The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

44
AN ADVENTUROUS PHILOSOPHER

IN THE PRESENT VOLUME Professor Whitehead has given us not only a restatement of his metaphysics (in Book II) but also an application of the latter to the interpretation of history and to the idea of civilization as the embodiment of Truth, Beauty, Adventure, Art, and Peace.

Although Professor Whitehead has come to philosophy after a distinguished career as a mathematical logician, his later writings are motivated more by the interests of a cultivated man and a liberal Christian than by those of a scientist. This volume consequently exhibits greater regard for substance than for form or method. At a time when technical philosophy seems barrenly timid, even at times denying the very possibility of metaphysics, it is refreshing to find one philosopher intellectually daring and adventuresome, showing a benign disregard for the difficulties and pitfalls which have defeated previous heroic efforts. This comes out most clearly in the author's treatment of history.

The effort to grasp the essence of nature and of human history by speculative methods came to grief in the first part of the nineteenth century. And when it was thus suffering from general discredit, philosophy turned to formal epistemology. Undaunted by all this, Professor Whitehead sees that no metaphysics can be complete without a philosophy of history--that

____________________
The substance of this paper was published in The Yale Review, Vol. 13, p. 173 (Autumn, 1933), as a review of Alfred North Whitehead, Adventures of Ideas.

-398-

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