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Alfred North Whitehead

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

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 1910 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. Wikipedia

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Prozess und Realität
Prozess und Realität
Alfred North Whitehead

Zitate Alfred North Whitehead

„Wissen hält nicht länger als Fisch.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Kapitel VII. Universitäten und ihre Funktion. In: Die Ziele von Erziehung und Bildung, und andere Essays. Deutsch von ‎Christoph Kann und ‎Dennis Sölch. Suhrkamp TB Wissenschaft 2012, S. 150 books.google https://books.google.de/books?id=NfA7CgAAQBAJ&pg=PA150&dq=fisch Original engl.: "Knowledge does not keep any better than fish." - VII. Universities and their Function. In: The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1929). The Free Press New York, p. 98 books.google https://books.google.de/books?id=WbXs-vyWPPgC&pg=PA98&dq=fish

„Die sicherste allgemeine Charakterisierung der philosophischen Tradition Europas lautet, daß sie aus einer Reihe von Fußnoten zu Platon besteht.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead, buch Prozess und Realität

Prozeß und Realität (Process and Reality), Teil II, Kapitel 1, Abschnitt 1, S. 91
Oft zitiert als "Alle abendländische Philosophie ist als »Fußnote zu Platon« zu verstehen."
Original engl.: "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."

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

—  Alfred North Whitehead, buch Prozess und Realität

Prozeß und Realität (Process and Reality), Teil V, Kapitel 1, Abschnitt 1
Original engl.: "The chief danger to philosophy is narrowness in the selection of evidence."

„Das Bild - und es ist nur ein Bild -, das Bild, anhand dessen man sich dieses tätige Wachstum der Natur Gottes am besten vorstellen kann, ist das einer zärtlichen Fürsorge dafür, daß nichts verloren geht.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead, buch Prozess und Realität

Prozeß und Realität - (Process and Reality), Teil V, Kapitel 4
Original engl.: "The image—and it is but an image—the image under which this operative growth of God's nature is best conceived, is that of a tender care that nothing be lost."

„There is nothing in the real world which is merely an inert fact. Every reality is there for feeling: it promotes feeling; and it is felt.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead, buch Prozess und Realität

Quelle: 1920s, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929), Chapter IV, p. 310 https://books.google.com/books?id=uJDEx6rPu1QC&pg=PA310.

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

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Pt. I, ch. 1, sec. 6.
1920s, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929)
Kontext: 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.

„Knowledge does not keep any better than fish.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

1920s, The Aims of Education (1929)
Kontext: 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.

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

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Quelle: Attributed from posthumous publications, Dialogues of Alfred North Whitehead (1954), p. 100; Ch. 12, April 28, 1938.
Kontext: 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.

„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

1920s, The Aims of Education (1929)
Kontext: 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.

„He gave them speech, and they became souls“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Modes of Thought (1938).
1930s
Kontext: 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.

„Philosophy may not neglect the multifariousness of the world — the fairies dance, and Christ is nailed to the cross.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Pt. V, ch. 1, sec. 1.
1920s, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929)
Kontext: There is a greatness in the lives of those who build up religious systems, a greatness in action, in idea and in self-subordination, embodied in instance after instance through centuries of growth. There is a greatness in the rebels who destroy such systems: they are the Titans who storm heaven, armed with passionate sincerity. It may be that the revolt is the mere assertion by youth of its right to its proper brilliance, to that final good of immediate joy. Philosophy may not neglect the multifariousness of the world — the fairies dance, and Christ is nailed to the cross.

„All the world over and at all times there have been practical men, absorbed in 'irreducible and stubborn facts'; all the world over and at all times there have been men of philosophic temperament, who have been absorbed in the weaving of general principles. It is this union of passionate interest in the detailed facts with equal devotion to abstract generalisation which forms the novelty of our present society.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Quelle: 1920s, Science and the Modern World (1925), Ch. 1: "The Origins of Modern Science"
Kontext: The new tinge to modern minds is a vehement and passionate interest in the relation of general principles to irreducible and stubborn facts. All the world over and at all times there have been practical men, absorbed in 'irreducible and stubborn facts'; all the world over and at all times there have been men of philosophic temperament, who have been absorbed in the weaving of general principles. It is this union of passionate interest in the detailed facts with equal devotion to abstract generalisation which forms the novelty of our present society.

„Philosophy, in one of its functions, is the critic of cosmologies. It is its function to harmonise, refashion, and justify divergent intuitions as to the nature of things.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Preface
1920s, Science and the Modern World (1925)
Kontext: Philosophy, in one of its functions, is the critic of cosmologies. It is its function to harmonise, refashion, and justify divergent intuitions as to the nature of things. It has to insist on the scrutiny of the ultimate ideas, and on the retention of the whole of the evidence in shaping our cosmological scheme. Its business is to render explicit, and — so far as may be — efficient, a process which otherwise is unconsciously performed without rational tests.

„The mentality of mankind and the language of mankind created each other.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Modes of Thought (1938).
1930s
Kontext: 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.

„Philosophy is the self-correction by consciousness of its own initial excess of subjectivity.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

Pt. I, ch. 1, sec. 6.
1920s, Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929)
Kontext: 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.

„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.“

—  Alfred North Whitehead

The Concept of Nature (1919), Chapter VII, p.143 http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18835/18835-h/18835-h.htm#CHAPTER_VII.
1910s
Kontext: 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 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

1920s, The Aims of Education (1929)
Kontext: 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.

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