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)
This report uses audio recorded telephone calls and textual data from an emergency medical services call center to examine the interactional practices through which speakers produce what we call “extraordinary emergencies”, treating the events concerned as requiring moral, as well as medical, attention. Since one of the overarching institutional aims of emergency call centers is to facilitate the efficient provision of medical services, call-takers typically treat reported emergencies as routine events. However, in some instances speakers produce practices that do not (...) contribute toward the institutional agenda of providing medical assistance, thereby treating them as extraordinary cases. These practices occurred recurrently in calls involving reports of emergencies relating to child sexuality, including sexual assaults against children and obstetric emergencies where the mother was particularly young. We discuss the implications of these findings for the situated reproduction of particular moral norms, especially with respect to the category of the child in society. (shrink)
Purely parallel neural networks can model object recognition in brief displays – the same conditions under which illusory conjunctions have been demonstrated empirically. Correcting errors of illusory conjunction is the “tag-assignment” problem for a purely parallel processor: the problem of assigning a spatial tag to nonspatial features, feature combinations, and objects. This problem must be solved to model human object recognition over a longer time scale. Our model simulates both the parallel processes that may underlie illusory conjunctions and the serial (...) processes that may solve the tag-assignment problem in normal perception. One component of the model extracts pooled features and another provides attentional tags that correct illusory conjunctions. Our approach addresses two questions: How can objects be identified from simultaneously attended features in a parallel, distributed representation? How can the spatial selectional requirements of such an attentional process be met by a separation of pathways for spatial and nonspatial processing? Our analysis of these questions yields a neurally plausible simulation of tag assignment based on synchronizing feature processing activity in a spatial focus of attention. (shrink)
This paper opens with a presentation of the philosophical underpinning and rationale of the concept of physical literacy. This is followed by an articulation of the concept of physical literacy. Three subsequent sections then consider aspects of the concept in a little more detail. The first investigates the relationship of the physical literacy to the development of a sense of self and to establishing interaction with others. Here the philosophical approach is informed by writings on cognitive development and recent neurological (...) insights. The second considers the universality of the concept and looks briefly at the views of existentialists and of contemporary sociologists. The third section addresses the place of propositional knowledge in being physically literate. The implications of objectifying the body in descriptive language are weighed against the fact that verbally expressed understanding and knowledge are an integral part of Western culture. The debate presented is one of a series that has, over the last five years, mapped the author's work on developing the concept of physical literacy. The aspects chosen to be discussed here are three that have generated considerable interest and debate. In conclusion, there is a short reflection on the implications of the views discussed for education and physical education. (shrink)
In this paper, we describe our recent approaches to introducing students in a beginning computer science class to the study of ethical issues related to computer science and technology. This consists of three components: lectures on ethics and technology, in-class discussion of ethical scenarios, and a reflective paper on a topic related to ethics or the impact of technology on society. We give both student reactions to these aspects, and instructor perspective on the difficulties and benefits in exposing students to (...) these ideas. (shrink)
The critical problems of the Third Decade of Livy have long been familiar to students. In Books XXI.–XXV. we have only the mutilated Codex Puteanus of the fifth century and later manuscripts derived from it, directly or indirectly, at one or more points in its history. R, C, and most probably M, are copies of P, after it was corrected by P2 and probably P3. Here the problem in the parts in which P is preserved is to correct its numerous (...) corruptions by conjecture as far as possible; and, where it is now defective, by comparing the later MSS. to arrive at their inter-relation and at P's original text, and then subject this text to the same process of criticism. Also a study of the corrections in the earlier of these MSS. may reveal the previous existence of other traditions and of other MSS. now lost—such corrections, e.g., as are made by P4, R2, and M2. (shrink)
Although Whitehead’s particular style of philosophizing--looking at traditional philosophical problems in light of recent scientific advances--was part of a trend that began with the scientific revolutions in the early 20th century and continues today, he was marginalized in 20th century philosophy because of his outspoken defense of what he was doing as “metaphysics.” Metaphysics, for Whitehead, is a cross-disciplinary hermeneutic responsible for coherently integrating the perspectives of the special sciences with one another and with everyday experience. The program (...) of such a meta-discipline is challenging to philosophical orthodoxy because it enlarges, rather than narrows, the range of empirical evidence that philosophy must acknowledge. This places Whitehead’s philosophy in a perennial tradition that seeks to resolve fundamental antinomies through synthesis and reconciliation rather than reduction or elimination. (shrink)
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.
It is an exciting time to pursue philosophy of religion, not least because of an earnest and widening conversation about what philosophers of religion should be doing in the future. This conversation is driven by factors including the growing presence of philosophers who do not presume as normative the subject position of so-called western traditions of thought, the relentless historicization—especially along Foucaultian lines—of the modern study of religion by critics working across the range of implicated disciplines, and by newly energized (...) emphases in existing methods of the study of religion upon embodiment and upon materiality more generally.Kevin Schilbrack’s Philosophy and the Study of Religions: a Manifesto enters the conversation with an exhibition of clarity and wit, logical strength, and breadth of ambition. Schilbrack argues for expanding the work of philosophy of religion from its traditional task—the examination of theism—to a more inclusive self-understan .. (shrink)
In his magnum opus, Process and Reality, Alfred North Whitehead claims a special affinity to Oxford philosopher Francis Herbert Bradley. McHenry clarifies exactly how much of Whitehead's metaphysics is influenced by and accords with the main principles of Bradley's "absolute idealism." He argues that many of Whitehead's doctrines cannot be understood without an adequate understanding of Bradley, in terms of both affinities and contrasts. He evaluates the arguments between them and explores several important connections with William James, (...) Josiah Royce, George Santayana, Bertrand Russell, and Charles Hartshorne. (shrink)
Deleuze’s “transcendental empiricism” and the “empirical side” of Whitehead’s metaphysics are paradoxical unless placed in the context of their unorthodox readings of empiricism. I explore this context focusing on their engagements with Hume. Both subvert presumptions of a categorical gap between external nature and internal human experience and open possibilities for a speculative empiricism that is non-reductive while still affirming experience as source for philosophical thinking. Deleuze and Whitehead follow Hume in beginning with events of sensation as primary (...) but do not presume the logic of (human) subjects and objects (of nature) as necessary structuring polarities for their interpretation. This challenges a basic distinction (between inner and outer or between self and world) that seems inherent in the ordinary concept of experience, thus earning the moniker speculative. The speculative empiricist studies how these abstractions arise from events of experience prior to their consolidation in representation. This includes a critical component: to what extent do unexamined assumptions about conceptual abstraction hinder, block, or prefigure experiential attention? This critical component has existential implications for how we attend to the affective, intuitive, and preconceptual. (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)
Kevin Schilbrack’s recent book sets out a series of well-considered, well-wrought arguments promoting a lively future for philosophy of religion. In the following comments on selected chapters, I seek to raise questions that require further elaboration of Schilbrack’s constructive vision and/or distinction from alternative visions with which he disagrees.Chapter 1: ‘The Full Task of Philosophy of Religion’Schilbrack begins this chapter characterizing ‘traditional philosophy of religion’ in terms of the task that the discipline sets for itself: to evaluate the rationality (...) of theism. In an illuminating decision tree, Schilbrack analyzes and organizes the variety within TPR, including counter-traditions in Continental and feminist philosophy. More importantly, this procedure helps substantiate the author’s overall critique of TPR as inadequate to the ‘full task’ of philosophy of religion because it is narrow, intellectualistic, and insular. Schilbrack identifies three subordinate ta .. (shrink)
Discussion of J. Kevin O’Regan’s “Why Red Doesn’t Sound Like a Bell: Understanding the Feel of Consciousness” Content Type Journal Article Pages 1-20 DOI 10.1007/s13164-012-0090-7 Authors J. Kevin O’Regan, Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception, CNRS - Université Paris Descartes, Centre Biomédical des Saints Pères, 45 rue des Sts Pères, 75270 Paris cedex 06, France Ned Block, Departments of Philosophy, Psychology and Center for Neural Science, New York University, 5 Washington Place, New York, NY 10003, USA Journal Review of (...) Philosophy and Psychology Online ISSN 1878-5166 Print ISSN 1878-5158. (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)
Constructions of the animal and animality are often pivotal to religious discourses. Such constructions create the possibility of identifying and valuing what is "human" as opposed to the "animal" and also of distinguishing human beliefs and behaviors that can be characterized as being animal from those that are "truly human." Some discourses also employ the concept of savagery as a bridge between the human and the animal, where the form of humanity but not its ideal beliefs and practices can be (...) displayed. This paper explores the work of the influential scientist, philosopher, and theologian A. N. Whitehead in this context. His ideas of what constitutes "the animal," the "primitive" and the "civilized" are laid out explicitly in his now little-used history of religions text, Religion in the Making. This paper explores these ideas in this history and then considers how the same ideas permeate his currently more popular philosophical and theological writing Process and Reality. Drawing on some work in post-colonial theory, the paper offers a critique of this understanding of animality, savagery, and civilization and suggests that using Whitehead to underpin modern theological work requires considerable caution. (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)
Reading Kevin Hart’s creative hermeneutic of the ‘basileic’ reduction in his latest book, Kingdoms of God, naturally leads me to consider another eminent linguistic phenomenologist who continually occupies my thoughts. Although I have been reading Hart now for about 25 years, I have been reading Paul Ricoeur for a decade longer than that, and it is his theory of poetic discourse that my mind keeps tenaciously associating with Hart’s perspectives on parable. Granted, Hart never mentions Ricoeur in Kingdoms of (...) God—unless my careful reading is not so careful and I missed it! In Trespass of the Sign, however, he does note Ricoeur’s significance as a hermeneutical philosopher, specifically his emphasis on the distinction between the hermeneutics of faith and the hermeneutics of suspicion. Also, in an article on John Caputo’s postsecular philosophy of ‘religion without religion,’ Hart makes a brief comment on Ricoeur’s apparent Hegelianism with reference to a general theory of revelation as nonreligious and nontheistic. Still, nowhere that I know of does he extensively address Ricoeur’s fascinating discourse theory regarding metaphor, mimesis, narrative, and parable. If great minds think alike, then Hart and Ricoeur are, indeed, great minds, for, truly, Ricoeur’s reflections on parables and the Kingdom offer an intriguing gloss on Hart’s parabolic ‘basileiology.’ Translating Hart into Ricoeur, therefore, is, in my mind, an easy and profitable exercise that may well enhance the provocative character of Hart’s basileic reduction. Such a translation is the central purpose of this essay. (shrink)
In this expensive but invaluable book, students and scholars of Whitehead's philosophy and those more generally interested in the intersections of philosophy and science will find a treasure trove for gleaning the development, breadth, and depth of Whitehead's thought. This work, which consists of three independent sets of course notes from the previously unpublished lectures that Whitehead gave in his first year at Harvard in 1924–1925, is the first volume in a new and richly important series by (...) Edinburgh University Press: The Edinburgh Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Alfred North Whitehead, overseen by series editors George R. Lucas Jr. and Brian G. Henning. This initial volume, which was skillfully... (shrink)
In 1926, John Dewey called Alfred North Whitehead's book Science and the Modern World "the most significant restatement for the general reader of the present relations of science, philosophy and the issues of life which has yet appeared." While within Pragmatism, such praise by Dewey was praise indeed, Whitehead's influence on the philosophical debate waned quickly after his death in 1947, owed mainly to the fact that we had a better text of Plato's Republic than of his magnum (...) opus, Process and Reality, as was often quipped.In 1978, Donald Sherburne and David Griffin published the Corrected Edition of Process and Reality, a major achievement of scholarship. And indeed—the Corrected Edition has become a cornerstone... (shrink)
This article introduces the work of A.N. Whitehead and analyses his relevance to contemporary social theory. It demonstrates how a range of authors have recently utilized the work of Whitehead across a range of topics and holds that there is a need for a general introduction to his work that will open up his ideas and possible impact to a wider readership. White-head’s work is introduced through a discussion of his critique of the philosophical and scientific conceptions of (...) substance and materiality, which led to the establishment of nature as passive, external and distinct from the human or social realm. The article further analyses some of the consequences of this position, such as viewing all data or information about the world as inert. This leads to Whitehead’s argument that the retention of these ‘outdated’ conceptions has contributed to contemporary misconceptions of the status of objects within science, for example – genes. I suggest that Whitehead offers much to social theory especially in terms of re-thinking the natural/social distinction and moving beyond linguistic and discursive production to a theory of genuine construction that can incorporate both materiality and subjectivity. (shrink)
Most theisms and atheisms share an assumption about what divine action would look like; if God is real and acts in the world, then God acts through intervention, invading the mechanistic world as an alien agent. Whitehead's Religious Thought takes dead aim at this contention, arguing that such conceptions of divine intervention emerge from and reinforce a problematic dualism that permeates western theological discourse. Throughout his text Daniel A. Dombrowski links dualistic conceptions of human experience with metaphysical dualism, but (...) also argues that materialistic or mechanistic conceptions of the universe all presume the same basic constituents: machines and ghosts. Materialism rids the world of ghosts and... (shrink)
In Process and Reality (1929) and subsequent writings, A.N. Whitehead builds on the success of the Frege-Russell generalization of the mathematical function and develops his philosophy on that basis. He holds that the proper generalization of the meaning of the function shows that it is primarily to be defined in terms of many-to-one mapping activity, which he terms 'creativity'. This allows him to generalize the range of the function, so that it constitutes a universal ontology of construction or 'process'. (...) He analyzes the concept of God in terms of functional mapping to structure, and he defines finite entities as iterative 'occasions' of mapping activity. He thus challenges the widespread logical-analytical view that the connectives and variables of a function in its different instantiations are merely numerically different, and he develops a fallibilist theory of activity as essentially serial in nature. (shrink)
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.
The Metaphysics of Experience styles itself as "a Sherpa guide to Process and Reality, whose function is to assist the serious reader in grasping the meaning of the text and to prevent falls into misinterpretation." Although originally published in 1925, Process and Reality has perhaps even more relevance to the contemporary scene in physics, biology, psychology, and the social sciences than it had in the mid-twenties. Hence its internal difficulty, its quasi-inaccessibility, is all the more tragic, since, unlike most metaphysical (...) endeavors, it is capable of interpretating and unifying theories in the above sciences in terms of an organic world view, instead of selecting one theory as the paradigm and reducing all others to it. Because Alfred North Whitehead is so crucial to modern philosophy, The Metaphysics of Experience plays an important role in making Process and Reality accessible to a wider readership. (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)
Al considerar el tratamiento que realiza Juan David García Bacca de Process and Reality de Alfred North Whitehead, el articulo busca apreciar la afinidad entre ambos autores en su caracterización de las deficiencias de la ontología clásica y en su invención de conceptos para un nuevo enfoque de la ontología; a saber, una metafísica de la creación y la novedad.
This essay is a comparative study of two rationalists in as far as they differ in their understanding of the nature of Reason. It is an essay written from the point of view of Alfred North Whitehead’s process metaphysics, an essay which, while remaining almost completely free of Whitehead’s confusing and complex technical vocabulary, explicates and defends Whitehead’s conception of Reason by focusing on just those points where Whitehead deviates from the position taken by a second (...) contemporary rationalist, Brand Blanshard. The title of the essay refers to Whitehead’s use of the symbols “Plato” and “Ulysses” to personify what he views as the two aspects of Reason. Blanshard is familiar with Whitehead’s position and has briskly attacked Whitehead’s use of the symbol “Ulysses.” The full import of the symbol “Ulysses” is not, however, immediately apparent in those places where Whitehead uses it and it is my deep suspicion that Blanshard, and undoubtedly many other readers of Whitehead, fail fully to grasp the import of this symbol because they do not see that it derives its power in large part from its relationship to Whitehead’s somewhat obscure account of the nature of propositions and how they function in the world. Therefore Part I of this paper both explicates the doctrine of propositions held by Whitehead and interprets the meaning of the symbol “Ulysses” in the light of that explication. Part II turns polemical and argues simultaneously for the soundness of Whitehead’s view of the nature of Reason and the inadequacy of Blanshard’s alternative position. (shrink)
At first sight it seems strange to compare Whitehead and Bradley. They were Englishmen and metaphysicians, and they were born within 15 years of one another. But they seem to belong to different eras, for though Whitehead’s fame as a logician belongs to the early years of this century it was only gradually — long after Bradley’s death — that he came to be regarded as a major metaphysician. And in almost every respect they seem to clash.