The Emergence of Whitehead's Metaphysics, 1925-1929

By Lewis S. Ford

Subjects: Metaphysics
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780873958578, 368 pages, June 1985
Hardcover : 9780873958561, 368 pages, June 1985

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Table of contents


A Note on References

Chapter 1. The Composition of Science and the Modern World


1. Basic Characteristics of the Later Philosophy

2. The Four Layers of Science and the Modern World

3. Endurance and Vibration


Chapter 2. The First Metaphysical Synthesis


1. The Philosophy of Organism


(1) Prehension

(2) Organic Mechanism

(3) Bodily Events


2. Subjectivity and Consciousness in the Harvard Lectures, April, 1925


Chapter 3. The Emergence of Temporal Atomicity


1. The Early Argument

2. Critical Evaluation


Chapter 4. The Chapter on "Abstraction"


1. Eternal Objects, Immanent and Transcendent

2. Anticipations in the Harvard Lectures

3. Metaphysical Criteria, Modes of Ingression, and Grades of Entry

4. The Realm of Possibility

5. Sherburne's Analysis

6. Individual and Relational Essences

7. Abstractive Hierarchies

8. The Superject

9. "Aesthetic Synthesis" and "Superject" in the Later Philosophy

10. Incipient Panpsychism

11. Note on Pythagoreanism


Chapter 5. The Chapter on "God"


1. Whitehead's Monism

2. The Introduction of God

3. The Nature of Religion

4. The Triple Envisagement

5. The Principle of Limitation

6. The Three Forms of Limitation

7. The Ontological Status of God

8. Abstraction vs. Concretion


Chapter 6. Religion in the Making


1. The Metaphysics of Pluralism

2. Religion and Dogma

3. God as a Formative Element

4. Religion in the Making and the Consequent Nature of God

5. Note: Wieman's Development of Whitehead's God


Chapter 7. The Metaphysics of 1926–27


1. The Metaphysics of Fall, 1926

2. The Metaphysical Principles Compared

3. The March, 1927, Propositions


(1) Consciousness

(2) The Act of Experience

(3) Propositions


Chapter 8. The Giffords Draft


1. The Early Contents of Process and Reality


A. The Basic Theory of Extension (IV.2–3, 5)

B. The Original Treatise on Perception (II.4.5–8 + II.8)

C. The Giffords Draft


1. "Speculative Philosophy" (I.1)

2. "Fact and Form" (II.1)

3. "The Extensive Continuum"(II.2)

4. "Locke and Hume" (II.5)

5. "From Descartes to Kant" (II.6)

6. "The Order of Nature" with "Organisms and Environment" (II.3.1–4 + 4.1–4)

7. "Propositions" (II.9)

8. The Original Theory of Concrescence (III.2.2 + )

9. "The Final Interpretation" (Part V, as originally drafted)

10. "Process" (II.10, considered as a half-chapter)


2. Some Distinctive Characteristics of the Giffords Draft

3. Possible Transitions within the Giffords Draft


Chapter 9. The Final Revisions


D. "The Theory of Feelings" (III.1, especially 1.2)

E. The Second Theory of Concrescence (III.2.1–2,4 + 4.1–2)

F. The Remaining Categoreal Conditions (III.3.3–5, 5.8)

G. The Emergence of "Subjective Aim"

H. Intellectual Feelings (III.5)

I. The Consequent Nature of God

J. The Gifford Lectures and Subsequent Additions

K. Strains (II.4.9, IV. 4, 5.1)

L. Hybrid Prehension, Abolition of Reversion, and the Living Person (III.3.2, II.3.5–11)

M. "Coordinate Division" (IV.1)


Chapter 10. Recapitulation


1. Before the Composition of Process and Reality

2. The Composition of Process and Reality


Appendix 1. The Harvard Lectures for 1924–25 (Edited by Jennifer Hamlin von der Luft)

Appendix 2. "Time" (September, 1926)

Appendix 3. The Harvard Lectures for the Fall of 1926

Appendix 4. The Metaphysical Scheme of March, 1927

Appendix 5. The Metaphysical Principles of October, 1927

Appendix 6. The Prospectus for the Gifford Lectures

Index of Proper Names

General Index

Citation Index


A breathtaking detective story, this book charts the adventure of Whitehead's ideas in a remarkably detailed and careful reconstruction of his metaphysical views. Incorporating heretofore unpublished material from students' notes and correspondence, Professor Ford analyzes the order of composition of various portions of Whitehead's books, principally Science and the Modern World, Religion in the Making, and Process and Reality.

Ford's reconstructive method is perfectly tailored to his subject, for Whitehead revised by inserting new material rather than altering or deleting the old. Thus Ford is able to date the sequence of the composition of many passages. In distinguishing these layers of articulation, he has pushed the techniques of "higher criticism" beyond anything the French structuralists and deconstructionists have dreamed of and chronicled an extraordinary intellectual biography.

Lewis S. Ford is Professor of Philosophy at Old Dominion University and author of The Lure of God: Biblical Background for Process Philosophy and over sixty articles in his field. Editor of Process Studies since 1971, he has also edited Two Process Philosophers: Hartshorne's Encounter with Whitehead.


"After Ford's book, we will never be able to read Whitehead in the same way. Ford's bold statement of several crucial shifts in Whitehead's metaphysics will inaugurate a new epoch in Whitehead studies and lead to many systematic suggestions for developing his metaphysics further." — David Griffin

"The scholarship is erudite, original, and compelling. No one henceforth doing a critical study of Whitehead's metaphysics will be able to avoid the force of Ford's arguments." — George Allan