Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead

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David R. Godine Publisher, 2001 - Literary Criticism - 385 pages
"Whitehead's approach to life and science provides a compass for the modern world. In these pages the immense reaches of his thought - in philosophy, religion, science, statesmanship, education, literature, art, and conduct of life - are gathered and edited by the writer Lucien Price, a sophisticated journalist whose own interests were as eclectic as Whitehead's and whose memory for verbatim conversation was nothing short of miraculous. The scene, the Cambridge of Harvard from 1932-1947 (with flashbacks to London; Cambridge, England; and his native Ramsgate in Kent); the cast, men and women, often eminent, who join him for these penetrating, audacious, and exhilarating verbal forays. The subjects range from the homeliest details of modern living to the greatest ideas that have animated the mind of man over the past thirty centuries."--BOOK JACKET.

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Reading this book is essentially like having a conversation with a friendly genius. I was genuinely impressed by the down-to-earth attitude coupled with the insight which flowed so naturally out of the conversations. The book also provides quite a bit of historical context to Whitehead's philosophy, and manages to do so in a way that is not only interesting for the study of this philosophy, but also in such a way as to convey the emotional weight of the situations involved. The questions which Price calls forth are the questions which should have been asked, and the conversations had between the two are illuminating. Not only valuable in the study of the man's work, but also in the simple fact that it is a very good read, this book leaves one feeling as if one now knows Whitehead on a personal level, and this is a feat altogether too uncommon amongst other biographic works or dialogues pertaining to Philosophers. I highly recommend this book for an informal introduction to Whitehead's general philosophy, and also to anyone wishing for that feeling one gets in good, intelligent conversation with a man worthy of respect. 

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About the author (2001)

Alfred North Whitehead, who began his career as a mathematician, ranks as the foremost philosopher in the twentieth century to construct a speculative system of philosophical cosmology. After his graduation from Cambridge University, he lectured there until 1910 on mathematics. Like Bertrand Russell (see also Vol. 5), his most brilliant pupil, Whitehead viewed philosophy at the start from the standpoint of mathematics, and, with Russell, he wrote Principia Mathematica (1910--13). This work established the derivation of mathematics from logical foundations and has transformed the philosophical discipline of logic. From his work on mathematics and its logical foundations, Whitehead proceeded to what has been regarded as the second phase of his career. In 1910 he left Cambridge for the University of London, where he lectured until he was appointed professor of applied mathematics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology. During his period in London, Whitehead produced works on the epistemological and metaphysical principles of science. The major works of this period are An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge (1919), The Concept of Nature (1920), and The Principles of Relativity (1922). In 1924, at age 63, Whitehead retired from his position at the Imperial College and accepted an appointment as professor of philosophy at Harvard University, where he began his most creative period in speculative philosophy. In Science and the Modern World (1925) he explored the history of the development of science, examining its foundations in categories of philosophical import, and remarked that with the revolutions in biology and physics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries a revision of these categories was in order. Whitehead unveiled his proposals for a new list of categories supporting a comprehensive philosophical cosmology in Process and Reality (1929), a work hailed as the greatest expression of process philosophy and theology. Adventures of Ideas (1933) is an essay in the philosophy of culture; it centers on what Whitehead considered the key ideas that have shaped Western culture.

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