Thinking with Whitehead: A Free and Wild Creation of Concepts

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Alfred North Whitehead has never gone out of print, but for a time he was decidedly out of fashion in the English-speaking world. In a splendid work that serves as both introduction and erudite commentary, Isabelle Stengers—one of today’s leading philosophers of science—goes straight to the beating heart of Whitehead’s thought. The product of thirty years’ engagement with the mathematician-philosopher’s entire canon, this volume establishes Whitehead as a daring thinker on par with Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault.

Reading the texts in broadly chronological order while highlighting major works, Stengers deftly unpacks Whitehead’s often complicated language, explaining the seismic shifts in his thinking and showing how he called into question all that philosophers had considered settled after Descartes and Kant. She demonstrates that the implications of Whitehead’s philosophical theories and specialized knowledge of the various sciences come yoked with his innovative, revisionist take on God. Whitehead’s God exists within a specific epistemological realm created by a radically complex and often highly mathematical language.

“To think with Whitehead today,” Stengers writes, “means to sign on in advance to an adventure that will leave none of the terms we normally use as they were.”

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674048034
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2011
  • Pages: 554
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Isabelle Stengers teaches philosophy of science at the Free University of Brussels.

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Table of Contents

Foreword: What Is Given in Experience? Bruno Latour ix

Abbreviations and References xvii

Introduction: Whitehead Today? 1

Part 1 From The Philosophy Of Nature To Metaphysics

1 The Mathematician and the Sunset 31

2 Events and Passage 42

3 The Foothold of the Mind 58

4 There It Is Again 73

5 Attention to Objects 85

6 The Ingression of Scientific Objects 94

7 Interlude: A Pragmatics of Concepts 105

8 Science and the Modern World: A Strange Book 114

9 A New Epoch? 123

10 From the Concept of Nature to the Order of Nature 142

11 Scientific Objects and the Test of the Organism 165

12 The Event from Its Own Standpoint? 185

13 Entry into Metaphysics 201

14 The Great Refusal 218

Part 2 Cosmology

15 Hic Circuli, Hic Saltus 233

16 Thinking under the Constraint of Creativity 254

17 The Risks of Speculative Interpretation 277

18 Feeling One's World 294

19 Justifying Life? 312

20 The Adventure of the Senses 336

21 Actuality between Physics and the Divine 364

22 And They Became Souls 392

23 Modes of Existence, Modes of Thought 423

24 God and the World 449

25 An Adventure of Ideas 479

Conclusion: Word of a Dragon, Word of Trance 503

Index 521

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    It is a reinvention of Whitehead!

    The first warning about this work is that is that it comes with a foreword by Bruno Latour and one almost immediately suspects that Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont ought to review Professor Stenger’s “Thinking with Whitehead”. Even though I spent several years reading Whitehead, I most certainly am not qualified to assess the quality of this work, but I find it elegant and eloquent, comprehensive and coherent in its way like Whitehead himself, but is the sort of work that lacks the clarity and sense of depth one finds in reviews and essays by writers like Thomas Nagel, I think, in part, because Whitehead is an odd bodkin and, perhaps, only someone as odd as he or Professor Stenger can exfoliate his work. I think that I will spend a long time with this exploration of Whitehead but, in the end, I might well agree with the anonymous reviewer here who notes that the book is only slightly less incomprehensible than Whitehead.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 6, 2011

    Thinking, maybe.

    Slightly more incomprehensible than Whitehead himself.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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