Whitehead: Process and Cosmology, Robin Le Poidevin, Peter Simons, Andrew McGonigal and Ross Cameron, Routledge Companion to Metaphysics, London, Routledge, 2009, 181 - 190, Peter Simons
Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) occupies a remarkable position in twentieth
century philosophy. Though he co-authored the seminal Principia mathematica with
his former student Bertrand Russell, and later supervised W. V. Quine, his influence
on later analytic philosophy has been minimal, while in other circles his work enjoyed
cult status. Largely ignored by professionals in his native Britain, he is respected in
his adopted America, and receives interest in continental Europe. Trained as a
mathematician, he moved into logic and the foundations of mathematics. In his fifties
he began writing about the philosophy of science, physics, and education, and at 63
emigrated to the United States, teaching as Professor of Philosophy at Harvard
University for a further thirteen years. His chief work, Process and Reality: An Essay
in Cosmology (1929) has been compared, for length, difficulty, and importance, to
Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. This work—we will refer to it as ‘PR’—completed
Whitehead’s transformation into a metaphysician, and it is the focus of our attention.
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