A Question of Faith? : Stengers and Whitehead on Causation and Conformationhale


Generalized solutions with apparently limitless applications are anathema to Isabelle Stengers, who demands that we recognize the specificity of the remit of the abstractions that we are constructing. One hallmark of her work is the distrust of any response that appears to be able to mollify a wide range of positions, problems or questions. Stengers is also wary of denouncing the positions held by opponents by claiming to trap them in a logical vice or pinning them in an absurdity. This is why, in this article, I do not set out to solve either the problem of cause or the problem of faith. Instead, I want to eavesdrop on the ongoing conversation between Stengers and Whitehead and to provide some comments on how their remarks could help us reorient how we approach some of the unexpected interrelations between faith and cause in science, philosophy, and social science. Stengers’s stance does not imply that we should not be ambitious in the questions or problems that we address; though there is a need to pay attention to that which has been isolated as being of concern. In the discussions that follow, I will ask some apparently general questions, but these are motivated by a central problem, namely, the very status of cause and causation.

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