Robert Mesle

C. Robert Mesle

Process-Relational philosophy. An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead. 2008. PA: West Conshokocken. Templeton Foundation Press.

Mesle’ book on Whitehead’s process philosophy is a follow-up volume to his earlier Process Theology: A Basic Introduction, published last year.

Both books require a grounding in philosophy, not always available to the average reader, as Whitehead’s thought patterns and language are not the easiest to follow. However, Mesle’s writing style does make that task a little easier.

As Mesle says early on in the book: “One function of philosophy is to help us see obvious truths more clearly and deeply. Another function is to challenge ideas that appear obvious but that may be fundamentally mistaken.

“Process philosophy is an effort to think clearly and deeply about the obvious truth that our world and our lives are dynamic, interrelated processes and to challenge the apparently obvious, but fundamentally mistaken, idea that the world… is made of things that exist independently of such relationships and that seem to endure unchanged through all the process of change” (Pg:8).

If you grasp this statement, then you will find much satisfaction and enlightenment in this book.

Likewise, worth noting is this important paragraph: “There is much more to be said about the process-relational vision of God. Under Whitehead’s inspiration, process-relational theologians have felt encouraged to move beyond his preliminary insights to explore religious questions and problems in a whole array of new ways. A God who cannot control the world but who can suffer with us and draw us forward in love is a God who offers radically new responses to the ancient cry of human suffering” (Pg:88).

Having studied Whitehead and process thought/theology in theological student days – I wrote my Exit Thesis on Dewey, Whitehead, and Wieman - it was good to make a return visit to the basic theory again.