The Owl of Minerva 17 (1):41-53 (1985)

A superficial glance at the philosophies of Hegel and Whitehead reveals some not insignificant thematic parallels and/or convergences: Both take process rather than static substance to be central, and both conceive it as a social, organic whole; both share a critique of the philosophical tradition of substance metaphysics, and both reject the substance-accident scheme. The question arises whether such thematic parallels are merely fortuitious, or grounded in yet more fundamental convergence. A formidable obstacle in making such a determination is created by the vastly different philosophical terminology. Both Hegel and Whitehead generate new terminology partly as a result of their critique of the tradition and partly as a result of their construals of the philosophical task. Hegel’s terminology resists successful translation into English. And Whitehead’s terminology is anti-idealistic. Yet Whitehead himself acknowledges Hegel’s influence and characterizes his own argument in Process and Reality as an “Hegelian development of an idea.” Hence it is not surprising or difficult to find thematic and topical parallels between Whitehead and Hegel. The real problem is to determine what such parallels mean. Much work remains to sort this problem out, and the sorting out requires that fundamental questions concerning the possibility of speculative philosophy, as well as philosophical method, be addressed.
Keywords Major Philosophers
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ISBN(s) 0030-7580
DOI 10.5840/owl198517121
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