Alfred North Whitehead

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Alfred North Whitehead, OM (February 15 1861, Ramsgate, Kent, UKDecember 30 1947, Cambridge, MA) was a British philosopher, physicist, and mathematician who worked in logic, mathematics, philosophy of science and metaphysics. His best known work in mathematics is the Principia Mathematica which he wrote with Bertrand Russell.

Whitehead did most of his work in mathematics while at Cambridge (UK) from 1884 to 1910. The next phase of his career, at London (University College London and Imperial College London) from 1910 to 1924, dealt with philosophies of science and education. In 1924 he moved to Harvard University for the last phase. While there, Whitehead is perhaps most well known for conceiving process philosophy. He was invited to give the Gifford Lectures for 1927 at the University of Edinburgh, which resulted in the formidable but respected book Process and Reality. Process philosophy was later developed into process theology by theologian/philosophers Charles Hartshorne, John B Cobb, Jr, and David Ray Griffin. Process theology is a way of understanding God and the universe found to be fruitful by some in Christian and Jewish faiths. Just as the entire universe is in constant flow and change, God, as source of the universe, is viewed as growing and changing. Whitehead's rejection of mind-body dualism is similar to elements in oriental faith traditions such as Buddhism.

In physics his best known work was a theory of gravity that competed with Einstein's general relativity for many decades. Whitehead's theory received less attention than Einstein's, and was generally discredited by 1972 with a comparison of experimental and predicted variability of the gravitational constant G. See A Comparison with Einstein's Theory, or Clifford Will's book, Theory and Experiment in Gravitational Physics, Cambridge University Press 1993 (ISBN 0521439736 ).

Whitehead's political views were, roughly, libertarian without the label. He wrote: "Now the intercourse between individuals and between social groups takes one of two forms, force or persuasion. Commerce is the great example of intercourse by way of persuasion. War, slavery, and governmental compulsion exemplify the reign of force."

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  • Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell, Principia Mathematica to *56, (originally 1910), Cambridge University Press, 2nd edition of abridged vol. 1, 2002 paperback, ISBN 0521626064
  • A N Whitehead, Introduction To Mathematics, (orig. 1911), Oxford University Press, 1990 paperback, 191 pages, ISBN 0195002113
  • A N Whitehead, The Concept of Nature, (orig. pub. 1920), (The Tarner Lectures delivered at Trinity College in November 1919 on philosophy of science), Cambridge University Press 1964, Prometheus Books, 2004 paperback, 208 pages, ISBN 1591022142
  • A N Whitehead, Science and the Modern World, (orig. 1925), Talcott Parsons (preface), Free Press (Simon & Schuster), 1997 paperback, 212 pages, ISBN 0684836394
  • A N Whitehead, Religion in the Making, (orig. 1926), New American Library, reprint 1974, ISBN 0452007232, Fordham University Press, 1996 hardcover with Judith A. Jones introduction, 256 pages , ISBN 0823216454; paperback, 175 pages, ISBN 0823216462
  • A N Whitehead, Symbolism, Its Meaning and Effect: Barbour-Page Lectures, University of Virginia, 1927, Fordham University Press, 1985, paperback, 88 pages, ISBN 082321138X
  • A N Whitehead, The Aims of Education and Other Essays, (orig. 1929), Free Press, 1985 paperback, ISBN 0029351804
  • A N Whitehead, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology, (orig. 1929), David Ray Griffin and Donald W. Sherburne (editors), Free Press, 1979 paperback, ISBN 0029345707
  • A N Whitehead, Function of Reason, (orig. 1929), Beacon Press, 1971 paperback, ISBN 0807015733
  • A N Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas, (orig. 1933), Free Press, 1967 paperback, 307 pages, ISBN 0029351707
  • A N Whitehead, Modes of Thought, (orig. 1938), Free Press, 1968 paperback, 179 pages, ISBN 002935210X
  • A N Whitehead, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead, Lucien Price (editor), Sir Ross David (introduction), (orig. 1954), Greenwood Press Reprint, 1977 hardback, 396 pages, ISBN 0837193419; David R. Godine Publisher edition, Caldwell Titcomb (forward), 2001 paperback, 385 pages, ISBN 1-56792-129-9

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