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Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947)


British mathematician who became an American philosopher.
Alfred North Whitehead
Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilisation of knowledge.
Whitehead quotes
Some philosophers fail to distinguish propositions from judgements; ... But in the real world it is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true. The importance of truth is that it adds to interest.
Whitehead
The ideas of Freud were popularized by people who only imperfectly understood them, who were incapable of the great effort required to grasp them in their relationship to larger truths, and who therefore assigned to them a prominence out of all proportion to their true importance.




Whitehead Alfred North quotes
Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of human life is to grasp as much as we can out of the infinitude.
Whitehead Alfred North
A culture is in its finest flower before it begins to analyze itself.
Alfred North Whitehead quotes
The ultimate goal of mathematics is to eliminate any need for intelligent thought.
Alfred North Whitehead
It is a profoundly erroneous truism, repeated by all copy-books and by eminent people when they are making speeches, that we should cultivate the habit of thinking of what we are doing. The precise opposite is the case. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them. Operations of thought are like cavalry charges in a battle — they are strictly limited in number, they require fresh horses, and must only be made at decisive moments.
Whitehead Alfred North quotes
We cannot think first and act afterwards. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action and can only fitfully guide it by taking thought.
Whitehead
There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
Whitehead Alfred North
The universities are schools of education, and schools of research. But the primary reason for their existence is not to be found either in the mere knowledge conveyed to the students or in the mere opportunities for research afforded to the members of the faculty. Both these functions could be performed at a cheaper rate, apart from these very expensive institutions. Books are cheap, and the system of apprenticeship is well understood. So far as the mere imparting of information is concerned, no university has had any justification for existence since the popularization of printing in the fifteenth century. Yet the chief impetus to the foundation of universities came after that date, and in more recent times has even increased. The justification for a university is that it preserves the connection between knowledge and the zest of life, by uniting the young and the old in the imaginative consideration of learning.
Alfred North Whitehead
Life is an offensive, directed against the repetitious mechanism of the Universe.




Alfred North Whitehead quotes
Religion will not regain its old power until it can face change in the same spirit as does science. Its principles may be eternal, but the expression of those principles requires continual development.
Alfred North Whitehead
The worship of God is not a rule of safety — it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable. The death of religion comes with the repression of the high hope of adventure.
Whitehead quotes
It is the first step in sociological wisdom, to recognize that the major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur:—like unto an arrow in the hand of a child. The art of free society consists first in the maintenance of the symbolic code; and secondly in fearlessness of revision, to secure that the code serves those purposes which satisfy an enlightened reason. Those societies which cannot combine reverence to their symbols with freedom of revision, must ultimately decay either from anarchy, or from the slow atrophy of a life stifled by useless shadows.
Whitehead Alfred North
Without doubt, if we are to go back to that ultimate, integral experience, unwarped by the sophistications of theory, that experience whose elucidation is the final aim of philosophy, the flux of things is one ultimate generalization around which we must weave our philosophical system.
Whitehead Alfred North quotes
Scientists animated by the purpose of proving that they are purposeless constitute an interesting subject for study.
Alfred North Whitehead
The religious vision, and its history of persistent expansion, is our one ground for optimism. Apart from it, human life is a flash of occasional enjoyments lighting up a mass of pain and misery, a bagatelle of transient experience.
Alfred North Whitehead quotes
In its solitariness the spirit asks, What, in the way of value, is the attainment of life? And it can find no such value till it has merged its individual claim with that of the objective universe. Religion is world-loyalty.
Alfred North Whitehead
Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment in recognition of the pattern.
Whitehead Alfred North
The English never abolish anything. They put it in cold storage.


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