Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North

English-American Philosopher, Mathematician

Author Quotes

The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them.

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

The recourse to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization.

Once learning is solidified, all is over with it.

Religion will not gain its old power until it can face change in the same spirit as does science.

Life is an offensive directed against the repetitious mechanism of the universe.

Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance, is the death of knowledge.

Fools act on imagination without knowledge, pedants act on knowledge without imagination.

Knowledge is always accompanied with accessories of emotion and purpose.

Your character is developed according to your faith. This is the primary religious truth from which no one can escape.

Almost all new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are first produced.

There persists, however, throughout the whole period the fixed scientific cosmology which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread throughout space in a flux of configurations. In itself such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what is does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations which do not spring from the nature of being. It is this assumption that I call scientific materialism. Also it is an assumption which I shall challenge as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situations at which we have now arrived.

When we consider what religion is for mankind, and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relations between them.

The worship of God is not a rule of safety – it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable.

There is a unity of the body with the environment, as well as a unity of the body and soul into one person.

The Western world is now suffering from the limited moral outlook of the three previous generations. Also the assumption of the bare valuelessness of mere matter led to a lack of reverence in the treatment of natural or aesthetic beauty…

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.

The task of democracy is to relive mass misery and yet preserve the freedom of the individual.

The universe construed solely in terms of efficient causation of purely physical interconnections, presents a sheer, insoluble contradiction.

The secret of success [in education] is pace, and the secret of pace is concentration. But, in respect to precise knowledge, the watchwords is pace, pace, pace. Get your knowledge quickly, and then use it. If you can use it, you will retain it.

The only justification in the use of force is to reduce the amount of force necessary to be used.

The resource to force, however unavoidable, is a disclosure of the failure of civilization, either in the general society or in a remnant of individuals.

The kingdom of heaven is not the isolation of good from evil. It is the overcoming of evil by good. God has in his nature the knowledge of evil, of pain, and of degradation, but it is there as overcome with what is good.

The major advances in civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur. . . . Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.

The folly of intelligent people, clear-headed and narrow-visioned, has precipitated many catastrophes.

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Alfred North
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English-American Philosopher, Mathematician