda” (547-648) in his “Preface” to The Rectification of the Meaning of I-Ching on the basis of ideas contained in the Confucian Commentaries (not to be detailed here).  The proper interpretation of this central concept “Creativity” in I-Ching can be best illustrated in terms of Whitehead’s doctrine of prehension.  For brevity’s sake, a schema is provided as follows: 

The Chinese: “Yi”

The Whiteheadian: “Events” or “Process”

(I) “bian-yi”-- All changing phenomena are manifestations of:

(2) “yi and jian”-- successive interactions  of Yin and Yang in in accordance with:

(3) “bu-yi”-- the constant Way, denoted by   li (reason) and shu (numbers)


All events or actual occasions are “concrescence of prehensions” which can be analyzed into:

(i)     the prehending subject

(ii)    the datum prehended

(iii)               the subjective form (as the mode of prehension) guided bythe Eternal Objects



It is mainly because of the similarity in their views on this central concept that the Chinese and the Whiteheadian positions are properly seen to be of twin-character, Every thing else follows automatically, as it were, in a series of parallel concepts and theories.

(d) Creativity as the Ultimate Category: A Fourfold Characterization     The whole enterprise of process theology is inspired by Whitehead’s revolutionary concept of “God” as “the chief exemplification of Creativity.”  The concluding chapter on “God and the World” in Process and Reality is a classic in process theology under the disguise of “a cosmology.”  As he maintains,

“The theme of Cosmology, which is the basis of all religions, is the story of the dynamic effort of the World passing into everlasting unity, and of the static majesty of God’s vision, accomplishing its purpose of completion by absorption of the World’s multiplicity of effort.

Philosophy may not neglect the multifariousness of the world-the fairies dance, and Christ is nailed to the cross.”[85]

The various ways in which Whitehead speaks of God and Creativity, in the last analysis, fit in perfectly well with the Chinese views in light of a fourfold scheme of characterizing Dao as the Way of Heaven, to be elucidated specifically as follows:

(I) Ontologically, Dao is regarded as the principle of primordial unity in various schools of Chinese speculation whereas speaking of the problem of the One and Many, Whitehead declares Creativity to be the “the universal of universals characterizing the ultimate matter of fact.  It is the ultimate principle by which the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively, ..., the ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction.”[86]

In l-Ching it is expressly stated: “The great virtue of Heaven and Earth is called Creativity”; “Creative Creativity is what we mean by Change”; “It all-encompasses never amiss the entire process of cosmic transformations”; “The dynamic operations of the cosmic Life are all to be conformed by this principle of primordial unity”; “Diversities of approaches consummate in identity of the highest end; multiplicities of effort culminate in the unity of aims”;[87]81 or, with Laozi, Dao is “the fathomless unity of all things”; “the primordial One having ingression into all forms of beings”; or, with Wang Bi, the celebrated commentator both on l-Ching and Laozi, “comprised in the form of unity and consolidated by the power of origination, all things are orderly and unmistakable despite their variance and multiplicity.” To sum up, “The entire Universe is permeated with life,” every form of which, while partaking of the original One, comes to achieve the specific oneness of its own. Thus the manifolds of the specific ones, taken in summation, constitute a system of the many, namely, pluralities which, through the ingression of the original One and by the mutual implication of essential relativity among the many, must ultimately enter into the enriched form of a higher unity.”[88]

(2) Cosmogenetically, the Chinese and Whiteheadian positions are strikingly similar even in their views on the mode of cosmogenetic functions. For Whitehead, the cosmic dynamic operations are described in terms of the successive interaction of “ingression” (downwards), the “subject-subjective aim” (upwards), and the “objectification” between any two actual occasions in the process of concrescent prehensions (interpenetration), whereas for the Chinese, the function of the Dao is dyadic in track: “Progressively, the fundamental Nothingness in the Dao gives rise to the Being of all forms in the world, whereas, regressively, the immanent Being in the whole world depends upon the Nothingness of the transcendental Dao for the performance of adequate function.”[89] It is asserted that what is endowed by Heaven from above is the destiny of Nature, while the upward tendency of Nature towards Heaven is the way of its fulfillment. The Whiteheadian concept of “subject-superjective aim” parallels to the “uplifting tendency towards the supreme height of Heaven” for the Confucians; the “reversal of procedure of the Dao to the transcendental realm of Nothingness” for the Daoists; the “self-transcending, self-surpassing tendency towards the Dharmadhātu or Bhūtatathatā” for the Buddhists; and the “identification upward with the Will of Heaven” for the Mohists. The Whiteheadian concept of “objectification” [90] also finds its parallels in I-Ching, such as the doctrine of “universal interpenetration through cosmic feeling” (“pang tong qing ye” in Chinese),al hence the principle of “extensive connection” both for Whitehead and for Chinese Philosophy of Creativity. Implied in both systems is the organismic conception of a universe of interconnectedness.

(3) Phenomenologically, Whitehead describes Process or Creativity in terms of the Platonic “Receptacle” as “bare of all forms”; “without a character of its own”; “invisible, formless, all receptive,”[91] whereas in l-Ching it is maintained that “Creativity is without any substantive being of its own; its function is confined to no particular directions whatsoever”; “without consciousness, without activity, all receptive and repose, yet once stimulated, it responses and penetrates through feelings into all things in the universe.”[92]  More specifically, when Whitehead speaks of the “Receptacle” metaphorically as “the foster-mother of all things”; “the natural matrix of all transitions of life”; “the matrix for all begettings”; “its sole function is the imposition of a unity upon the events of Nature,”[93] he is simply describing a theme that is typically Daoistic in key-note :

We look at it and do not see it; Its name is The Invisible.

We listen to it and do not hear it; Its name is The Inaudible.

We touch it and do not find it; Its name is The Intangible.

These three cannot be further inquired into, And hence merged into One.

Infinite and boundless, it cannot be given any name; It reverses to Nothingness.

This is called The Great Shape without shapes; Great Form without forms.

It is The Vague and Ellusive.[94]

In other words, it is called “the Mysterious Receptacular Matrix” (literally, the “Profound Womb of Mother Nature,” par excellence), wherein lies the root of Heaven and Earth, infinite in function, continuous, and everlasting.”[95]

(4) Charactero1ogica1ly, Whitehead describes God in various ways, e,. g. , as “the chief exemplification of Creativity”; “the principle of Love”; “The principle of Concretion” ; “the lure for feeling” ; “the infinite ground of mentality” ; “the unity and plenum of conceptual prehensions”; “the primordial source of super-jective aims”; “the poet of the world, with the tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness” and “the great companion--the fellow-sufferer--who understands,” to be “conceived under the image of tender care that nothing be lost, or under the image of infinite patience”; “he is not the creator of the world; he saves it.”  Compare these words to the poetical vision as embodied in The Book of Odes: “Great indeed is the destiny of Heaven! leading the whole universe with tender care and infinite patience towards Itself as the lure for perfection.” Or compare these to I-Ching: “Creativity completes with loving care all things in Nature such that nothing be lost.”  Laozi even speaks of the Sage as the Dao concretely exemplified in the world “who is an expert in saving man and all things such that neither man nor anything be deserted.”  The highest Confucian ideal of Empathy and Sympathy; the highest Daoist ideal of Compassion and Kindness; the highest Mohist ideal of Universal Love and Benefit; the highest Buddhist ideal of Compassion and Wisdom, are all seen to be convergent on the same great vision that man should approximate to the highest ideal of the Divine, the Most High, as the chief exemplification of Cosmic Love, whether conceived in the personal or impersonal order.  The pan-pene-theistic sentiment can be expressed by the following “Hymn to the Most High”:

Great indeed is the Most High!

Of Creativity the chief exemplification;

Of Cosmic Love the chief manifestation.

But for Thee, the Most High,

Who hath all these exemplified?

Yet, by what and by whom,

Art Thou, the Most High,

In turn so well qualified?

Whether personal or otherwise?

---- That is a question

To be best argued by him, the most wise,

With the eloquence of silence,

Who in the Vision of the Whole comprehends

 Things all in Nature as Life, and identifies

 Their oneness with Thee, the Most High!

(e) The Dipolar Conception of God and Creativity     Our Chinese-Whiteheadian comparison culminates in the concept of the dipolar nature of God and Creativity.  Some words of clarification, however, are needed.  From both the Whiteheadian and the Chinese standpoints, Creativity is the ultimate category. Whereas Whitehead speaks of God as the chief exemplification of Creativity, and treats it in terms of the dipolar nature, the primordial and the consequent, the Chinese just refers to Creativity Itself and speaks of its dipolar nature in precisely the same way as Whitehead speaks of God.  This is because of the Chinese process view of Reality as Creativity Manifesting Itself.  In both cases, the doctrine of the dipolar nature whether of God as with Whitehead, or of Creativity Itself as with the Chinese, is an application of the polarizational unity of dualities in religious outlooks.  The Chinese position, substantially the same as Whitehead’s, only differs in the way of expression, because of the multi-dimensional character of the Chinese language. The troublesome concept is that of “Heaven,” not of “Creativity.”  The dipolar aspects of Creativity are expressed in terms of “qian” and “kun” as the principle of creative origination and the principle of pro-creative completion, respectively, symbolized in the natural language simply by “heaven” and “earth.”  In this sense, “qian” or “heaven,” when used in conjunction with “kun” or “Earth,” designates only one aspect of Creativity, i.e., its primordial nature, with “kun” as the correlative concept designating its consequent nature.  But due to the flexibility of the language, “Heaven” in Chinese is sometimes used interchangeably with “Creativity.”  This is the general sense in which it is used, in contrast to the specific sense designating the primordial aspect of Creativity differentiated into “qian” and “kun.”  Further, we notice that at least on one point the Chinese position proves superior to Whitehead’s, in that it entails no such tension, or opposition, between temporality and atemporality as is involved in Whitehead’s, who is always haunted by “the conceptual,” “the Eternal Objects, “ etc.  The Chinese position, in the main, is thorough-goingly process-oriented.  Hence, it espouses a thorough-going version of the process view of God as Creativity Itself.  In fact, in light of the trans-dualistic principle in general outlook and the transcendent-immanent type of metaphysics it generates, Eternity in Chinese philosophy is seen as immanent in Temporality. The tension is thus eased out.  Furthermore, the Chinese concept of “Heaven” or “the Heavenly” is also used in the axiological as well as ontological sense.  It designates the supreme principle of the axiological and ontological unity, dynamically and functionally considered.  As an axiological concept, it is used as the symbol not merely for the conceptual or the aesthetical values, but for all values integrated -- conceptual, aesthetical, moral, religious -- in the sense of the “creative goodness” as conceivable.  There is one point on which the Chinese and the Whiteheadian views converge: The conceptual in the sense of Reason.  But for the Chinese, it is the Reason of Heaven, or the Heavenly Reason, it is the Reason of Value, of Ideal (primarily moral and religious in character).  It suggests the idea of what may be termed, in Hartshorne’s phrase, “The Logic of Perfection.” 

Generally speaking, there are three senses in which the Chinese use the term “Heaven”: (1) in the physical sense, as the “sky” or “space”; (2) in the theistic sense, as “Overlord” in the image of a Personal God (as mentioned above, the Chinese people have also undergone through the period of monotheism in their early religious experience); and finally, (3) in the axiologico-idealistic sense, as “the supreme principle of the axiological and ontological unity.”  “Heaven” in the third sense is emphasized particularly by the Primordial Confucian School and fully developed by Confucius and his disciples and followers in the entire Confucian tradition.  In the most fundamental aspect, the Whiteheadian concept of God proves to be so close to the Chinese view of the Way of Heaven and Earth that much of what is said in the concluding and consummatory chapter on “God and the World” in Process and Reality may well be regarded as the Confucian version made articulated in the elegance of the Whiteheadian Victorian English.  Putting asides Whitehead’s portraiture of God in all his romantic and poetic exuberance as mentioned above, let us dwell on the essentially theoretical aspect: God as related to the world and His dipolar nature.  This relational view of God, as well as its implication of the His dipolar Nature as both Primordial and Consequent, is typical of the Chinese conception and can be well documented from the Confucian classics.

As Professor Fang points out, all the three major philosophical traditions in China, Confucianism, Daoism, and Mahayana Buddhism, converge on three doctrines: (1) doctrine of pervasive unity; (2) doctrine of the Dao; and (3) doctrine of exaltation of the individuals.[96]89 In the doctrine of Dao or the Way, the Confucians emphasize the establishment of the Unity of three Ultimacies:  the Way of Heaven, of Earth, and of Man; the Daoists emphasize on the way of spiritual liberation; while the Buddhists, on the Way of Bodhi.  Within the Confucian framework, the above-mentioned three Ultimacies, put in the adjectives, the heavenly, the natural, and the human, represent three dimensions in one, that is, the unity of the axiological (or idealistic), the naturalistic, and the humanistic dimensions.  Creativity as the Ultimate Reality is to be considered functionally, as C=f (a, n, h), or what amounts to the same, R=C=f (H, M, E).  Confucius is even heard to remark emphatically, “It is man that makes the Way great; not the other way round.” This statement is Creative Humanism in a nutshell!  But if one interprets Confucius in the context of his philosophy as a whole, reads between the lines, and interprets it in light of the spirit rather than the letter, then this statement must be revised thus: “It is man that makes the Way great, just as it is the Way that makes man great,” in the sense of mutual enrichment. To show that there is unmistakably the tendency towards a dipolar view of God in Confucian philosophy, one needs only refer to the Confucian hermeneutics expressed in the Commentaries on I-Ching, especially in the part called Duan (Judgment) on the Hexagrams of Qian and Kun.  Qian the Creative is characterized in terms of “origination, interpenetration, harmonization, and consummation (“yuan, heng, li, zhen” in Chinese),am whereas Kun the Pro-Creative is characterized in terms of “completion by virtue of receptivity.”  A clue is found both in Whitehead and the Chinese classics in light of the polarizational unity of dualities:  For Whitehead it is called “activity” and “passive capacity” (“receptivity”); for the Chinese, “Qian” and “Kun”:

“The initial situation includes a factor of activity which is the reason for the origin of that occasion of experience. This factor of activity is what I have called ‘Creativity.’ The initial situation with its creativity can be termed the initial phase of the new occasion. It can equally well be termed the ‘actual world’ relative to that occasion. It has a certain unity of its own, expressive of its capacity for providing the objects requisite for a new occasion, and also ‘expressive of its conjoint activity whereby it is essentially the primary phase of a new occasion. It can thus be termed ‘real potentiality.’ The ‘potentiality’ refers to the passive capacity, the term ‘real’ refers to the creative activity, which the Platonic definition of ‘real’ is referred to. This basic situation, this actual world, this primary phase, this real potentiality-however you chara- cterize it-as a whole is active with its inherent creativity, but in its details it provides the passive objects which derive their activity from the creativity of the whole. The creativity is the actualization of potentiality, and the process of actualization is an occasion of experiencing. Thus viewed in abstraction objects are passive, but viewed in conjunction they carry the creativity which drives the world. The process of creation is the form of unity of the Universe.”[97]

I have quoted Whitehead at length merely to use this passage to testify as an eloquent witness to what has been said on the two aspects Creativity in the Confucian Commentaries on I-Ching, where they are called “Qian Yuan” the Principle of Creative Origination and “Kun Yuan” the Principle of Pro-creative Completion:  “Great indeed is the Way of Qian! whereby all things in the universe are originated, hence the pervasive unity for all things under Heaven.”[98]  “Perfect indeed is the Way of Kun! to which all things on Earth owe their Life and Growth, and which receives and sustains the Creative Activity of Heaven.”[99]92 In both cases, the crucial point is the idea of Creativity as a Whole with its primordial and Consequent Nature represented in Whitehead, by the “real” or the “creative activity” and the “potential” or the “passive capacity,” and in the Chinese, by Qian the Principle of Creative Origination and by Kun the Principle of Pro-creative Completion.  When Confucius says, “It is man that makes the Way great, not the other way round,” it is the consequent nature of the Way as Creativity that he is emphasizing. For a fuller account of the two aspects of God in Chinese views, the Primordial and the Consequent, one needs only refer to the Doctrine of Concordance in Virtue between Man and Heaven stated in the Commentaries on the said Hexagram of Qian. There is ample evidence to support this interpretation.  It maintains:

“The great man accords in his character with heaven and earth; in his brilliance, with the sun and moon; in his consistency, with the four seasons; in the good and evil fortune that he creates, with gods and spirits. When he acts in advance of heaven, heaven does not contradict him. When he follows heaven, he adapts himself to the time (i.e., timing or timeliness) of heaven. If heaven itself does not resists him, how much less so do men, gods, and spirits!”[100]

Perhaps this is the earliest, and most eloquent piece of philosophical literature on the Dipolary Nature of God throughout the world!  While the Confucian philosophers, undoubtedly inspired by Confucius himself, speak of the two aspects of Heaven in terms of “in advance of Heaven” (where the consequent nature is referred to) and “follows Heaven” (where the primordial nature is referred to), Whitehead expresses the same view by maintaining:  “But God, as well as being primordial, is also consequent. He is not the beginning in the sense of being in the past of all members.  He is the presupposed actuality of conceptual operation, in unison of becoming with every other creative act.”[101]

With.respect to the relational view of God and the world, no other Western thinkers: have approximated more closely to the Chinese tradition than has Whitehead. On this issue, there is an important piece of study made by Professor Tang Junyi in The Spiritual Values of Chinese Culture. Tang has made a survey of all the representative schools of thought on the nature of God and man’s relation to Him, from Aristotle to Spinoza and Hegel, from Brahmanism, Buddhism, Mohammedanism, to Christianity, and has found that none other position is so near to the Chinese view as Whitehead’s. Both conceive of God in terms of Creativity; both conceive of God and the World to be interrelated, interdependent, interpenetrating, inter-complementary, of mutual immanence, of mutual requirement; and of mutual enrichment:  The world needs God, no less than God needs the World.  Tang concludes, “Of the entire Western tradition, Whitehead’s Dipolar Theory of the Nature of God proves the nearest to the typical Chinese position.  What a sagely worthy we find in Whitehead, who has such a wondrous intuitive grasp of Divinity!”[102]










IV. Creativity and Its Philosophico-Anthropological Imports


In the final section of this study we shall treat Creativity and its full imports and implications for a philosophical anthropology that may have some important messages for the modern man. On this point one may take some minor issues with both Hartshorne and Max Scheler as well.  For in “Theism in Asian and Western Thought” Hartshorne has this to say:

“Western theism has exalted our species in comparison to the rest of nature. In Asia, especially China. there was never the hard arid fast line between human and subhuman that was drawn in the West. This is one reason for the prevalence of vegetarianism in much of Asia, compared to Europe. The West is more appreciative of this aspect of the Orient now than it used to be. In general the Chinese sense of the naturalism of man, and of the general wisdom of nature, is congenial to a process philosopher, as is the focus upon becoming rather than mere being.”[103]

Scheler has distinguished three types of knowledge corresponding to three types of civilization, classifying the Chinese civilization together with the Greek as representing knowledge of culture in contradistinction to knowledge of salvation in the Hebrew and Indian traditions on the one hand, and knowledge of work and technology of the modern West on the other. He finds the Chinese civilization to be lacking in knowledge of the highest type, i.e., of salvation.  As for both Hartshorne and Scheler, I admire them as much as I disagree with them:  Admiration, for the contributions they have made to the modern development of process thought and philosophical anthropology in the West; disagreement, for their failure to have taken a deeper look into the Chinese case under consideration. Hartshorne’s is quite an over-statement with a touch of the Western chauvinism, yet without being duly qualified. Hartshorne seems to have confused the Chinese in general with the Indian or Buddhist vegetarians!  Although the Chinese concept of man emphasizes the leveling up of all beings in nature, this by no means implies that it draws no hard and fast line between human and subhuman.  One should see the cattle and sheep in the eyes of man, not the other way round, as the eminent monk Zhi Yi, founder of the Tian Tai School, says.  I would like to point out that what Hartshorne calls “contributionism” as central to the process position is a typical Chinese theme, known as “Cosmic Participationism,” especially in the Confucian philosophy of man, which has exalted human personality to such heights as is not even permissable from the Western Judaeo-Christian orthodxy standpoint, because it emphasizes the metaphysical concept of “man” as capable of forming a “Trinity with Heaven and Earth,” participating in the cosmic process of transformation as a co-creator with the Divine in the course of creative advance.  To be fully human is to become Divine.  Can the same be said of any form of theism in the entire Western tradition?  One wonders. 

On the other hand, the thesis of “self-realization as Self-deification” proves to be no less Chinese than Schelerian.  This being the case, how can there be in the Chinese religio-philosophical tradition anything lacking in the so-called knowledge of salvation?  For it implies an autonomous rather than heterogeneous salvation. 

To get these two points properly clarified constitutes the main contentions of this section, -- nay, even of the whole piece of this comparative study.

1.     Whitehead and Kant as a Point of Departure


Whitehead is not a mere cosmologist, nor a mere metaphysician, nor a mere Platonist. “But I do mean more,” says he,

“I mean if we had to render Plato’s general point of view with the least changes made necessary by the intervening two thousands years of human experience in social organization, in aesthetic attainment, in science, and in religion, we should have to set about the construction of a philosophy of organism.  In such a philosophy the actualities constituting the process of the world are conceived as exemplifying the ingression (or ‘participation’) of other things which constitute the potentialities of definiteness for any actual existence.”[104]

The consummatory phase of his philosophy of organism, I think, is to be found not in Process and Reality, but rather in Adventures of Ideas, wherein are embodied a philosophy of history, a philosophy of civilization and, above all, a philosophy of man, with full imports for a philosophical anthropology.  There is a whole system of philosophical anthropology implied in his process outlook “mutely appealing for an imaginative leap,” as he would say, on the part of any sympathetic sensitive reader. I tend to take his system of cosmology set forth in Process and Reality and Adventures of Ideas as essentially a philosophical anthropology in disguise.  Just imagine the host of anthropomorphic notions one can finds there, such as “feeling, “ “aim, “ “enjoyment, “ “satisfaction,” etc. His Process and Reality is a critique of pure feeling in the cosmic sense, where the “subject-superjective aim” contains all the germinating ideas for a full-fledged philosophy of man.

What is Man?  This question Kant has posed to himself as the last of the four main questions he undertakes to answer in the order: (1) What can I know? (2) What ought I to do? (3) What may I hope for? and (4) What is man? One cannot expect to be able to answer satisfactorily any of the first three questions until one has acquired some adequate understanding, or ways of understanding, of the last one.  These four questions are reborn for us today, and are to be reinterpreted in the context of man’s experience in the world.

“In the word ‘man’ alone, is the reality which is accessible to me. Here is presence, nearness, fullness, life. Man is the place at which and through which everything that is real exists for us at all. To fail to be human would mean to slip into nothingness. What man is and can become is a fundamental question for man.”[105]

On this fundamental question, nevertheless, Jaspers refers our attention to the Eastern:

“At the present moment, the security of coherent philosophy, which existed from Parmenides to Hegel, is lost.  This does not prevent us from philosophizing from the single foundation of man’s being on which was based the thinking of those millenia in the Occident which are now, in some sense, concluded.  To become aware of this foundation in yet another way, we are referred to India and China as the two other original paths of philosophic thought.”[106]

Fortunately, we find parallel insights into the essential nature of man developed side by side, for example, by Max Scheler (1874-1928) in the modern West and the Confucians in ancient China.

2. Max Scheler and the Chinese Philosophical Anthropology

“In no other period of human knowledge has man become more problematic to himself than in our own days.  We have a scientific, a philosophical, and a theological anthropology that know nothing of each other. Therefore we no longer possess any clear and consistent idea of man. The ever-growing multiplicity of the particular sciences that are engaged in the study of men has much more confused and obscured than elucidated our concept of man.”[107]

Scheler’s words as quoted above, echoing the time-honored Socratic dictum on self- knowledge, deserves of course a hearing. As will be seen shortly, although the position of Scheler’s “new philosophical anthropology based on as broad a foundation as possible,” [108] outlined in Man’s Place in Nature (Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos, 1928), strikes a somewhat peculiar note to the Western ears, it nevertheless sounds so congenial to the Chinese mind that one is inclined to think that Nietzsche’s witty remark on Kant as “the great Chinese of Konigsberg” must be revised.

Before presenting his new metaphysical concept of man, Scheler has examined briefly three types of anthropology in the Western tradition-theological, philosophical, and scientific – represented respectively by the Jewish-Christianothe Greek, and the modern scientific tradition.  In his own words:

“The first is the Jewish-Christian tradition of Adam and Eve, including creation, paradise and fall. The second is the Greek tradition in which, for the first time, man’s self-consciousness raised him into a unique place on the ground that he is endowed with ‘reason.’  The third idea is that of modern science and genetic psychology, which also has a tradition of its own. According to this view, man is a very recent product of evolution on our planet, a creature distinguished from its antecedents in the animal world only by degree of complexity of energies and capacities already present on a subhuman level. These three ideas are not compatible with each other. Thus we have a scientific, a philosophical and a theological anthropology in complete separation from each other. We do not have a unified idea of man.”[109]

To fill up such a gap is precisely what Scheler intends to accomplish. Thus, obviously, his new metaphysical concept of man is presented as an advancement beyond the above-mentioned three traditional types of anthropology. Such a tour de force is made possible by a clarification of the ambiguity as involved in the word, ‘man.’ “The same word, ‘man,’ in ordinary language and among all civilized peoples, means something so totally different that it is difficult to find another word in our language with the same ambiguity,” thus remarks Scheler,

“In one sense, it signifies the particular morphological characteristics of man as a subclass of the vertebrates and mammals.  Yet, the same word ‘man’. ...in the second sense, signifies a set of characteristics which must be sharply distinguished from the concept ‘animal’-- including all mammals and vertebrates.  Let us call the second concept the essential nature of man in contrast to the first concept defined within the context of natural science.”[110]

The main theme of Scheler’s essay is, as he puts it,

“to inquire whether this second concept can be justified, that is to say, whether we can assign to man unique characteristics not comparable to those of any other species.  I want to raise only a few issues and suggest a few conclusions that deal with the nature of man in relation to animal and plant and with man’s unique metaphysical place in the universe.”[111]

This passage is of crucial importance for our present purpose, for it has not only defined, quite expressly, Scheler’s position in general and the direction he is tending towards; it has also indicated precisely where the Schelerian-Chinese affinity (in spirit, if not in letters) is to be located, namely, in the concept of the essential nature of man and man’s unique metaphysical place in the universe.

If we put Scheler’s position side by side with the Chinese views with respect to the essential nature of man and man’s metaphysical place in the cosmos, some amazing similarity will at once present itself. The Chinese tradition of Creative Humanism, grounded on the concept “Creativity” as the ultimate category in metaphysics and the ultimate concern in religion as well, is at once organismically-oriented, homo-centric, and, above all, value-centric.  Its concept of man differs from the traditional Western view in that man is conceived as an exemplification of Creativity Itself, as a creative being, a co-creator with Heaven and Earth, rather than as a mere “creature,” let alone “a featherless biped”, a concept that has been allegedly attributed to Plato; and as such, the vocation of man consists in his participating in the ever on-going cosmic process of creative advance with Heaven and Earth, and the meaning of life, in the creation and augmentation of value. The whole process of humanization or self-realization, in Scheler’s term, is a process of “self-deification”.

“Man and the Cosmos are harmoniously interrelated, individual human beings among themselves are systematically interlocked, and men and other things are set in well-balanced order, all of these tend to converge on one pivotal point, namely, the creation of value.  The Universe represents for us the perpetual augumentation of value. The meaning of human life consists in the exaltation of value. The universe and human life are the concurrent processes of creative values.”[112]

Thus, Creativity is regarded as the ultimate ground of both existence and value. Such a process-metaphysics, once established, generates at once a value-centric philosophical cosmology and philosophical anthropology. The value-centric tendency in the philoso- phical concept of man and of the world is most pronounced in the Confucian school. Its ontology is also a general theory of value; its metaphysics as well as cosmology is but a philosophical concept of man generalized and a practical ethics in disguise. Whereas Kant speaks of the foundation of the metaphysics of morals, the Chinese stress on the moral (i.e., ethico-axiological) foundation of metaphysics.

In light of the above elucidations, it is only natural that from the Chinese standpoint an ethics without ontology (as defined in the above context) is not only a mistake, but a “contradiction in term.”   It is precisely because of one’s sense of cosmic identification, one’s awareness of the ontic essence in human being, one’s consciousness of man’s place in the cosmos, and, above all, one’s sympathetic feeling of fellowship in unity, that man’s status as a moral agent in the Universe is firmly established.

In this respect, Martin Heidegger’s words on the relation of Being to men’s essential nature, is worth quoting:  “Every philosophical -- that is, thoughtful -- doctrine of man’s essential nature is in itself alone a doctrine of the Being of beings (i.e., what it means for a being to be). Every doctrine of Being is in it self alone a doctrine of man’s essential nature.”[113]

3. Value, Man, and Culture

It has been pointed out, in the main rightly, that the “Chinese culture is ethio-centric, and for this reason the traditional Confucian form of government is even termed “ethiocracy” (a term coined by Baron von Holbach for “government by virtue”).  This is chiefly because the Chinese culture as well as the ethical way of life is based on the philosophical concept of man, which in turn is generated by the Reverence for Life. The Chinese culture is essentially a philosophical culture in character; the Chinese philosophy is essentially a philosophy of culture throughout, from Confucius down to Wang Chuanshan (1619-1692) and the contemporary thinkers, such as Xiong Shihli (1885-1969), Thomé H. Fang (1899-1977), Tang Junyi (1909-1978), Mou Zongsan, etc. The three chief problems in Chinese philosophy, as mentioned above, are Nature, Man, and Men’s cultural achievement in the cosmos. This is quite understandable if we bear in mind the philosophical concept of man, not as a mere man, the featherless biped, but “as a moral and cultural being, that is, a value-creating and value-realizing animal. The process of self-realization is one of cultural growth.  The development of man is a cultural development. The great Chinese philosophers, ancient or modern, have, as a rule, committed themselves to the ideal of the realization of “Ren” as the “Summum Bonum” (i.e., “Creativity out of Love,” or “Creative Goodness,” for lack of a better term), to be actualized through human effort in the process of the cultivation of the total being of man.”[114]  Such a value-centric conception of man is generated by the dynamic process-view of reality as embodied in the central philosophic theme of I-Ching:  “The universe, as it is, represents an all-comprehensive Urge of Life, an all-pervading Vital Impetus, not for a single moment ceasing to create and procreate and not in a single place ceasing to overflow and interpenetrate.”[115]

Two main tenets as enunciated in the Confucian Commentaries on I-Ching prove to be the fountainhead of the Chinese tradition of Creative Humanism: (1) “Continuation of Dao by the Supreme Good for fulfillment of Life” (ji shan cheng xing); (2) “Completion of the Cosmic Process through Human Culture as Creative Development” (jen wen hua cheng).ap  The first suggests the value-centric view of reality; and the second contains germinating ideas for man’s cosmic feeling, the awareness of his cosmic status as a moral and cultural being participating in the whole process of creative advance.  From the first we derive (a) the idea of Creativity in the sense of the Supreme Good as the principle of initiation and continuation, the alpha and the omega of the whole Universe, as it were, and (b) the idea of Nature in the sense of Life as the principle of consummation and completion.  From the second we derive the humanistic conception of culture as fundamentally a ‘creative development” from a twofold perspective:  Microcosmically, culture is the “growth to become man” by fulfillment of man’s essential nature; macrocosmically, it is the “continuous attempt of self-deification,” as Max Scheler terms it, by participation in the perpetually self-creative process of cosmic transformation gradually approximating towards what Teilhard de Chardin calls the “omega-point” of the universe as the consummatory unification of the Primordial and Consequent natures of God as the Divinity Itself at work, to rephrase Whitehead. As to the first tenet of “ji shan cheng xing,” that is, the process-view of Reality as Goodness in the making, let us quote from the original text:

“What is called Dao operates incessantly with the rhythmic modulation of the dynamic change and the static repose, thus continuing the creative process for the attainment of the Good and completing the creative process for the fulfillment of Nature, which is Life.  It manifests itself in the rational sentiment of humanity but conceals its great function unawares, propelling all beings in a swing of vitality without inciting the anxieties of the Holy.  Its richness of virtue, its grandeur of enterprise, is of all things the most sublime. Superabundance is what is called the deed-act; forevermore creativeness is what is called the supreme value.”[116]

On the other hand, the idea of “jen wen hua cheng,” i.e., the cosmic implication of human cultural activities, is further elaborated by Kong Zhi (Zisi), Confucius’ grandson, into participationism in the Doctrine of the Mean, whereby it has laid down the cornerstone for a full-fledged philosophical anthropology. It is stated thus:

“Authenticity is the Way of Heaven, whereas to have oneself fully authenticated is the way of man. ....

“Only those who have to the utmost authenticated themselves can fulfill their own nature; being able to fulfill their own nature, they can help fulfill the nature of others; being able to help fulfill the nature of others, they can help fulfill the nature of all things; being able to help fulfill the nature of all things; they are said to participate in the cosmic process of creative advance with Heaven and Earth; those who have thus participated in the cosmic process of creative advance are forming a sort of trinity with Heaven and Earth as co-equals.”[117]

In spite of the archaic style in expression, the above passage ranks with the world literature of the first order in philosophical anthropology; it contains ideas that anticipate in insight and vision much of what has been developed in the modern age by the process thinkers and the phenomenological and existential philosophers as well. That is what we mean by saying that Hartshorne is simply restating a central theme in Chinese tradition when he maintains that “process philosophy, fully thought out, is creationism” and “to be is to be available for future prehensions.”  It is a central theme in philosophical anthropology, typically Confucian in spirit, originating in I-Ching, taught by Confucius, further develoyed and eloquently defended by Mengzi, and clearly formulated in The Book of Propriety and Doctrine of the Mean, where it is called “Participationism.” How strikingly similar it is to the Renaissance doctrine of harmonic correspondence between micro-scosm and macrocosm!

“To speak in Renaissance symbolic language: man occupies a middle position in the cosmos, comprising within himself the whole range of creation from mass and matter, through plant life and animal sensation, on to the highest cognizance of spirit and intellect, aspiring even toward communion with the God-head. He thus has an advantage even over the angels: he is the only one of God’s creatures who is able to comprehend within himself, in epitome, the totality of creation”[118]

The main thrust of the Chinese position is that man in his process of self-realization is constantly inspired by a cosmic feeling of his status in the cosmos. Similar themes have also been developed by Jaspers and Scheler, for instances, as exemplified in the former case by the Doctrine of Elucidation of Existenz, and in the latter case by the entire body of the existential-phenomenological studies on the nature of Sympathy, on Love, on Fellow-Feeling, on the Person as the “ontic entity of actions.”[119]

According to Scheler, “philosophia” in the truest sense of the term, is “the Love of Essence.”[120]  To supplement our observations in this connection, we may turn to Scheler’s works for further confirmation.  First of all, what is the essence of culture?

Culture is a category of being, not of knowledge and experience.  Culture is the result of molding, of shaping this total being of man.   It is not the kind of molding and shaping of a material substance which takes place when a statue is formed, but that of a living entity within the order of time, a unity which consists only of developments, processes, and acts. This cultural being of the person corresponds in each case, to one specific world, to a ‘microcosm, an entity in itself.”[121]

By quoting the Aristotelian proposition that “The human soul, in a certain sense, is- everything,” Scheler goes on to argue:

“‘To strive for culture’ means to try, with loving fervor, to participate ontologically and to take part in all aspects of nature and history which are essential to the world, and not just fortuitous existence and circumstance. This implies the desire to be a microcosm like Goethe’s Faust. Such concentration of the world at large, of the ‘macrocosm,’ into the particular spiritual center of one individual, the ‘microcosm, ‘ or such expansion of one human being who, in love and insight, grows into a world-these are merely two inverse manifestations of the same fundamental creative development which we call culture. The fountainhead of this process is man’s love for the world. It is. .... Indeed the love of the true Plato, ever and insatiably thirsting for poetic reunion and sympathy with all aspects of world essence. ....  It is a strange love.”[122]

In sum, “Culture is both the growth to become man as seen from the level of subhuman nature, and, simultaneously, as part of the same process, the continuous attempt of self-deification as seen by all superhuman and infinite things which exist and are demand our veneration.”[123]

On the basis of the ontological and epistemological imports of Love, the gist of Scheler’s idea may be thus summed up in one phrase: “1 love, therefore I am.” and “You love, before you know.”  Both of these are typically Chinese in key-note, if not in source. It is Confucius who, on being inquired of the meaning of “Ren,” replies, “The essence of Jen consists in loving (the whole world).”[124]  The fore-mentioned participationism is often stated as “ai tzan hua yu”aq in Chinese, which simply means “participating ontologically in the creative development of the cosmic Life, as inspired by Love.”  In short, it means “Creative participation out of Love.”

Fine as a product of the European tradition as he is, Scheler has not been able to free himself completely from the haunting ghost of the dualistic mode of thought, or as Whitehead terms it, the fallacy of vicious bifurcation of Nature, to which he still falls victimized. For, although it is said that “Spinoza’s pantheism and Bergson’s creative evolution fuse in Scheler’s concept of the ‘self-deification’ of man”; although he believes that “God is constantly ‘becoming’ in man to the extent to which mankind realizes its spiritual potentialities or transforms natural resources and vital energies into products of the spirit,” he has been long agonized by the conflict of the two antagonistic principles in nature, Spirit vs. Life (or Drive).  For him, “the paradox is not resolved in a theoretical context, but by an existential leap.”[125]  From the Chinese standpoint, however, as seen in light of the principle of continuity implied in the ultimate category of Creativity as the all-encompassing Whole, no such an “existential leap” is necessary.  Life (even in the sense of Drive or Vital Impetus) and Spirit form an unbroken “Great Chain of Being.” Apart from such minor discrepancy between Scheler and the Chinese views, much of what has been said in Man’s Place in Nature serves as an excellent series of footnotes to the great insights of the ancient Confucian and Daoist philosophers: Whereas Mengzi declares that in so far as the ontic essence is concerned, “All things are complete within me” and Zhuangzi proclaims, “The whole Universe and I concresce together; all things and I are one,” Scheler advances his doctrine of self-rcalization as self-deification and maintains that in both cases the locus is man.

“The locus of this self-rea


lization, or let us say, self-deification, for which the Being in itself strives and for the sake of which it pays the price of the world as ‘history’ --  this locus is man, the human self and the human heart.  Here is the only place where the deification is accessible to us, but it is a genuine part of .the transcendent process itself.  For, although all things emerge in the process of continuous creation from the Ground of Being, from the functional unity of the cooperative interplay between spirit and drive, these two attributes of the Being in itself that are known to us are related to each other solely in man as a living unity.  Man is the locus where they intersect.”[126]

Similarly, as stated in The Book of Propriery, “Man is the heart and mind of Heaven and Earth.”  It is of interest to note that the above dramatic tension between Drive and Spirit has also annoyed certain Neo-Confucian philosophers, notably, Zhu Xi (1130-1200), where the contrary terms are called “qi vs. li” (in the sense of life-force and the Heavenly Reason), yet ultimately fused in to an organismic unity by way of interpenetration as treated by Wang Yangming (1472-1529), particularly in his Philosophy of Mind.


4.     Three Ways of Approaching God

Another important idea derivable from the above-stated Schelerian theme on the process of self-realization as one of self-deification points to the third way of approaching God, besides the two as mentioned by Paul Tillich in Theology of Culture: (1) the way of overcoming estrangement and (2) the way of meeting a stranger. Tillich seems to have “forgotten to mention the most important third way in which man discovers God through himself,” according to the Chinese viewpoint,

“God is NOT a stranger as in the second way.  Man in discovering God has not discovered something from which he is estranged.  God is in no way a thing; He is a power, a creative force; He is a spirit, the very spirit of infinite love, merging all beings in a wave of love. Man is the medium or mirror of God, disclosing the greatness of God’s perfection in the greatness of human personality, which is unique and individual and which is capable of being universalized into the general type of humanity.”[127]

This third way of discovering God is no less Chinese than Schelerian. It is thus noteworthy that in the main, Scheler’s insight into the homo-centric view of Being or, as the Chinese prefer to call it, of Creativity in Itself, sounds strikingly similar to the Confucian homo-centric conception of the world which generates the value-centric conception of man as culminating in axiological idealism or, in Nicolai Hartmann’s term, “the teleology of value,”[128] the gist of which, as enunciated in the Daoist doctrine of cosmic identification and the Confucian version of participationism in the Doctrine of the Mean, is fully echoed by the concluding paragraph of Man’s Place in Nature:

“The logos according to which the world comes into being becomes in man an act in which he can cooperate. Thus according to this view, the birth of man and the birth of God are, from the outset, reciprocally dependent upon each other. ...

I have heard it said that it is not possible for man to endure the idea of an unfinished God, or a God in the process of becoming. My answer is that metaphysics is not an insurance policy for those who are weak and in need of protection. It is something for strong and courageous minds. Thus it is understandable that man reaches the consciousness that he is an ally and co-worker of God only in the process of his own development and growing self-knowledge. ... One can take part in its life and spiritual actuality only through participation, through an act of commitment or active identification.

Yet, there is a kind of ‘support’ even for us. This is the support provided by the total process of realizing values in world history in so far as this process has moved forward toward the making of a ‘God.’  But we must not wait for theoretical certainties before we commit ourselves.  It is the commitment of the person himself that opens up the possibility of ‘knowing’ this Being in itself.”[129]

An eloquent witness in modern voice to the Confucian insight into the ontological status of man in the cosmos! The Chinese philosophical anthropology, properly under- stood in its classic sense, is termed “sheng-xue” or “dao-xue,” that is, “sageology” or “daology” (for lack of abetter nomenclature), which approximates quite closely to the Schelerian view of “philosophia” as “Love for Essence,” in the sense of being constantly inspired by the ever creative urge onward and upward towards the ontic essence of Being as inherent in the universe, yet with its locus in man, the human self and the human heart.  It is precisely here that Scheler and the Chinese thinkers (Mengzi, for instance) are meeting on the same ground. For both Scheler and Mengzi have committed to the “logique du coeur.”  On the basis of the “logique du coeur” Mengzi has not only defended his well-known doctrine of the intrinsic goodness of human nature, but also charted out what may be titled as an architectonic structure for Chinese philosophical anthropology, the chief tenet of which parallels almost exactly to the Schelerian thesis of the process of self-realization as one of self-deification.  In The Works of Mengzi it is eloquently stated:

“What is desirable is called Goodness; what is inherent in the ontic essence in human nature as the intrinsic goodness is called Authenticity, which is one’s True Self; what is to be further developed out of one’s Authentic Being into a solid and full personality is called Beauty; Beauty to be magnificently manifested and shone forth into splendor is called Greatness; Greatness to be further transformed and transmuted is called Sageliness; Sageliness to be further developed into the consummatory phase of the Most High as both unfathomable and ineffable is called Divinity in Itself (i. e. , Deus Absconditus ).[130]

The above-quoted Mengzi thesis of Human Greatness, ranging from (1) the good man; to (2) the authentic man; (3) the man of beautiful character; (4) the great man; (5) the sage; until finally (6) the holy man approximating to the Most High, corresponds to ideas expounded in Confucius’ Dialogue with the Duke Ai of the State of Lu as recorded in the Book of Propriety.[131]  Attached below is a Diagram provided by Professor Fang on “The Correlative Structure of Men and the World” for purpose of further reference. It embodies important insights as distilled from millenia of philosophical and religious experiences of mankind as a whole in a world perspective.[132]


Click here to see enlarged diagram

5.         Towards a Spiritually Exalted World Community

What particularly interests us is Scheler speaking as a philosopher of comparative culture, by distinguishing human knowledge into three types: (1) knowledge of salvation (i.e., “knowledge of ultimate metaphysical reality”); (2) knowledge of culture; and (3) knowledge of work of experimental, specialized science, with the civilization of India, of China and Greece, and of Modern Europe as the chief representatives, respectively.  It is regrettable, he maintains, that each great civilization has developed the three kinds of knowledge in a one-sided fashion. The hour has come for mankind to be aware of the importance and feasibility for the culminating unification of these three types of knowledge in an inter-complementary manner so as to form what may be called a spiritually exalted world community upon which is dependent the future of human culture.”  In the past,” says Scheler,

“Each great civilization has developed the three kinds of knowledge in a one-sided fashion. India has cultivated knowledge of salvation and the vitalistic, spiritual technique of achieving self-control. China and Greece championed knowledge of culture. The Occidental, since the beginning of the twelfth century, has emphasized the knowledge of work of experimental, specialized science. However, the hour for adjustment has come and these one-sided directions of spiritual development must begin to supplement each other. The future of human culture will be marked by such adjustments and additions, not by the biased rejection of one kind of knowledge to favor another, nor by the exclusive preoccupation of each civilization with what is historically ‘peculiar’ to it.[133]

In respect of the one-sided development of knowledge of work of experimental, specialized science, as exhibited particularly in the civilization of the modern West, Scheler points out its potential danger:

“It is, indeed, possible for man to attain an ideal perfection in the methods of experimental science and to remain absolutely empty as a spiritual being. Man may even sink back to a kind of barbarism, compared with which all so-called primitive peoples would seem like cultured ‘Hellenes’! Knowledge of work, devoted to the capabilities of man as a vitalistic being, must, in the last analysis, be subservient to knowledge of culture. The growth and transformation of physical nature must serve the growth of the profound center of man, his spiritual person. All learning of working techniques must be subservient to the attainment of cultural knowledge and must not dominate it. A systematical and scientifically supported barbarism would indeed be the most terrifying of all imaginable barbaric conditions.”[134]

Such a systematical and scientifically supported barbarism will only lead to the so- called ‘civilized savages.’[135]  The way out, according to Scheler, consists in an axiological orientation whereby the three types of knowledge are properly relegated in the form of a hierarchical structure of value: knowledge of work or technology, in the last analysis, must be subservient to knowledge of culture, which in turn, finally, must be subordinated to knowledge of salvation.  However, even the ‘humanistic’ idea of knowledge of culture, in Germany most nobly personified by Goethe, must further be subordinated to the idea of knowledge of salvation and must serve it in its ultimate purposes; for all knowledge, in the final analysis, is from God and for God.[136]  In respect of knowledge of salvation, India may be said to have gone too far, and the modern West has not gone far enough, whereas China (as represented in her traditional civilization) is somewhere in between. Yet, all in all, these three must go hand in hand in concrescent integration for the spiritual development of mankind as a whole. Scheler’s observation is insightful and thought-provoking, indeed. But, as the present writer sees it, his comment on the civilization of China is not completely fair to the case. For, although China is marked by her achievement in the humanistic ideals of culture, it is not lacking in the imports for knowledge of salvation. There is ample insight into knowledge of the last and highest type implied in the Chinese philosophical classics mutely appealing to an imaginative as well as “spiritual” leap.  Take for instance The Works of Laozi, wherein it is expressly stated: salvation consists “in successively identifying the Way of Man with that of Earth, the Way of Earth with that of Heaven, the Way of Heaven with Dao, and Dao with Nature, which, after all, is the spontaneous Way of Creativity Itself.”[137]  Laozi has described the operation of Dao as “Creation without possession; action without self-assertion; development without domination.”  Russell admires this passage so much that he has not only adopted it as a epigraph on the title page of his Roads to Freedom (1918); he has also advocated its adoption as “a just conception of the ends of life,” both nationally and individually.  The road to freedom is also the road to salvation.  But without such a just conception of the ends of life, how is salvation (of any kind) to be possible?  The operation of Dao as the Way of Heaven is precisely what is to be modeled after as the proper way of life for man.  It is the Way of Love, or more explicitly, the Way of Creativity out of Love.  It is the Heavenly Way phenomenologically described in human terms. This is what we mean by saying: “To be fully human is to become divine!” In The Problem of China Russell declares:

“I think one could derived from these words a just conception of the ends of life as reflective Chinese see them, and it must be admitted that they are very different from the ends which most white men set before themselves. Possession, self-assertion, domination, are eagerly sought, both nationally and individually.”[138]

This, according to Russell, is simply because “we (of the West) have to kinds of morality side by side: one which we preach but seldom practice; another which we practice but seldom preach.”[139]  The high ideal of morality as embodied in the golden (or platinum) rule laid down by Jesus has been resounding in the Western ears for almost two thousand years merely as a matter of preaching.  Yet, “In practice, our effective morality is that of material success by means of a struggle; and this applies to nations as well as to individuals.”  Russell further observes:

“The Chinese have discovered, and have practiced for many centuries, away of life which, if it could be adopted by all the world, would make all the world happy. We Europeans have not. Our way of life demands strife, exploitation, restless change, discontent and destruction. Efficiency directed to destruction can only end in annihilation, and it is to this consummation that our civilization is tending, if it cannot learn some thing of that wisdom for which it despises the East.

The distinctive merit of our civilization, I should say, is the scientific method; the distinctive merit of the Chinese is a just conception of the ends of life. It is these two that one must hope to see gradually uniting.”[140]

Also it must be admitted that when Russell states “We have two kinds of morality side by side,” and “The Chinese do not adopt either our theoretical ethic or our practical ethics,” he is speaking in revolt chiefly as a critic of Western civilization; he may, therefore, not be fully aware of the underlying implications of the judgments he has made. What is it that makes possible the Chinese way of life? why the Chinese do not adopt either the Western theoretical or practical ethics?  To questions such as these no satisfactory answer can be given without reference to considerations on a more fundamental level, i.e., on the ontological and axiological grounds for justification.  For all the Chinese philosophers, be they Confucian, Daoist, and Mohist, their ethics is their ontology applied to the concrete state of human affairs; their ontology is but their ethics in disguise.  The above-mentioned doctrine of Heaven maintained the intrinsic goodness of human nature is deeply grounded on the ontological presupposition of Creativity as Goodness in the making. As the ground of value, “Creativity” in the Chinese usage is the cognate for “Life.”  This is why it has always been stressed in Chinese cultural tradition that Reverence for Life is the foundation of morality; in fact, it is the point of convergence for the metaphysical, religious, aesthetical, and moral experiences crystallized into a philosophical anthropology.

Recently, some thinkers in the West who, echoing to the Whiteheadian insights into the fallacies, especially of the vicious bifurcation of Nature as a Whole, and consequently  of axiological neutrality (value-free), have located the current major crisis in ‘value- blindness.’  They have undertaken to re-evaluate and to revise radically their traditional misconception of the relationship of Man and Nature.  For instance, on this issue Richard L. Means has argued that disregard of the value of Nature is “not just bad economics” but “basically an immoral act” in itself:

“Man’s relation to nature is in the last analysis a moral crisis because it involves man’s history and culture and has its roots in our religious and ethical views of nature, which have been perhaps relatively unquestioned in this context.

The fact that it is a moral issue makes it particularly strange that contemporary writers on ethics by and large avoid a careful analysis of man’s relation to physical and biological nature. Even some of our wisest and most exciting social critics become quite traditional in avoiding the moral implications of the man-nature issue. Perhaps they fear the charge of anthropomorphizing or spiritualizing nature. Or perhaps the refusal to connect the human spirit to nature reflects the traditional thought pattern of Western society wherein nature is conceived to be a separate substance, material, mechanical, and (in a metaphysical sense) irrelevant to man.

It seems to me that it is much more fruitful to think of nature as part of a system of human organization, a changing condition that interacts with man and culture. If this is so, justification of a technological arrogance toward nature on the basis of dividends and profits is not just bad economics; it is basically an immoral act. And our contemporary moral crisis cuts much deeper than a que-stion of political power and law, urban riots and slums; it may, at least in part, reflect American society’s almost utter disregard of the value of nature.”[141]

The Chinese perspective, on the contrary, has conceived Cosmos, Nature. Life, History, and Culture as an integrative Whole tending towards creative unity, with its emphasis on the fulfillment of human nature through the cosmic process of creative advance, which in turn is consummated by way of the human cultural achievement. Such a wholesome relational outlook on Life in the sense of Creativity in Man and Nature is apt to serve as an anti-dote corrective for the one-sidedness involved in the tendency of the technological civilization of the West, and particularly of America. Again, scholars of the present generation, like John Miller, have just started a “Humanism in the New Age,” stressing the on humanization of science and technology, organismic conception of Nature as alive, a philosophic temperament encompassing East and West, education via the atmosphere of Love, etc.

The Creed of the “New Age Humanism,” reminiscent no less of the Whiteheadian than of the Chinese way in tenor, may be highlighted as follows:

“With the New Age comes a new humanism, ....  The value and dignity of man are very much the focal point, with man as the measure of reality and human nature the proper study of mankind. Man is viewed as part of both Nature and History, and the importance of the liberal arts education is not to be underestimated as man develops those capacities and powers which elevate him above the animals.

The humanist of the New Age will not be narrowly parochial in his religious beliefs. Rather his will be an expansive, experiential, experimental religion, more like a philosophy in its temperament, encompassing East and West, ....  Perhaps a new Gnosticism will emerge, emphasizing the power of man, rather than reliance on the gods or God. Man’s salvation will be his own problem, and a savior will be one who shows the way, not one who takes the burden for one. Such a faith is universal, consistent with Buddhism and Judaism, Hinduism and Daoism: it is the universal faith expressed in the ancient teachings, even in our own Christian tradition. ..

The New Age science will be decidedly humanistic, with its emphasis on man, on his health, both physical and psychological, mental and spiritual, and on his relation with Nature.  Thus it will be an ecological and environmental awareness: science will be understood in a holistic way. ....

Rather, science will be expanded; and the laws of nature will be seen to include man as an individual, not merely man as a member of this or that class. ....

Finally, in education, all these above-mentioned values will be taught in an atmosphere and environment of love. Love will be understood and practiced as non-attachment, acceptance, unconditionally and irrespective of the individual to be loved. Love will be both the method and the message of education, providing a climate in which the individual may grow to self-actualization. This is the view of those psychologists whom one would label generally “humanistic,” Erich Fromm, Albert Ellis, Abraham Maslow, Rollow May, Frederick Perls, and Carl Rogers among others.  It is also the view of the Oriental gurus whose concern is for the humanity of man.”[142]

The aims of the “New Age Humanism,” as well as Scheler’s thesis that “the growt and transformation of physical nature must serve the growth of the profound center of man, his spiritual person” (the “nucleus of our soul”), will be fully endorsed by, and echoed from, all the leading Chinese thinkers, from Confucius, Zisi, Mengzi, down to Lu Xiangshan (1139-1192) and Wang Yangming (1472-1529).  Lu boldly declares, “The Cosmic affairs are my own affairs, and vice versa.”[143]  Wang even takes a step further by proclaiming:  “Apart from my mind, there is no event.” and “Apart from my mind, there is no reason,” thus he succeeds in identifying “successively Mind with Nature, Reason, Dao, and Heaven.”[144]

For all these Chinese philosophers, as for Scheler, and the New Humanists, “the profound center of man” is believed to be “the focus and locus of Heaven.”  As is well said by Scheler, our knowledge of God is knowledge through God; and with Meist Eckhart, “the eye by which we see God is the same by which God sees us.”[145]

To conclude: (1) As repeatedly stressed by philosophers and historians deeply concerned with the plight of humankind, history is the record of gigantic mistakes; if we have not learned the lessons from history, we are going to repeat the same mistakes again.  Whitehead’s insightful formulation of the fallacies especially for the modern period since the Renaissance best serves as an excellent pathological diagnosis for the modern man; the Chinese-Whiteheadian philosophy of creativism offers a wholistic perspective as prescription. (2) The tragic plight of the majority of humankind, China included, is a powerfully eloquent testimony to the viciousness of bifurcation in variant forms of stupidism or avidya, e.g., expansionism, colonialism, imperialism, militarism, racialism, dehumanism, etc.  Yet, nonetheless, we have every good reason to be encouraged by the enlightening remarks of John A. Hutchison in Path of Eaith: “To men with mind to learn, traditional China still has much to teach”; and “Students of Chinese history also know that the Chinese anvil has outworn many hammers.”[146]







a Suncrates (孫格拉底), pen-name for George C. H. Sun (孫智燊)

[1] Cf. Max Scheler, Philosophical Perspectives, trans. by O. A. Haac (Boston: Beacon Press, 1958), p. 43.

[2] Cf. Hermann Keyserling, Creative Understanding (New York: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1929), pp. 4-5.

[3] Charles Hartshorne, “Personal Identity from A to Z,” Process Studies, Vol. 2. No. 3 (Fall, 1972), 209-215.

[4] Cf. Charles Moore (ed.), Essays in East-West Philosophy (Honolulu, Hawaii: University of Hawaii Press, 1951), pp. 1-14, for his Introductory Essay “An Attempt at World Philosophical Synthesis.”

[5] Charles Hartshorne, “The Development of Process Philosophy,” in Ewert H. Cousins (ed.). Process Theology: Basic Writings by the Key Thinkers of A Major Modern Movement (New York: Newman Press, 1972), p.49; p.52.

[6] Cf. George C. H. Sun, Chinese Metaphysics and Whitehead, Doctorial Dissertation; Director: Dr. Lewis E. Hahn (Carbondale, IL.: Southern Illinois University, 1971), p. 97. See also “Dissertation Abstract,” Process Studies, Vol. 4, No.2 (Summer, 1974), 149-150.

[7] Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas (New York: The Free Press, 1967), p. 285.

[8] Cf. Fang, “The Alienation of Man in Religion, Philosophy, and Philosophical Anthropology,” Proceedings of the 5th East-West Philosophers’ Conference, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, 1969; selected in Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature: A Collection of Philosophical Essays (Taipei: The Linking Publishing Co. Ltd., 1983), pp. 83-85.


[9] Ibid., p. 85.

[10] Charles Hartshorne, “Personal Identity from A to Z,” 215.

[11] Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1960), p. 11; Donald W. Sherburne and David Ray Griffin (eds.), Process and Reality, Critical Edition (New York: The Free Press, 1978), p. 6. 

[12] Ibid., p. 11.

[13] Cf. Charles Hartshorne, “The Buddhist-Whiteheadian View of the Self,” Proceedings of the International Congress for the History of Religions (Tokyo: 1958), 298-302; see also Kenneth K. Inada, “Whitehead’s ‘Actual Entity’ and the Buddha’s Anātman,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 21, No.3 (July, 1971), 303-316

[14] Cf. John B. Cobb, Jr. and Jay McDaniel, “Introduction: Conference on Mahāyāna Buddhism and Whitehead,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 25, No.4 (Oct., 1975), 403.


[15] Cf. Xiong Shili, Guides to the Studies of Chinese Classics (Taipei, Taiwan: Guang Wen Book Co, 1950), Vol. 1, pp. 134-135; Vol. II, pp. 48-50; p.79.

[16] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 274.

[17] D. T. Suzuki, Studies in Zen, edited by Christmas Humphreys (New York: A Delta Book, reprinted by the Philosophical Library edition, 1955), p. 139.

[18] Cf. Kenneth K. Inada, “The Metaphysics of Buddhist Experience and the Whiteheadian Encounter,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 25, No. 4 (Oct., 1975), 477.

[19] Whitehead. Process and Reality, pp. 10-11.

c 生;生生;天;天道;乾元;心;性;仁。

d 繼善成性。

[20] Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1945), p. 120.


[21] Whitehead, Process and Reality, pp. 31-32.

[22] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 179.

[23] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 47.

f 神無方;易無體。 神無思;無為。

[24] Ibid., p. 526.

g 維天之命,於穆不已

[25] Cf. Mou Zongsan, Mind and Nature Itself (Taipei, Taiwan: Zhengzhong Book Co., 1968), Vol. I, p. 329.

[26] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 6.

h 相即相入,互澈交融,旁通統貫

[27] Cf. David Hall, “Meeting of the Twain,” Proceedings of the Conference on “Whitehead and Chinese Thought,” Denver, Colorado, 1976.

[28] Alfred North Whitehead, Religion in the Making (New York:  Meridian Books, 1971), p.50.

[29] Cf. Wm. Theodore de Bary (ed.), The Buddhist Tradition (New York: The Modern Library, 1969),  p. xvi. Edward Conze, Buddhism: Its Essence and Development (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1970), p. 15.

[30] Cf. Carl Jung, “Foreword,” to D. T. Suzuki, Introduction to Zen Buddhism (New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1964), pp. 9-30, Erich Fromm, D. T. Suzuki, and Richard De Martino, Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis (New York: Harper and Row publishers. 1970), and Abraham H. Maslow. Toward a Psychology of Being (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1968).

[31] Cf. The Works of Zhuangzi, Chapter XXVI, on “External Things.”

[32] Whitehead, Religion in the Making, p. 51.

i 諸行無常;諸法無我;眾生皆苦;涅槃寂靜

j 華嚴經 (《 大方廣佛華嚴經

k 杜順

l 肇論 ﹕(1 不遷論 ;(2 不真空論 3 般若無知論;(4)涅 槃無名


n 《大乘起信論》;馬鳴;真諦;玄奘。

[33] On the complexities involved in the problem of the status of “Creativity”in the development of Mahāyāna Buddhism in China, I am greatly indebted to Professor Thomé H. Fang’s article “Some Serious Difficulties in the Evolution of Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism in respect of Pratītya-Samutpāda,” first published in Chinese in the Universitas, A Monthly Review of Philosophy and Culture, Vol. III, Nos. 1-2 (Taipei, Taiwan, 1975), 72-81; 135-184. The English version on this subject is to be found in his forthcoming opus magnum Chinese Philosophy: Its Spirit and Its Development. (Taipei: The Linking Publishing Co. Ltd., 1981), pp. 257-292.

[34] Lucian Stryk (ed.), World of the Buddha (New York: A Doubleday Anchor Book, 1969), pp. 248-249, wherem “Soul” and  “Suchness” are replaced by “Mind” and  “Thusness.”

o 業惑緣起;阿賴耶緣起;如來藏緣起;法界緣起(性界緣起);無盡緣起。

[35] Cf. Thome H. Fang, “The World and the Individual in Chinese Metaphysics,” Proceedings of the 4th East-West Philosophers’ Conference, Hawaii, 1964; Philosophy East and West, Vol. XIV, No.2 (July, 1964), 124.

[36] Cf. J. Takakusu and Watanabe (eds.), Taisho-Shinshu-Daizokyo (Tokyo: 1923), No.1867, pp. 509-13.

p 無盡緣起

q 華嚴三昧

r 始、頓、終、圓。

[37] Junjiro Takakusu, The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, edited by Wing-Tsit Chan and Charles A. Moore (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1947), p. 111.

s 四法界,六相圓融,十玄門。

t四法界﹕(1)差別的四法界;(2)統貫的理法界;(3)交融互澈的理事無礙法界;(4 接連鎖的事事無礙法界。

u 事外無理

v 相即

w 相入

[38] Sun, Chinese Metaphysics and Whitehead, p. 207.

x 融成中道理境

[39] Cf. Charles Hartshorne, “Whitehead’s Differences from Buddhism,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. XXV, No.4 (Oct., 1975), 412; and Thomé H. Fang, “The Hua Yan Philosophy,” Lecture XIX, The Chinese Buddhism Monthly, Vol. XXIII, No. 11 (August, 1979), 37.  Professor Fang had lectured on this subject at the Central University, Nanking, China in the 30s-40s; and at the National Taiwan University and Fu Jen Catholic University, Taipei, during his last ten years (1967-77).  His taped lectures transcribed by Mr. Yang Cheng-Ho were first published serially in The Chinese Buddhism Monthly, Taipei, Vol. XXII, No. 8--Vol. XXIII. No. 12 (April, 1978--JuJy, 1980) and will appear as The Hua Yan Philosophy in The Complete Works of Thomé H. Fang, forthcoming (Taipei: The Dawn Publishing Co. Ltd., 1981).  In Lecture XIX, he has called attention particularly to The Principles of Logic by F. H. Bradley and The Principles of Logic by Bernard Bosanquet, especially the latter’s Implication and Linear Inference, as comparable to the Hua Yan view of the “Symmetrical Implication.”

[40] Cf. Fang, “The World and the Individual in Chinese Metaphysics,” 124.

[41] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 150.

y 真空 杜順) 太空 伊辟鳩魯斯) 大攝 柏拉圖) 歷程 生生 懷德海) 時空 普蘭克 愛因斯坦) 宇宙 中國)

z 老子)

[42] Ibid., p. 187.

[43] Ibid., p. 134.

[44] Ibid., p. 134.

[45] Ibid., p. 150.

aa 皇極大中


ac  生而不有;為二不恃;長而不宰。

ad 性之理即生生之理。

ae 皇極大中

[46] Cf. The Works of Laozi, Chapters 4, 6, 10, 14, 35, 40, 48, 77.

[47] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 63.

[48] Whitehead, Adventure of Ideas, pp. 186-87.

af 性起。

ag 性。

ah 生生。

[49] J. Takakusu, The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, pp. 116-17.

[50] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, trans. by C. F. Atkinson (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926), Vol. II, p. 57.

ai 天台宗與禪宗。

[51] D. T. Suzuki, Studies in Zen. p. 139.

[52] J. Takakusu, The Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy, p. 113.

[53] A. W. Levi, Philosophy and the Modern World (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1966), p. 483.

[54] Charles Hartshorne,”Theism in Asian and Western Thought,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 28, No.4 (Oct., 1978), 481.

[55] Cf. Paul Tillich, The Systematic Theology (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1969), II, pp. 9, 14, 26, 30, 87, 116; Henry N. Wieman, Man's Ultimate Commitment (Carbondale and Edwardsville: The Southern Illinois University Press, 1967), esp., Chapter 4, “Time and Man’s Ultimate Commitment,” pp. 78-97.

[56] Thomé H. Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature: A Collection of Philosophical Essays (Taipei: Linking Publishing Co., Ltd., 1980), p. 89. 


[57] Cf. S. Radharkrishnan and Charles A. Moore (eds.), A Source Book in Indian Philosophy (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1957), pp. 23-24.


58  Whitehead, Process and Reality, pp. 33-36.

[59]  Cf. Masao Abe, “Mahayana Buddhism and Whitehead -- A view by a lay student of Whitehead’s philosophy,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. 25, No.4 (Oct., 1975), 415-428.

[60] Cf. Richard Livingstone, Greek Genius and Its Meaning to Us (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), pp. 182-83.

aj 上同天志。

ak  皇矣上帝,昊天上帝。

[61] Of the evolution of Chinese religious experience in the archaic period, there is an excellent succinct account in Fang, Chinese Philosophy: Its Spirit and Its Development (to be forthcoming in 1981) of which the present writer is the authorized translator into Chinese. See Part One, Chapter II, “Primordial Confucianism:  Its First Phase--From Mystic Religion to Rational Philosophy,” pp. 38-81.

[62] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Trans. Walter Kaufmann (New York: Vintage Books, 1966), p. 135; Sec. #210.

[63] Richard Kröner, Culture and Faith (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958), p. 73.

[64] Fang, Creativity in }'fan and Nature, p. 8.

[65] Levi, Philosophy and the Modern World, p. 482.

[66] Harold Jantz, Goethe's Faust as a Renaissance Man: Parallels and Prototypes (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1951), pp. 131-32.

[67]  Charles Hartshorne, “The Development of Process Philosophy,” in Cousins (ed.), op. cit., p. 47.

[68] Ewert H. Cousins, “Process Models in Culture, Philosophy, and Theology,” Process Theology: Basic Writings p. 8.

[69] W. Norman Pittenger, “Process Thought: A Contemporary Trend in Theology,” in Cousins (ed.), Ibid., pp. 28-29.

[70] Ibid., p. 29.

[71] Ibid., pp. 31-34.

[72] Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1959), p. 29. 72; Pittenger, “Process Thought: A Contemporary Trend in Theology,” p. 33.

[73] W. Norman Pittenger, “Process Thought: A Contemporary Trend in Theology,” in Cousins (ed.), op. cit., P. 33.

[74]    Ibid., p. 33.

[75] Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature, p. 87.

[76] Ibid., pp. 88-89.

[77] Ibid., p. 91.

[78] Ibid., p. 92.

[79] 昇中於天

[80] For comparison and contrast, it is to be noticed that for pan-theism the relationship between All and God is one of identification (All = God); for pan-en-theism, one of inclusion (All < God); for pan-pene-theism, one of interpenetration (All ø God).  If Divinity is infinite in substance, so shall it be in function as Its manifestation.  Just as pan-en-theism is a synthesis of traditional theism and pan-theism, so pan-­pene-theism is a synthesis of traditional pan-theism and pan-en-theism.  Cf. John Cobb, Jr., “The World and God,” in Cousins (ed.), op. cit., p. 165, for the subtle but important distinction between pantheism and panentheism. While attempting to characterize the religious position and sentient of the ancient Chinese people, even Professor Fang hesitated between “pan-theism” and “pan-en-theism,” for lack of such an appropriate term as pan-pene-theism.  Cf. Fang, Chinese Philosophy: Its Spirit and Its Development, p.2.

[81] The famous writer Lin Yutang, in The Chinese Theory of Art has listed seven samples from Osvald Siren and Lawrence Binyon to Benjamine March, and none is found satisfactory. But, fortunately, Stephen C. Pepper, America’s great contextualistic process philosopher of art, has hit upon it by the phrase “vividness of quality” in his aesthetic writings, especially Aesthetic Quality (1936); and most self-revealing is the concluding remarks of his Review of George Rowley’s work: “And yet the final impression is that basic principles are the same the world over.  In fact, for me it was a special joy to recognize as if in a Chinese character (qi) some principles I had often taught in English. …We could do a lot of qi in America.” Cf. Stephen C. pepper, “Review of George Rowley’s Principles of Chinese Painting (1947):” See Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. IX, 329-331, 1948.


[82] As we have learned further from findings in sociological and psychological researches, human nature is such that we have a lot more in common about things we don’t like than about things we do.  For what we do like is mostly a matter of personal preference, hobby, and even eccentricity; it cannot and shouldn’t be adopted as a guiding rule in ethics. This is why “The Ten Commandments” are all formulated in negative terms; for the negative formula works much better than the positive one. 


[83] Sun, Chinese Metaphysics and Whitehead, pp. 5-6.

[84] Herman Keyserling, Creative Understanding (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1929), p. 13.

[85] Whitehead, Process and Reality. p. 513.

[86] Ibid., p. 31.

[87] Quotations from the Confucian Commentaries on I-Ching, Part II, Chapter 5, translation, the author’s.

[88] Thomé H. Fang, The Chinese View of Life (Taipei, Linking Publishing Go., Ltd., 1980), p.49.

[89] Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature, p. 41.

[90] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, pp. 134, 150, 187; Process and Reality, p. 146.

al 旁通情也。

[91] Commentary to l-Ching, Part I, Chapter 10, translation, the author’s.

[92] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 187.

[93] Laozi, Chapter 14; Cf. Chan, A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy, p. 146.

[94] Laozi, Chapter 6.

[95] Laozi, Chapter 6.

[96] Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature, p. 31.

[97] Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, p. 179.

am 元,亨,利,貞。

[98] I-Ching, Judgement on the Hexagram of Qian.

[99] Ibid., Judgement on the Hexagram of Kun.

[100] Cf. I-Ch’ing, “Tuan Chuan,” Commentary on the Judgment on the Hexagram of “Qian.” Richard Wilhelm, I-Ching, Trans. C. F. Baynes (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1974), p. 382.

[101] Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 523.

[102] Tang Junyi (Ch’un-I), The Spiritual Values of Chinese Culture (Taipei:  Zhengzhong Books Co., 1959), p. 342.

[103] Hartshorne, “Theism in Asian and Western Thought,” 409.

[104]  Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 63.

[105] Karl Jaspers, “My Philosophy” in Walter Kaufmann (ed.), Existentialism from Dostoyevsky to Sartre (New York: Meridian Books, The World Publishing Co., 1967), p. 141.

[106]  Ibid., p. 138.

[107]  Cf. Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man, p. 22.

[108] Max Scheler, Man’s Place in Nature, trans. by Hans Meyerhoff (New York: The Noon- day Press, 1974), p. 6.

[109] Ibid., pp. 5-6.

[110] Ibid., p. 7.

[111] Ibid, p. 6.

[112] Fang, The Chinese View of Life, p. 96. Cf. Nicholai Hartmann, Ethics, trans. by Stanton Colt (London: George Allen and Unwin Ltd., 1967), Vol. I, “Moral Phenomena,” Chapter XXI, “The Teleology of Value and the Metaphysics of Man,” pp. 283-94.

[113] Martin Heidegger, What Is Called Thinking? trans. by Fred Wieck and Glenn Gray (New York: Harper & Row, 1968), p. 79.

[114] Cf. Max Scheler, Philosophical Perspectives, trans. by 0. A. Haac (Boston: Beacon Press, 1958), p. 19.

[115] Cf. Fang, The Chinese View of Life, p. 33.

ap  繼善成性,人文化成。

[116] Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature, p. 37.

[117] The Doctrine of the Mean, XX, the word “Nature” in the Chinese classical usage is the cognate for “Life,” translation, the author’s.

[118] Jantz, Goethe’s Faust as A Renaissance Man: Parallels and Prototypes, pp. 131-32; Hartshorne, “Development of Process Philosophy” in Cousins (ed.), Process Theology, p. 61.

[119] Cf. Karl Jaspers, Reason and Existenz, trans. by W. Earle (New York: The Noonday Press, 1955), second lecture, pp. 51-76; and Herbert Spiegelberg, The Phenomenological Movement (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971), Vol. I, on “Scheler’s Phenomenology in Action,” p. 251.

[120] Cf. Max Scheler, Philosophical Perspectives, p. 20.

[121] Ibid., p. 19.

[122] Ibid., p. 20.

[123] Ibid., p. 21.

[124] Cf. The Analects. 12:22.

aq 愛贊化育。

[125] Max Scheler, Man’s Place in Nature, trans. by Hans Meyerhoff (Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), “Translator’s Introduction,” p. xxxv.

[126] Ibid., p 93.

[127] Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature” p. 69; Cf. Paul Tillich, Theology of Culture, p. 10.

[128] Hartmann, Ethics, Vol. I, pp. 283-94.

[129] Scheler, Man’s Place in Nature, pp. 93-94.

[130] The Works of Mengzi, VII, 8:25, translation, the anthor’s,

[131] Cf. Fang, Creativity in Man and Nature, p. 39.

[132] Ibid., p. 84.

[133] Scheler, Philosophical Perspectives, p. 43.

[134] Ibid., pp. 48-49.

[135] Keyserling, Creative Understanding, p. 23.

[136] Scheler, Philosophical Perspective, p. 49.

[137] The Works of Laozi, Chapter 25, translation, the author’s.

[138] Bertrand Russell, The Problem of China (London:  George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1922; reprinted 1966), p, 194.

[139] Russell, Skeptical Essays (London:  George Allen & Unwin, Ltd., 1923), “Eastern and Western Ideals of Happiness,” p. 103.

[140] Russell, The Problem of China, pp. 17-18; p. 194.

[141] Richard L. Means, The Ethical Imperative: The Crisis in American Values (New York: A Doubleday Anchor Book, 1970), II. 131-132.

[142] John Miller, “Humanism in an New Age,” Contemporary Philosophy, Vol. VIII, No.2 (Later Spring, 1980), 12.

[143] Chen Shuliang and Li Xinzhuang (eds.), Anthology of Neo-Confucianism During the Song and Yuan Periods (Taipei: Zhengzhong Books, 1958), Vol. I, p. 13.

[144] Cf. Wang Yangming, Complete Works of Wang Yangming (Taipei: Cheng Chung Books, 1954), Vol. I; Cf. Thomé H. Fang, “The Essence of Wang Yangming’s Philosophy in an Historical Perspective,” Philosophy East and West, Vol. XXIII, Nos. 2-3 (January-April, 1973), 79.

[145] D. T. Suzuki, Mysticism: Christian and Buddhist (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1957), World Perspectives Series., Vol. 12, p.79.

[146] John A. Hutchison, Paths of Faith (New York: McGrew-Hill Book Co., 1969), p.255.