The Palgrave Encyclopedia of the Possible

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Alfred North Whitehead

Living reference work entry


Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) was a prominent multidisciplinary figure, whose intellectual interests extended over mathematics, philosophy of science, history of science, education, religion, and metaphysics. The common thread to be found in Whitehead’s work across diversified disciplines is his quest for universal connectedness, which can be found in all his theoretical frameworks. In mathematics, Whitehead pursued a generalized theoretical framework based on symbolic logic, along with Bertrand Russell. In the philosophy of science, Whitehead stated that for a natural phenomenon to exist, space and time must enable interconnection, without falling into the trap of ideal point-like abstractions, and hence of scientific materialism. In the philosophy of education, Whitehead proposed the development of interwoven literary, scientific, and technical curricula, all pointing to the single ultimate subject: life. In religion, Whitehead saw God as both primordial and consequent, giving original input to the process of organic evolution of the universe and then judging its development with benevolence. In metaphysics, Whitehead elected creativity as the ultimate principle, which brings together the multitude of the many into the uniqueness of the ever-transforming one. Importance and expression are, respectively, defined by Whitehead in view of their immanence of the infinitude into the finite and of the finitude into the infinite. Process philosophy is arguably Whitehead’s main contribution, positing a cosmological view on the universe dominated by creativity, potentiality, possibility, connectedness, and teleological value. Whitehead’s legacy is finally briefly discussed with reference to theology, eastern philosophy, quantum physics, sociology, and creativity studies.


Cosmology Creativity Mathematics Metaphysics Philosophy of education Philosophy of organism Philosophy of science Process philosophy Process theology Religion 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DEI-Marconi Institute for CreativityUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.LAPEAUniversité de ParisBoulogne-BillancourtFrance
  3. 3.LAPEA, IFSTTARUniv. Gustave EiffelVersaillesFrance

Section editors and affiliations

  • Izabela Lebuda

There are no affiliations available