Religious Psychology of the Western Peoples

Download the PDF of Whitehead’s essay “Religious Psychology of the Western Peoples” here (click the thumbnail/link under “Files”). Note that the 63-page document contains three separate drafts of the same essay.


Video of discussion

Whitehead Reading Group: 2021/02/19, Religious Psychology of the Western Peoples

Background and additional reading on “Religious Psychology of The Western Peoples”

Though the essay is not dated, a handwritten marginal note on page 8 of the first draft has allowed us to date it: “Insert Pick’s two quotations.” “Pick” refers to Edward M. Pickman (1886–1959), a personal friend of Whitehead’s. A letter from Pickman that was also a part of the papers donated by Whitehead’s grandson provides one of the mentioned quotations, and references the second quotation as being found on page 17 of Pickman’s The Mind of Latin Christendom. The letter further identifies the essay as having been delivered to the “Augustinian Society.”

As it happens, Victor Lowe—Whitehead’s biographer—briefly discusses Whitehead delivering this paper in chapter 4 of his Understanding Whitehead, characterizing it as Whitehead’s explanation of “his excessive dislike of St. Paul,” and identifying the date as March 30, 1939.

Another place where Whitehead’s delivery of this essay is discussed is in an extended footnote (note 6) in a 1982 Process Studies article by Paul G. Kuntz. Kuntz describes most of the audience—composed largely of priests—as being “furious” at Whitehead’s address.

Note that the document also contains three handwritten pages of a new essay intended to follow this one. This unfinished addition seems likely to have been intended for inclusion in a future book which Whitehead never completed. A transcription of these three handwritten pages can be found here.