Critical Edition Update

Critical Edition of Whitehead quarterly update, fall 2020

Fritz Jules Roethlisberger (1898–1974) was a PhD student in philosophy during the 1925–26 academic year, and took extensive notes in Whitehead’s “Philosophy 3b: Philosophy of Science,” which will feature prominently in the upcoming volume of Whitehead’s Harvard Lectures. A year later, he would abandon the degree in philosophy in order to become an assistant in the Business School under Elton Mayo, where he became famous for his work on the Hawthorne experiments. Whitehead’s son, T. North, became a colleague of Roethlisberger when he joined the Harvard Business School in 1931.

The thing presently at the forefront of our minds is once again the second volume of Whitehead’s Harvard Lectures (HL2). We now have the first round of proofs in our hands, and we’re diligently looking through them to make sure that everything is as it should be. The presence of many mathematical/logical symbols makes it especially important that everything be checked very carefully, as such symbols can tend to become corrupted or disappear completely from the text when they are imported into typesetting software that may lack the needed fonts. We will also need to spend a lot of time filling in the appropriate page numbers for internal references, of which there are many! Meanwhile, the same person who compiled the excellent index for HL1 is also working to index HL2. The volume is still scheduled to be published in early 2021.

Consistent with the ethos of 2020, there is some bad news to report on the grants front. After learning in early July that an SSHRC grant had not been funded, we learned in late July that our latest application to the NEH has also not been funded. We were forwarded the evaluations for our grant application in mid-August. Four reviewers wrote evaluations and provided ratings for our proposal; the range of possible ratings was E=Excellent, VG=Very Good, G=Good, SM =Some Merit, N=Not Competitive. We received an “Excellent” rating from three out of four panelists and a “Very Good” from the final panelist. Sadly and discouragingly, this was enough to sink the proposal. Nor is this the first time that we have received top marks from all but one panelist in these applications. We were so close that we are determined to apply once again this year, and are even now working to put the new proposal together.

Despite the lack of grant support, after HL2 is published our plan is to pivot to work on two planned volumes of Whitehead’s “collected papers.” Transcription is all but complete; only a single, long essay remains unfinished, and that one should be done soon. We have begun the process of verifying the remaining essays against their originals in preparation for the later phase of critical editing. While we work on the collected papers, editorial assistants will move on to transcription of student notes slated for a fifth volume of Harvard lectures (transcription of materials for HL3 and HL4 was completed some time ago—six volumes are planned).

Brian Henning, Executive Editor
Critical Edition of Whitehead
Joseph Petek, Assistant Editor
Critical Edition of Whitehead

3 thoughts on “Critical Edition of Whitehead quarterly update, fall 2020

  1. Sending positive thoughts about grants. Sounds like you folks are making significant progress on such a daunting task. Best of luck to you all, and thank you for the hard work you’re doing.
    Thomas Royce

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