Zitate von Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead Foto
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Alfred North Whitehead

Geburtstag: 15. Februar 1861
Todesdatum: 30. Dezember 1947

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Alfred North Whitehead OM war ein britischer Philosoph und Mathematiker.

Bekannt wurde Alfred Whitehead durch das Standardwerk „Principia Mathematica“ über Logik, das er zusammen mit seinem langjährigen Schüler und Freund Bertrand Russell zwischen 1911 und 1913 in drei Bänden veröffentlichte. Es stellte den Versuch dar, im Sinne des logizistischen Programmes alle wahren mathematischen Aussagen und Beweise auf eine symbolische Logik zurückzuführen. Obwohl ein geplanter vierter Band nicht mehr veröffentlicht wurde und die Frage, ob der Versuch selbst erfolgreich war, weiterhin kontrovers diskutiert wird, wurde „Principia Mathematica“ zu einem der einflussreichsten Bücher der Geschichte der Mathematik und Logik.

In seiner Londoner Zeit von 1911 bis 1924 machte Whitehead sich einen Namen als Naturphilosoph, als Wissenschaftstheoretiker, als Kritiker der Ausbildung an Großbritanniens Universitäten und als Autor mehrerer Bücher über Erziehung.

Nach seiner Berufung an die Harvard University im Jahr 1924 konnte er sich ganz der weiteren Ausarbeitung seiner prozessphilosophischen Metaphysik widmen. Als sein philosophisches Hauptwerk gilt „Process and Reality“ , in dem er seiner „Philosophy of Organism“ die Form gab, die später auch zur Grundlage der Prozesstheologie wurde. Darin strukturiert er auf der Grundlage der Rationalität und Kohärenz die Wirklichkeit als einen Organismus, der sich in elementaren Ereignissen vollzieht und sich in einer evolutionären Entwicklung befindet. Obwohl die philosophische Sekundärliteratur zu Whitehead umfangreich ist, ist der Einfluss seiner Metaphysik auf die akademische Philosophie bis heute bescheiden geblieben.

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Zitate Alfred North Whitehead

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„Die Hauptgefahr für die Philosophie ist Enge in der Auswahl des Anschauungsmaterials.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Prozeß und Realität (Process and Reality), Teil V, Kapitel 1, Abschnitt 1

„Consciousness is only the last and greatest of such elements by which the selective character of the individual obscures the external totality from which it originates and which it embodies.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: Philosophy is the self-correction by consciousness of its own initial excess of subjectivity. Each actual occasion contributes to the circumstances of its origin additional formative elements deepening its own peculiar individuality. Consciousness is only the last and greatest of such elements by which the selective character of the individual obscures the external totality from which it originates and which it embodies. An actual individual, of such higher grade, has truck with the totality of things by reason of its sheer actuality; but it has attained its individual depth of being by a selective emphasis limited to its own purposes. The task of philosophy is to recover the totality obscured by the selection. Pt. I, ch. 1, sec. 6.

„It lies in the nature of things that the many enter into complex unity.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: Creativity is the universal of universals characterizing ultimate matter of fact. It is that ultimate principle by which the many, which are the universe disjunctively, become the one actual occasion, which is the universe conjunctively. It lies in the nature of things that the many enter into complex unity. Pt. I, ch. 2, sec. 2.

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„In the inescapable flux, there is something that abides; in the overwhelming permanence, there is an element that escapes into flux.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: 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.

„Rightness of limitation is essential for growth of reality.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: 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. Religion in the Making (February 1926), Lecture IV: "Truth and Criticism" http://www.mountainman.com.au/whiteh_4.htm.

„Some philosophers fail to distinguish propositions from judgments; … But in the real world it is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: Some philosophers fail to distinguish propositions from judgments; … 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. p. 259. Variant: It is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true. This statement is almost a tautology. For the energy of operation of a proposition in an occasion of experience is its interest, and its importance. But of course a true proposition is more apt to be interesting than a false one. As extended upon in Adventures of Ideas (1933), Pt. 4, Ch. 16.

„More and more it is becoming evident that what the West can most readily give to the East is its science and its scientific outlook.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: More and more it is becoming evident that what the West can most readily give to the East is its science and its scientific outlook. This is transferable from country to country, and from race to race, wherever there is a rational society. Ch. 1: "The Origins of Modern Science"

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„One side makes process ultimate; the other side makes fact ultimate.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: In all philosophic theory there is an ultimate which is actual in virtue of its accidents. It is only then capable of characterization through its accidental embodiments, and apart from these accidents is devoid of actuality. In the philosophy of organism this ultimate is termed creativity; and God] is its primordial, non-temporal accident. In [[monistic philosophies, Spinoza's or absolute idealism, this ultimate is God, who is also equivalently termed The Absolute. In such monistic schemes, the ultimate is illegitimately allowed a final, eminent reality, beyond that ascribed to any of its accidents. In this general position the philosophy of organism seems to approximate more to some strains of Indian, or Chinese, thought, than to western Asiatic, or European, thought. One side makes process ultimate; the other side makes fact ultimate. Pt. I, ch. 1, sec. 2.

„In all philosophic theory there is an ultimate which is actual in virtue of its accidents.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: In all philosophic theory there is an ultimate which is actual in virtue of its accidents. It is only then capable of characterization through its accidental embodiments, and apart from these accidents is devoid of actuality. In the philosophy of organism this ultimate is termed creativity; and God] is its primordial, non-temporal accident. In [[monistic philosophies, Spinoza's or absolute idealism, this ultimate is God, who is also equivalently termed The Absolute. In such monistic schemes, the ultimate is illegitimately allowed a final, eminent reality, beyond that ascribed to any of its accidents. In this general position the philosophy of organism seems to approximate more to some strains of Indian, or Chinese, thought, than to western Asiatic, or European, thought. One side makes process ultimate; the other side makes fact ultimate. Pt. I, ch. 1, sec. 2.

„The universities are schools of education, and schools of research.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: 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.

„Seek simplicity and distrust it.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: 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." The Concept of Nature (1919), Chapter VII, p.143 http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18835/18835-h/18835-h.htm#CHAPTER_VII.

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