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Cambridge Philosophers IV: Whitehead

  • Dorothy Emmet


Alfred North Whitehead is rightly considered a Cambridge philosopher. His intellectual life falls into three periods, of which the first (1880-1910) was in Cambridge, the second (1910-1924) in London, and the third (1924-1947) in Cambridge, Mass. But he always saw himself as a Cambridge person, and was a Life Fellow of Trinity College. Moreover, though each of these periods is associated with a different kind of philosophy, some ideas and concerns from the Cambridge period carry right through.



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1 From ‘England the Narrow Seas’, Atlantic Monthly, June 1927. Reprinted in Essays in Science and Philosophy, p. 48. New York, 1947. (E.S.P.).

2 ‘The Education of an Englishman’, Atlantic Monthly, August 1926 and E.S.P. p. 35.

3 ‘Autobiographical Notes’. In The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, p. 13.Library of Living Philosophers, Evanston, , 111., 1941.

4 ‘The Relevance of “On Mathematical Concepts of the Material World” to Whitehead's Philosophy’. In The Relevance of Whitehead, ed. Leclerc, I., London, 1961.

5 The Concept of Nature, p. 172. (Cambridge, 1920).

6 The replacement of Substance by processes and events went along with an attack on the adequacy of the Subject/Predicate form of language. Whitehead wrote no specific work on the nature of language, but there are remarks scattered throughout his books, notably in the last one, Modes of Thought. These suggest he saw language going on in a flow with emphasis-patterns, rhythms, reiteration, contrasts, its nature being shown in the spoken word rather than in the written text. Margaret Masterman claimed that this was a fertile view when one tried to uncover deep structures in language. See her paper ‘First Impressions of a Whiteheadean Model of Language’ in Whitehead und der Prozessbegriff, eds. Holz, H. and Wolf-Gazo, E., Alber, Freiburg, 1984.

7 By Leemon, McHenry in the second volume of Victor Lowe's biography Alfred North Whitehead: the Man and his Work. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990. (p. 127).

8 ‘Whitehead's Philosophy of Science’. Philosophical Review, LXXI, 1962.

9 Process and Reality, Revised Edition, p. 110, New York, 1978.

10 These will be found in the Autobiographical Notes in the volume in the Library of Living Philosophers and in the pieces listed under ‘Personal’ in Essays in Science and Philosophy.


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