Thinking with Whitehead: A Free and Wild Creation of Concepts

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Harvard University Press, 2014 - Philosophy - 531 pages

Alfred North Whitehead has never gone out of print, but for a time he was decidedly out of fashion in the English-speaking world. In a splendid work that serves as both introduction and erudite commentary, Isabelle Stengers--one of today's leading philosophers of science--goes straight to the beating heart of Whitehead's thought. The product of thirty years' engagement with the mathematician-philosopher's entire canon, this volume establishes Whitehead as a daring thinker on par with Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault.

Reading the texts in broadly chronological order while highlighting major works, Stengers deftly unpacks Whitehead's often complicated language, explaining the seismic shifts in his thinking and showing how he called into question all that philosophers had considered settled after Descartes and Kant. She demonstrates that the implications of Whitehead's philosophical theories and specialized knowledge of the various sciences come yoked with his innovative, revisionist take on God. Whitehead's God exists within a specific epistemological realm created by a radically complex and often highly mathematical language.

"To think with Whitehead today," Stengers writes, "means to sign on in advance to an adventure that will leave none of the terms we normally use as they were."

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About the author (2014)

Isabelle Stengers teaches philosophy of science at the Free University of Brussels.

Bruno LaTour was born in the French province of Burgundy, where his family has been making wine for many generations. He was educated in Dijon, where he studied philosophy and Biblical exegesis. He then went to Africa, to complete his military service, working for a French organization similar to the American Peace Corps. While in Africa he became interested in the social sciences, particularly anthropology. LaTour believes that through his interests in philosophy, theology, and anthropology, he is actually pursuing a single goal, to understand the different ways that truth is built. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, LaTour has written about the philosophy and sociology of science in an original, insightful, and sometimes quirky way. Works that have been translated to English include The Pasteurization of France; Laboratory Life; Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers through Society; We Have Never Been Modern; and Aramis, or the Love of Technology. LaTour is a professor at the Center for the Sociology of Innovation, a division of the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines, in Paris.

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