The Rehabilitation of Whitehead

An Analytic and Historical Assessment of Process Philosophy

By George R. Lucas Jr.

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy
Paperback : 9780887069895, 280 pages, October 1989
Hardcover : 9780887069888, 280 pages, October 1989

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


I. Systematic Philosophy and the Rehabilitation of Whitehead


Systematic Philosophy of the "Death of Philosophy"
Systematic Philosophy as Public Philosophy
The Relevance of Whitehead
The Rehabilitation of Whitehead


PART ONE: Philosophy Before Whitehead

II. Evolution and the Emergence of Process Metaphysics


On the Advantages and Disadvantages of History for Life
The Structure of Philosophic Revolutions
Evolution and Revolution
German Idealism and Romantic Naturphilosophie
The Convergence of Post-Hegelian Idealism and Later Evolutionary Cosmology


III. Realism, Idealism, and the Development of Whitehead's Philosophy


The Realist Revolt
The Significance of Whitehead's Philosophy
Concluding Summary


PART TWO: Whitehead and the Historical Tradition

IV. Whitehead and Evolutionary Cosmologies


The Importance of Evolutionary Cosmology
Historical Reprise of Evolutionary Cosmology
The Influence of Evolutionary Cosmology on Whitehead
Whitehead's Philosophical Differences from Evolutionary Cosmology
Whitehead's Distinctive Contributions to Speculative Metaphysics vis-a-vis Evolutionary Cosmology


V. Whitehead's Understanding of Kant


Whitehead's Aversion to Idealism
Whitehead and the Problem of Kant
The Misappropriation of Kant
Whitehead's Significant Innovations


VI. Whitehead, Hegel, and the Philosophy of Nature


Whitehead's Theory of Organic Mechanism
Hegel's Philosophy of Nature
The Later Discussion of Nature in Hegel's Encyclopedia


VII. Whitehead and Russell


Some Important Differences
Some Important Similarities
Substantive Philosophical Comparisons


PART THREE: The Future of Process Philosophy

VIII. Analytic and Post-Analytic Themes in Whitehead's Metaphysics


Whitehead's Exclusion from the Philosophic Mainstream
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Logic of Scientific Discovery
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
Possible Worlds
Mind, Body, Agency, and Personal Identity
The Reconception of Experience


IX. Recent Developments in Process Metaphysics


Process Metaphysics and the Problem of Freedom
Freedom and the Problem of Human Agency
Freedom and Enduring Substance
Substance, Causality, and Identity
Theism and Naturalism
The Causal Objectification of the Past
Becoming and Being
The Compositional Analysis of Whitehead's Writings


X. Philosophy of Science and Philosopy of Nature


The Theory of Relativity
Bell's Theorem and Causal Explanations in Quantum Mechanics
David Bohm: Physics and the "Implicate Order"
From Physics to a Systematic Philosophy of Nature


Conclusion: The Future of Philsophy and of Process Philosophy




Lucas treats Whitehead within the framework of major themes in current Anglo-American "analytic" philosophy, viewed against the backdrop of significant historical trends in European and American thought since the Enlightenment. This most misunderstood of twentieth-century philosophers is critically interpreted here.

Whitehead had developed 50 years ago some ideas only now emerging in analytic philosophy. Lucas examines the significance of Whitehead's thought for current epistemology of science, for the anti-foundationalism debate, and more generally, for modal logic, action, theory, philosophical psychology, and the philosophy of mind. He shows how some recent analytic philosophy is now developing ideas concerning language, personal identity, and other topics that are found in Whitehead.

Lucas concludes with recent problems in relativity theory and quantum mechanics, indicating how these bear on the philosophy of science and on the task of forging a comprehensive understanding of nature. He examines the debates concerning Einstein and Whitehead on relativity and analyzes the work of Bohm, Prigogine, and others who have found Whitehead's categories useful for their own success.

Whitehead is shown to be a historical figure of great importance, not an idiosyncratic thinker, isolated along with a few enthusiastic followers from the mainstream of contemporary philosophy. With Russell, Whitehead participated in the same philosophical world that gave rise to analytic philosophy.

George R. Lucas, Jr. , is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Clemson University in South Carolina.


"Lucas' book competently brings Whitehead's philosophy into dialogue with "analytic" philosophy. This is a topic of great originality and considerable potential importance for the field of philosophy. The writing is forceful, concise, and clear. " — George L. Kline, Bryn Mawr College