A Creative Experience
Professors teach, of course, but what else do they do. Well, they are supposed to be scholars. As a part of being a scholar, Don Viney, who holds the title of University Professor, has with the aid of Jincheal O. edited a book by Charles Hartshorne entitled Creative Experiencing.
Hartshorne, who died in 2000 at the age of 103, graduated from Harvard in 1923 and taught at the University of Chicago, Emory (in Georgia), and the University of Texas-Austin. He is considered one of the twentieth century’s premier philosophers, with over twenty books and hundreds of articles to his credit.
“His emphasis in philosophy was metaphysics,” according to Viney, “but his first book was on the philosophy and psychology of sensation and his twelfth book was in ornithology”
One of the measures of Hartshorne’s importance to philosophy is that the twentieth volume of the Library of Living Philosophers was devoted to his life’s work—The Philosophy of Charles Hartshorne, edited by Edwin Hahn (Open Court, 1991).
“An interesting tidbit that I got from the editor at SUNY is that the press doesn’t lose money on Hartshorne’s books,” says Viney. “Prior to Creative Experiencing they published five of his books and six books about his thought, including one that I wrote.”
Hartshorne’s daughter, Emily Schwartz, invited Viney to Austin in the summer of 2001 to help prepare her father’s papers to be sent to the Claremont School of Theology.
“At that time I discovered the manuscript of Creative Experiencing and made a note to the archivist that this was an important manuscript, a complete but unpublished book,” he said.
Four years later Viney received a request from John B. Cobb, Jr. at Claremont, to serve as chief editor of the book, aided by Jincheol. Cobb was Hartshorne’s student at Chicago and went on to become a well-known theologian as well as the directed of the Center for Process Studies at Claremont. Steve Hulbert, a graduate of PSU’s geography program who studied philosophy with Viney, was also involved in the project. Steve was doing graduate work at Claremont and working in the Hartshorne archives.
Eight chapters of Creative Experiencing were previously published articles and five chapters appear for the first time. Hartshorne completed the book in the late 1980s.
“In those days,” says Viney, “his wife of over fifty years was suffering the effects of Alzheimer’s. In addition, many other projects demanded his attention and he was quickly getting to the point that he could no longer shepherd a book to publication. I believe the last book of his that he saw to publication was his autobiography, The Darkness and the Light (SUNY, 1990). He lived at home until his death but in the final years he had a live-in caretaker. His mental powers diminished somewhat, but he was quite lucid until the end.”
While Professor Viney was a graduate student in the early 1980s, he had a conversation with Hartshorne about a book he was working on.
“I now realize this was Creative Experiencing, so it was a tremendous honor for me to work on this project.”
Viney says that he learned from this task that editing a book is every bit as difficult and time consuming as writing one.
Much of the editorial work done by Viney and Jincheol came in the form of tracking down every quote that Hartshorne took from another philosopher.
“Hartshorne often quoted from memory, assuming that his readers would know where to find the quote. Jincheol and I pinned these quotations down in our endnotes to the book. We discovered that occasionally Hartshorne would get the wording wrong, but not in a way that misrepresented what the person said. Yet, Hartshorne’s wording, when different, was more memorable than what the original author had written! “
Do YOU have a story?
If so, contact us!