Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North

English-American Philosopher, Mathematician

Author Quotes

The future is big with every possibility of achievement and of tragedy.

The concept of “God” is the way in which we understand this incredible fact – that what cannot be, yet is.

The deepest definition of youth is, life as yet untouched by tragedy.

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.

Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness.

Religion will not regain its old power until it can face change in the same spirit as does science. Its principles may be eternal, but the expression of those principles requires continual development.

Religion is the vision of something that stands beyond, behind, and within, the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes apprehensions, something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest.

Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.

Religion is tending to degenerate into a decent formula wherewith to embellish a comfortable life.

Periods of tranquility are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.

Ninety percent of our lives is governed by emotion. Our brains merely register and act upon what is telegraphed to them by our bodily experience. Intellect is to emotion as our clothes are to our bodies: we could not very well have civilized life without clothes, but we would be in a poor way if we had only clothes without bodies.

Peace is self-control at its widest - at the width where the “self” has been lost, and the interest has been transferred to coordinations wider than personality.

God is the binding element in the world. The consciousness which is individual in us is universal to Him: the love which is partial in us is all-embracing in Him.

It is the duty of the future to be dangerous.

Evil is the brute motive force of fragmentary purpose, disregarding the eternal vision. Evil is overruling, retarding, hurting. The power of God is the worship He inspires. The worship of God is not a rule of safety – it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable. The death of religion comes with the repression of the high hope of adventure.

Each individual activity is nothing but the mode in which the general activity is individualized by the imposed conditions.

Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilization of knowledge.

Creeds are at once the outcome of speculation and efforts to curb speculation.

Dogmatism is the anti-Christ of learning.

A structure of evolving processes. The reality is the process.

Beyond the logic concerned with things, education must provide the possibility of awakening and cultivating moral aesthetic intuitions. It is the neglect of these higher values that has reduced life to a mere struggle for existence and to the detriment of social and human values in economic and political life.

A race preserves its vigor so long as it harbors a real contrast between what has been and what may be, and so long as it is nerved by the vigor to adventure beyond the safeties of the past. Without adventure, civilization is in full decay.

A philosopher of imposing stature doesn’t think in a vacuum. Even his most abstract ideas are, to some extent, conditioned by what is or what is not known in the time when he lives.

“Quality” is best measured by those who “use” a product rather than by those who make it.

A clash of doctrines is not a disaster – it is an opportunity.

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Alfred North
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English-American Philosopher, Mathematician