Whitehead Studies

The 2014 Whitehead Studies group has been launched through an invitation meeting via the SPC meetup group titled Whitehead: From Maths to God. Some of the announcement text follows.

Alfred North Whitehead was the other half, with Bertrand Russell, of the pair who wrote Principia Mathematica in the early part of last century. In later life, he moved from the UK to the US and focussed on theological philosophy. The resulting process philosophy posits soul pervading the entire universe (panpsychism or pansubjectivism) and sees God and humanity as co-creators of the universe as known and experienced.

Whitehead’s philosophy is highly complex and delves into epistemology, ethics, education, as well as metaphysics. I’m intending to get to know him better in 2014 and would welcome the company of any others interested in this man and his ideas, perhaps by forming a specialised study and discussion group. Apart from Whitehead himself, I would be wanting to look at the work of the many others who were directly influenced by him. This would easily open up a year’s worth of enthusiastic intellectual adventuring.

Recommended reading:

Alfred North Whitehead: The Nature of Mathematics and the Philosophy of Organism

The organisation of thought, educational and scientific (especially Chapter 1: The Aims of Education, p1-28.)

As usual, wikipediaStanford and IEP are your friends.

The meeting proved to be somewhat chaotic, partly because the Gaelic Club venue was unavailable and partly because the format was unexpected. The group of a dozen attendees broke up into a main group under the guidance of Dwayne and a smaller group prepared to consider my own study plan with its controversial beginning with a writing exercise called “conversation with God”.

My notes for the meeting are here: Whitehead4spcPDF

The sample notes and exercise for the study group are here: ex-notesPDF

A summary of study group meetings is at this page.

Commonly used abbreviations for Whitehead’s works:

AE – Aims of Education
AI – Adventures of Ideas
CN – The Concept of Nature
MT – Modes of Thought
PR – Process and Reality
RM – Religion in the Making
S – Symbolism
SMW – Science and the Modern World

The main websites found so far that provide online copies of Whitehead’s works are these:

Adelaide ebooks has links to facsimile copies of several Whitehead works, available at archive.org as well as one from gutenberg.

Gutenberg has two books by Whitehead: Intro to Maths and Concept of Nature.

Evan Kozierachi’s site has two works: Science and the Modern World and Process and Reality*.

The original text and pagination of Science and the Modern World (1925 edition) can be viewed at the University of Michigan Library’s digital collection.

There is a facsimile copy of Process and Reality* at archive.org as well as other formats, including the plain text*.

A copy of Adventures of Ideas is available via Scribd.

Anthony Floods’ Whitehead page has several texts and essays by others.

Religion in the Making is available at Flood’s site as well as here and here. Each version has errors and omissions so it’s best to refer to two or more if in doubt as to precise wording.

There is a copy of Symbolism at The Mead Project. It has the page numbers  from the book which is not the case for the Flood version. The Mead Project also has copies of The Concept of Nature, The Function of Reason, and Modes of Thought. There is also a good partial bibliography at the Mead Project, listing journal articles as well as the books.

UNZ has a list of Whitehead titles with links to copies that can be read online: page 1 / page 2

Autobiographical Notes

In terms of hard copy, the State library itself is a great resource but I am also ordering some books so we can read them at our leisure.

* All copies of Process and Reality have six missing pages in the final chapter: the first two pages 342-343, then the odd pages 345, 347, 349, 351. Part V, which includes this and the penultimate chapter, is available online as a separate pdf file. In this way, these crucial last pages of the book make up the complete work.

Google books with a “view sample” feature:

Alfred North Whitehead: La religion en gestation, Les Editions Chromatika, 2008. (I have found this useful in tracking down corrections and omissions in RM.)

In this section, I will collect information on websites, journals, and any other institutions devoted to Whitehead-related studies.

HyC Adventures is a website with a good section on Process Philosophy, presenting the material in a very accessible style. There are also sections on Zen Buddhism and the “poetics of perception”.

Whitehead Dialogues is a blog which uses very accessible language and graphics.

Concrescence is an Australasian web-based peer-reviewed journal. Peter Farleigh, a founding and current editor, seems to play a key leadership role in this initiative.

Essays on Whitehead and his ideas.

John B. Cobb, Jr.: Prehension is a fairly recent (2002) lecture to a European audience with a good summary of Whitehead’s place in 20th century philosophy.

Victor Lowe: A. N. W.: A Biographical Perspective (1982) has some excellent detail on Whitehead, the man, and on the influences throughout his life.

D.L.C. Maclachlan: Whitehead’s Theory of Perception (1992) discusses Symbolism and Process and Reality.

There are several other books and essays at the Whitehead page of religion-online.org.

Colin Wilson: Whitehead as Existentialist

Videos on Whitehead and his ideas.

Jay McDaniel: What is Process Thought? is a series of short videos (5-10mins in length) providing a very accessible but authentic explanation of Whitehead’s ideas from Process and Reality. There is an introduction and then 20 lessons, making a total of just over 2 hours of viewing/listening. It is very well paced, it makes direct references to the text, and is very effectively illustrated.

The Process Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) (4 mins) – Somewhat overly reverential with what sounds like “holy” or “sacred” music in the background. It is useful to hear the voices of the four main exponents of Process Theology of recent times: Rupert Sheldrake, David Ray Griffin, (late) Charles Hartshorne, and John B. Cobb.

A (Not So) Brief Introduction to Process Theology – Part 1 and A (Not So) Brief Introduction to Process Theology – Part 2 (10 mins each) – An accessible introduction with good illustrations to accompany the story. Although presented by a quaker, it does not have an overly religious feel to it. Quite suitable for an atheist or secularist.

The Emotives Philosophies of A. N. Whitehead: Lecture by Dr. Michael Halewood (65 mins) – Really only an audio. See more about the author here. Interesting for its window into the impact of Whitehead in the arts.

Articles that mention Whitehead’s philosophy:

Philosopher’s Zone: Science and philosophy probe the emotional lives of animals

This page will be added to as and when new relevant material becomes available.

One thought on “Whitehead Studies

  1. Whitehead studies – PhiloSophia

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