Beyond Metaphysics

Beyond Metaphysics? Explorations in Alfred North Whitehead’s Late Thought


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This volume brings together leading scholars from Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, and Great Britain) and the United States to engage Alfred North Whitehead’s late work. Reflecting on the theme of the volume, “Beyond Metaphysics?”, contributors explore the question of whether Whitehead’s system is completed with Process and Reality, or if instead his metaphysics only comes fully into view in his later works (esp. Adventures of Ideas and  Modes of Thought). The goal is to recognize the differentiation of Whitehead’s thought post Process and Reality and to learn to measure it on its own terms.

That such an initiative bears on the advancement of systematic philosophy is evident. An appraisal of the systemic (metaphysical or otherwise) status of the late works of Whitehead raises fascinating questions about the relationship between categoreal frameworks (like that which occurs in Process and Reality), and the experiential grounding and meaning of systematic generalizations (such as occurs in Adventures of Ideas, Modes of Thought, and other late texts and essays). Whitehead seems to have used his post-Process and Reality work to extend and test the synoptic adequacy of the system, and to revise, through such testing, the contours of the system itself. This speaks to the viability of systematic thinking, and hence systematic philosophy, in an age that has been suspicious of totalizing, foundational, or resolutely final metaphysical visions. That systematic thinking is legitimately comprehensive and holistic while also open to- and perhaps demanding of – ongoing revision, is perhaps one of the greatest legacies of process thought. This volume will explore these possibilities in depth through an international conversation of scholars with a wide variety of intellectual approaches to Whitehead.