Brian Henning has produced a veritable vade mecum of reflections upon the intertwining and implications of metaphysical, aesthetic, and ethical issues in the work of Whitehead. He forcefully and insightfully places creativity at the very heart of Whitehead's philosophical project. This category of the ultimate, meant to specify the most fundamental feature of cosmic process, is rotated in resolute and perspicuous fashion by Henning in a set of chapters that mix, in appropriate, but not fully separated, measures, exposition, argumentation, and application.
Foreword by Daniel A. Dombrowski. A central concern of nearly every environmental ethic is its desire to extend the scope of direct moral concern beyond human beings to plants, nonhuman animals, and the systems of which they are a part. Although nearly all environmental philosophies have long since rejected modernity’s conception of individuals as isolated and independent substances, few have replaced this worldview with an alternative that is adequate to the organic, processive world in which we find ourselves. In this context, Brian G. Henning argues that the often overlooked work of Alfred North Whitehead has the potential to make a significant contribution to environmental ethics. Additionally inspired by classical American philosophers such as William James, John Dewey and Charles Sanders Pierce and environmental philosophers such as Aldo Leopold, Peter Singer, Albert Schweitzer, and Arne Naess, Henning develops an ethical theory of which the seminal insight is called “The Ethics of Creativity.”By systematically examining and developing a conception of individuality that is equally at home with the microscopic world of subatomic events and the macroscopic world of ecosystems, The Ethics of Creativity correctly emphasizes the well-being of wholes, while not losing sight of the importance of the unique centers of value that constitute these wholes. In this way, The Ethics of Creativity has the potential to be a unique voice in contemporary moral philosophy.
Essential reading for both process thinkers/American pragmatists as well as environmental ethicists. . . .Henning lays out, in Jamesian fashion, his view of a genuinely ethical universe. This view both borrows from virtue ethics, utilitarianism, and deontology and also improves on them. No small accomplishment!
Henning does a good job showing how a Whiteheadean-based ethics overlaps with traditional moral theories in important and valuable ways, and also how it goes beyond them both in its comprehensiveness and its overall promise. It is in his suggestions regarding the ethical promise of a Whiteheadean, kalogenoc world view that Henning's work is most noteworthy—and hence deserving of considered attention by anyone interested in rethinking the dominant world views.
Henning explores many of history's finest philosophers of environmental ethics in his composition of a beauty ethic that expands our sphere of moral concern beyond living things. This remarkable philosophical work also includes Jenning's formal 'obligation of beauty,' beseeching each of us 'to always act in such a way so as to bring about the greatest possible universe of beauty, value, and importance that in each situation is possible.'
This book provides a remarkably clear and attractive foundation for an ethic that seamlessly binds human social justice to a wider moral engagement with the natural environment. Enhancing intrinsic beauty everywhere is shown to be our deepest obligation and our highest joy.
The Ethics of Creativity is an exceptionally well-informed and nuanced attempt to do nothing less than develop ethical principles we can use to guide us in our interactions with the entire universe. . . . Henning has given us a rigorous work of ethical philosophy for the new millennium.
Brian G. Henning is professor of philosophy and environmental studies at Gonzaga University. He was awarded the John N. Findlay Book Prize from the Metaphysical Society of America for The Ethics of Creativity. Henning is coauthor or coeditor of several books, including Genesis, Evolution, and the Search for a Reasoned Faith; Thinking with Whitehead and American Pragmatism; Being in America: Sixty Years of the Metaphysical Society; Beyond Mechanism: Putting Life Back Into Biology; and Beyond Metaphysics? Explorations in Alfred North Whitehead’s Late Thought.