Date of Award

Spring 1983

Document Type





Alfred North Whitehead had three careers, two in England and one in America. Bom in the village of Kent in 1861, he was educated at Sherbom School and at Trinity College in Cambridge. For twentyfive years he taught mathematics at Trinity. It was here, boo, that Whitehead collaborated with Bertrand Russell on their famed Principia Mathematica, which went to press in 1910. From Trinity he moved to London, eventually becoming associated with the University of London as a member of its faculty of science and later as the dean of this faculty. During these thirteen years at London, he also developed a strong interest in the problems of higher education, being concerned particularly with the impact of modem industrial civilization upon the enterprise of learning. But his major writings while at London represented an attempt to replace Isaac Newton's concept of nature with his own empirically grounded theory. These works on the philosophy of science include his Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Science (1919), The Concept of Nature (1920), and The Principle of Relativity (1922). When Whitehead was sixty-three years old and nearing retirement, he was appointed professor of philosophy at Harvard and embarked upon the third and, in many ways, most important of his careers. To his achievements as a logician, mathematician, and philosopher of science he added his works as a metaphysician, writing at this time his Science and the Modem World (1925), Process and Reality (1929), and Adventures of Ideas (1933). In 1937 Whitehead retired, but continued to live near Harvard Yard until his death in 1947 at the age of eighty-seven.