Pantheism, doctrine that identifies the universe (Greek pan,»all«) with God (Greek theos). The thinker may start from an awareness of the divine reality and then begin to speculate on the relationship of the nondivine to the divine; this position is commonly called acosmic pantheism. Conversely, the thinker may start from an apprehension of the full reality of finite, changing entities and give the name God to their all-inclusive totality; this is called cosmic pantheism.
The most typical presentations of acosmic pantheism come from the Hindu tradition, the greatest philosophical exponent of which was the Indian philosopher Sankara (flourished 8th? century AD). The difficulties of acosmism are visible in his system: tendencies to deny the full reality of the changing finite, to deny the reality of evil, to deny the reality of freedom and chance, and to see individual personality as ultimately unreal.
In Western thought, the Dutch philosopher Baruch Spinoza is the greatest exponent of a position that is almost unqualifiedly pantheistic. His view represents an important criticism of the »orthodox« view, that God's reality is somehow external to the reality of the world.
In fact, simple equations of »God« and »world« are hard to find in the major writings in philosophy or theology. Usually qualifications abound to cope with such traditional problems as those of the one and the many, good and evil, necessity and accident, and permanence and change. A view recently termed pantheism has been espoused by some philosophers, including the American Charles Hartshorne, who seek to overcome at once the paradoxes of pantheism and of »classical« theism.