Ofcourse, Hegel pointed out the contradictory form ofthis reasoning. Humans lay claim to the possibility of absolute negation. Can you say no? No to everything? No to life? Yes, I can do that. From then on, freedom becomes tied to the possibility ofsaying yes to no. Abso lute negation is thus affirmative in principle. This claim then prompts Hegel to show that all possibility tends towards effectiveness, that all negation is confounded with the energy of its doubling, in other words, its posi tive power, its power ofaffirmation. Henceforth, ifsaying no always amounts to positing the possibility of something it is no longer possible simply to negate. Categori cal refusal is not possible.
Does negation have any chance at all then? The pos sibility I am trying to bring to light—how to say no, a cut and dry no, an inconvertible, irredeemable no; how to think destruction without remission—could be called the negativepossibility. This type ofpossibility is not the nega tion ofpossibility, nor is it to be confused with the impos sible. Without reducing it to affirmation, the negative possibility is not the expression ofany lack or any deficit. It bears witness to a power or aptitude of the negative that is neither affirmed nor lacking, a power that forms. As I indicated, to take on the search for such a possibility immediately situates the proposal both within and without the yes and the no, even within and without the positive and the negative as traditionally understood.
To summarise, according to Whitehead the ultimate and
only aim in itself of the (development of the) world is beauty
and harmony, i.e., maximising individual experiential intensity while minimising the hindrance of other individual
entities’ intensities. In a similar vein, Nietzsche argues that
the only justification of human existence—in the sense of selfdesign on the basis of the will(s) to power, and not just as
self-conservation—is the aesthetic one.
commonalities that link Whitehead’s philosophy with Nietzsche’s
thinking about the world can be summed up in their mutual exaltation
of novelty, complexity, creativity, multiplicity, and adventurousness, and
at the same time their incontrovertible rejection of ontological duality,
essentiality, finality, certainty, simplicity, and sterility
6 In his later works Nietzsche explicates
the idea that the dynamic expression and self-realisation of the
wills to power ultimately can only be viewed according to the
manner of a work of art. In that sense, that which gives unity
to the processes we call world and life has to be considered
art. This is how Nietzsche’s early dictum that art is actually
“the highest task and the truly metaphysical activity of this
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 efort 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 (including ourselves) is made of things that exist inde- pendently of such relationships and that seem to endure unchanged through all the processes of change.
An artist friend of mine observed that great art can make us simul- taneously cry out, “Holy Cow!” and “Of course!” Great art can make us see something in a radically new way, while at the same time help- ing us to see that this new vision fits, that it feels right.2 My goal in this little book is to ofer a philosophical vision of reality, and of human existence in the world that makes you say both “Holy Cow!” and “Of course!” So far as I succeed, things will snap into place so that you say, “It’s so obvious. Why didn’t I see that before? That is how I always experienced the world, but I never knew how to say it.