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Physical Science and the Philosophy of Organism of A. N. Whitehead

Scully, D. R. (2001). Physical Science and the Philosophy of Organism of A. N. Whitehead. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The Thesis commences by considering Whitehead’s case for enlarging the breadth of the remit for the foundations of a philosophical cosmology, from the narrow abstraction of the single science of physics, to one which includes all the sciences including the social sciences and religion. The case includes Whitehead’s belief that failure to enact these changes will lead to the emasculation o f ‘science’ in its ability to contribute to the production of any philosophical cosmology.

The contribution of broadening the remit will be in the addition of the notion of value, for the new knowledge and understanding will be in terms of our experience of the cosmos, which represents the concrete facts available to us for the formulation of the general principles. Such a step is demonstrated as important in order to establish a ‘provisional realism’ based upon an organological philosophy.

In order to achieve these goals Whitehead’s appeal to metaphysics is be traced as he establishes his ‘world view’. His recourse to metaphysics and an analysis of their nature and development in his philosophy of organism will be found to play a significant role in the development of his philosophy, as metaphysics are utilised in the main task of the philosophy which is recognised as elucidating the concept of nature as it presents itself to us. Whitehead’s method of investigation is based upon speculative philosophy which is a form of philosophical generalisation, and is considered as a means of achieving the aims and goals which Whitehead has set out.

The consequence of Whitehead’s philosophy is seen as putting the world back together after the separation it suffered through the abstractions resulting from earlier scientific philosophical analysis. The dichotomy between mind and matter is removed while descriptions and explanations of life and consciousness are formulated. This is achieved through the construction of Whitehead’s philosophy of organism, the purpose of which is to reinstate purpose and meaning to our philosophical cosmology. As a result the philosophy offers insight into scientific investigations into the reality of the world, where science is part of the social totality which includes an integration of values.

Chapter One of the thesis deals with the scientific and philosophical base from which Whitehead’s analysis commences. Chapter Two is the organological theory itself and Chapter Three is assessment, criticism and discussion derived from the thesis.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
City, University of London (-2022) > School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
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