Alfred North Whitehead: His Reflections on Man and Nature

Alfred North Whitehead: His Reflections on Man and Nature

Alfred North Whitehead: His Reflections on Man and Nature

Alfred North Whitehead: His Reflections on Man and Nature

Excerpt

Modern science, it is generally admitted, is both the seed and the fruit of the radical spiritual and intellectual revolution which had its birth in the seventeenth century. The child of this revolution in our time is robed in the secularization of consciousness, the denial of transcendent goals, and the surrender to immanent aims. We are thus confronted with a scepticism which is our lonely companion after the loss of a deeper and more fundamental process, a process which is life itself. This scientific revolution points to an indefinite and infinite universe, a universe envisaged horizontally, bound by the identity of its fundamental components and laws and thereby emptied of such concepts as harmony, perfection, value, purpose, meaning; in fact, being itself.

In this continuing crisis, with its consistent trend toward the mathematization of nature and its concomitant and convergent emphasis upon experiment and theory, Alfred North Whitehead has provided us with an image of man and nature which recognizes and accepts their interdependence and which he proclaims to be the only hope for the reconciliation of fact and value, of temporal and untemporal man. "Things which are temporal," he reminds us, "arise by their participation in things which are eternal." And both philosophy and science must eventually put the same ultimate question to the same abyss.

A perspective, hitherto lacking, is here attempted, presenting Whitehead as a total intellect and not merely the Whitehead of the Principia Mathematica, or the Whitehead of cosmology, or the Whitehead of metaphysics; but rather an insight . . .

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