Abstraction and Individuation in Whitehead and Wiehl: A Comparative Historical Approach

In Michel Weber Pierfrancesco Basile (ed.), Subjectivity, Process, and Rationality. Frankfort: Ontos Verlag. pp. 31-119 (2006)
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.
Keywords Abstraction  Individuation  Intuition  Logicism  Aristotle  Stoics  Leibniz  Kant  Schelling  Plato
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