Critical Edition Update

Critical Edition of Whitehead 2022 year-end update

The cover of a periodical containing one of Whitehead’s first publications.

It’s the end of another year, and it’s been a productive one for the Critical Edition of Whitehead, though much of that productivity has taken place behind the scenes.


Our biggest public-facing event this year was the September conference on the significance of 2021’s second volume of Harvard lectures (HL2). Fourteen people presented papers, and there were a total of 118 registrants from 22 different countries. Video recordings of the conference proceedings have been made available on the Whitehead Research Project YouTube channel. The quality and quantity of papers was so high that we are pursuing publication of both a special issue of Process Studies focused on HL2, and an edited volume similar to the one on the first volume of Harvard Lectures, Whitehead at Harvard, 1924–1925. The PS issue should appear next year, while the book would likely be late 2023 or early 2024.


We acquired a lot of great new archival material this year, which came primarily from two places. The first was the Royal Society. During our annual search for archival materials this past February, we discovered that they held an unpublished 1899 paper by Whitehead, “Sets of Operations in Relation to Groups of Finite Order,” which had never been seen before except as a two-page abstract. This paper is Whitehead’s original handwritten version, 82 pages long, and the only Whitehead article we possess—apart from a few short obituaries—that is the handwritten original (the others having been lost or destroyed). The Royal Society also held various letters to and from Whitehead, and even referee reports evaluating Whitehead’s work, and referee reports written by Whitehead on the work of others.

The other source of new archival material this year was Johns Hopkins, from their Victor Lowe collection. We’d always known that there was more worthwhile material in Lowe’s papers, but due to budget constraints we had always forgone all but the most crucial pieces of it. This year we finally bit the bullet and hired two students at Johns Hopkins to scan virtually the entire collection for us. That scanning amounted to some 15,000 pages. It will take time to sort through it all, but much of it is Lowe’s correspondence with Whitehead’s friends and acquaintances, as well as his own research notes, but it also included Whitehead’s 1934 Last Will—the one that was actually executed, which had been misfiled—and an original version of the pamphlet “Liberty and the Enfranchisement of Women,” based on a 1906 speech of Whitehead’s.


We continue to make progress on the two volumes of Whitehead’s collected “Essays and Articles.” Much of the editing for the first volume is complete, and it has now officially been contracted with Edinburgh University Press. However, we do not anticipate finishing the manuscript until summer of 2024, due to the math and logic-heavy articles requiring careful review for errors. In the meantime, we have forged ahead in editing the second volume of “Essays and Articles.” Thanks to the generous support of many donors, we have been able to secure all of the rights needed for this project. We anticipate that editing should go more quickly due to the lack of math and logic-heavy articles. Indeed, we actually expect to complete the manuscript for the second volume before the manuscript for the first. EUP is reviewing the proposal now.

New Resource

We are pleased to announce that we are beginning work on a new online resource. The two-volume Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought was published in 2008, aiming to provide thematic and biographical encyclopedia-style entries related to Whitehead and process philosophy generally. It was a majestic publication that was nonetheless underutilized due to its prohibitively expensive $650 price tag. Thanks to the generosity of the original editors, Michel Weber and Will Desmond, and the expiration of the original copyright, we will now publish it as a free, online, peer-reviewed, wiki-like edition in the style of the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. It will be edited by Brian G. Henning and Joseph Petek, and will include all the original entries, plus new ones. We anticipate that this exciting new resource will go live in the first half of next year.


We want to express special thanks to the generous individuals who responded to our appeal for funds to obtain the copyright to the materials that will appear in the Essays and Articles. The ongoing support of the Whitehead scholarly community is greatly appreciated.

We also continue to pursue federal support for our work through the NEH Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant. If funded, the award would provide more than $100,000 for each of three years, starting in 2024. During this three-year period, grant support would be used to transcribe the handwritten materials for the sixth volume of the Harvard Lectures (HL6), edit the third volume (HL3), and transcribe and edit a monograph volume that would include Science and the Modern World, Religion in the Making, and Symbolism. We will know by August 2023 whether our application has been successful.

Lastly, we want to take the time to thank our most generous supporters from the past year:

  • Chesed, Inc.
  • John Buchanan
  • An Anonymous Foundation
  • Nancy Frankenberry
  • George R. Lucas, Jr.

The work of searching for, transcribing, and editing archival materials is time-consuming and costly. If you are able to support our work with a donation, it would be much appreciated. Just follow this link.

Brian Henning, Executive Editor
Critical Edition of Whitehead
Professor of Philosophy,
Gonzaga University
Joseph Petek, Associate Editor
Critical Edition of Whitehead