Talk:Alfred North Whitehead

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Good article Alfred North Whitehead has been listed as one of the Philosophy and religion good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
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RE "Concomitantly, Whitehead developed a keen interest in physics", to which time period listed above the quoted sentence does concomitantly refer? bdwc (talk) 02:21, 2 August 2009 (UTC)

Whitehead's cosmology[edit]

“there are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths.“ Is this a whole truth or a half truth?

Perhaps the most significant thing Whitehead did was to formulate a new cosmology fit for the modern world. Having realized that quantum mechanics had knocked the bottom out of the nineteenth century sciences and their philosophy of "matter is the basis of all things", Whitehead proposed a more comprehensive philosophy of process, or organismic philosophy. This he wrote about in his magnum opus Process and Reality which is sub-titled An Essay in Cosmology. However, Whiteheadians these days are mostly theologians and uninterested in cosmology, so his four-phase universal pattern of process - which would introduce a structured holism to "life, the universe and everything", and a cosmology fit for disciplines from astro-physics to zoology - is very largely ignored today. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 18:53, July 2, 2004 (UTC)

The preceding paragraph seems caught in a semantic snare. "Cosmology" means different things in physics and in metaphysics. Whitehead tried his hand at both meanings of the word. His theory rivaling general relativity is a failure, but his Process and Reality rightly lives on. 07:58, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Whitehead categories[edit]

(moved from User talk:Icairns:

You changed Whitehead's category from "mathematicians" to "British mathematicians." This also brought to my attention that he's classified on Wikipedia as a "British philosopher." We should consider removing the word "British" from both. Or, we should consider using the word "English."

In other encyclopedias and dictionaries, he's referred to by sometimes using "British" and sometimes "English." Many times both words are absent and he's simply referred to as "a philosopher." In order to understand why, you must know the development of his thought and career, and know about British philosophy, analytical philosophy, continental philosophy, and American philosophy. (Maybe you already know this?) This is because, as you probably know, British philosophers usually engage in analytical philosophy. Analytical philosophy is opposed to the type of philosophy that Whitehead engaged in (he did Process philosophy, and in a sense Continental philosophy, and American philosophy prior to the American's being influenced by the analysis of Britain). So calling Whitehead a specifically "British philosopher" is somewhat of a misnomer, even if he was born in Kent.

In terms of his philosophy career, it started near his retirement age, in the United States, where Harvard offered him a position teaching philosophy when he was about 60 years old. Before this, he didn't engage much in "philosophy proper." Whitehead is certainly referred to as "British" in the sense of his mathematical/logical work with Russell in the early part of the 20th century in England, but referring to him in this way today is a bit off-key. He wrote his philosophical works later, when he was in the States, and about 65 to 75 years old, and he was a very long way conceptually from "British philosophy." The foremost Whiteheadian experts in the world, David Ray Griffin, John Cobb, etc., at the Center for Process Studies in Claremont, CA, usually refer to him as simply a philosopher, or sometimes (but rarely) as an English philosopher. See "Process Philosophy" [1]. Whitehead drew very heavily from William James and others, and his philosophy has an American flavor.

But, yes, it's also true that because of his mathematical/logical background, he is (in a sense) identified with analytical philosophy; with Wittgenstein, Quine, etc. Books were written on this relationship by George Shields and others. But the bulk of the writing by far is about Whitehead and Continental philosophy, Hegel, Eastern philosophy, theology, etc. (even things written from a Deleuzean perspective, etc.). The point is that his thought was so wide that it's all over the map (very unlike British philosophy).

I did my graduate work at KU Leuven (besides Claremont, KUL is really the only place to study Whitehead). I took a seminar with Lewis Ford, and he never referred to Whitehead as British or English, neither did Jan Van der Veken or Andre Cloots. At any rate, I'm guilty of name dropping here, true, but I'm pointing out it's probably more accurate to refer to him as just a philosopher, or maybe "English." What do you think? Aliman 08:11, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I simply changed the categ Mathematicians -> British mathematicians. I did this because of Whitehead's involvement with Russell in the Principia. You may well have an argument that he was an American philosopher or at least an 'unstated' philosopher. Clearly, we could do with more biographical information on his emigration, naturalisation, etc. You will need to look back to 8 Mar 2002 when the Whitehead article was edited to add 'British'. However, I don't think there was much doubt that (together with Russell), he was one of the most influential British mathematicians of his age. Ian Cairns 13:39, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC) (a mathematician, not a philosopher)
As a side note, it's common for folks to say, "Whitehead's involvement with Russell in the Principia." But Russell was the student (albeit a brilliant student). Russell did alot of work (as students do) but Whitehead was actually the force behind it. Aliman 16:38, 5 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Whitehead was born English and never took American nationality. In his writings on the foundations of mathematics, Whitehead was a logician and analytic philosopher, just as much as Russell. But the Whitehead who created process metaphysics was not a British philosopher. No UK philosopher in the 20th century ever dared write anything with the sweep, ambition, and scope of Process and Reality. And process philosophy has had few admirers in the UK. I submit that the mature Whitehead was an American philosopher, influenced by Peirce was well as James. example, Peirce advocated an evolutionary cosmology. We know that Whitehead perused Peirce's mss in Harvard's possession, and was exasperated at the extent to which Peirce had anticipated ideas Whitehead thought he was the first to think. I do not want to detract from Whitehead's originality, because Peirce never wrote a philosophical book. To his everlasting credit, Whitehead left us with many wonderful books. 07:54, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

Whitehead's residency[edit]

Since Whitehead lived the last 20+ years of his life in the United States, he is properly identified as British American. I am therefore reverting the anon. erasure of his American identity. --Blainster 22:59, 25 Mar 2005 (UTC)


Would anybody like to provide an authoritative quotation for that mot about western civilization being characterized as a series of footnotes to Plato? (Hoping I have the right idea here...!)--AlexanderLondon 23:41, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

Google provides this link : The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato. I do not mean the systematic scheme of thought which scholars have doubtfully extracted from his writings. I allude to the wealth of general ideas scattered through them...

Alfred North Whitehead, Process and Reality, p. 39 --Blainster 15:21, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

This entry needs a lot of work[edit]

I regret to say that this entry and Process and Reality) simply do not do justice to the enormous intellectual achievement of A N Whitehead, the most original British thinker since Francis Bacon. Would an expert on process philosophy please step up to the plate?

It is absolutely astounding to read Lowe on Whitehead's education in the 1880s: grubby engineering math and fair physics. Whitehead taught himself algebra and logic to write his first book, Universal Algebra. He taught himself math logic, more or less a la Peano, and Cantorian set theory while writing Principia. Then he goes back to theoretical physics and relational theories of space and time. Now well past 60, the greatest British metaphysician of all time emerges. How did he manage to reinvent himself so many times? 08:09, 23 August 2006 (UTC)

  • Because he was - like Wittgenstein, but unlike Russell - a genius. That's my opinion, of course, and I wouldn't dream of adding it to the article. But I should add that the quality of the article is just dismal. In fact disgraceful. My sincere apologies to the hive mind, but articles like this are why I warn my students not to go anywhere near Wikipedia. (talk) 05:55, 7 November 2009 (UTC)

Ghirlandajo additions[edit]

The expansion by Ghirlandajo is a welcome improvement to the article. I made two types of changes to the paragraph on Whitehead's theology which were summarily reverted. The first change deleted two phrases that were redundant in context, thus making the paragraph more consise. The second change was an attempt to harmonize the conflict existing between the two statements that Whitehead leaned towards Roman Catholicism. and Prior to the Great War, he considered himself an agnostic. "He leaned Catholic" implies a theistic tendancy, while the statement about being agnostic reverses that tendancy without any reason given. Changing "Prior" to "After" was a guess, but it would supply a reason for the change in belief (he had lost his son), which otherwise leaves the reader wondering about the implied change in Whitehead's thought. Please explain your reversions. --Blainster 22:07, 10 October 2006 (UTC)

Blainster, I specifically object to your practice of inserting unsubstantiated guesses into the article. A quick search produced the following: Bertrand Russell, who knew him [Whitehead] well from 1898 to 1910, reports that they saw eye to eye on matters religious. Whitehead may have been just as agnostic as Russell, but he was much more reticent about proclaiming it. The effect of the First World War led him to cultivate a deeper religious sensitivity, but it was not until 1925 that he found a concept of God he could endorse. [Arrington's Companion to the Philosophers. Blackwell Publishing, 2001. ISBN 0631229671. Pages 534-535]. You are welcome to rephrase my assertion any way you like, provided that factual accuracy is maintained. --Ghirla -трёп- 07:40, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as start, and the rating on other projects was brought up to start class. BetacommandBot 03:44, 10 November 2007 (UTC)

Big Bang[edit]

The final paragraph seems to suggest that Whitehead would have supported big bang. Can anyone suggest references to back up the assertions that are made here (in relation to Alfred North, that is, rather than the 'consensus' that came about 20 years after his death).?

If there isn't anything significant in his writings which explicitly suggest that big bang was part of his overview, then I suggest that most of this paragraph should be removed (leaving the reference to process physics). Davy p (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 22:44, 17 November 2007 (UTC)

Need a direct quote for dualism rejection?[edit]

"Whitehead's rejection of mind-body dualism is similar to elements in faith traditions such as Buddhism."

If this rejection is important to Whitehead's ideas, perhaps someone could find a suitable quote that supports his idea. This sentance doesn't really get at anything important with regards to Whitehead's ideas as a scientist/philosopher. Maybe a quote with regards to his argument would be a good addition. Rhetth (talk) 17:49, 14 May 2008 (UTC)


The majority of words in the lead section are linked. Please fix this. Thank you. Viriditas (talk) 11:12, 27 December 2008 (UTC)

Needs explaining...[edit]

"and Whitehead contributed nothing to the 1925 second edition of Principia Mathematica."

Needs clarification ?

--Caesar J.B. Squitti: Son of Maryann Rosso and Arthur Natale Squitti (talk) 15:36, 21 August 2009 (UTC)


Hi. The Heraclitus article mentions only a select few people influenced by his thought, but one of those is Whitehead. However, Heraclitus is not mentioned in Whitehead's infobox.

I am not qualified to make a judgement on this, just drawing your attention to it. (talk) 13:18, 16 April 2010 (UTC)


The introduction says that Whitehead supervised Russell's doctoral dissertation -- but Russell did not hold a doctorate. His final degree was a Cambridge M.A. I am also not aware that Russell undertook any work towards a doctoral degree that Whitehead might have supervised. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:57, 28 April 2013 (UTC)

mathematician and philosopher "of the highest caliber"[edit]

I'd recommend replacing this rather vulgar part of the entry sentence with a tone more appropriate to an Encyclopedia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2001:7C0:409:40E4:5BD:723C:C296:8AA6 (talk) 21:09, 12 July 2013 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

This review is transcluded from Talk:Alfred North Whitehead/GA1. The edit link for this section can be used to add comments to the review.

Reviewer: Cerebellum (talk · contribs) 19:21, 22 November 2013 (UTC)

Hello, I will be reviewing this article. --Cerebellum (talk) 19:21, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
Thanks! I just want to quickly say that 1. I have just now added a paragraph to the "Religion" section, and 2. I will be on vacation for Thanksgiving from Nov. 26-30, and may not be able to quickly address issues with the article that arise during this time. If issues arise during this period, please allow me some leeway for response.
Thanks again, I feel fortunate that Whitehead's article has attracted a reviewer so soon after nomination. Joseph Petek (talk) 20:34, 22 November 2013 (UTC)
GA review (see here for what the criteria are, and here for what they are not)

Excellent work on this article! I am glad I got to review it - I read Science and the Modern World in high school and was impressed, though I had no idea who Whitehead was or what he stood for at the time and probably understood little of what he was actually arguing. It's great to see work being done on highly important articles like this one.

  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose, no copyvios, spelling and grammar): b (MoS for lead, layout, word choice, fiction, and lists):
    The prose is very high-quality and you do a good job of keeping it engaging throughout, and you explain difficult concepts like Whitehead's theory of perception in a very clear way. I especially like the way you use lively turns of phrase like Cobb effectively grabbed the torch and planted it firmly in Claremont. I did make one change, removing the rhetorical question, Why create theoretical schemes for how the universe works if they can never be fully tested or verified? To me, this seems too informal, but you're welcome to put it back in if you feel strongly about it.
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (reference section): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
    Personally I would like to see more inline citations, at least one per paragraph, but at present the article meets the GA standard, and I'm inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt since you seem to have some expertise in this field. See the comments below for a bit more on the references.
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
    Meets the GA standard, but I think some more biographical information might be appropriate, as explained below.
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
    This article seems biased towards Whitehead. For example, you write that, "interest in Whitehead has continued to grow worldwide," but the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says that Whitehead has been " not especially influential among many Anglo-American secular philosophers" and that his metaphysics "has been less than enthusiastically embraced by members of the broader philosophical community." You hint at this when you say "This is not to say that Whitehead’s thought was widely accepted or even well-understood," but you don't explain why it was not accepted or what were the main objections to it, and you talk about Whitehead having a swift "rise to prominence in philosophical circles." The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy sums things up by saying, "While Whitehead’s influence has never been great, in the opening years of the 21st century it appears to be growing in a broad range of otherwise divergent disciplines." Is that an accurate way of putting it?
There are three specific changes I would like to see. These are negotiable, so let me know if you think they are unreasonable or unnecessary.
1)The lead is problematic because it includes quotes talking about Whitehead's greatness but no indication of whether nor not those quotes represent scholarly consensus. So, consider adding a qualifier either in the first or third paragraph saying that Whitehead's ideas are not widely accepted, something like Whitehead is best known as the originator of the philosophical school known as process philosophy. The influence of Whitehead's ideas on mainstream philosophy has been limited, but today they have found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas.
2) Mention key objections to Whitehead's ideas or his main critics, if there are any.
3) In either the "Philosophy and metaphysics" section or the "Influence and legacy" section, add a sentence or two about Whitehead's impact on philosophy. You talk a lot in the legacy section about what his disciples have done, but how is he regarded in the mainstream philosophical community?
  1. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
    No concerns.
  2. It is illustrated by images and other media, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free content have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
    Only one image - could you add in some pictures of other key people such as Russel or Cobb? Or maybe geographical locations related to Whitehead's life?
  3. Overall:
    The only issues I see are neutrality and images. I'm placing this article on hold for seven days (longer if necessary due to Thanksgiving) to allow you to work on those. Other than that, I've left some comments below with optional suggestions for further improvements to the article beyond GA status. Pass, issues have been resolved. --Cerebellum (talk) 14:16, 24 November 2013 (UTC)


  • Links: I've removed a couple of external links from the body of the article, per WP:ELPOINTS.
  • Life: The article is very detailed on Whitehead's thought, but the "Life" section is a bit thin. There's more biographical information mixed in with the rest of the article, of course, but I still have some questions. Who were his parents? Why did he originally study mathematics instead of philosophy? What caused him later on to turn to philosophy? Who were his teachers or main influences on him as a student? Did he collaborate with any other scholars, beside Russel who you mention? What key events in his life shaped his thought? There may not be answers to all of these questions, but a little more detail would be helpful. Ludwig Wittgenstein is an example of an article with lots of biography, though I think it goes too far and omits important information on Wittgenstein's thought.
  • Universal Algebra: When you say, "In A Treatise on Universal Algebra (1898) the term "universal algebra" had essentially the same meaning that it has today," can you briefly explain what exactly universal algebra is? Or, maybe just add a sentence explaining the main point of the work, as you do for Principia Mathematica with the sentence, "Principia Mathematica’s purpose was to describe a set of axioms and inference rules in symbolic logic from which all mathematical truths could in principle be proven."
  • References: The references are adequate for the GA level, but the article could be improved further by adding more. In my opinion, each paragraph should have a citation. Here are some other statements which I think should be referenced:
  • "for half a century Chicago’s Divinity School was closely associated with Whitehead’s thought"
  • "Largely due to Cobb’s influence, today Claremont remains strongly identified with Whitehead’s process thought, and interest in Whitehead has continued to grow worldwide."
  • "The above is some of Whitehead's most evocative writing about God, and was powerful enough to inspire the movement known as process theology"
  • Prose: even if that progress remains permanently asymptotic. Do you mean here that scientific knowledge will always be incomplete? It might be better to say this in a simpler way, instead of relying on the reader's knowledge of what an asymptote is.
  • Bare URLs: You sometimes use bare URLs for your citations, which can eventually lead to link rot. I would recommend providing supplementary information along with the URLs, perhaps using citation templates. --Cerebellum (talk) 18:41, 23 November 2013 (UTC)
In the section about God, what sources are being used? It only cites P&R. For example "Whitehead's idea of God is quite different from the traditional Christian notion." This suggests that there is a consensus view of what the traditional Christian notion of God is, and, further, that in this consensus view, Whitehead's stands outside of this. If this is just supposed to a plain exegesis of P&R, then it seems rather strange to me. When I read this section of P&R' I see that Whitehead identifies at least four traditions in Christianity—the divine Caesars tradition, the unmoved mover tradition, the eminently real tradition (p. 342 in the 1978 edition), which he criticizes; but then he also identifies a Galilean origin element which "dwells upon the tender elements in the world" (p. 343), with which he seems to identify his theology. Also, he seems to equally criticize the effect of those previous elements in both Christianity and Islam. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:51, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

GA Review response/revisions[edit]

Thanks. These are all good comments and good suggestions for improvement. I believe I will be able to address them all before I head out for Thanksgiving, but if I do not complete revisions by then I will drop a note here and finish after I return from vacation.

The most difficult to address will be the portions on Whitehead's influence. The IEP entry says at the very top that "Evaluating Whitehead’s influence is a difficult matter." That's no joke. On the one hand, he is little-studied directly, except in some graduate-level philosophy and theology programs. On the other hand, he greatly influenced a number of philosophers that are more widely read than Whitehead himself today (Russell and W.V.O. Quine leap to mind first, although there are others), and his thought has managed to sneak in the back door of many disciplines while people weren't paying attention. This difficulty is why I really like the Wieman quote I included at the bottom of the "Philosophy and metaphysics" section, because I think it successfully conveys that Whitehead was influential and ahead of his time while still being little-known in the popular consciousness. There is a reason that Wikipedia's article on matter leads off with "Matter is a poorly defined term in science"; in many ways I think science still has some catching up to do to reach where Whitehead was 80 years ago when he tried to tell everyone that the whole concept of matter was wrong. But how to communicate all this without bias?

In any case, I will see if I can strike the right balance on Whitehead's influence in my revisions. Joseph Petek (talk) 20:46, 23 November 2013 (UTC)

I believe I have addressed the most pressing concerns of the GA review. Here's a summary of what I've done:
  • Added a bunch of pictures. Pretty self-explanatory. I tried to not let the text go too long without a picture. The hardest space to fill was the subheadings of "Philosophy and metaphysics." I ended up grabbing pictures of Locke and Bergson as influences since I couldn't think of what else might go there. At least those two pictures have information in the captions that isn't already in the article.
  • Took the Latour and Deleuze quotes out of the lead. I think this alone goes a long way toward the article's greater neutrality. With these quotes gone from the lead, I did not see a need to insert a qualifier on Whitehead's influence, like the suggested "The influence of Whitehead's ideas on mainstream philosophy has been limited." The Latour and Deleuze quotes are still in the article, but they have been moved to the "Influence and legacy" section, and followed with a very explicit qualification as minority philosophical opinions.
  • Added three new paragraphs to "Influence and Legacy." The first speaks to Whitehead's influence in China, the other explains that Whitehead's overall influence in the English-speaking world has been relatively small and indirect, and the third lists some possible reasons for Whitehead's lack of influence.
  • Other neutrality changes. The bit about "and interest in Whitehead has continued to grow worldwide" has been replaced with "and even today he is not considered especially influential outside of relatively specialized circles." The sentence "Whitehead’s rise to prominence in philosophical circles was swift" has been changed to "Whitehead’s philosophy was highly original, and soon garnered interest in philosophical circles," and I've added a testimonial to this same "Philosophy and metaphysics" section that helps to explain the difficulty of Whitehead's thought and his peers' somewhat confused reception of it, along with the sentence, "Indeed, it may not be inappropriate to speculate that some fair portion of the respect generally shown to Whitehead by his philosophical peers at the time arose from their sheer bafflement."
That's about it. I also added a quote from Bergson I found in Lowe's biography, and made a few other minor edits and additions. I plan to work on some of the additional suggestions to get the article "beyond GA status" soon (along with addressing Atethnekos' concern with the "God" section"), but hopefully I have adequately addressed image and neutrality concerns. One thing I didn't do was "Mention key objections to Whitehead's ideas or his main critics, if there are any," simply because Whitehead is usually ignored rather than criticized (this is, I suspect, at least partly because his work is so difficult to approach without serious guidance that few have read Whitehead sufficiently to criticize him -- God knows I have not become expert in Whitehead's thought through self-study).
One other very small thing. I have quite self-consciously left in the "asymptotic" bit. Perhaps this is misguided stubbornness on my part, but to me no other word/concept captures what I want to convey with that phrase. The problem with "incomplete" and "unfinished" is that by the very nature of those words, they both suggest that the process can be complete, or can be finished. In any case, I know it's a bit silly to leave in such an obscure word, but I think the meaning can be sorted out by the context, and someone might eve learn something new seeing it. If anyone else has strong feelings on the matter, they are welcome to change it.
Let me know what you think of the edits and whether the article still needs neutrality adjustments. Joseph Petek (talk) 10:49, 24 November 2013 (UTC)
Awesome, thanks for putting in so much work so quickly! The pictures look great and I think the neutrality changes have improved the article tremendously. I agree that taking those quotes out of the lead helped a lot. I'm happy to pass this article now. Again, fantastic work! --Cerebellum (talk) 14:16, 24 November 2013 (UTC)

Wording changes[edit]

I've changed some of the wording in sections edited by Chjoaygame. Of course, I welcome improvements, and most of the changes were good. I also understand the impulse to make the article more philosophically precise. However, in my view there are places where it was simply becoming too wordy and technical. The article should aim to be understandable to the average reader, not just to people with an advanced degree in philosophy. Hence my change of some of the particularly cumbersome bits. Sometimes such technical language is necessary with Whitehead, but not always. Example: I changed the end of the summary back to describing actual entities as the "final real things that make up reality," rather than the "philosophically ultimately concrete entities that make up reality." I call this example in particular to attention because Whitehead himself used this phrase on page 18 (corrected edition) of PR: "'Actual entities'—also termed 'actual occasions'—are the final real things of which the world is made up." If it's good enough for Whitehead, it's good enough for the article. And in any case, a summary of preceding material should aim to put things in even simpler language than it already has been.

In short, please try to keep things simple and avoid technical language where possible. And if you do end up needing to use words like "ontologically," please hyperlink. Most people have no idea what ontology is.

Also, I did remove the final phrase of the summary which refers to eternal objects. Of course, the information it contained was entirely accurate. However, it seems a bad idea to to throw eternal objects at the reader in a final paragraph summarizing a section in which they were never mentioned. A line that says abstract entities are ingredients to actual entities after a big long section establishing that "abstract" material substances are not the basic building blocks of reality is going to be deeply confusing for the average reader who has no previous familiarity with Whitehead. I invite others to add a section about eternal objects, or somehow work them in to this same section. But a single line at the end without any further explanation isn't going to work.

But seriously, thanks for the thoughtful attention. The page has been languishing on FAC for two weeks now with only one response, so I'm glad people are paying attention. Joseph Petek (talk) 21:39, 27 December 2013 (UTC)

I wasn't paying attention to the candidacy for featured article status, of which I was ignorant. I was just trying to make the article more accurate. You judge that I became too technical for the average reader. On the other hand I judge that it can be misleading to use language that has a more or less ordinary meaning as well as a more or less technical one. I will deal with your edits one by one here below.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Reality as defined by [actual] events, not [material or abstract] substances[edit]

Event is a word used in physics often to refer to point events, with no extent. I suppose physicists never read articles like this one, because they know that philosophy is drivel; just ask one of them. So perhaps we do not need to worry about misleading them. In ordinary language the word event does not have that punctuality. So, though I am uncomfortable with it, I did not try to change it. But it is important to keep in mind that processes are never punctate.

According to Whitehead, processes are substances in the philosophical sense. This makes me unhappy to see it said, in effect, that they are not. The article's words on this matter are mostly in terms of material substances and I thought it would be fair enough to put that in the heading, to make it accurate.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Here I am more concerned with keeping the length of the heading down. While it is true that Whitehead sees processes as substances in one sense, in the ordinary sense of material "substances," he does not. That doesn't need to be specified in the heading. That's what the rest of the section is for. Joseph Petek (talk) 17:55, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
I think that its being in a heading doesn't absolve it from the duty not to mislead. I think the heading is misleading.
Also, I am unhappy with the word event apparently taking priority over the words process and occasion. Physicists think of events as punctual, Whitehead says he thinks of them as nexus. He often speaks of occasions and of processes when referring to actual entities.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:29, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
I think we have a fundamental disagreement about the usage of "event." Whitehead does say on page 73 of PR: "I shall use the term 'event' in the more general sense of a nexus of actual occasions, inter-related in some determinate fashion in one extensive quantum. An actual occasion is the limiting type of an event with only one member." I don't see it as particularly misleading to use the word "event" here since it can refer to actual occasions, or the more macroscopic nexus. Of course, I don't have a physics background, but then most people won't. I suppose it can be changed to "process," but my worry is that people reading it will immediately think, "process of what?" Also, "event" is a clearer and more immediately understandable contrast to "substance." Joseph Petek (talk) 00:37, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
What is the speed of summer lightning?
I can see you have a special preference here. Hmm.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:47, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

is in fact a series of overlapping events[edit]

The phrase 'a series of events' is unhappy. The processes form a continuum in roughly the same sense that the real numbers do so. To reduce a continuum to a series is misleading, and I think seriously misleading.

The use of the phrase 'in fact' here is also unhappy. In ordinary language it is naturally read as condescending, saying that what is ordinary conceived of as a single person is verging on nonsense. But we philosophers know better, and what we know are facts. In Whitehead's language, the final real facts are the occasions of experience. A series of events is not a final real fact.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

For the record, I don't read "in fact" in this context as automatically condescending. To me most of the synonymous phrases are worse. "Properly" by itself seems just as bad or worse. "Philosophically properly" sounds bad simply because it is two "-ly" words in a row.
But I'm okay with changing back to continuum. I've changed it to: "...more accurately described as a continuum..." Again, I'm not sure that "more accurately" is less condescending, but I don't think there's a way to not sound a little condescending when you're saying that everyone's common sense here is wrong... Joseph Petek (talk) 18:12, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
'More accurately' is, as you say, also condescending. You don't like two words ending in -ly in a row. 'More accurately' is two adverbs in a row. What is ordinarily conceived of as a single person is accurately conceived in an ordinary sense. Whitehead's philosophy is philosophy, not ordinary conception. I would be happy to see 'philosophically' without the 'properly'.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:38, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I understand that "more accurately" is two adverbs, my point is that in English two words that end in "-ly" back-to-back just sounds awkward phonetically. But in any case, I'm fine with just "philosophically" here without the "properly." Done. Joseph Petek (talk) 00:12, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Good.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:48, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

they may be regarded logically as atomically distinct from one another[edit]

Perhaps 'atomically' is too technical. But there is a risk that if it is not noted that the distinction is logical, the ordinary reader might read the passage as talking of drops of reality, an error that finds its way even into more or less otherwise reliable sources. Reading this over again I see that there are several more or less pleonastic sentences, which would be better revised.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Actually, I don't particularly object to re-inserting the word "logically" here, except that I think that most people aren't going to see any difference between understanding something as "logically distinct" versus just plain "distinct." To most it just sounds like a pillow word. Perhaps here may actually be a place where a wordier explanation is called for to make it clear for non-philosophy types. Can you think of anything? But I'll re-insert "logically" for now. Joseph Petek (talk) 18:21, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok. I think it wise to insure against a possible misinterpretation that distinct might be read as non-overlapping. I think that misinterpretation is sometimes to be found in the supposedly reliable sources.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:45, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

discrete moments in time[edit]

It is pretty easy to read this as meaning that processes are instantaneous. The word moment is too ambiguous for my liking here. I think it better to make it explicit that a process has a finite duration.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Hmm. Well, you'll notice that I did leave in the bit about overlapping, which means they can't be instantaneous. Mainly I don't like "lapse," which is just not a commonly used word. I'm revising to "But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are the person or thing as particular, discrete events in time – short intervals of time which often overlap with one another." Let me know if you object. Joseph Petek (talk) 18:35, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Now that I look at it again, I see I think it needs revision. The fundamentally real things are not the person. They are the occasions of experience. As a detail, I think that the occasions of experience do not have to be of short duration, though they have to be finite duration. Again I am unhappy with the word events, for the same reason, that it goes against Whitehead's usage.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:50, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I see what you're saying. How about a simple inversion here: "But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are the particular, discrete events in time which together make up the person or thing – short intervals of time which often overlap with one another." Yes? No? Joseph Petek (talk) 00:20, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
What about 'But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are the particular, discrete events that together make up the person or thing, progressively in intervals of time that overlap one another.'?Chjoaygame (talk) 00:55, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Oi, this sentence is getting ridiculous. Let's move the stuff at the end more towards the beginning, shall we, and eliminate that grammatically confusing final clause? We'll even get rid of the "event" that you don't like: "But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are particular, discrete intervals of time that overlap one another and progressively make up the person or thing." Do we have a winner? Joseph Petek (talk) 01:12, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Sorry to find a fly in the ointment: processes have durations in time but are not just intervals of time. What about 'But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are particular processes that overlap one another in time so as to progressively make up the person or thing.'?Chjoaygame (talk) 01:21, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Hmm... I was speaking more of actual occasions rather than processes. And in any case, speaking of processes as "overlapping" seems strange in the sense that we would often think of a process as being continuous. Now you are making me want to go back to "events." Why don't we simply go back to Whitehead's language and use "occasions of experience," like so: "But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are discrete "occasions of experience" that overlap one another in time and progressively make up the person or thing." Joseph Petek (talk) 02:03, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I think Whitehead regards actual occasions as synonymous with processes, and with occasions of experience. Yes, for Whitehead, a process fills a finite spatio-temporal continuum. It is important that such continua overlap, because they are oval, and without overlapping, there would be gaps of nothingness between them. I think it better not to put "occasions of experience" in quotation marks. Then I would be happy with 'But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are discrete occasions of experience that overlap one another in time and progressively make up the person or thing.' Not much has been said about the experience side of things, the emphasis having been on the merely negative exclusion of matter as fundamental. This may make the experience wording a bit of a shock to the reader?Chjoaygame (talk) 15:55, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
The problem you see with the "experience" language being "a bit of a shock to the reader" is part of the reason why I was putting it in quotes – that and the fact that it is Whitehead's own technical language. I am just trying to find the right word here and it is proving difficult. You don't like "event," but that would be my choice in this particular context. I don't like "processes" here being paired with "overlapping." But I think if we did "occasions of experience" with the quotation marks, it would signal what I meant to signal: that it is technical language. If you read just that one sentence by itself, I think it is pretty easy to intuit what "occasion of experience" might mean in the sentence's context, and this way the reader becomes more familiar with Whitehead's own terms. As Whitehead says, "Words and phrases must be stretched towards a generality foreign to their ordinary usage; and however such elements of language be stabilized as technicalities, they remain metaphors mutely appealing for an imaginative leap." I'm just trying to find a way to explain something of the guy's thinking to people who have not the first clue, using relatively simple metaphors that will be as intuitive as possible to the uninitiated. I have my own ideas about the best way to do that, and you have yours. If we find ourselves in disagreement over a phrase, we should probably retreat to Whitehead's own technical language (something I was trying, to some extent at least, to avoid because of its difficulty) while leaving an indication that the language is his, in this case with quotation marks. Then we leave it and hope that readers make the "imaginative leap," which is a tricky jump for someone who has never read Whitehead, no matter what we ultimately decide about this. Joseph Petek (talk) 19:21, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, perhaps it is good to put "occasions of experience" in quotes. It might be better to explicitly say that it is his preferred term. Quotes might not be enough to make that important point quite clear.Chjoaygame (talk) 09:53, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Okay, I've changed it to: But in Whitehead's view, the fundamentally real things are discrete "occasions of experience" (Whitehead's term) that overlap one another in time and progressively make up the person or thing. Joseph Petek (talk) 18:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm driving you crazy. I'm sorry about that. Could we change that to 'Whitehead proposed as the universal single kind of fundamentally real thing the distinct "occasions of experience" that overlap one another in time so as to progressively make up the person or thing.'? Perhaps you don't like 'so as to' for reasons of local English usage. If so, 'and' will do as second best for me.
Teaching Whiteheadian philosophy is not our only duty here. We also have a duty to say why Whitehead is important. I think he makes the big advance of the recent age, the biggest philosophical step since the classical days.
The point is that Whitehead is seeking monism. That is important. If he didn't seek monism, Aristotle's matter and form are good enough; Descartes' res extensa and res cogitans would almost be good enough. It is not reality that is at stake here, so much as monism. That is why I want to say 'the universal single kind of'. Also we have to say Whitehead's name only once in that sentence. I am not asking here to actually mention Aristotle and Descartes.
I don't want to overburden this discussion, but I feel I need to offer a fair justification for my comments. You don't like to talk about form, but it is a word of the ordinary language. Whitehead uses it as such: "In other words, philosophy is explanatory of abstraction, and not of concreteness. It is by reason of their instinctive grasp of this ultimate truth that, in spite of much association with arbitrary fancifulness and atavistic mysticism, types of Platonic philosophy retain their abiding appeal; they seek forms in the facts. Each fact is more than its forms, and each form 'participates' throughout the world of facts. The definiteness of fact is due to its forms; but the individual fact is a creature, and creativity is the ultimate behind all forms, inexplicable by forms, and conditioned by its creatures."Chjoaygame (talk) 23:21, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but here again it seems to me that you are adding words in an attempt to be more precise that end up just overburdening the sentence and making it a real slog for average Joe reader to get through. What real work is "universal single kind" doing here? You see those words as important for establishing Whitehead's monism, but isn't it already understood within the context of the sentence that occasions of experience are the "single" fundamentally real things? Why would he/she assume there was another kind if we have made no mention of another kind?
How about this. Instead of using "universal single kind" let's just insert the far simpler "only" into the existing phrase. I also agree that the parenthetical I added is a bit awkward. I only did it because you had mentioned "it might be better to explicitly say that it is his preferred term," and I couldn't think of a less awkward way to do that. But really, I think it is pretty well-implied by the quotation marks themselves that it is Whitehead's term -- whose else would it be? With these two small changes, we have: "But in Whitehead's view, the only fundamentally real things are discrete "occasions of experience" that overlap one another in time and progressively make up the person or thing."
Other than this, I really think I want to stick with what we have. We have already solved the original problem under this heading, let's not go looking for other ones in this particular sentence, it is doing enough work already.
FYI, I am still thinking on whether to include some discussion of eternal objects in this section, as well as ways to further emphasize causal relations. I will get back to you about those two things soon. I also think you were right to say that there has not been enough emphasis on "experience," and I will look to add at least a sentence of two on that. Joseph Petek (talk) 00:11, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

particularly with regard to language[edit]

I find this phrase to be far too vague. It should be replaced with something more precise or removed, I think.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

I'm leaving it in for now. It is mostly just a transitional phrase into the next paragraph, which begins talking about language immediately. And it is true that Whitehead was much interested in symbolism, and talked of words being "handy." But you can remove it or make it more precise if you object. Joseph Petek (talk) 18:42, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Things as ordinarily conceived change continually or continuously, but actual entities and eternal objects never do. In a sense, the term "core essence" is a straw man. What is objectionable is the idea of a 'unique enduring essence of an actual entity'. Instead of "core essence", what about 'enduring essence'? Instead of 'useful abstraction, particularly with regard to language', what about 'useful way of speaking'?Chjoaygame (talk) 00:05, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I like it. Sounds good to me. Changed. Joseph Petek (talk) 00:41, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

[causally] related processes[edit]

The relation between processes is fundamentally and essentially causal. I think this should be made explicit at this point in the article. The kind of reality that is here meant is the causal kind. Eternal objects can partake of reality as they refer to actual entities, and eternal objects are basic as ingressive into actual entities.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

The problem I have here is that I am worried about people reading absolute determinacy into "causally." That's why I'm not crazy about the word dropped into the ending summary. If the fact that processes are causally related needs to be made more clear, then it should probably be done earlier than here, and also done in such a way that it is clear that there is a fundamental indeterminacy/freedom in all processes and events. Suggestions? Joseph Petek (talk) 20:21, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
I can see how you might be worried about people reading absolute determinacy into causally. But it remains true that causality is one of the essential aspects of creativity. I don't give the priority to the fears about absolute determinacy that some people give them. For me, the main real linkage is causal. The idea of extension is fundamentally based on causality. The ideas of time and space are derivative from the idea of causality. Actual entities are extended. What other linkage comes near it? I am in favour of making that explicit here, to some extent. Perhaps it ought also to be made explicit elsewhere.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:15, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
I do agree that causality is the most important linkage, as you put it. But simply inserting the word "causally" here does in some sense seem to actually exclude other types of relations, which wouldn't do. Like with the eternal objects question, I will examine this more closely in a few days and see if I can't bring in causality earlier, and come up with some phrases that emphasize causality without implying total determinacy, AND don't get too lengthy and unwieldy. A thin line to walk, but I think it can be done... Joseph Petek (talk) 01:03, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok.Chjoaygame (talk) 01:10, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

reality as a process of dynamic "becoming"[edit]

I am unhappy with this phrase. Reality is a high abstraction, while a process is a rock-bottom concrete fact. Some wording is needed to make that clear.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

Changing to "reality as composed of processes of dynamic "becoming." Does that work for you? Joseph Petek (talk) 20:33, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:40, 29 December 2013 (UTC)


This word introduces an idea that deserves a sentence of its own, not just an appendix to another sentence. While you can quote Whitehead's "final real things that make up the world", the wording 'the final real things that make up reality' is not good. The actual entities make up the world in which ordinary things happen, but there are other worlds, for example, the world of my dreams, and the world of football, and the worlds of diverse families of abstractions, such as the world of real numbers. These worlds are more or less real accordingly as they refer to actual entities. I am worried that it is arrogant to seem to say that only the actual entities are real.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

I think you worry unnecessarily here about a distinction between "reality" and "the world" that most readers will never make, but I will change "reality" to "the world." Joseph Petek (talk) 20:35, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok. (Also it was a bit inadequate to say that 'real things make up reality').Chjoaygame (talk) 00:43, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

eternal entities[edit]

You are right that something needs to be said, to forestall an impression that Whitehead does not admit the existence of eternal entities. Their existence is not the of the same kind as that of actual entities, and perhaps some other word than exist should refer to it. But, so far as I know, there is no other ordinary word that does the job, and so, I think, we have to say that abstractions exist in a sense. Something needs to be said about this. You are not happy with a single sentence, I am not happy with nothing.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:27, 28 December 2013 (UTC)

The problem is working eternal objects into the section in a way that doesn't completely disrupt the flow and lose a lot of people. Of course, Whitehead's notion of eternal objects is tied up with God, and that is a big subject to broach in the middle of this section that already covers a lot of difficult concepts and distinctions. My solution has been to simply wait and discuss God, the primordial nature, and the ordering of possibilities in the "God" section, although at the present moment eternal objects are not even explicitly named there, nor given much of a hearing generally. It could stand to be expanded, in any case.
Obviously this is not a perfect solution, and I remain unsure as to whether it is the best one (organizationally speaking). The organization of a simple, easy-to-understand article on Whitehead's basic philosophy is a bear, and that's all there is to it. But I will see if I can re-examine the question of eternal objects over the next week or so and see if I can't find a better way to introduce them without completely throwing the momentum of the section off the rails. In the meantime, if you have any further ideas as to how this might be done, fire away. Joseph Petek (talk) 20:46, 28 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok. Again I am unhappy with 'events'. Also I don't see how "and “identities”" adds to the meaning. Also I like abstractions to be from their sources, not of their sources. Again, I would like to see two sentences here instead of one.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:29, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
For now I have removed "and “identities”" and changed "of" to "from." I will think on this further. Joseph Petek (talk) 00:47, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok.Chjoaygame (talk) 01:12, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

most basic units[edit]

I would prefer 'most basic items' over 'most basic units'. The word item strikes me as more general.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:32, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Fine. Changed. Although I was using "units" partly because Whitehead did: "The philosophy of organism is a cell-theory of actuality. Each ultimate unit of fact is a cell-complex, not analysable into components with equivalent completeness of actuality" (PR 219). Joseph Petek (talk) 00:51, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

logically defining a definite and distinct event[edit]

I went back and read the whole section again, and found that this was the one place that still struck me as being unnecessarily wordy. I'm surprised I hadn't noticed it before. But in any case, I have changed it from "logically defining a definite and distinct event" to simply "a distinct event," particularly since the following sentence (which we've already discussed) is already further qualifying the previous sentence's statements. Joseph Petek (talk) 02:39, 29 December 2013 (UTC)


Yes, it's worth looking again. I would like to suggest the heading 'Reality as composed of creative activity, rather than of matter or form'. The word substance has unnecessary baggage. Aristotle struggled with matter and form as candidates for the title of substance. It might be good here to add form as another candidate, besides matter, that Whitehead rejects as elementary.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:47, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

As I'm sure you must be aware by now, I am particularly picky with headings, and part of the reason why I think you and I are clashing on this one is something that I realize now I haven't stated explicitly. And that is: with this heading, I want it to have some degree of appeal in terms of making a potential reader want to read it, maybe even a little provocative by being contrary to the average reader's "common sense." It also shouldn't repel the reader by being too complicated or too "weird" at the outset. And the terms used should be easily understood and relevant to the reader's life. I am less concerned with philosophical precision of this heading than I am with whether it will convince the reader that what appears below it is worth his or her time to actually slog all the way through. Part of the way it does that is by being ever-so-slightly dramatic. Joseph Petek (talk) 20:50, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
You want people to learn easily, even if they don't want to. As for headings, some editors like them to be short.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
So let me see if I can make my thinking on our choices here as clear as possible.
First, I think the inclusion of "form" here in the heading is really, really not good, because "form" is an archaic term that average people don't take seriously. It has no relevance to their lives at all. They may have heard it in high school philosophy when their teacher was talking about Aristotle (as they were falling asleep or passing notes to their friends), but they care about it not at all. It is a word that 95% of people don't know, don't understand, or don't care about.
"Matter" is better. People know what matter is (or think they do, which for our purposes here will do just as well). In some ways replacing "substance" with "matter" in the current heading wouldn't be so bad. The heading would still be provocative and interesting. But the reason I prefer substance is partly because of the "baggage" you refer to. People know what "substance" means, but it is slightly more remote and more abstract than "matter." And because of this, on a largely unconscious level it is going to be a less objectionable term to tear down in the proceeding text. People are more likely to be stubbornly attached to "matter" as a concept than when the word "substance" is used, no matter that the terms are largely synonymous in this case. Also, it doesn't hurt that substance theory is commonly referred to as, well, "substance theory." Joseph Petek (talk) 20:50, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Matter, form, substance, and creativity are eternal objects. They are a way to introduce that idea.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)Chjoaygame (talk) 00:58, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Moving on. I like "creative activity" for accuracy. I don't particularly like it for the heading here. Think of all the images, feelings, and reactions it might conjure up in someone who has no familiarity with Whitehead, or even any great knowledge of philosophy, physics, or science in general. "Creative activity"? It sounds like poetry, and for that reason alone people will tend to dismiss it. It also doesn't set up a clear and immediately understandable contrast with "substance" or "matter." For all the reader knows, the "activity" is still done by "things" in which case they probably won't grasp the difference clearly, or the fairly monumental nature it. Joseph Petek (talk) 20:50, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that activity is partly objectionable. I felt so as I wrote it. Perhaps creativity, naked, would be better. The word could be made technical right from the start by putting the words 'Whitehead's concept of' in front of it.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Your last phrase here by itself strikes a chord with me. Why don't we just call the section "Whitehead's conception of reality" and have done? It's very general, and so we don't need to haggle over the precise philosophical meaning of it, and yet it is still provocative and dramatic to some degree. Joseph Petek (talk) 03:57, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:16, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Changed. I'm happy to not have to haggle over that one anymore... Joseph Petek (talk) 20:38, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry it feels like haggling.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:23, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Hopefully now you better understand my thinking here. Doesn't mean I'm right, but maybe now you can see why I've been fairly stubborn about maintaining something close to the current formulation: "Reality as defined by events, not substances." Short, simple, clear, provocative. Not as philosophically precise as your formulations, but in my view your formulations stand a higher chance of either actively scaring the reader away or by giving them no good reason to be interested.
Let me know your thought. Joseph Petek (talk) 20:50, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Are we here considering a matter of form versus substance? (Is there a 20¢ fine for that?)Chjoaygame (talk) 00:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Touché. But seriously, it is something one needs to keep in mind, like it or not. All of our debate means nothing if no one actually reads what's been written. I'm not sure if you saw my response yet in the "discrete moments in time" section, but I speak a little more to my goals there. Joseph Petek (talk) 03:57, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Ok.Chjoaygame (talk) 10:16, 30 December 2013 (UTC)

high abstractions[edit]

Saying that Whitehead regards matter and form as "high abstractions" is a technical usage. For us here, it needs softening. Perhaps one could add an explanatory phrase, 'rather than basic elements of reality'? Or what about 'In Whitehead's view, then, as a basic element of the world, neither matter nor form is adequate, because each misses the active and experiential nature of its reality.' The term 'occasion of experience' is a high abstraction, though it refers to many particulars. For the present purpose, what is wrong with matter and form is not that they are abstract concepts but that they are separately inadequate as candidates for the title of 'basic element'.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:47, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

I like it. The only major beef I have here is with "form," for reasons I've already explained above. Otherwise I largely agree. And I like that you've brought in "experiential" earlier with this. However, for reasons I've listed above, I would like for this sentence to also include "substance" so that it easily connects with the previous paragraphs and the heading, and also throws a wink in the direction of matter and substance being somewhat synonymous. I'd also like to include the concept of constant changing in here, or something similar, in order to help the transition into the following sentences. How about: "In Whitehead's view, then, "matter" and/or "substance" are not adequate concepts to describe the basic elements of the world, because each misses the active and experiential nature of these basic elements, and the fact that nothing ever remains exactly the same." Joseph Petek (talk) 20:50, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Eternal objects remain exactly the same for ever.
'In Whitehead's view, then, the classical philosophical concepts do not supply a single ultimately basic kind of element that composes the world. Particularly, Whitehead criticizes the classic concepts of 'substance', 'matter', and 'form'. Each misses the active and experiential nature of the basic elements, and each fails to adequately account for change.'Chjoaygame (talk) 00:47, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Why can't we just replace the final clause in my version with the final clause in your version? "In Whitehead's view, then, "matter" and/or "substance" are not adequate concepts to describe the basic elements of the world, because each misses the active and experiential nature of these basic elements, and each fails to adequately account for change." I still don't want to get into "form," and I don't see the need to say "classical philosophical concepts" followed by the concepts, when we can just name the concepts. Joseph Petek (talk) 03:25, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I proposed to introduce the phrase 'classical philosophical concepts' in order to have a shorthand for those eternal objects, and in order to comfort the reader that we are jettisoning the horrible concepts of old, such as the dreaded form. The purpose of the shorthand is to shorten and simplify the sentences, and to allow reference to eternal objects more or less as such.Chjoaygame (talk) 03:50, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I still do not see the need to mention "form" at all. It's not that readers like or dislike "form," it's that it's so archaic and we're so far past it that people will wonder why we even mention it. It would be like saying that Whitehead's philosophy argues against the idea that the earth is flat. It's been well-established, and no one cares, so why bring it in?
In any case, how about: 'In Whitehead's view, then, concepts such as "substance" and "matter" are problematic. These "classical" concepts fail to adequately account for change, and overlook the active and experiential nature of the most basic elements of the world. They are useful abstractions, but are not the world's basic building blocks.' Joseph Petek (talk) 04:36, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
What about 'classical Greek philosophy analyses in detail but does not finally solve the philosophical problem of accounting for change. Whitehead proposes to advance from it by emphasizing change at the center of his philosophy. He views even human subjective experience as an aspect of change. For this reason, he coins a new philosophical term, the "occasions of experience", for the single completely general kind of basic element of reality in the world.' ?
This could be coupled with removal or rewriting of some sentences with which it overlaps in meaning.
It seems, on reflection, that perhaps I might be suggesting a competitor for 'event'. A process is a change. This stands up even in ordinary language. While actual entities do not change, and are not the subject of change, they are themselves changes, or the sole agents of change. An actual entity is a change from object to superject. "... the notion of an actual entity as the unchanging subject of change is completely abandoned." This means that that an actual entity is not unchanging, though it does not itself change. To be not unchanging, and not to change itself, it must be changing something; it changes the relations of eternal objects. Forms are eternal objects which suffer adventures of changing relations, though again they do not themselves change. Those adventures are created in the actual entities. The word change links the eternal objects to the actual entities, the two categories of existence which "stand out with a certain extreme finality". "The most general sense of the meaning of change is 'the difference between actual occasions in one event.' " Whitehead himself does not explicitly make 'change' one of his special technical terms, but it is I think a suitable ordinary language paraphrase for important ideas that he emphasizes.
I am not actually proposing right now to use the word change, but I think it is worth thinking about.
You do not like to mention form. In a way, it is more or less the culmination of Aristotle's search for what makes things real, almost Aristotle's equivalent of Whitehead's creativity. I don't think it right to think of Aristotle as a non-process philosopher; the interplay of matter and form is an account of processes of change. The problem is that he ends up with two partly competing candidates, matter and form, for the title of general kind of actual entity. A bit like Descartes' two candidates, res extensa and res cogitans. Descartes settles for dualism, but Aristotle struggles to attain monism. Whitehead is a monist. I think "problematic" is diplomatic word, a way of avoiding definiteness. An actual entity is a substance in Whitehead's terms, and I do not like to say that he banishes substance. I admit that I am influenced by the fact that 'substance' is a traditional, even classical, philosophical term of art, as well as a word of the ordinary language that refers to particular kinds of matter.Chjoaygame (talk) 12:06, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Okay, once again, this one is getting out of hand. Your latest proposal for a revision here is about five times as long as what is already there, and no longer even fits in the context of what was being said. First, I didn't have a particular problem with simply adding on the explanatory phrase that you suggested at the very beginning, i.e. "In Whitehead's view, then, "material substances" are high abstractions, rather than basic elements of reality." I would still be plenty happy if we could leave it there. But I instead tried to work with your other suggestion of a more extensive change to the sentence. Now it has snowballed and just keeps getting longer, and we've completely lost the original context.
Look, please do me a favor. Read your last big paragraph (just above) again. Notice that it is not about Whitehead, it is about Aristotle. What you're saying is all well and good, but it does not have bearing on this discussion. You are wanting to bring in a philosophical-historical comparison between Whitehead and Aristotle (when did I say he was "a non-process philosopher"?), and I am saying "why are we so hung up on Aristotle? Why are we so hung up on classical Greek philosophy?" Better to explain Whitehead's philosophy in as simple a way as possible. Can we make interesting comparisons between Whitehead's actual entities, Whitehead's notion of "substance," and Aristotle's matter, form, and substance? Sure we can. We could even bring in Descartes (as you have above). But please, please understand that this philosophical-historical discussion, while interesting, does not need to be here. This article, like most Wikipedia articles, will likely be the first thing that people unfamiliar with Whitehead will read about him, and it will not serve them for the article to get sidetracked with comparisons to Aristotle and Descartes. You keep wanting to insert more and more lengthy and technical information that would be good for a peer-reviewed journal on these specific subjects, but for the average person, making reference to classical Greek philosophy is meaningless, because they don't know it, and here is not the place to teach them. Hence my objection to "form": it is irrelevant to the discussion, because no one today thinks about about reality in terms of matter and form. "Matter" still means something in today's world; "form" does not. So what work is it doing in this sentence/section, other than invoking Aristotle, who we do not need to invoke in an introductory piece? I am not "dissing" Aristotle by not wanting to include "form." I am just trying to stay focused on what is relevant to the general reader.
Please, let's return my latest suggested phrasing. It is longer, but I worked hard at the wording to make it still fit in the context of the sentences before and after. Also, if it is so important for you that we include "form," then fine, we can mention it. Obviously, as you can see above, I still do not understand why we are introducing a term that the average person doesn't understand in the first place and then telling them to immediately forget about it, but I am tired of arguing about this.
You also say "'problematic' is diplomatic word, a way of avoiding definiteness." But what do you think the sentences following are supposed to do? They give the exact reasons why the terms are "problematic," and resolve any indefiniteness. So I really don't see why the word "problematic" is problematic! If the words weren't "problematic" in some sense or other, Whitehead wouldn't have made up new ones.
With these things in mind, please look at this wording again ("form" included): 'In Whitehead's view, then, concepts such as "substance," "matter," and "form" are problematic. These "classical" concepts fail to adequately account for change, and overlook the active and experiential nature of the most basic elements of the world. They are useful abstractions, but are not the world's basic building blocks.'
Please, is this not good enough? Joseph Petek (talk) 21:56, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
I am sorry this is a pain for you. I have partly responded in my above comments today to your comments here. I would point out that "essences" and "accidents" are seriously Aristotelian technicalities, not nearly as much of the ordinary language as 'forms'.
The section begins by saying what Whitehead was replacing. It is inaccurate to portray that replaced scheme as merely restricted to substance materialism. You want to restrict it to that for pedagogical reasons, reasons which are ultimately your own.
What is problematic is not the concepts of substance, matter, and form, as such. They do account pretty well for change. The problem that Whitehead was tackling was that they do not achieve monism.
For the third paragraph now opening "In Whitehead's view, then, ...", you are proposing "In Whitehead's view, then, concepts such as "substance," "matter," and "form" are problematic. These "classical" concepts fail to adequately account for change, and overlook the active and experiential nature of the most basic elements of the world. They are useful abstractions, but are not the world's basic building blocks."
What about re-constructing the beginning of the section as follows?
'Whitehead criticized the classical philosophic schemes based on "substance," "matter," and "form", schemes that persist in ordinary thinking even to the present day. For example, in his 1925 book Science and the Modern World, he wrote that

"There persists ... [a] fixed scientific cosmology which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread through space in a flux of configurations. In itself such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what it does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations which do not spring from the nature of its being. It is this assumption that I call 'scientific materialism.' Also it is an assumption which I shall challenge as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived."[1]

Whitehead observed that those philosophic schemes do not integrate to provide a good account of both inanimate physical processes and of personal subjective experience, in terms of a single universal kind of basic element of reality. He wanted such a single kind, for which he used the term "actual entity". He proposed that what is ordinarily conceived of as a particular person should be described philosophically as a continuum of distinct but overlapping "occasions of experience". These are his actual entities. After all, people change all the time, if only by having more experience.' ?
The rest of the paragraph could be regarded as rather technical, especially the notions of 'society of events' and the fallacy of misplaced concreteness. The above proposal is shorter, and I think more accurate. It can be followed by the present fourth paragraph, that starts "To put it another way, ..."Chjoaygame (talk) 00:39, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
First, as far as "essences" and "accidents" go, "essences" is still very much in common usage. People know what "essence" means. On "accidents" you may be right. "Secondary" could probably work just as well. That's not a change I would object to. And I think you may be right that the "society" sentence could stand to be made less technical. Joseph Petek (talk) 01:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Form is so much part of ordinary language that people no longer even think of it as a philosophical term. 'Essence' is recognized by ordinary people as an ordinary word, but here is it being used as a technical term.Chjoaygame (talk) 02:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
But yet again, as always, my problem with what you've written here is that it is not engaging for the average reader, and uses lots of long technical words strung together.
For instance, look at my first sentence: "Whitehead was convinced that the whole idea of material substances was misleading as a way of describing the ultimate nature of things." It has a hook. It says that matter is "misleading." Already the reader is wondering what it could mean that that matter/substance is misleading as a concept. It is Whitehead clearly challenging some of our most common notions about the world, and so has some drama to compel the reader to continue on. Your sentence starts out by invoking "classical philosophic schemes," i.e. a bunch of guys who have been dead for at least 2,000 years who no average person cares about anyway. You say that they "persist in ordinary thinking even to the present day," but since the emphasis is on "classical philosophical schemes" rather squarely on "material substances," it comes off as "so what"? Joseph Petek (talk) 01:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Your sentence has a hook, but till I think it is misleading because of unbalanced emphasis. In the above comment you provide another hook, better because explicit. Will fix.Chjoaygame (talk) 02:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I do not consider it a "misleading emphasis." It is a starting point that people can understand, nothing more. Further, the statement is simply not inaccurate. Joseph Petek (talk) 21:08, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
And your sentence immediately after the block quote... my goodness. Read it again: "...those philosophic schemes do not integrate to provide a good account of both inanimate physical processes and of personal subjective experience, in terms of a single universal kind of basic element of reality"? It's philosophical gobbledygook. Seriously, it's gibberish to 95% of people. If I said that to my parents, for instance, who do not have degrees in philosophy, they'd have no idea what I was talking about. In fact, even professional philosophers would probably have to read the sentence a second time to get a handle on everything that's going on in there. Joseph Petek (talk) 01:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Will separate sentences.Chjoaygame (talk) 02:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
For most of the words I've italicized in that sentence, it's because they're just plain confusing when used in a big long sequence like that. But further, I've italicized "integrate to" because again I think you're including wholly unnecessary words: why not just "provide a good account"? And I've italicized "philosophic schemes" because, again, people do not care about "philosophic schemes." They care about matter, or substance, because those words have some relevance to their daily lives. When you say "philosophic schemes" instead, they've already forgotten what you're talking about. You are getting rid of words that people can actually relate to and replacing them with phrases like "philosophic schemes" that make them reflexively fall asleep. Joseph Petek (talk) 01:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
'Integrate' tells how the account is not good; that is not wholly unnecessary. If people really don't care about philosophical schemes, they probably won't read about Whitehead anyway. What he offers is primarily a philosophical scheme.Chjoaygame (talk) 02:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
Saying that "If people really don't care about philosophical schemes, they probably won't read about Whitehead anyway" does not excuse using vague and opaque language when simpler language will do. It is an introductory text. Joseph Petek (talk) 21:08, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
If you reread what is in the existing article again, I think you'll find that while the sentences are sometimes long, and sometimes do use technical words, they usually have a single, simple guiding idea (sometimes, rarely, two), and do not stack technical phrases in long series one after another. Joseph Petek (talk) 01:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I still think they tend to mislead.Chjoaygame (talk) 02:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
And I think they do not. Joseph Petek (talk) 21:08, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
What about
'Whitehead challenged some of our most common notions about the world. He proposed that they are misleading remnants of the classical philosophic schemes based on "substance," "matter," and "form". For example, in his 1925 book Science and the Modern World, he wrote that

"There persists ... [a] fixed scientific cosmology which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread through space in a flux of configurations. In itself such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what it does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations which do not spring from the nature of its being. It is this assumption that I call 'scientific materialism.' Also it is an assumption which I shall challenge as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived."[1]

Whitehead observed that those philosophic schemes do not fundamentally reconcile inanimate physical processes with personal subjective experience. For that reconciliation, he sought a single universal kind of basic element of reality. For that, he used the term "actual entity". He proposed that what is ordinarily conceived of as a particular person should be described philosophically as a continuum of distinct but overlapping "occasions of experience". These are his actual entities. After all, people change all the time, if only by having more experience.' ?Chjoaygame (talk) 02:45, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

strategy for high abstractions[edit]

I am beginning to come to my utter wit's end.

Once again, I have no issues whatsoever with what you have written in terms of accuracy. And once again, I think you have nearly zero appreciation for how opaque your writing is to people who do not have philosophy degrees. You know this stuff so well (at least as well, and quite possibly better, than I) that you are blind to what your writing looks like to someone who doesn't already have a background in this area. You assume people know what you're talking about, but fail to adequately explain yourself in terms they have a good chance of understanding.

Let's look at the first sentence you propose above: "Whitehead challenged some of our most common notions about the world." What common notions? You have not said. Furthermore, the second sentence is no help on this score. It says that they are "misleading remnants of the classical philosophic schemes." Vague once again. People do not know what those are, they have no background in philosophy. And when you finally come to things that might serve as solid examples, it turns out they are not examples: these schemes are "based on "substance," "matter," and "form". "Based on"? Apparently Whitehead does not find these terms problematic in any sense, only with the "schemes" that they are "based on," schemes which you have told the reader nothing about. So it turns out that in the first two sentences you have not given any example that regular, non-philosophy people can understand about what Whitehead is objecting to. They only know that he objects to "classical philosophic schemes" about which they neither know anything, nor care about.

By my invocation of "material substance" (or "matter/substance" or just "matter" or just "substance", I don't really care at this point), you accuse me of a "misleading emphasis." You say that: "It is inaccurate to portray that replaced scheme as merely restricted to substance materialism. You want to restrict it to that for pedagogical reasons, reasons which are ultimately your own. What is problematic is not the concepts of substance, matter, and form, as such. They do account pretty well for change. The problem that Whitehead was tackling was that they do not achieve monism." And I would say in response that "the concepts of substance, matter, and form" are problematic for Whitehead, not "as such" but as concepts for pointing to the ultimate building blocks of reality. There is nothing incorrect in saying so. You are worried people will be misled into thinking that Whitehead is criticizing matter "as such." But they cannot be led correctly or misled if they have no idea what is being talked about in the first place. They cannot misunderstand if they do not understand at all. You need to provide a solid example, a way in.

In any case, your apparent solution to this possibility of misleading readers is to not give any examples about what Whitehead objects to at all, just "classical philosophic schemes." If that is all he is objecting to, then why does anyone today care? Pretty much everyone thinks that we've evolved in our understanding of the universe since ancient Greece. So apparently he is just another old, dead white guy who objects to what some really old dead white guys said a long time ago, and we're not even going to make explicit exactly what it was he objected to in the opening sentences.

You have to give an example of a common notion that Whitehead challenged right off the bat, because right now, you're assuming everyone knows what you're talking about when you talk about "challenging common notions." They don't. Hence why I start with "matter" or "substance." If it bothers you to think of it as an emphasis, think of it as an example, or as a starting point. And whatever you want to call it, my statement is not untrue. It is a way to help the reader ease in to extremely difficult material. Look at it again: "Whitehead was convinced that the whole idea of material substances was misleading as a way of describing the ultimate nature of things." Stop thinking about Aristotle. Think about today. Average people are still convinced that the world is constructed of inert "stuff," and Whitehead thought that was wrong. That is all I am trying to get across. If you have better wording to convey this basic idea, I'll gladly listen to it.

Then we get below the block quote, and again with the jargon. "Whitehead observed that those those philosophic schemes do not fundamentally reconcile inanimate physical processes with personal subjective experience"? You really think this is clear? Once again, it's gibberish to 95% of people. Not only that, you're adding unnecessary words again that only add confusion. What work is "fundamentally" doing here? What work is "personal" doing here? And isn't there any plainer language than "inanimate physical processes" (or at the very least, an "i.e." afterwards)? Your next two sentences are then wasted because the first sentence is unclear. The last three sentences are better, although the linkage of the last sentence with the first two is unclear because you do not explain the atomic character of actual entities. My own sentence (the one corresponding to your final sentence here) is longer, but once again brings the reader back to an easily understandable example: a person aging second by second.

You say that I am making the article misleading for "pedagogical reasons, reasons which are ultimately your own." Besides my thinking that this is untrue, you are the opposite extreme: you do not appear to be interested in teaching anyone anything with this entry. Instead, you replace concrete, real-world examples with technical language which you consider more accurate, and who cares if no one without a degree in philosophy can understand it.

The existing paragraphs are fine. They can always be made better, but they are not inaccurate, and have been tailored with the average, everyday reader in mind, the kind of person who knows little or nothing about Whitehead to begin with. I definitely do not think they need to be completely re-written. But if they are to be re-written, then it needs to be done in a way that is not completely obtuse.

For what it's worth, I am still planning on getting back to you about the inclusion of eternal objects, and the greater emphasis on the importance for Whitehead of causal relations and "experience." Probably I would have had something by now, but I was preoccupied by this other discussion we're having, and so haven't gotten to those issues yet. Joseph Petek (talk) 21:08, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

I intended to reply in detail, but as I looked more closely, I saw that instead I should give it a rest.Chjoaygame (talk) 23:28, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I admit that after I wrote all this yesterday, I avoided checking my watchlist or going on Wikipedia at all, because I knew I wasn't up for doing any more of this discussion just then. But please know that regardless of our differences of opinion and my own personal frustration (which I'm aware has shone through quite vividly in my last response to you), I have never doubted your expertise in this area, nor your sincere desire to make this a better article. Nevertheless, I am more happy to give this a rest.
I am still planning on at least minor revisions to address some of the other issues that you brought up and that I've mentioned several times now. I expect that will be in a few days, after I've cleared my head a little. In the mean time, I hope you're doing something fun for New Year's. Joseph Petek (talk) 21:34, 1 January 2014 (UTC)
Thank you for this. Yes, I'll be giving it a rest. Whitehead is hard to present. He said so himself. He said that Process and Reality could hardly make sense if read only once progressively forward. One had to read it as a whole, or some such words. Happy New Year to you too.Chjoaygame (talk) 01:20, 2 January 2014 (UTC)


Even with the word 'overlapping' present in an early sentence, this paragraph could easily eventually be read as saying that non-overlapping events follow one another as non-overlapping intervals of time follow one another, contiguous and just filling their overall epoch. This would be bad. The phrase 'a temporally ordered series' is a problem here. The word 'series' is a worry. The distinction between occasions is logical. That is part of their physically overlapping character. They are not like the intervals between the ticks of a clock, which are physically distinct.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:47, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

I see your concern, but I am less worried by "series," partly because there is indeed an atomic character to actual occasions, a "perpetual perishing," a "satisfaction," the "completion of concrescence." You are worried that "temporally ordered series" will be read too literally. I am worried in the other direction, that the atomic character needs to be emphasized. In this particular case, I only use the word "series" once, and it is a parenthetical appearing after an "i.e.". In other words, it is about as insulated as I can make it while still mentioning it as a possible metaphor to help people make that "imaginative leap." Joseph Petek (talk) 20:50, 29 December 2013 (UTC)
Atomicity is indeed important. It is not an easy one for us, because people are inclined to think that atoms do not overlap. As I see it, an atom cannot be cut exactly into two atoms. People think of material atoms, that do not overlap if they are fermions. People do not usually think of bosons as atoms, because in a sense they always overlap.
The occasions of experience do overlap, but are still atomic. The elements of a series do not overlap. The elements of a continuum can do so, but then usually do not form a series.Chjoaygame (talk) 00:56, 30 December 2013 (UTC)


It seems that the whole paragraph could well be reconstructed.Chjoaygame (talk) 16:47, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Of course it could. The whole section could well be reconstructed.
But let me just add another thought to keep in mind during our discussion here. You said that you seemed to be "driving me crazy." Well, yes, a little bit. But I think I've spotted another reason for this, something that if you keep in mind might lead to me being slightly less frustrated.
You have strong opinions about other concepts to discuss in this section, or things that you feel have been mentioned, but not emphasized enough. And that's fine. But part of what I see you doing -- I believe in an attempt to actually be more polite to me -- is only discussing the relatively few phrases that I had changed after your original edits. Because of this, you are trying to make single sentences or phrases do far more work than they were ever intended to do. Or put another way, you are wanting to put all of your desired new concepts and emphases into these few widely scattered bits that we already have listed on the talk page. That's why some of the sentences we've discussed have become -- or threatened to become -- so much longer.
With respect, I would suggest that rather than keeping a laser-tight focus on the sentences and phrases already listed here, that you instead look at the whole of the existing section and try to add new concepts or entities where they will really fit nicely. For instance, I think there are probably good places in the existing text to further emphasize causal relations and the importance for Whitehead of "experience." But I don't necessarily think they fit in the relatively few sentences that have come up for discussion on this page. Do you think that might be a fair assessment?
Again, just a thought. Joseph Petek (talk) 00:55, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
You are suggesting I add to the section, to incorporate further ideas. I would be wary of doing that. Perhaps reconstruction without lengthening might be better.Chjoaygame (talk) 05:26, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

fallacy of misplaced concreteness[edit]

The fallacy of misplaced concreteness is an important item to be presented, but perhaps it may overload this particular paragraph?Chjoaygame (talk) 16:47, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

Eh. That's why I left it as a parenthetical with a hyperlink. Readers can follow it or not. I think it makes sense to mention here because so much of what is being discussed has to do with the problem of reification. Joseph Petek (talk) 19:25, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

association with Gertrude Stein[edit]

Whitehead spent three-four months with her, wandering the woods of the English countryside, as Stein had been prevented from returning to France during the war. Can't recall right now where I saw the reference for this. I'd have to look it up, but someone else could instead. —Fred114 10:08, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

refer to: The Memoirs of Alice B. Toklas, G. Stein. Whitehead is the british mathematician she refers to....—Fred114 08:27, 11 August 2014 (UTC)

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference AlfredNorth_a was invoked but never defined (see the help page).