The Unifying Moment: The Psychological Philosophy of William James and Alfred North Whitehead [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 26 (2):356-356 (1972)

Abstract
The Unifying Moment provides a fine comparative study of Whitehead and James. Eisendrath expresses the presupposition of his effort in noting "a fruitful complementarity" between his subjects: "Whitehead is highly abstract and needs the exemplification which reference to James can provide. Conversely, Whitehead can be used to show the full sweep of general application implicit in James’s ideas." The core of Eisendrath’s analysis lies in creativity and in the ‘aesthetic’ bias shared by Whitehead and James; experience is feeling, appetition and advance into novelty. There are indeed problems in the analogy between personality and atomic concrescence, since from a Whiteheadian perspective personality is a complex ’society', not a simple concrescence. Yet the analogy works, because Eisendrath is aware of the disparity, and because it serves to illuminate the anthropomorphic tendency in Whitehead. The book is at its strongest in dealing directly with issues of epistemology and psychology, where Eisendrath also displays a firm grasp of the early history of psychology. Less satisfying are some of the approaches to larger issues, such as the discussions of God and civilization. Throughout, there is the stylistic flaw, perhaps inevitable in a comparative study, of lengthy textual citation and explication; while thus documenting his position, Eisendrath at times lets the documentation obscure his argument. The notes and index are both extensive and helpful.—D. F. D.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1972262159
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