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

„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

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„The task of philosophy is to recover the totality obscured by the selection.“

— 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.

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„He gave them speech, and they became souls“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: The mentality of mankind and the language of mankind created each other. If we like to assume the rise of language as a given fact, then it is not going too far to say that the souls of men are the gift from language to mankind. The account of the sixth day should be written: He gave them speech, and they became souls. Modes of Thought (1938).

„The essence of education is that it be religious. Pray, what is religious education? A religious education is an education which inculcates duty and reverence.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: The essence of education is that it be religious. Pray, what is religious education? A religious education is an education which inculcates duty and reverence. Duty arises from our potential control over the course of events. Where attainable knowledge could have changed the issue, ignorance has the guilt of vice. And the foundation of reverence is this perception, that the present holds within itself the complete sum of existence, backwards and forwards, that whole amplitude of time, which is eternity.

„The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them. When the idea is new, its custodians have fervor, live for it, and, if need be, die for it. p. 100; Ch. 12, April 28, 1938.

„Knowledge does not keep any better than fish.“

— Alfred North Whitehead
Context: For successful education there must always be a certain freshness in the knowledge dealt with. It must be either new in itself or invested with some novelty of application to the new world of new times. Knowledge does not keep any better than fish. You may be dealing with knowledge of the old species, with some old truth; but somehow it must come to the students, as it were, just drawn out of the sea and with the freshness of its immediate importance.

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„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.

„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.

„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.

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