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)
This paper intends to give a philosophical analysis of the concepts of consciousness and rationality, and particularly to display the correlation existing between what is usually called the “normal state of consciousness” and what should be called the “normal state of rationality”. Eventually, it draws consequences for the correlation existing between “altered/aberrant states of consciousness” and “altered/aberrant rationality”. Although it argues from a broad phenomenological perspective, its grounding technicalities belong to the field of process thought, as fleshed out by the (...) later Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947). (shrink)
The Introduction highlights the three main themes of the book: (1) the ontological and epistemological status of everyday human consciousness, (2) the distribution of consciousness in the natural world, and (3) panpsychism. The individual contributions to the book are summarized and related literature is briefly discussed.
The authors argue that the consciousness debate inhabits the same problem space today as it did in the 17th century. They attribute the lack of progress to a mindset still polarized by Descartes’ real distinction between mind and body, resulting in a standoff between humanistic and scientistic approaches. They suggest that consciousness can be adequately studied only by a multiplicity of disciplines so that the paramount problem is how to integrate diverse disciplinary perspectives into a coherent metatheory. Process philosophy is (...) well qualified to attempt such a synthesis. The rationale for the volume is summed up in the book's unifying thesis: normal, focal-attentive consciousness is not the sui generis phenomenon it is usually taken to be, but part of a wider spectrum of experience (including marginal, deviant, and non-human experience) that can only be studied by approaches as diverse as phenomenology, psycho- and neuropathology, biology, and zoology. (shrink)
This article is a review essay on James Maffie's recent book titled Aztec Philosophy: Understanding a World in Motion. I try to understand the nature and significance of Aztec philosophy when interpreted as a version of process philosophy.
Rationality and consciousness are strictly correlated. If one evolves, the other necessarily changes accordingly. Of all the possible modes of inquiry, this paper adopts a process genetic perspective informed by the historical speculations of Julian Jaynes. First, we co-define consciousness and rationality. Second, we take up again Jaynes’s insight: consciousness has a history, or consciousness has a pre-history. Third, we underline that the sharpening of operational rationality has involved a palpable impoverishment of consciousness over the ages and nefarious consequences for (...) our future. (shrink)
Cette étude introduit au problème de la vie dans l’œuvre d’Alfred North Whitehead à l’aide d’un examen de ses conférences de Chicago . D’une part, il s’agira de comprendre l’inertie, voire l’inanition, dans laquelle la nature fut plongée par la science renaissante. D’autre part, on verra comment, et pourquoi, Whitehead propose de la ranimer à la suite de la physique des champs. Cinq traits seront respectivement mis en évidence et une courte conclusion ouvrira le débat science/sens commun.This paper provides an (...) introduction to the problem of life in the work of Alfred North Whitehead through an examination of his Chicago lectures . On the one hand, the objective is to understand the inertia, indeed, the lifelessness into which nature was plunged by Renaissance science. On the other, it will be seen how, and why, Whitehead proposes to reanimate it consequent to a physics of fields. Five specular characteristics will be dealt with, and a short conclusion will open the debate between science and common sense. (shrink)
Cette étude dégage la critique de James de l’ontologie et de la psychologie de la substance en suivant une double piste : après avoir spécifié le contexte dans lequel se déploie l’argumentation jamesienne, on montre les difficultés qu’affronte la pensée substantialiste et la réponse qu’apporte, parfois implicitement, James. On montre particulièrement la corrélation qui existe entre la pensée du processus et une nouvelle conception de la conscience.
This essay argues for two complementary theses, one pertaining to epistemology and the other to politics. First, unless philosophy adopts a radical empiricist standpoint and seeks the uttermost generalities, it cannot differentiate itself from yet another form of limited expertise and becomes useless. Second, both radical empiricism and imaginative pragmatism lead the philosopher towards the left end of the political spectrum, i.e., to a radically progressive politics.
The present Whiteheadian dialogue between natural process theology and Whiteheadian scholarship exploits a tangential approach that will provide new ways of contrasting Whitehead’s worldview by adding a third unexpected speaker: Thomas, the Gnostic Jew who wrote his Gospel perhaps as early as 60 years after Jesus’ death and could thus have constituted an earlier corpus than the canonical gospels—and their hypothetical Q.
There is one question that any potential reader who suspects that Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) might be important for past, contemporary, and future philosophy inevitably raises: how should I read Whitehead? How can I make sense of this incredibly dense tissue of imaginative systematizing, spread over decades of work in disciplines so different and specialized as algebra, geometry, logic, relativistic physics and philosophy of science? Accordingly, this monograph has two main complementary objectives. The first one is to propose a set (...) of efficient hermeneutical tools to get the reader started. These straightforward tools provide answers that are highly coherent and probably the most applicable to Whitehead’s entire corpus. The second objective is to illustrate how the several parts of Process and Reality are interconnected, something that all commentators have either failed to recognise or only incompletely acknowledged. (shrink)