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Hartshorne, Charles (1897–2000)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-K114-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2001
Retrieved July 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

Despite the fact that Hartshorne often criticized the metaphysics of substance found in medieval philosophy, he was like medieval thinkers in developing a philosophy that was theocentric. From the 1920s until the beginning of the twenty-first century he defended the rationality of theism. For much of this period he was almost alone in doing so among English-speaking philosophers. He was largely responsible for the rediscovery of St Anselm’s ontological argument. But his greatest contribution to philosophical theism was not regarding arguments for the existence of God, but rather a theory regarding the actuality of God – i.e., how God exists. In his process-based conception God was seen as supreme becoming in which there was a factor of supreme being, in contrast to the view of traditional theism, wherein God was the supreme, unchanging being. Hartshorne’s neoclassical view has influenced the way many philosophers understand the concept of God. A small, but not insignificant, number of scholars think of him as the greatest metaphysician of the second half of the twentieth century.

Citing this article:
Dombrowski, Daniel. Hartshorne, Charles (1897–2000), 2001, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-K114-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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