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Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947)


British mathematician who became an American philosopher.
Alfred North Whitehead
Religion is the reaction of human nature to its search for God. The presentation of God under the aspect of power awakens every modern instinct of critical reaction. This is fatal; for religion collapses unless its main positions command immediacy of assent. In this respect the old phraseology is at variance with the psychology of modern civilisations. This change in psychology is largely due to science, and is one of the chief ways in which the advance of science has weakened the hold of the old religious forms of expression.
Whitehead quotes
It is the business of the future to be dangerous; and it is among the merits of science that it equips the future for its duties.
Whitehead
The term many presupposes the term one, and the term one presupposes the term many.




Whitehead Alfred North quotes
By relieving the brain of all unnecessary work, a good notation sets it free to concentrate on more advanced problems, and in effect increases the mental power of the race.
Whitehead Alfred North
The ultimate metaphysical principle is the advance from disjunction to conjunction, creating a novel entity other than the entities given in disjunction.
Alfred North Whitehead quotes
A race preserves its vigour so long as it harbours a real contrast between what has been and what may be, and so long as it is nerved by the vigour to adventure beyond the safeties of the past. Without adventure, civilization is in full decay.
Alfred North Whitehead
The human body is an instrument for the production of art in the life of the human soul.
Whitehead Alfred North quotes
Our time has seen the best-educated society, situated in the heart of the most civilized part of the world, give birth to the most murderously vengeful government in history.
Forty years ago the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead thought it self-evident that you would get a good government if you took power out of the hands of the acquisitive and gave it to the learned and the cultivated. At present, a child in kindergarten knows better than that.
Whitehead
Thus the universe is to be conceived as attaining the active self-expression of its own variety of opposites of its own freedom and its own necessity, of its own multiplicity and its own unity, of its own imperfection and its own perfection. All the opposites are elements in the nature of things, and are incorrigibly there. The concept of God is the way in which we understand this incredible fact that what cannot be, yet is.
Whitehead Alfred North
In the study of ideas, it is necessary to remember that insistence on hard-headed clarity issues from sentimental feeling, as if it were a mist, cloaking the perplexities of fact. Insistence on clarity at all costs is based on sheer superstition as to the mode in which human intelligence functions. Our reasoning grasps at straws for premises and float on gossamer for deductions.
Alfred North Whitehead
The aim of science is to seek the simplest explanations of complex facts. We are apt to fall into the error of thinking that the facts are simple because simplicity is the goal of our quest. The guiding motto in the life of every natural philosopher should be, "Seek simplicity and distrust it."




Alfred North Whitehead quotes
In the inescapable flux, there is something that abides; in the overwhelming permanence, there is an element that escapes into flux. Permanence can be snatched only out of flux; and the passing moment can find its adequate intensity only by its submission to permanence.
Alfred North Whitehead
The chief error in philosophy is overstatement.
Whitehead quotes
Rightness of limitation is essential for growth of reality.
Unlimited possibility and abstract creativity can procure nothing. The limitation, and the basis arising from what is already actual, are both of them necessary and interconnected.
Whitehead Alfred North
Philosophy finds religion, and modifies it; and conversely religion is among the data of experience which philosophy must weave into its own scheme. Religion is an ultimate craving to infuse into the insistent particularity of emotion that non-temporal generality which primarily belongs to conceptual thought alone. In the higher organisms the differences of tempo between the mere emotions and the conceptual experiences produce a life-tedium, unless this supreme fusion has been effected. The two sides of the organism require a reconciliation in which emotional experiences illustrate a conceptual justification, and conceptual experiences find an emotional illustration.
Whitehead Alfred North quotes
What is morality in any given time or place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like, and immorality is what they dislike.
Alfred North Whitehead
A general definition of civilization: a civilized society is exhibiting the five qualities of truth, beauty, adventure, art, peace.
Alfred North Whitehead quotes
The oneness of the universe, and the oneness of each element of the universe, repeat themselves to the crack of doom in the creative advance from creature to creature, each creature including in itself the whole of history and exemplifying the self-identity of things and their mutual diversities.
Alfred North Whitehead
In "Religion in the Making," by A. N. Whitehead... the approach is philosophical, and there are many interesting and valuable observations. But Dr. Whitehead occasionally indulges himself, like all metaphysicians, in what has a suspicious resemblance to nonsense.
Whitehead Alfred North
The greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the invention of the method of invention.


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