The Wit and Wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead

The Wit and Wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead

The Wit and Wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead

The Wit and Wisdom of Alfred North Whitehead

Excerpt

There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, concerning a visit made by Alfred North Whitehead to the University of Virginia. He drove from the station to the campus in a horse-drawn vehicle under the guidance of a garrulous "darkie." Said the driver, "Are you a traveller?" "Yes," replied Whitehead . . . long silence. . . . "What do you sell?" "Wit and Wisdom," replied Whitehead . . . long silence. . . . At the end of the drive the darkie remarked, "I've never seen a traveller who wouldn't show me some of his goods."

There are many who, like the darkie driver, see neither wit nor wisdom in the work of Whitehead. Others take the wisdom on faith but admit an absolute inability to discern any extensive traces of wit.

One purpose of this book is to demonstrate that Whitehead's writings are characterized by a subtle and somewhat ironic type of wit which both enlightens and amuses. This study has another purpose. Readers of contemporary literature are continually confronted with aphorisms culled from the writings of Whitehead -- brief statements notable for their clear-cut, penetrating insight, expressed in vivid and unforgettable language. Often, the reader is annoyed to find that the sources of these quotations are not indicated. This makes it im-

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