eBook di filosofia: A. N. Whitehead, Il processo e la realtà

Whitehead_headshot

Alfred North Whitehead, Il processo e la realtà, Bompiani, 1965

According to Whitehead, every real-life object may then be understood as a similarly constructed series of events and processes. It is this latter idea that Whitehead systematically elaborates in his Process and Reality (1929c), concluding that it is process, rather than substance, that should be taken as the most fundamental metaphysical constituent of the world:

That ‘all things flow’ is the first vague generalization which the unsystematized, barely analysed, intuition of men has produced. … Without doubt, if we are to go back to that ultimate, integral experience, unwarped by the sophistications of theory, that experience whose elucidation is the final aim of philosophy, the flux of things is one ultimate generalization around which we must weave our philosophical system. (1929c, 317)

Underlying Whitehead’s work was also the idea that, if philosophy is to be successful, it must explain the connection between our objective, scientific and logical descriptions of the world and the more everyday world of subjective experience. As Whitehead writes,

Nature is nothing else than the deliverance of sense-awareness. … Our knowledge of nature is an experience of activity (or passage). The things previously observed are active entities, the ‘events.’ They are chunks in the life of nature. (1920, 185)

For this reason it is one of Whitehead’s core beliefs that “We must avoid vicious bifurcation” (1920, 185). In other words, we must avoid dividing the world into separate categories of mind and matter, or into nature as it is apprehended in awareness and nature as the cause of that awareness. As Whitehead explains,

The nature which is the fact apprehended in awareness holds within it the greenness of the trees, the song of the birds, the warmth of the sun, the hardness of the chairs, and the feel of the velvet. The nature which is the cause of awareness is the conjectured system of molecules and electrons which so affects the mind as to produce the awareness of apparent nature. (1920, 31)

Ultimately, says Whitehead, all experience is a part of nature: “We may not pick and choose. For us the red glow of the sunset should be as much part of nature as are the molecules and electric waves by which men of science would explain the phenomenon” (1920, 29; cf. 1929c, Pt 2, Ch. 9, sec. 2)” (tratto da SEP)

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