'Adventures of Ideas'
By Alfred North Whitehead (Author)
The title of this book, Adventures of Ideas, bears two meanings, both applicable to the subject-matter. One meaning is the effect of certain ideas in promoting the slow drift of mankind towards civilization. This is the Adventure of Ideas in the history of mankind. The other meaning is the author's adventure in framing a speculative scheme of ideas which shall be explanatory of the historical adventure.
One of the most significant philosophers of this century especially in America, Alfred North Whitehead, was of English origin and spent the first part of his life in England where he studied mathematics and philosophy. Later he taught in both Cambridge and London before migrating to America where he was to spend the last part of his life at Harvard University. Whitehead was first attracted to the Catholic Church which, however, he did not enter. In fact, while remaining very much interested in questions of religion throughout his life, he refused to join any organized religious institution. His early works were mostly on mathematics, and it was as a mathematician that he met his student Bertrand Russell and together they wrote the Principia Mathematica which took them until 1910. This major work of logic remains one of the basic texts of this century on the philosophy of mathematics and the relationship between mathematical and formal logic. Whitehead was also very much interested in the foundations of physics and wrote Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge to that end followed by the non- mathematical treatment of physics in The Concept of Nature.
While in America, Whitehead wrote most of his metaphysical works beginning with Science and the Modern World in which he criticized scientific materialism and it was also there that he wrote his Process and Reality which is perhaps his most important work in which he developed the idea of process philosophy, a philosophy which sees the whole of reality as a series of becomings. His last major work Adventures of Ideas summarizes his views on God, humanity and the universe. Whitehead is known not only as the founder of process philosophy but also process theology, and these ideas have had notable influence in America mostly as a result of his famous student Charles Hartshorne, the American philosopher, who propagated Whitehead's teachings after the latter's death.
(Seyyed Hossein Nasr)