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Modes of Thought

4.5 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0029352106
ISBN-10: 002935210X
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Frequently Bought Together

  • Modes of Thought
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  • Adventures of Ideas
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  • Process and Reality (Gifford Lectures Delivered in the University of Edinburgh During the Session 1927-28)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

An English mathematician and philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead provided the foundation for the shool of thought known as process philosophy. With an academic career that spanned from Cambridge to Harvard, Whitehead wrote extensively on mathematics, metaphysis, and philosophy. He died in Massachusetts in 1947.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 179 pages
  • Publisher: The Free Press (February 1, 1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 002935210X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0029352106
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
For the reader looking for a way into the thought of Alfred North Whitehead, this short volume is the best place to begin. In six lectures delivered toward the end of his career, Whitehead provides a non-technical sketch of the metaphysics and cosmology he had earlier presented in extended and highly technical form in his magnum opus, Process and Reality.
Modes of Thought is not an easy book--for it is highly compressed and sometimes reads like a series of aphorisms. But while this book will likely leave most readers wondering how all these aphorisms hold together, they are individually nearly crystaline in clarity and are wonderfully provocative. Even if one never reads further in Whitehead, engaging this short volume will set one pondering productively. And, if nothing else, one will come away armed with some wonderful philosophical one-liners.
If reading Modes of Thought makes one want to read on, the good way to proceed would be to read Science and the Modern World next followed by Adventures of Ideas and then (and only then) Process and Reality.
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Format: Paperback
Whitehead wrote clearly and simply about some of the most difficult philosophical ideas. This brief book is perfect for anyone who has ever wondered "How do I know what I know?" It is filled with gems such as "The notion of a mere fact is the triumph of the abstractive intellect"; "The whole understanding of the world consists in the analysis of process in terms of the identities and diversities of the individuals involved." Today we know a lot more about the machinery of the mind and the nature of human cognition than he did. But like Darwin who didn't really know how "genes" work, Whitehead saw things that most of us miss. You have to think "on your toes" to read him. But the reward is worth the effort. No one who claims to be an educated person should make such a claim without "reading their Whitehead."
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Format: Paperback
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) was an English mathematician [he is credited as co-writer with Bertrand Russell of Principia Mathematica] and philosopher, best known for developing Process Philosophy. He wrote many other books such as Process and Reality, Modes of Thought, Religion in the Making, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1938 book, “The doctrine dominating these lectures is that factors in our experience are ‘clear and distinct’ in proportion to their variability, provided that they sustain themselves for that moderate period required for importance. The necessities are invariable, and for that reason remain in the background of thought, dimly and vaguely. Thus philosophic truth is to be sought in the presuppositions of language rather than in its express statements. For this reason philosophy is akin to poetry, and both of them seek to express that ultimate good sense which we term civilization.”

He says in the first chapter, “In Western literature there are four great thinkers whose services to civilized thought rest largely upon their achievements in philosophical assemblage; though each of them made important contributions to the structure of philosophical system. These men are Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, and William James.” (Pg. 2)

He suggests, “philosophy must found itself upon the presuppositions and the interpretations of ordinary life.
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Format: Paperback
Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) was an English mathematician [he is credited as co-writer with Bertrand Russell of Principia Mathematica] and philosopher, best known for developing Process Philosophy. He wrote many other books such as Process and Reality, Modes of Thought, Religion in the Making, etc.

He wrote in the Preface to this 1938 book, “The doctrine dominating these lectures is that factors in our experience are ‘clear and distinct’ in proportion to their variability, provided that they sustain themselves for that moderate period required for importance. The necessities are invariable, and for that reason remain in the background of thought, dimly and vaguely. Thus philosophic truth is to be sought in the presuppositions of language rather than in its express statements. For this reason philosophy is akin to poetry, and both of them seek to express that ultimate good sense which we term civilization.”

He says in the first chapter, “In Western literature there are four great thinkers whose services to civilized thought rest largely upon their achievements in philosophical assemblage; though each of them made important contributions to the structure of philosophical system. These men are Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, and William James.” (Pg. 2)

He suggests, “philosophy must found itself upon the presuppositions and the interpretations of ordinary life.
Read more ›
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