Whitehead's magnum opus is as important as it is difficult. It is the only work in which his metaphysical ideas are stated systematically and completely, and his metaphysics are the heart of his philosophical system as a whole. Sherburne has rearranged the text in a way designed to lead the student logically and coherently through the intricacies of the system without losing the vigor of Whitehead's often brilliant prose. "The Key renders Process and Reality pedagogically accessible for the (...) first time."-- Journal of Religion. (shrink)
Studies of animal culture have not normally included a consideration of cetaceans. However, with several long-term field studies now maturing, this situation should change. Animal culture is generally studied by either investigating transmission mechanisms experimentally, or observing patterns of behavioural variation in wild populations that cannot be explained by either genetic or environmental factors. Taking this second, ethnographic, approach, there is good evidence for cultural transmission in several cetacean species. However, only the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops) has been shown experimentally to (...) possess sophisticated social learning abilities, including vocal and motor imitation; other species have not been studied. There is observational evidence for imitation and teaching in killer whales. For cetaceans and other large, wide-ranging animals, excessive reliance on experimental data for evidence of culture is not productive; we favour the ethnographic approach. The complex and stable vocal and behavioural cultures of sympatric groups of killer whales (Orcinus orca) appear to have no parallel outside humans, and represent an independent evolution of cultural faculties. The wide movements of cetaceans, the greater variability of the marine environment over large temporal scales relative to that on land, and the stable matrilineal social groups of some species are potentially important factors in the evolution of cetacean culture. There have been suggestions of gene-culture coevolution in cetaceans, and culture may be implicated in some unusual behavioural and life-history traits of whales and dolphins. We hope to stimulate discussion and research on culture in these animals. (shrink)
The mathematical background and content of Greek philosophy, by F. S. C. Northrop.--The one and the many in Plato, by R. Demos.--An introduction to the De modis significandi of Thomas of Erfurt, by S. Buchanan.--Truth by convention, by W. V. Quine.--Logical positivism and speculative philosophy, by H. S. Leonard.--The nature and status of time and passage, by P. Weiss.--Causality, by S. Kerby--iller.--The compound individual, by C. Hartshorne.--The good, by O. H. Lee.
Time’s arrow is necessary for progress from a past that has already happened to a future that is only potential until creatively determined in the present. But time’s arrow is unnecessary in Einstein’s so-called block universe, so there is no creative unfolding in an actual present. How can there be an actual present when there is no universal moment of simultaneity? Events in various places will have different presents according to the position, velocity, and nature of the perceiver. Standing against (...) this view is traditional common sense since we normally experience time’s arrow as reality and the present as our place in the stream of consciousness, but we err to imagine we are living in the actual present. The present of our daily experience is actually a specious present, according to E. Robert Kelly (later popularized by William James), or duration, according to Henri Bergson, an habitus, as elucidated by Kerby (1991), or, simply, the psychological present (Adams, 2010) – all terms indicating that our experienced present so consists of the past overlapping into the future that any potential for acting from the creative moment is crowded out. Yet, for philosophers of process from Herakleitos onward, it is the philosophies of change or process that treat time’s arrow and the creative fire of the actual present as realities. In this essay, I examine the most well known but possibly least understood process cosmology of Alfred North Whitehead to seek out this elusive but actual present. In doing so, I will also ask if process philosophy is itself an example of the creative imagination and if this relates to doing science. I conclude Whitehead's process philosophy falls short of allowing for the actual creative spontaneity of a dynamic (eternal) present. (shrink)
The article attempts to clarify the appeal to the Benedictine ideal that Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) makes in The Aims of Education and Other Essays as a way to renew the life of the spirit in education. In particular, the essay will consider St. Benedict's three central themes of Whitehead's philosophy: freedom and discipline, the teacher as artist and the art of life, and universities as workshops or homes of creative energy. The aim is to bring about a (...) harmony of thought and action, the mind to the feelings of the heart, to subordinate scientific or critical pedagogy to aesthetic-spiritual instruction. This deserves our attention because today's educational theories and practices emphasize the technical, the critical, and the social sides to the neglect of the aesthetic-spiritual side. On both its practical and theoretical side, the educational theory of Whitehead falls within the Benedictine tradition of ora (meditative reading) and labora (work). (shrink)
Why an emergentist account of subjectivity? On the one hand, emergentism provides a new paradigm to rethink subjectivity beyond any dualism. At the same time, the issue of subjectivity puts a strain on emergentism itself, and pushes it beyond its limits. To show it, in the present paper I address a fundamental question: How can we describe subjectivity from an emergentist perspective? To answer, I will tackle Samuel Alexander’s and Alfred North Whitehead’s emergentist accounts of subjectivity. Alexander locates subjectivity (...) into a consistent emergentist framework, but his model of subjectivity remains grounded in the classical interpretation of subjectivity as mind. Whitehead gives a more innovative model of subjectivity, which implies a radical revision of its temporality and connection to the world, but this leads him beyond emergentism as a whole. (shrink)
There have been many attempts to retire dualism from active philosophic life, replacing it with something less removed from science, but we are no closer to that goal now than fifty years ago. I propose breaking the stalemate by considering marginal perspectives that may help identify unrecognized assumptions that limit the mainstream debate. Comparison with Whitehead highlights ways that opponents of dualism continue to uphold the Cartesian “real distinction” between mind and body. Whitehead, by contrast, insists on a (...) conceptual distinction: there can no more be body without mind than mind without body (at least at the level of ultimate constituents). Key to this integration is Whitehead’s understanding that mind, at its most rudimentary, is simply the intrinsic temporality of a physical event. Thus, the resulting form of “panpsychism” is more naturalistic than commonly supposed, and it solves both the composition problem (traditionally fatal to panpsychism) and the “hard problem.”. (shrink)
This note is motivated by Whitehead’s researches in inclusion-based point-free geometry as exposed in An Inquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge and in The concept of Nature. More precisely, we observe that Whitehead’s definition of point, based on the notions of abstractive class and covering, is not adequate. Indeed, if we admit such a definition it is also questionable that a point exists. On the contrary our approach, in which the diameter is a further primitive, enables us (...) to avoid such a drawback. Moreover, since such a notion enables us to define a metric in the set of points, our proposal looks to be a good starting point for a foundation of the geometry metrical in nature (as proposed, for example, by L.M. Blumenthal). (shrink)
Whitehead’s philosophy is of perennial scholarly interest as one of the relatively few really serious attempts at a systematic metaphysics. But unlike almost all major ‘philosophical systems’ it is not merely an historical curiosity, but retains contemporary supporters actively deploying Whitehead’s viewpoint in discussion of a variety of live philosophical problems. Furthermore, Whitehead’s metaphysics is the sole example of a comprehensive philosophical system which aims to take into account the radical transformation of science which occurred at the (...) beginning of the twentieth century with the development of relativity and quantum mechanics, developments with which Whitehead was, as a first rate mathematician, highly familiar. (shrink)
This paper considers the attempts put forward by A.N. Whitehead and by Bertrand Russell to ‘construct’ points (and temporal instants) from what they regard as the more basic concept of extended ‘regions’. It is shown how what they each say themselves will not do, and how it should be filled out and amended so that the ‘construction’ may be regarded as successful. Finally there is a brief discussion of whether this ‘construction’ is worth pursuing, or whether it is better—as (...) in today’s mathematics—to prefer a ‘construction’ that goes the other way round, i.e. , to view a region as a set of points. (shrink)
This paper looks at the history of the problem of individuation from Plato to Whitehead. Part I takes as its point of departure Reiner Wiehl’s interpretation of the different meanings of “abstract” in the metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead and arrives at a corresponding taxonomy of different ways things can be called concrete. Part II compares the way philosophers in different periods understand the relation between thought and intuition. The view mostly associated with ancient philosophy is that thought (...) and sense-perception target different kinds of objects. The view mostly associated with modern philosophy (although it was introduced by the Stoics) is that thought and sense-perception are different ways of targeting the same objects. These differences have specific consequences for theories of individuation, which are assessed historically in Part III and then applied to Whitehead’s difficult texts in part IV. (shrink)
In Process and Reality and other works, Alfred North Whitehead struggled to come to terms with the impact the new science of quantum mechanics would have on metaphysics.This ambitious book is the first extended analysis of the intricate relationships between relativity theory, quantum mechanics, and Whitehead's cosmology. Michael Epperson illuminates the intersection of science and philosophy in Whitehead's work-and details Whitehead's attempts to fashion an ontology coherent with quantum anomalies.Including a nonspecialist introduction to quantum mechanics, Epperson (...) adds an essential new dimension to our understanding of Whitehead-and of the constantly enriching encounter between science and philosophy in our century. (shrink)
The first robot homicide was committed in 1981, according to my files. I have a yellowed clipping dated 12/9/81 from the Philadelphia Inquirer--not the National Enquirer--with the headline: Robot killed repairman, Japan reports The story was an anti-climax: at the Kawasaki Heavy Industries plant in Akashi, a malfunctioning robotic arm pushed a repairman against a gearwheel-milling machine, crushing him to death. The repairman had failed to follow proper instructions for shutting down the arm before entering the workspace. Why, indeed, had (...) this industrial accident in Japan been reported in a Philadelphia newspaper? Every day somewhere in the world a human worker is killed by one machine or another. The difference, of course, was that in the public imagination at least, this was no ordinary machine; this was a robot, a machine that might have a mind, might have evil intentions, might be capable not just of homicide but of murder. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Deleuze's ‘thinking with’ Whitehead gives access to a range of novel conceptual resources that offer a route out of phenomenology and back to life, a movement beyond intentionality and back to things ‘in their free and wild state’. I lay out four conceptual and methodological markers (there are many more) – creativity, event, prehension, empiricism – that characterise Deleuze's metaphysics and provide a guide for showing how these develop through a sustained becoming with (...)Whitehead. I conclude by looking at Deleuze and Guattari's use of the term most famously associated with Whitehead: the concept of ‘process’. (shrink)
Despite its lack of influence in analytical philosophy, and independently of its content as a process philosophy, Whitehead's system in Process and Reality affords a valuable lesson on how to pursue revisionary systematic metaphysics. This paper argues the case generally for metaphysical revision and system, describes the structure of Whitehead's categorial scheme, endorses his idea of an ultimate which is not an entity, and outlines an alternative, “digital” ultimate or basis composed of several analytical factors. [I]n the absence (...) of a well-defined categoreal scheme of entities, issuing in a satisfactory metaphysical system, every premise in a philosophical argument is under suspicion. (shrink)
It is argued in this paper that recent work on immanence and transcendence in Whitehead scholarship, notably by Basile and Nobo, provides helpful guidelines and ideas for work on problems regarding immanence in Deleuze's philosophy. By following arguments on theism and naturalism in the reception of Whitehead, it argues that Deleuze's philosophy depends on reciprocal relations between that actual and the virtual such that they cannot be considered as separate without also being incomplete. It is then shown that (...) Deleuze's philosophy allows for metaphysical terms such as ‘pure’ without having to concede a separate and self-sufficient pure realm. (shrink)
Deleuze and Whitehead are both centrally concerned with the problem of how to reconcile the emergence of the New with the evident continuity and uniformity of the world through time. They resolve this problem through the logic of what Deleuze calls ‘double causality’, and Whitehead the difference between efficient and final causes. For both thinkers, linear cause-and-effect coexists with a vital capacity for desire and decision, guaranteeing that the future is not just a function of the past. The (...) role of desire and decision can be seen in recent developments in biology. (shrink)
I shall describe the beautiful fit of the ideas of Alfred North Whitehead and William James with the concepts of relativistic quantum field theory developed by Tomonaga and Schwinger.The central concept is a set of happenings each of which is assigned a space-time region.This growing set of non-overlapping regions fill out a growing space-time region that advances into the still uncreated and yet-to-be-axed future.Each happening has both experiential aspects and physical aspects,which are jointly needed to generate the advance into (...) the future.This conception is useful in passing from the pragmatic interpretation of science to a putative understanding of the reality beyond phenomena,and of our role within it. James' ideas about attention and volition are naturally implementable within this framework,and make us into agents that can act eficaciously upon the physical world on the basis of felt values, rational reasons,and conscious understandings. (shrink)
In 1922 in The Principle of Relativity, Whitehead presented an alternative theory of gravitation in response to Einstein’s general relativity. To the latter, he objected on philosophical grounds—specifically, that Einstein’s notion of a variable spacetime geometry contingent on the presence of matter (a) confounds theories of measurement, and, more generally, (b) is unacceptable within the bounds of a reasonable epistemology. Whitehead offered instead a theory based within a comprehensive philosophy of nature. The formulal Whitehead adopted for the (...) gravitational field has been described as involving both the flat metric nu, of Minkowski spacetime and a dynamic metric gu, dependent on the presence of source masses. The ontological relationship between the two must be fleshed out in the context of Whitehead’s philosophy of nature. The relationship is of some importance, not only in casting Whitehead’s theory within its proper metaphysical context vis-d—vis Einstein, but also in judging how the theory has faired empirically with respect to general relativity (GR hereafter). It makes the same predictions as GR with respect to the perihelion advance, the deflection of light rays and the gravitational red-shift; indeed, Eddington (1924) has shown that it is equivalent to the Schwarzschild solution of Einstein’s held equations for the one-body problem. However, it also appears to predict an anisotropy in the locally measured gravitational constant y that is in conflict.. (shrink)
All the authors of the sixteen essays gathered in this volume are concerned, in their different ways, to clarify, criticize, and develop key ideas and insights of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), one of the towering figures of twentieth-century speculative thought, whose "process philosophy" has, in recent decades, aroused intense intellectual interest both in this country and abroad. The present volume is intended to complement, but not to duplicate, an earlier selection of important Whitehead studies, Alfred North Whitehead: (...) Essays on His Philosophy, ed. G. L. Kline (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1963). (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to discuss the philosophical premises of Whitehead's definition of time in _The Concept of Nature and other works of the same period. Whitehead probably introduced this definition, which depends on what he calls the "method of extensive abstraction," in 1913, just after the publication of the _Principia Mathematica with Russell. He only published his results in 1919. However, Russell takes up the method, with slight modifications, after personal communication with Whitehead, as (...) soon as 1914, in _Our Knowledge of the External World. It is also carefully studied by G. Mead, in particular in _Philosophy of the Present, and by Merleau-Ponty, in his lectures at the Collège de France. (edited). (shrink)
The objective of this article is to show that Whitehead had a very important philosophy of education both on the formal level. The consistency found is well worth noting. I researched many of Whitehead's major works for his formal views and Lucian Price's Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead. In my opinion Price's book is the best available for the purpose of getting Whitehead's candid informal view of education. The paper is divided into sections according to the (...) particular subject matter. Since Whitehead describes education as the study of life and all of its manifestations . It is appropriate to cover some of these areas: the purpose of education, the role of science and speculation, education and civilization, and both the process of education and process education are reviewed. Whitehead's philosophy of education is sweeping in scope. In his philosophy we find the importance of experience, imagination, speculation, generalization, factual knowledge, specialization, relevance, intuition, novelty, curiosity, theory, practice, pleasure, harmony, freedom, discipline, technical and liberal education and unification. He, in fact, unifies all these seemingly different areas into a coherent philosophy of education. (shrink)
Whitehead was critical with respect to Poincaré’s conventionalism. However, Whitehead stood closer to Poincaré than Bertrand Russell when Russellinvoked Poincaré’s conventionalism to highlight that the choice between Arthur Eddington’s orthodox interpretation of Einstein’s general theory of relativity on the one hand, and Whitehead’s alternative interpretation on the other, is not a matter of empirical fact, but a matter of convention. Whitehead shared two of the premises of Poincaré’s conventionalism: the physics-independence of geometry, and the choice of (...) a physical geometry amongst geometries of constant curvature. This contributed significantly to his philosophical critique of Einstein, who held that the geometry of space-time depends on the physical distribution of matter, and that the non-homogeneity of this distribution (e.g., at the scale of the solar system) implies that the appropriate physical geometry is variably curved. Russell’s conventionalism, contrary to Whitehead’s view, did not take Poincaré’s premises into account, was shared by the logical positivists, and led to a philosophical defense of Einstein. (shrink)
Encyclopedia entry for the British mathematician and American Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. Usefully summarizes his life and work for non-specialists and, more especially, interested persons outside of the philosophical disciplines per se.
Alfred North Whitehead published no book or article strictly on aesthetics. Nonetheless, in his philosophical writings he mentions several times that aesthetic experience is the key to his metaphysics. In fundamental places of his philosophical system, moreover, he uses expressions like ‘aesthetic experience’, ‘aesthetic fact’, ‘aesthetic unity’, and ‘aesthetic order’. These expressions do not, however, refer to human conscious experience alone, but to all entities of the universe. That has led some scholars to the conviction that these terms are (...) used in a purely technical sense and therefore do not refer to the sphere of aesthetics. The author of the current article seeks to demonstrate that these terms do refer to the sphere of aesthetics. The argument set out here consists in three steps. In the first, the author presents Whitehead’s philosophical method of imaginative generalization. In the second step, the author presents the fundamental ontological unit (the actual occasion) of Whitehead’s philosophy, and points out that Whitehead describes it using aesthetic terms that are employed in a broad sense. In the third step the author presents Whitehead’s view of aesthetic understanding. At the end of the article, it is demonstrated that although Whitehead did not develop his analysis of aesthetic understanding into a consistent theory, it forms the background to all his metaphysical books. (shrink)
This essay presents some points of dialogue between process thinking and post-structuralism, particularly in light of the metaphysical cosmology of Alfred North Whitehead and the post-structuralist philosophies of Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida. This dialogue facilitates the emergence of a cosmologicalpostmodernism. Through the creation of concepts that situate the human within the networks, processes, and mutually constitutive relations of the cosmos, cosmological postmodernism re-envisions the worldview of modernity and overcomes its reification and dichotomization of the human and the world. (...) Four concepts that Whitehead, Deleuze, and Derrida contribute to a cosmological postmodernism include “event,” “creativity,” “rhizome,” and “chaosmos.”. (shrink)
The epistemic stances of both Whitehead and the Book of Changes are founded on the assumption that process is reality; there are important resonances with respect to perception, meaning and significance. Such a process-oriented approach is productive for developing non-representational and non-dualistic theories in the fields of epistemology, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. An exploration of these resonances will further provide an appropriate foundation for dialogue between the philosophy of the Book of Changes and that of contemporary (...) Euro-American philosophy. The important differences between the Book of Changes and Whiteheadian philosophy will also become apparent. (shrink)
Whitehead’s process metaphysics, as developed in Process and Reality, is harmed by the incoherence of his notion of eternal objects as timeless and essentially unrelated entities, which therefore need a primordial agent as their ontological ground and the source of their relatedness and relevance. Such nontemporal entities undermine what is supposed to be a thoroughly temporalist metaphysics. Eternal objects can be understood solely as functions of Creativity, however, as features of a purely temporal process. A notion of God is (...) not required. Whitehead’s Categoreal Obligations specify the necessary conditions for this process, including how the novelty is possible that is needed to account for temporal change and the increased complexity that value enhancement presupposes and makes possible. Adventures of Ideas, especially through the notions of Art and Peace, develops at the level of human civilization this same secular interpretation of the capacity of entities to fashion novel and progressive outcomes. (shrink)
Whitehead’s categoreal scheme in Process and Realitv is so constructed that the several basic notions presuppose one another: despite this, there is good reason to consider “creativity” to be more ultimate than the others. But just how it is that creativity can be a metaphysical ultimate is not initially clear. For Whitehead’s various characterizations of creativity are confused and seemingly conflicting: moreover, and most importantly, creativity comes into conflict with the ontological principle. An analysis of the relation between (...) creativity and the ontological principle reveals a radical turn in philosophic thought: the conception of a metaphysical ultimate which is “ontologically neutral.”. (shrink)
Alfred North Whitehead's treatise Universal Algebra classifies algebras as either non-numerical or numerical according to whether they satisfy the law of idempotency, a + a = a. We undertake a technical critique of this classification scheme and examine how its flaws may reflect certain mathematical and philosophical biases in Whitehead's outlook. We argue further that Whitehead's presumption of immutable foundations for mathematics and his early commitment to the priority of objects over relations may in (...) part account for his relative obscurity as a mathematician. (shrink)
Bernard MacDougall Loomer (1912–1985) is well known for his influence on process theology, or as he preferred, “process-relational” theology. Less well known is his interpretation of the philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) and its influence in the promotion of that philosophy not only among his students but also more recently beyond that circle. He presents his own views as one who has made Whitehead’s his own. Yet he is not uncritical of Whitehead. He has articulated an (...) empirical naturalism in Whiteheadian terms that is theistic and controversial by that fact. The analysis of his interpretation of Whitehead allows us to probe his theistic naturalism and to identify new possibilities in the .. (shrink)
Dr. Coots discusses creativity: 1. A different interpretation; 2. Differences and problems with Whitehead’s view; 3. What does creativity try to answer? 4. Ultimacy and creativity; 5. The relevance of Whitehead’s metaphysics of creativity in contemporary metaphysics.
A culture of thought : the bifurcation of nature -- Introducing Whitehead's philosophy: the lure of Whitehead -- "A thorough-going realism": Whitehead on cause and conformation -- The value of existence -- Societies, the social, and subjectivity -- Language and the body: from signification to symbolism -- This nature which is not one -- Capitalism, process, and abstraction.