Jean Ladrière (1921–2007)

1. Brief Vita

Jean Ladrière, professor emeritus of the Université catholique de Louvain, was a Belgian philosopher of science.[1] He started his research with a thesis on the internal limitations of formalisms which enabled him not only to propose an interpretation of the importance, the significance and the implications of Gödel’s theorem for the philosophy of mathematics,[2] but also to establish the foundations of a general criticism of auto-finalism of formal systems from the point of view of their semantic productivity.[3] If the encounter between Jean Ladrière and Whitehead did not take place in the privileged field of philosophy of mathematics and that of logic, it is because Ladrière undertook his researches at a time when, as Putnam remarks, the “interest shifted from the construction of systems (and the derivation of mathematics within them), to the meta-mathematical study of properties of systems”[4] themselves. This attention to the productivity of cognitive systems led Ladrière to a general interpretation of the scientific discourse based on the model of a practical reason whose central concept is that of event.[5]

The concept of event takes for Ladrière the value of a generic notion[6] capable of being understood and expressed in philosophy of mathematics, in philosophy of nature, philosophy of language, in ethics, in political philosophy as well as in philosophy of religion. This decisive concept—which one finds also in Wittgenstein, in the Christian theology of Kairos and in the philosophies of history marked by the epochal nature of being (e.g. Schelling, Heidegger)—came to impress Ladrière partly due to his close reading of Whitehead.[7] This close contact took place after the Protestant[8] and then the Catholic[9] reception of Whitehead’s ideas as expressed in Process Theology and the debates raised by this line of thought. Started by the works of E. H. Peters, Charles Hartshorne and J. B. Cobb, processtheology is directed towards the economy of the relations between God and the world, as much from the point of view of creation as from the point of view of salvation. Process theology is thus related to and close to the questions raised by the evolutionist Christology of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin,[10] with whom Whitehead is regularly associated within the field of Christian theology.[11]

This “Christology within the horizon of cosmology”[12] leads to the conception of an evolutive Christ who guides the growing union of the world with God which Teilhard proposed to call its plerômisation,[13] i.e. in a Paulinian view, the pancosmic accomplishment of revelation. Ladrière on his own part, took care to avoid a possible confusion between the horizons of signification and considered the theses of Whitehead at the level where they claimed to be situated themselves, that is to say, within a metaphysical perspective, at the level of natural theology such as represented in Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion.[14] It is the articulation of the different levels of construction of concepts which draws and holds the attention of Ladrière to Whitehead’s search for “a metaphysics capable of rendering visible and manifest the rational structure of reality in its totality, finding in nature and in culture the fundamentally creative character of reality in all its forms.”[15]

In this perspective, Ladrière’s articles left aside those texts from Whitehead’s works which are more “religious” or “spiritual,” in order to concentrate on the conceptual structure of Whitehead’s metaphysics. Furthermore, Ladrière did not hesitate, in agreement with Whitehead’s terms, to underline in his commentaries that the presentation of the first part of Process and Reality is “extremely dry,” and even “disconcerting,”[16] because it is disjoined from the interpretative movement which gives it life and relevance. Concerning the last part of Process and Reality, Ladrière says that he found Whitehead’s conception of God’s nature original, but very “strange.”[17] And to understand this, it is necessary to refer to the “most obscure”[18] concept of all, Whitehead’s notion of creativity. However, for Ladrière, Whitehead is without contest one among contemporary philosophers who best expresses the idea of nature in which “productivity is at the principle of a historicity marked by a twofold indetermination namely: that of a past originating itself in an abyssal provenance, and that of a future which is not determined except in making itself present, from a present always open to potentialities not determined.”[19]

Yet it is to this twofold indetermination that Ladrière’s fundamental concept of event is attached, in that it expresses not only the “creativity” of nature as an ongoing self-producing process, but also by analogy, the “creativity” of freedom as an ongoing process of “putting daily into question the meaning of life.”[20] For, “what is conspiring, according to Ladrière, is not an operation but a destiny […].”[21] In this regard, Ladrière clearly indicated his debt to The Concept of Nature and the Process and Reality in a text titled Event (1993).[22] So too, in another major article of 1984, he proposes “a survey of Whitehead’s philosophy.”[23] But beyond these fundamental texts which show Ladrière’s indebtedness to Whitehead in the domain of philosophy of nature, one realizes that the contribution of Whitehead goes even beyond the area of philosophy of nature to make its presence felt in two other essential issues which contribute to the extension of theconcept of event: that of the relationships between anthropology and cosmology, and that of the relationships between philosophy of knowledge and mystic.

It is through these texts that one can understand the issues at stake in stretching the concept of event, and that one can also appreciate how much for Jean Ladrière, the dialogue with Whitehead, far from stopping in the area of philosophy of nature, goes ahead even more radically into other areas of philosophy in order to bear fruits in the general theory of the dynamics of reason which constitutes by itself an original philosophy of history, thought of under the form of a destiny of reason conditioning both the collective responsibility of humanity and its aesthetic creative power of an authentic spiritual completion.

2. Dynamics of Reason and Philosophy of Nature

Fundamentally, the question that holds the attention of Ladrière when he interprets the works of Whitehead is that of the limitations of rationality—limitation of scientific rationality on one side, and limitation of speculative metaphysics on the other. For Ladrière, these questions about limitation are less problems of transgression, and even of transcendental illusions brought about by a meta-empirical (metempiric) reflection, than problems of articulation of meaning. These problems appeared when semantic productivity of scientific representations is applied to domains of signification where the interpretation of the world incorporates explicitly an interpretation of man.[24] In this case, philosophy proceeds to some operations of reinterpretation based upon a continuity hypothesis of the dynamic of reason which does not imply a kind of signification’s continuum between the different fields where quantity of assertions occurs. Thus, it is rather a question of considering limited fields of production of signification, similar to quanta of energy, and a fundamental energetic potentiality constituted by reason in process of which each quantity of assertions forms a delineated event in the space-time of the intellectual history of humanity. One can thus distinguish the actual entities of reason from a state of potentiality of the fundamental background of vibration which it constitutes. Such a conception of reason in action is certainly opposed to the representation that could be drawn from a physics of bodies in motion like that of Aristotle. Aristotle’s physics is in fact at the base of a metaphysics of substances regarded as many discrete fixed entities engraved in duration.

Contrary to this, Whitehead thinks within the scope of a physics of restricted relativity. True things are therefore current entities, a kind of nexus between efficient causality and final causality,[25] that actualizes as an eventthe potentiality of the energetic milieu of the fundamental milieu. But the divergence of representations confirms the fundamental kinship of structure: a system of thought is an act of prehension allowing the conceptual expression of the evolving principle inherent to the current representations of experience.

This idea of a “dynamic of reason” which Ladrière will largely develop in his own system of thought gives an important key to reading and understanding Whitehead’s work. The fundamental role fulfilled by the logic of speculative propositions in the system of Whitehead as well as the apriori method leading the possible signification of experience can both be related to the concept of the dynamic of reason.

3. Signification of Natural Theology

Even if every coherent conceptual system defined itself according to the finality of its internal dynamic, i.e. the construction of an overall scheme of interpretation, it is nothing in itself except the expression of a reason in a process of becoming, participating in the general vibration of its milieu and expressing the universal principle of its intelligibility. In fact, it is the prehensility of the universe as self-creative evolution that gives reason the specific feature of a global scheme[26] of experience. But it does not give the raison d’être for the process of which it can provide the global scheme. As a scheme, reason refers the complex event of process to an ultimate categorization of becoming itself as a self-projection of the absolute creative advance. The conceptual system poses, in these terms, the category of an absolute creativity susceptible of being the ultimate principle of the synthesis of the one and of the many,[27] through which the universe realizes integrally its actualization. The ultimate principle, for Whitehead, is God, such as a natural theology can conceive him with reference to experience in general, i.e. as a support of the total system of potentialities.[28] The term, “support” is only indicative of the role which the concept, “God” has to play regarding the general architecture of the system.

Anyway, there is no other possible signification of the concept of God: its logical function is to make intelligible the requirement of the actualization of all potentialities. This requirement does not refer to a propositional content as such, but to an activity. The concept consists in a description of this primordial activity according to the structure of action which characterizes it. That is why the concept of God is more exactly the concept of the “becoming God” as a synthesis of a realized concrescence and of a power realizing this concrescence. Thus, the concept of God implies more than an antecedent nature of God containing all the potentialities of the world in the form of its actuality (e.g. the image of the Spirit of God moving over the waters or the immemorial drama of Wisdom).

The concept of God implies an activity which is the passage in  God from his antecedent nature to his consequent nature, i.e. a passage to his own becoming, himself immanent to the actualization of the world’s potentialities, of which God’s antecedent nature was itself the rational matrix. But in addition, this is a passage in God, because this becoming of God in the world still returns to the world itself[29] and opens it beyond its process of realization, which is the recapitulation always made anew in the actuality that makes it possible, the creative forestalling of God as an act of destination.

In so far as the concept of God corresponds to the inference of the becoming-God, this structure of action takes the analogical form of an auto-forming, self-realizing and self-forestalling destination, but of which each moment expresses in reality an ontological condition for the existence of a past, of a present, and of a future.[30] But in giving to the self-creation of the world the concept of its destination as an absolute becoming of God in the world and through the world, Whitehead in this way constructs also a representation of the becoming of the world which acquires a stronger and stronger human intensity regarding the signification of the lived experience of this becoming. “The superjective nature of God, according to Ladrière, is God in so far as He inhabits the world and confers an eternal positive value on all that has emerged in him.”[31] The generic prehension of the becoming of the world as a becoming of God leads thus to a sort of intuition of the self-affection of pure creativity as feeling-with in all concrescences of the actualization of the world. Nothing happens or occurs in the world which does not take place first under the form of love of this happening. This intuition of the “God-companion”[32] towards which the concept of God flows back, makes possible a positive prehension of the becoming of the world in its totality in such a way that it can become intelligible not only as a common order, but also as a personal order.[33]

4. Cosmology and Anthropology

On this point, the relation between cosmology and anthropology ought to be deepened and made more precise following the philosophy of Whitehead. For Ladrière, if the notions of process and event, and even of “the idea of a specific historicity of nature”[34] become necessary today in order to understand nature as a “milieu of self-structuration, building up, in an order of growing complexity, its own structure flowing from a perpetual flow of interactions,”[35] it will then be necessary to re-think the relationship of this universal milieu of emergence” with its structure of action. Such a conception of action[36] would allow one to investigate in a more general way, as the nexus of Whitehead does, all the processes which enable themselves to bear a finality.[37] We will find again in the very action the twofold perspective characteristic of Whitehead’s analysis: an actual concrescence and the prehensions which finalize it, the action which makes itself objective in its network of interrelationships,[38] and the action marked by its need of self-realization, potentializing the multiple acts that it tries to forestall by its will.[39] The concept of action mobilized here suits clearly the concept of God as expressed in the interpretation of Whitehead: consequent nature, antecedent nature and superjective nature are used as analogon of the structure of action of human acts.

If there is an extranéité of the objectivation, which is consecutive to the act, and which draws in a way the action to the side of nature, there is also in it an extranéité which is in some way internal, and constitutive. It represents this side of the action through which it is always and already ahead and in advance beyond all its acts, and tends naturally towards the anticipation of what it is called to be, in expectation of its own truth, of this moment when it realizes at last the fullness of its destiny.[40]

Ladrière speaks of “structural relationship”[41] between nature and voluntary action. “From one side to the other, we find a duality and at the same time a characteristic relationship between a profound constructive movement and a necessity of concretization.”[42] The objective-stake implication of bringing this structural relationship to the fore is to indicate all the conceptual resources of the concept of action like those of process, of event or of emergence. The reflexivity of human action and its normativity remain fundamentally determined by their relationship to the power of emergence or of realization which destabilizes them and puts them into this practical and essential position of having to recover within the interval between what makes up the action and what it means in reality, i.e. the necessity to forestall itself beyond its pure intention.[43] Thus “the task which is assigned to action by virtue of its inner constitution, is to accept itself for what it is itself,”[44] i.e. to pose limited ends which permit it to willitself as its own source.[45]

5. Philosophy and Mysticism

While Ladrière’s philosophy is best defining the eventful dimension of human action as a reflexive effort of will constantly ahead of itself without ever arriving at self-identity, at the same time it indicates yet another realm beyond the power of the agent.[46] This concerns an order different from, but related to, that of creation which is characteristic of will. This order poses the question of the recapitulation and justification of the multiple efforts of liberty in its process of realization. It questions its finality and ultimate signification as an existential dynamics leading reasonable life in its search of beatitude and absolute accomplishment of its primordial desire.[47] In indicating this order of redemption of becoming, philosophy is nothing but a “symbolic representation”[48] of this as an “order essentially eventful” where the transformation of liberty is realized through the gift of mercy which forestalls it in all its actions and gathers in this way “the always waning visibility”[49] of its ought-to-be while holding at the same time to its hope. “According to Ladrière, hope is that which is sought in the radical incertitude of an intransigent will of clarity, and can be nothing at last, except what is made manifest in silence and with which a listening heart can already accord.”[50]

Yet if the concept of hope can come to close the event of liberty through the dynamics of reason, it is in relation to this very particular idea of redemption which is constructed through the constant reading of Whitehead. According to this idea, it would be necessary in fact to admit that there is, at the source of action, as a process of realization of liberty, a principle which should be “truly active and renewing i.e. transforming all that is posited in the initiatives of action.”[51] This principle “ought to be an instance which redeems and saves, which guards against dispersion, against dissemination and perdition. It ought to be a place of mercy.”[52]

6. From Natural Theology to Ethics

The relation between Whitehead’s philosophy and that of Ladrière goes beyond the textual traces and the exegetical indications. These two systems of thought unite in the project of reform of the spiritual conception of man in the contemporary world. The two authors unite in what Whitehead would call a doctrine of the persuasive activity of God which, in the sense of “Augustinized” Platonism permits an anthropological mediation of the Trinitarian structure of liberty and a conception of immanent finality of creation in relation to the power of love which is at work in it.[53] Whitehead does not hesitate to write in this regard, that, in Christianity, one of the great metaphysical discoveries was made by the theologians of Alexandria and Antioch who, in a way, “ameliorated” Plato.[54] They in fact succeeded in proposing “a solution which shows that the plurality of individuals are in agreement with the unity of the universe, that the world is in search of a union with God, and God is in search of union with the world.”[55] The only way to arrive there was to attempt to explore the way of a doctrine of mutual immanence. The important element in this venture was not so much to succeed as to open the way in which questions of unity are approached by the relations necessary both in the very nature of God and in the nature of the world.[56] It is only in this case, in fact, that the ideal relations in the nature of God (the Trinitarian structure) determine at the same time “elements of persuasion in creative advance”[57] (structure of the world). From this results a conception of eschatology and of the kingdom whose task is to indicate clearly the immortal element of our imperishable lives which is already present in their particular rational structure, that is of internal particular forestalling which instigates, draws and directs them toward a realization which in turn leads them at the same time beyond what they are able to represent..

It is this persuasive dimension of the eschatological structure of becoming which establishes in a particular community the philosophical Christianity common to Whitehead and Ladrière. One finds there not only a specific interpretation of the hope of reason which can clarify its paradoxical status, but also a conceptualization of the Christological Logos which corresponds to the global scheme of the becoming of reason. It will be necessary to pay attention to this subtle relationship between the scheme of becoming in its existential paradox and the concept attached to the idea of an absolutely authentic eventfulness, if we want to understand the gap which subsists between reason and faith on this terrain which is more mystical than speculative because it is open to the dimension of practical inference of the concept. From one side, what reason portrays remains absolutely undetermined.[58] Its paradoxical status, “is to be lived out in a tension which, carrying it towards its ultimate figure, is the mysterious anticipation, in itself, of a meeting which exceeds absolutely the conditions of its own constitution […].”[59] From another side, if one admits that Christ can be understood as the concept of this tension lived out historically by the Logos which captivates and carries along human life, then It “is for the Christian faith, the very soul of this immense movement which originates at the sources of language and going through the first creations of the operative thought, starts to reflect itself as logic, then as thought, and at last as constitutive subjectivity, in order to be progressively discovered as the generational process of a universe always at work.”[60]

Perhaps where the agreement of the two authors stops is in the socio-historical consequences to be drawn from this “properly religious dimension of existence.”[61] While Whitehead thinks of a conversion of cultural significations, capable of acting on strong impressions (i.e. of some types of emotions and of beliefs), as Hume remarked,[62] Ladrière envisages rather the radicalization of ethics, that is to say, the anthropological capacity to adopt a posture of responsibility which conforms to the eschatological structure ofexistence and of its forestalling creativity, in a way as to assume, even while destabilizing itself at present, the destiny which is played out in our common history. One can attempt to define this radical perspective which turns upside down the extensive teleology of the ideal Kantian regulator as a form of ethics of incorporation reflecting the structure of the superjective creativity of God. The essence of ethical creativity in this sense would be that, like the “superject,” it is itself the very movement of the action “in as much as it is done and as in being done, it launches out ahead of itself and in this way it surpasses itself”[63] in order to concretize its own destiny. [64]


[1] An extensive Bibliographie de Jean Ladrière has been published recently by the Bibliothèque Philosophique de Louvain (Leuven, Peeters, 2005). Ladrière’s best known works are L’articulation du sens (Cerf, 1970, reedited in 1984 in the collection, Cogitatio Fidei) and Les enjeux de la rationalité (UNESCO, 1977, reedited in 2001 by Liber, Montréal). Four monumental works that are published in 2004 gather together the major elements of his metaphysics. Besides the book dedicated to him by Jean-François Malherbe (Le langage théologique à l’âge de la science, Lecture de Jean Ladrière, Cerf, Paris, 1985), a colloquium of Cerisy has been organized on his philosophy (Création et événement, Autour de Jean Ladrière, edited by J. Greisch and G. Florival, Leuven, Peeters, 1996). The journal Laval théologique et philosophique has dedicated a special edition to him (Vol. 57, n° 3, Octobre 2001).

[2] Object of his doctoral thesis defended in 1949.

[3] Object of a referential work, Les limitations internes des formalismes, Coll. de Logique Mathématique (Louvain/Paris, E. Nauwelaerts/Gauthier-Villars, 1957); reedited in 1992 by Jacques Gabay, Paris.

[4] Cf. H. Putnam, Realism with a Human Face, edited by J. Conant (Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1990), 260.

[5] Cf. L. Perron, L’eschatologie de la raison selon Jean Ladrière, Pour une interprétation du devenir de la raison (Saint-Nicolas, Québec, Les Presses de l’Université de Laval, 2005), 143-47.

[6] Cf. for example J. Ladrière, “Liberté et événement,” in Freedom in Contemporary Culture, Acts of the V World Congress of Christian Philosophy (Lublin, University Press of the Catholic University of Lublin, 1998), 303-317. See also “La posibilidad de una filosofía de la naturaleza en la actualidad,” in La filosofía del siglo XX: balance y perspectivas, Actas del VII Congreso Nacional de Filosofía, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, edited by M. Giusti (Lima, Fondo Editorial San Miguel, 2000), 19-35.

[7] Cf. L. Blésin, Ethique réflexive et théorie de la norme chez Jean Ladrière, unpublished PhD Dissertation (Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, Louvain-la-Neuve, 2004), 193-97.

[8] Among to the circle of theologians of the University of Chicago were J. B. Cobb Jr. and S. M. Ogden. Cf. E. H. Cousins, “Process Models in Culture, Philosophy and Theology,” in Process Theology, edited by E. H. Cousins (New York, Newman Press, 1971), 3-20.

[9] One finds some of the initial traces in the 1962 Proceedings of the American Catholic Association, with the contribution of Walter E. Stokes.

[10] Cf. R. Gibellini, Panorama de la théologie au XXe siècle, translated by J. Mignon (Paris, Cerf, 1994), 198ff.

[11] Cf. I. G. Barbour, “Teilhard’s Process Metaphysics,” in The Journal of Religion, 49 (1969), 136-59 (reprinted in Process Theology, op. cit., 323-350). Cf. P. Grech, “Le problème christologique et l’herméneutique,” in Problèmes et perspectives en théologie fondamentale, edited by R. Latourelle and G. O’Collins (Paris/Tournai, DDB/Bellarmin, 1982), 155-87.

[12] Cf. A. Schilson et W. Kasper, Théologiens du Christ aujourd’hui, translated by R. Givord (Paris, DDB, 1978), 92.

[13] According to Saint Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians 1:23. Cf. P. Teilhard de Chardin, Comment je crois (Paris, Seuil, 1969), 213.

[14] Cf. Process and Reality, 343 (French translation, 527).

[15] J. Ladrière, “Préface,” in La dialectique de l’intuition chez Alfred North Whitehead by Michel Weber (Frankfurt, Ontos Verlag, 2005), 17.

[16] Cf. J. Ladrière, “Aperçu sur la philosophie de A. N. Whitehead,” in Etudes d’anthropologie philosophique, edited by G. Florival, Tome 2 (Louvain-la-Neuve, Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, 1984), 166. We shall be citing this work as Aperçu.

[17] Aperçu, 177.

[18] Aperçu, 179.

[19] J. Ladrière, “Philosophie de la nature et l’éthique,” in L’éthique à l’ère du soupçon, edited by A. Lacroix et J.-Fr. Malherbe (Montréal, Liber, 2003), 29-30.

[20] J. Ladrière, “Philosophie de la nature et l’éthique,” 30.

[21] J. Ladrière, “Philosophie de la nature et l’éthique,” 30.

[22] J. Ladrière, “Event,” in Tradition and Renewal, Philosophical Essays Commemorating the Centennial of Louvain’s Institute of Philosophy, edited by D.A. Boileau and J.A. Dicks (Leuven, Leuven University Press, 1993), 147-64. A French version, “L’événement,” may be found in J. Ladrière, Le temps du possible (Leuven, Editions Peeters, 2004), Chapter XIII, 253-70.

[23] Jean Ladrière had supervised a few works on Whitehead: Heidegger and Whitehead, Being and Process by R.R. McLoughlin (Mémoire, UCL, 1972); A Use of Whitehead’s Theory of Prehension as an Observation system Meta-language by D. Primeaux (Thesis, UCL, 1975) and Vincent Tsing-Song Shen’s Action et créativité: une étude sur les contrastes génétiques et structurels entre l’action blondélienne et la créativité whiteheadienne (Thesis, UCL, 1980).

[24] Aperçu, 157.

[25] Aperçu, 168.

[26] Aperçu, 179.

[27] Aperçu, 186. Ladrière refers to Process and Reality, 21.

[28] Aperçu, 177.

[29] Aperçu, 183. Ladrière refers to Process and Reality, 351.

[30] A patristic theme well known in Christological circles. One can refer especially on this point to the primitive doxological conception of the Trinity according to Basil of Caesarea. One sees clearly there also the connections between the Immanent Trinity, Trinitarian economy and soteriology. As W. Kasper, remarks, “the Greek Fathers insisted more on the fact that the common action ad extra expresses the internal Trinitarian structure in consequent of which the Father acts through the Son in the Holy Spirit” (W. Kasper, Le Dieu des chrétiens, translated by M. Kleiber, Paris, Cerf, 1985, 377). The connection here between Whitehead and the whole mystical tradition which leads from Kabala to Protestant Pietism and Russian spiritualism did not escape the theologian Moltmann, who devotes some pages to the notion of La tragedie en Dieu, putting Whitehead in the company of Bôhme, Schelling and Berdiaeff (J. Moltmann, Trinité et Royaume de Dieu, trans. by M. Kleiber, Paris, Cerf, 1984, 62-66).

[31] Aperçu, 181. We read further: “To say that the world’s becoming is the becoming of God is to say that everything that occurs in the world, including what fails, including suffering and evil, all that is taken over in God and brought within a saving actuality which transmutes everything that has happened in a pure positivity” (Aperçu, 182).

[32] Aperçu, 183, alluding to Process and Reality, 351 (French translation, 539).

[33] Aperçu, 169.

[34] J. Ladrière, “Philosophie de la nature et l’éthique,” 29.

[35] J. Ladrière, “ Anthropologie et cosmologie,” in Etudes d’anthropologie philosophique, edited by G. Florival, Tome 1 (Louvain-la-Neuve, Editions de l’Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, 1980), 159. Hereafter we refer to this work as Anthropologie.

[36] Anthropologie, 156.

[37] Anthropologie, 159.

[38] Anthropologie, 161.

[39] Anthropologie, 161.

[40] Anthropologie, 162.

[41] Anthropologie, 163.

[42] Anthropologie, 163.

[43] Anthropologie, 162.

[44] Anthropologie, 161.

[45] Anthropologie, 160.

[46] Anthropologie, 165.

[47] Cf. J. Ladrière, “Le projet philosophique et la foi chrétienne,” in Revue Philosophique de Louvain, 92 (1994), 305.

[48] Cf. J. Ladrière, “Le projet philosophique et la foi chrétienne,” 307.

[49] J. Ladrière, “Logique et mystique,” in Wissen, Glaube, Politik, Festschrift für Paul Asveld, edited by W. Grüber, J. Ladrière et N. Leser (Graz/Wien/Köln, Styria), 81.

[50] J. Ladrière, “Logique et mystique,” 82.

[51] J. Ladrière, “Ethique et nature,” in Morale, sagesse et salut, edited by C. Bruaire (Paris, Fayard, 1981), 221-47. Reprinted in J. Ladrière, L’éthique dans l’univers de la rationalité (Namur/Montréal, Artel/Fides, 1997), 165-93, p. 174.

[52] J. Ladrière, L’éthique dans l’univers de la rationalité, 174.

[53] This is a point already made clear by the studies of Walter E. Strokes, which was reprinted again in Process Theology, op. cit., 137-152 (“A Whiteheadian Reflection on God’s Relation to the World”).

[54] Cf. Adventures of Ideas, 215 (French translation, 220). On this issue, cf. A. Parmentier, La philosophie de Whitehead et le problème de Dieu (Paris, Beauchesne et fils, 1968), 456.

[55] Ibid.

[56] On this question of the metaphysic of relations, the reflections of Père de Lubac on Teilhard show indirectly that a possible mediation between him and Whitehead would rather be to search on the side of the patristic reformulations of the Trinitarian mystery such as it appears in, e.g. in Denis d’Alexandrie. Cf. H. de Lubac, La pensée religieuse du Père Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Montaigne (Paris, Aubier, 1962), 288.

[57] Ibid. Cf. also the references of Ladrière to the “creative advance,” Aperçu, 180 and 181.

[58] J. Ladrière, “Le christianisme et le devenir de la raison,” in Christianisme et modernité, edited by R. Ducret, D. Hervieu-Léger et P. Ladrière (Paris, Cerf, 1990), 211-232, p. 231.

[59] J. Ladrière, “La perspective eschatologique en philosophie,” in Temps et eschatologie, edited by J.-L. Leuba (Paris, Cerf, 1994), 175-191, p. 190.

[60] J. Ladrière, “Le christianisme et le devenir de la raison,” op. cit., p. 226.

[61] Ibid., p. 231.

[62] Cf. Adventures of Ideas, 219-220 (French translation, 224).

[63] Aperçu, 181.

[64] This is a revised version of an article originally published in the third Chromatikon: “Raison et événement chez Jean Ladrière”, Michel Weber et Pierfrancesco Basile (sous la direction de), Chromatikon III. Annuaire de la philosophie en procès — Yearbook of Philosophy in Process, Louvain-la-Neuve, Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2007, pp. 193-206.

Author Information

Marc Maesschalck
Centre de Philosophie du Droit, UCL, Louvain-la-Neuve

How to Cite this Article

Maesschalck, Marc, “Jean Ladrière (1921–2007)”, last modified 2008, The Whitehead Encyclopedia, Brian G. Henning and Joseph Petek (eds.), originally edited by Michel Weber and Will Desmond, URL = <>.