A.N.Whitehead

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I keep bumping into references to A.N. Whitehead - usually with warnings about how hard he is to understand!

I wonder if anyone here (maybe Sci) can give me a pointer to something that is reasonably readable.

I read that he produced his own version of GR. From what I have read his GR produces the same physical phenomena but has a different interpretation. I find that interesting, but only at a superficial level because I have had one or two goes at learning GR, and the maths just blows my mind away!

Any thoughts?
(This post was last modified: 2022-01-21, 09:33 PM by David001.)
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This appears to be the book where Whitehead wrote about the topic.

Here's an online article that compares Whitehead's theory with Einstein's. Maybe that's more easily understandable.
https://www.openhorizons.org/whiteheads-...ivity.html
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(2022-01-21, 09:32 PM)David001 Wrote: I wonder if anyone here (maybe Sci) can give me a pointer to something that is reasonably readable.

I've really only looked at Whitehead in relation to the paranormal and survival, in which case Eric Weiss and David Griffin are good sources.

Eric Weiss's stuff is largely free so that helps.

I believe Griffin has one Whitehead book that's free, not sure where I saw that though.

Henry Stapp has also written about Whitehead, there are some papers out there - here's one paper.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


(This post was last modified: 2022-01-25, 10:31 PM by Sciborg_S_Patel. Edited 1 time in total.)
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The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is often a good place to find detailed introductions to various thinkers and schools of thought, both old and new.

Here is their entry on Whitehead:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/whitehead/

And Process Philosophy:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/process-philosophy/

Similarly, the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy has a good introduction here:

https://iep.utm.edu/processp/

The man had an infuriating habit of coining new words and terms to convey his ideas. This, I reckon, is part of what makes him so inscrutable.

As for the maths, I can't help you. I'm a certified dunce on the subject.
Formerly dpdownsouth. Let me dream if I want to.
(This post was last modified: 2022-01-26, 09:17 AM by woethekitty. Edited 4 times in total.)
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(2022-01-21, 09:32 PM)David001 Wrote: I keep bumping into references to A.N. Whitehead - usually with warnings about how hard he is to understand!

I wonder if anyone here (maybe Sci) can give me a pointer to something that is reasonably readable.

I read that he produced his own version of GR. From what I have read his GR produces the same physical phenomena but has a different interpretation. I find that interesting, but only at a superficial level because I have had one or two goes at learning GR, and the maths just blows my mind away!

Any thoughts?

I latched on the Modes of Thought and it was not as hard a read as is Process and Reality.  I still think about how he starts hitting it out of the park in the first lecture (chapter).  The topic is: importance.

Quote:Certainly, one of Whitehead's most accessible works, Modes of Thought introduces a radically new perspective on fundamental metaphysical notions which utterly upends traditional, Western philosophical presuppositions. Starting off by exploring what is truly meant by terms such as "importance", "expression" and "understanding", Whitehead elucidates on profoundly basic yet resounding insights into the very core of thought and metaphysics itself
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2537...of_Thought
(This post was last modified: 2022-01-26, 03:11 PM by stephenw. Edited 1 time in total.)
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(2022-01-26, 03:09 PM)stephenw Wrote: I latched on the Modes of Thought and it was not as hard a read as is Process and Reality.  I still think about how he starts hitting it out of the park in the first lecture (chapter).  The topic is: importance.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2537...of_Thought

Thanks for the tip. I could only find a paperback version of "Modes of Thought", and I generally prefer to read on my Kindle. Anyway, I managed to read the preface of this book using GOOGLE Books.

I can, perhaps understand the slow response to my request, because I found even the preface extremely obscure - though it reminds me in some ways of Bohm's ideas in his "Implicate Order" book.

Since you presumably made some progress with this book, I'd be seriously interested to know what you understand from it.

Meanwhile I am going to read what Eric Weiss' page (linked to by Sci) has to say.

I'm probably out of my depth here.

David

David
(This post was last modified: 2022-01-26, 09:46 PM by David001. Edited 1 time in total.)
Here's the link to the Kindle version of The Principle of Relativity with Applications to Physical Science on Amazon.co.uk if it helps. There's a free sample to read to see if it's worth the £6.85.

Here's a free article by Gibbons and Will called "On the Multiple Deaths of Whitehead's Theory of Gravity":
https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do...1&type=pdf
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(2022-01-26, 09:56 PM)Ninshub Wrote: Here's the link to the Kindle version of The Principle of Relativity with Applications to Physical Science on Amazon.co.uk if it helps. There's a free sample to read to see if it's worth the £6.85.
Thanks for this! To be clear, Kindle prices are generally very low, but like to try to exert the same degree of judgement when buying a Kindle book, as I would when buying a physical book.
Quote:Here's a free article by Gibbons and Will called "On the Multiple Deaths of Whitehead's Theory of Gravity":
https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/do...1&type=pdf

That is interesting - that Whitehead isn't just a reinterpretation of GR, but is inconsistent with it in purely physical ways.

Unfortunately I can't follow the tensor algebra required to discuss this paper further, though I have a hunch that Whitehead himself might have more to say about this if he were still alive.
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(2022-01-26, 09:33 PM)David001 Wrote: Thanks for the tip. I could only find a paperback version of "Modes of Thought", and I generally prefer to read on my Kindle. Anyway, I managed to read the preface of this book using GOOGLE Books.

I can, perhaps understand the slow response to my request, because I found even the preface extremely obscure - though it reminds me in some ways of Bohm's ideas in his "Implicate Order" book.

Since you presumably made some progress with this book, I'd be seriously interested to know what you understand from it.
Some amount of my perspective is from ideas in Whitehead's worldview.  He saw inside the nature of processes, so deeply, as to have a panoramic view.  I have run into a couple of his hills and held on to them in general and simplified versions.

From my point of view ANW had the role of meaningful relations down in his bones.  If one was to model life and what makes it go - detecting important events, signs, future circumstances and dire needs would be a fundamental variable.  They would predict outcomes and drive activity.  Yet in science finds none in inanimate objects.  ANW starts his lecture series with the topic of importance.  How do living things, and especially people ,actively pursue what is important.  Since selection of focus is a critical component of healthy thinking - having a good understanding of the process of the "detection of importance" is a root cause in mental activity.

Where importance is known - willful activity follows. 

In the closing of AN Whitehead's Modes of Thought - I find a quote that adds justification to correspondence theories of truth. and a hint to how information objects are causal in the physical world.

While not being able to comment at all on the equations, I would strongly lean to Whirtehead's view that includes semantic and objective meaning, in a logical way.

Quote: For Whitehead, on the other hand, all measurement is made in the contemporary world in the mode of presentational immediacy. Hence, measurement in Whitehead’s theory is not affected by the contingencies of the physical world, as it is in Einstein’s theory.

The difference between their theories of measurement clarifies the difference in the meaning of simultaneity in Einstein and Whitehead. For Whitehead, simultaneity is defined precisely in terms of presentational immediacy which is given directly in immediate awareness of the contemporary world. For Einstein, simultaneity has only a calculative meaning; measurements of time and space are calculated in the past world along the past-facing light cone and are then projected into the contemporary world. Milic Capek cogently explains why this calculative definition of simultaneity leads to semantic obscurity:
https://www.openhorizons.org/whiteheads-...ivity.html
(This post was last modified: 2022-01-27, 07:05 PM by stephenw. Edited 1 time in total.)
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