Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 1 of 4

Alfred North Whitehead
by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
First published Tue May 21, 1996; substantive revision Tue Sep 4, 2018

“There is only one subject matter for education, and that is Life in all its manifestations…You cannot shelter theology from science, or science from theology…we should aim at the integration of science and religion, and turn the impoverishing opposition between the two into an enriching contrast…[If the condition of mutual tolerance is satisfied, then] a clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity…The clash is a sign that there are wider truths and finer perspectives within which a reconciliation of a deeper religion and a more subtle science will be found…our existence is more than a succession of bare facts.”

-- Alfred North Whitehead, by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) was a British mathematician and philosopher best known for his work in mathematical logic and the philosophy of science. In collaboration with Bertrand Russell, he co-authored the landmark three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910, 1912, 1913). Later, he was instrumental in pioneering the approach to metaphysics now known as process philosophy.

Although there are important continuities throughout his career, Whitehead’s intellectual life is often divided into three main periods. The first corresponds roughly to his time at Cambridge from 1884 to 1910. It was during these years that he worked primarily on issues in mathematics and logic. It was also during this time that he collaborated with Russell. The second main period, from 1910 to 1924, corresponds roughly to his time at London. During these years Whitehead concentrated mainly on issues in physics, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of education. The third main period corresponds roughly to his time at Harvard from 1924 onward. It was during this time that he worked primarily on issues in metaphysics.

1. Life and Works

The son of an Anglican clergyman, Whitehead graduated from Cambridge in 1884 and was elected a Fellow of Trinity College that same year. His marriage to Evelyn Wade six years later was largely a happy one and together they had a daughter (Jessie) and two sons (North and Eric). After moving to London, Whitehead served as president of the Aristotelian Society from 1922 to 1923. After moving to Harvard, he was elected to the British Academy in 1931. His moves to both London and Harvard were prompted in part by institutional regulations requiring mandatory retirement, although his resignation from Cambridge was also done partly in protest over how the University had chosen to discipline Andrew Forsyth, a friend and colleague whose affair with a married woman had become something of a local scandal.

In addition to Russell, Whitehead influenced many other students who became equally or more famous than their teacher, examiner or supervisor himself. For example: mathematicians G. H. Hardy and J. E. Littlewood; mathematical physicists Edmund Whittaker, Arthur Eddington, and James Jeans; economist J. M. Keynes; and philosophers Susanne Langer, Nelson Goodman, and Willard van Orman Quine. Whitehead did not, however, inspire any school of thought during his lifetime, and most of his students distanced themselves from parts of his teachings that they considered anachronistic. For example: Whitehead’s conviction that pure mathematics and applied mathematics should not be separated, but cross-fertilize each other, was not shared by Hardy, but seen as a remnant of the fading mixed mathematics tradition; after the birth of the theories of relativity and quantum physics, Whitehead’s method of abstracting some of the basic concepts of mathematical physics from common experiences seemed antiquated compared to Eddington’s method of world building, which aimed at constructing an experiment matching world from mathematical building blocks; when, due to Whitehead’s judgment as one of the examiners, Keynes had to rewrite his fellowship dissertation, Keynes raged against Whitehead, claiming that Whitehead had not bothered to try to understand Keynes’ novel approach to probability; and Whitehead’s main philosophical doctrine—that the world is composed of deeply interdependent processes and events, rather than mostly independent material things or objects—turned out to be largely the opposite of Russell’s doctrine of logical atomism, and his metaphysics was dispelled by the logical positivists from their dream land of pure scientific philosophy.

A short chronology of the major events in Whitehead’s life is below.

1861 Born February 15 in Ramsgate, Isle of Thanet, Kent, England.
1880 Enters Trinity College, Cambridge, with a scholarship in mathematics.
1884 Elected to the Apostles, the elite discussion club founded by Tennyson in the 1820s; graduates with a B.A. in Mathematics; elected a Fellow in Mathematics at Trinity.
1890 Meets Russell; marries Evelyn Wade.
1903 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society as a result of his work on universal algebra, symbolic logic, and the foundations of mathematics.
1910 Resigns from Cambridge and moves to London.
1911 Appointed Lecturer at University College London.
1912 Elected President of both the South-Eastern Mathematical Association and the London branch of the Mathematical Association for the year 1913.
1914 Appointed Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology.
1915 Elected President of the Mathematical Association for the two-year period 1915–1917.
1921 Meets Albert Einstein.
1922 Elected President of the Aristotelian Society for the one-year period 1922–1923.
1924 Appointed Professor of Philosophy at Harvard University.
1931 Elected a Fellow of the British Academy.
1937 Retires from Harvard.
1945 Awarded Order of Merit.
1947 Dies December 30 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA.

More detailed information about Whitehead’s life can be found in the comprehensive two-volume biography A.N. Whitehead: The Man and His Work (1985, 1990) by Victor Lowe and J.B. Schneewind. Paul Schilpp’s The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead (1941) also includes a short autobiographical essay, in addition to providing a comprehensive critical overview of Whitehead’s thought and a detailed bibliography of his writings.

Other helpful introductions to Whitehead’s work include Victor Lowe’s Understanding Whitehead (1962), Stephen Franklin’s Speaking from the Depths (1990), Thomas Hosinski’s Stubborn Fact and Creative Advance (1993), Elizabeth Kraus’ The Metaphysics of Experience (1998), Robert Mesle’s Process-Relational Philosophy (2008), and John Cobb’s Whitehead Word Book (2015). Recommendable for the more advanced Whitehead student are Ivor Leclerc’s Whitehead’s Metaphysics (1958), Wolfe Mays’ The Philosophy of Whitehead (1959), Donald Sherburne’s A Whiteheadian Aesthetics (1961), Charles Hartshorne’s Whitehead’s Philosophy (1972), George Lucas’ The Rehabilitation of Whitehead (1989), David Griffin’s Whitehead’s Radically Different Postmodern Philosophy (2007), and Steven Shaviro’s Without Criteria (2009). For a chronology of Whitehead’s major publications, readers are encouraged to consult the Primary Literature section of the Bibliography below.

Attempts to sum up Whitehead’s life and influence are complicated by the fact that in accordance with his instructions, all his papers were destroyed following his death. As a result, there is no nachlass, except for papers retained by his colleagues and correspondents. Even so, it is instructive to recall the words of the late Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Felix Frankfurter:

From knowledge gained through the years of the personalities who in our day have affected American university life, I have for some time been convinced that no single figure has had such a pervasive influence as the late Professor Alfred North Whitehead. (New York Times, January 8, 1948)

Today Whitehead’s ideas continue to be felt and are revalued in varying degrees in all of the main areas in which he worked. A critical edition of his work is currently in the process of being prepared. A first volume, containing student notes of lectures given by Whitehead at Harvard in the academic year 1924–1925, has already been published by Edinburgh University Press in 2017, and more volumes are on their way.

2. Mathematics and Logic

Whitehead began his academic career at Trinity College, Cambridge where, starting in 1884, he taught for a quarter of a century. In 1890, Russell arrived as a student and during the 1890s the two men came into regular contact with one another. According to Russell,

Whitehead was extraordinarily perfect as a teacher. He took a personal interest in those with whom he had to deal and knew both their strong and their weak points. He would elicit from a pupil the best of which a pupil was capable. He was never repressive, or sarcastic, or superior, or any of the things that inferior teachers like to be. I think that in all the abler young men with whom he came in contact he inspired, as he did in me, a very real and lasting affection. (1956: 104)

By the early 1900s, both Whitehead and Russell had completed books on the foundations of mathematics. Whitehead’s 1898 A Treatise on Universal Algebra had resulted in his election to the Royal Society. Russell’s 1903 The Principles of Mathematics had expanded on several themes initially developed by Whitehead. Russell’s book also represented a decisive break from the neo-Kantian approach to mathematics Russell had developed six years earlier in his Essay on the Foundations of Geometry. Since the research for a proposed second volume of Russell’s Principles overlapped considerably with Whitehead’s own research for a planned second volume of his Universal Algebra, the two men began collaboration on what eventually would become Principia Mathematica (1910, 1912, 1913). According to Whitehead, they initially expected the research to take about a year to complete. In the end, they worked together on the project for a decade.

According to Whitehead—inspired by Hermann Grassmann—mathematics is the study of pattern:

mathematics is concerned with the investigation of patterns of connectedness, in abstraction from the particular relata and the particular modes of connection. (1933 [1967: 153])

In his Treatise on Universal Algebra, Whitehead took a generalized algebra—called ‘universal algebra’—to be the most appropriate tool for this study or investigation, but after meeting Giuseppe Peano during the section devoted to logic at the First International Congress of Philosophy in 1900, Whitehead and Russell became aware of the potential of symbolic logic to become the most appropriate tool to rigorously study mathematical patterns.

With the help of Whitehead, Russell extended Peano’s symbolic logic in order to be able to deal with all types of relations and, consequently, with all the patterns of relatedness that mathematicians study. In his Principles of Mathematics, Russell gave an account of the resulting new symbolic logic of classes and relations—called ‘mathematical logic’—as well as an outline of how to reconstruct all existing mathematics by means of this logic. After that, instead of only being a driving force behind the scenes, Whitehead became the public co-author of Russell of the actual and rigorous reconstruction of mathematics from logic.
Russell often presented this reconstruction—giving rise to the publication of the three Principia Mathematica volumes—as the reduction of mathematics to logic, both qua definitions and qua proofs. And since the 1920s, following Rudolf Carnap, Whitehead and Russell’s project as well as similar reduction-to-logic projects, including the earlier project of Gottlob Frege, are classified under the header of ‘logicism’.

However, Sébastian Gandon has highlighted in his 2012 study Russell’s Unknown Logicism that Russell and Whitehead’s logicism project differed in at least one important respect from Frege’s logicism project. Frege adhered to a radical universalism, and wanted the mathematical content to be entirely determined from within the logical system. Russell and Whitehead, however, took into account the consensus, or took a stance in the ongoing discussions among mathematicians, with respect to the constitutive features of the already existing, ‘pre-logicized’ branches of mathematics, and then evaluated for each branch which of several possible types of relations were best suited to logically reconstruct it, while safeguarding its topic-specific features. Contrary to Frege, Whitehead and Russell tempered their urge for universalism to take into account the topic-specificity of the various mathematical branches, and as a working mathematician, Whitehead was well positioned to compare the pre-logicized mathematics with its reconstruction in the logical system.

For Russell, the logicism project originated from the dream of a rock-solid mathematics, no longer governed by Kantian intuition, but by logical rigor. Hence, the discovery of a devastating paradox—later called ‘Russell’s paradox’—at the heart of mathematical logic was a serious blow for Russell, and kicked off his search for a theory to prevent paradox. He actually came up with several theories, but retained the ramified theory of types in Principia Mathematica. Moreover, the ‘logicizing’ of arithmetic required extra-logical patchwork: the axioms of reducibility, infinity, and choice. None of this patchwork could ultimately satisfy Russell. His original dream evaporated and, looking back later in life, he wrote: “The splendid certainty which I had always hoped to find in mathematics was lost in a bewildering maze” (1959: 157).

Whitehead originally conceived of the logicism project as an improvement upon his algebraic project. Indeed, Whitehead’s transition from the solitary Universal Algebra project to the joint Principia Mathematica project was a transition from universal algebra to mathematical logic as the most appropriate symbolic language to embody mathematical patterns. It entailed a generalization from the embodiment of absolutely abstract patterns by means of algebraic forms of variables to their embodiment by means of propositional functions of real variables. Hardy was quite right in his review of the first volume of Principia Mathematica when he wrote: “mathematics, one may say, is the science of propositional functions” (quoted by Grattan-Guinness 1991: 173).

Whitehead saw mathematical logic as a tool to guide the mathematician’s essential activities of intuiting, articulating, and applying patterns, and he did not aim at replacing mathematical intuition (pattern recognition) with logical rigor. In the latter respect, Whitehead, from the start, was more like Henri Poincaré than Russell (cf. Desmet 2016a). Consequently, the discovery of paradox at the heart of mathematical logic was less of a blow to Whitehead than to Russell and, later in life, now and again, Whitehead simply reversed the Russellian order of generality and importance, writing that “symbolic logic” only represents “a minute fragment” of the possibilities of “the algebraic method” (1947 [1968: 129]).

For a more detailed account of the genesis of Principia Mathematica and Whitehead’s place in the philosophy of mathematics, cf. Smith 1953, Code 1985, Grattan-Guinness 2000 and 2002, Irvine 2009, Bostock 2010, Desmet 2010, N. Griffin et al. 2011, N. Griffin & Linsky 2013.

Following the completion of Principia, Whitehead and Russell began to go their separate ways (cf. Ramsden Eames 1989, Desmet & Weber 2010, Desmet & Rusu 2012). Perhaps inevitably, Russell’s anti-war activities and Whitehead’s loss of his youngest son during World War I led to something of a split between the two men. Nevertheless, the two remained on relatively good terms for the rest of their lives. To his credit, Russell comments in his Autobiography that when it came to their political differences, Whitehead

was more tolerant than I was, and it was much more my fault than his that these differences caused a diminution in the closeness of our friendship. (1956: 100)

3. Physics

Even with the publication of its three volumes, Principia Mathematica was incomplete. For example, the logical reconstruction of the various branches of geometry still needed to be completed and published. In fact, it was Whitehead’s task to do so by producing a fourth Principia Mathematica volume. However, this volume never saw the light of day. What Whitehead did publish were his repeated attempts to logically reconstruct the geometry of space and time, hence extending the logicism project from pure mathematics to applied mathematics or, put differently, from mathematics to physics—an extension which Russell greeted with enthusiasm and saw as an important step in the deployment of his new philosophical method of logical analysis.

At first, Whitehead focused on the geometry of space.

When Whitehead and Russell logicized the concept of number, their starting point was our intuition of equinumerous classes of individuals—for example, our recognition that the class of dwarfs in the fairy tale of Snow White (Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Dopey) and the class of days in a week (from Monday to Sunday) have ‘something’ in common, namely, the something we call ‘seven.’ Then they logically defined (i) classes C and C′ to be equinumerous when there is a one-to-one relation that correlates each of the members of C with one member of C′, and (ii) the number of a class C as the class of all the classes that are equinumerous with C.

When Whitehead logicized the space of physics, his starting point was our intuition of spatial volumes and of how one volume may contain (or extend over) another, giving rise to the (mereo)logical relation of containment (or extension) in the class of volumes, and to the concept of converging series of volumes—think, for example, of a series of Russian dolls, one contained in the other, but idealized to ever smaller dolls. Whitehead made all this rigorous and then, crudely put, defined the points from which to further construct the geometry of space.

There is a striking resemblance between Whitehead’s construction of points and the construction of real numbers by Georg Cantor, who had been one of Whitehead and Russell’s main sources of inspiration next to Peano. Indeed, Whitehead defined points as equivalence classes of converging series of volumes, and Cantor defined real numbers as equivalence classes of converging series of rational numbers. Moreover, because Whitehead’s basic geometrical entities of geometry are not (as in Euclid) extensionless points but volumes, Whitehead can be seen as one of the fathers of point-free geometry; and because Whitehead’s basic geometrical relation is the mereological (or part-whole) relation of extension, he can also be seen as one of the founders of mereology (and even, when we take into account his later work on this topic in part IV of Process and Reality, of mereotopology).

“Last night”, Whitehead wrote to Russell on 3 September 1911,

the idea suddenly flashed on me that time could be treated in exactly the same way as I have now got space (which is a picture of beauty, by the bye). (Unpublished letter kept in The Bertrand Russell Archives at McMaster University)

Shortly after, Whitehead must have learned about Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity (STR) because in a letter to Wildon Carr on 10 July 1912, Russell suggested to the Honorary Secretary of the Aristotelian Society that Whitehead possibly might deliver a paper on the principle of relativity, and added: “I know he has been going into the subject”. Anyhow, in the early years of the second decade of the twentieth century, Whitehead’s interest shifted from the logical reconstruction of the Euclidean space of classical physics to the logical reconstruction of the Minkowskian space-time of the STR.

A first step to go from space to space-time was the replacement of (our intuition of) spatial volumes with (our intuition of) spatio-temporal regions (or events) as the basis of the construction (so that, for example, a point of space-time could be defined as an equivalence class of converging spatio-temporal regions). However, whereas Whitehead had constructed the Euclidean distance based on our intuition of cases of spatial congruence (for example, of two parallel straight line segments being equally long), he now struggled to construct the Minkowskian metric in terms of a concept of spatio-temporal congruence, based on a kind of merger of our intuition of cases of spatial congruence and our intuition of cases of temporal congruence (for example, of two candles taking equally long to burn out).

So, as a second step, Whitehead introduced a second relation in the class of spatio-temporal regions next to the relation of extension, namely, the relation of cogredience, based on our intuition of rest or motion. Whitehead’s use of this relation gave rise to a constant k, which allowed him to merge spatial and temporal congruence, and which appeared in his formula for the metric of space-time. When Whitehead equated k with c2 (the square of the speed of light) his metric became equal to the Minkowskian metric.

Whitehead’s most detailed account of this reconstruction of the Minkowskian space-time of the STR was given in his 1919 book, An Enquiry concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge, but he also offered a less technical account in his 1920 book, The Concept of Nature.

Whitehead first learned about Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity (GTR) in 1916. He admired Einstein’s new mathematical theory of gravitation, but rejected Einstein’s explanation of gravitation for not being coherent with some of our basic intuitions. Einstein explained the gravitational motion of a free mass-particle in the neighborhood of a heavy mass as due to the curvature of space-time caused by this mass. According to Whitehead, the theoretical concept of a contingently curved space-time does not cohere with our measurement practices; they are based on the essential uniformity of the texture of our spatial and temporal intuition.

In general, Whitehead opposed the modern scientist’s attitude of dropping the requirement of coherence with our basic intuitions, and he revolted against the issuing bifurcation of nature into the world of science and that of intuition. In particular, as Einstein’s critic, he set out to give an alternative rendering of the GTR—an alternative that passed not only what Whitehead called “the narrow gauge”, which tests a theory’s empirical adequacy, but also what he called “the broad gauge”, which tests its coherence with our basic intuitions.

In 1920, first in a newspaper article (reprinted in Essays in Science and Philosophy), and then in a lecture (published as Chapter VIII of Concept of Nature), Whitehead made public an outline of his alternative to Einstein’s GTR. In 1921, Whitehead had the opportunity to discuss matters with Einstein himself. And finally, in 1922, Whitehead published a book with a more detailed account of his alternative theory of gravitation (ATG)—The Principle of Relativity.

According to Whitehead, the Maxwell-Lorentz theory of electrodynamics (unlike Einstein’s GTR) could be conceived as coherent with our basic intuitions—even in its four-dimensional format, namely, by elaborating Minkowski’s electromagnetic worldview. Hence, Whitehead developed his ATG in close analogy with the theory of electrodynamics. He replaced Einstein’s geometric explanation with an electrodynamics-like explanation. Whitehead explained the gravitational motion of a free mass-particle as due to a field action determined by retarded wave-potentials propagating in a uniform space-time from the source masses to the free mass-particle.

It is important to stress that Whitehead had no intention of improving the predictive content of Einstein’s GTR, only the explanatory content. However, Whitehead’s replacement of Einstein’s explanation with an alternative explanation entailed a replacement of Einstein’s formulae with alternative formulae; and these different formulae implied different predictions. So it would be incorrect to say that Whitehead’s ATG is empirically equivalent to Einstein’s GTR. What can be claimed, however, is that for a long time Whitehead’s theory was experimentally indistinguishable from Einstein’s theory.

In fact, like Einstein’s GTR, Whitehead’s ATG leads to Newton’s theory of gravitation as a first approximation. Also (as shown by Eddington in 1924 and J. L. Synge in 1952) Einstein’s and Whitehead’s theories of gravitation lead to an identical solution for the problem of determining the gravitational field of a single, static, and spherically symmetric body—the Schwarzschild solution. This implies, for example, that Einstein’s GTR and Whitehead’s ATG lead to the exact same predictions not only with respect to the precession of the perihelion of Mercury and the bending of starlight in the gravitational field of the sun (as already shown by Whitehead in 1922 and William Temple in 1924) but also with respect to the red-shift of the spectral lines of light emitted by atoms in the gravitational field of the sun (contrary to Whitehead’s own conclusion in 1922, which was based on a highly schematized and soon outdated model of the molecule). Moreover (as shown by R. J. Russell and Christoph Wassermann in 1986 and published in 2004) Einstein’s and Whitehead’s theories of gravitation also lead to an identical solution for the problem of determining the gravitational field of a single, rotating, and axially symmetric body—the Kerr solution.

Einstein’s and Whitehead’s predictions become different, however, when considering more than one body. Indeed, Einstein’s equation of gravitation is non-linear while Whitehead’s is linear; and this divergence qua mathematics implies a divergence qua predictions in the case of two or more bodies. For example (as shown by G. L. Clark in 1954) the two theories lead to different predictions with respect to the motion of double stars. The predictive divergence in the case of two bodies, however, is quite small, and until recently experimental techniques were not sufficiently refined to confirm either Einstein’s predictions or Whitehead’s, for example, with respect to double stars. In 2008, based on a precise timing of the pulsar B1913+16 in the Hulse-Taylor binary system, Einstein’s predictions with respect to the motion of double stars were confirmed, and Whitehead’s refuted (by Gary Gibbons and Clifford Will). The important fact from the viewpoint of the philosophy of science is not that, since the 1970s, now and again, a physicist rose to claim the experimental refutation of Whitehead’s ATG, but that for decades it was experimentally indistinguishable from Einstein’s GTR, hence refuting two modern dogmas. First, that theory choice is solely based on empirical facts. Clearly, next to facts, values—especially aesthetic values—are at play as well. Second, that the history of science is a succession of victories over the army of our misleading intuitions, each success of science must be interpreted as a defeat of intuition, and a truth cannot be scientific unless it hurts human intuition. Surely, we can be scientific without taming the authority of our intuition and without engaging in the disastrous race to disenchant nature and humankind.

For a more detailed account of Whitehead’s involvement with Einstein’s STR and GTR, cf. Palter 1960, Von Ranke 1997, Herstein 2006 and Desmet 2011, 2016b, and 2016c.

4. Philosophy of Science

Whitehead’s reconstruction of the space-time of the STR and his ATG make clear (i) that his main methodological requirement in the philosophy of science is that physical theories should cohere with our intuitions of the relatedness of nature (of the relations of extension, congruence, cogredience, causality, etc.), and (ii) that his paradigm of what a theory of physics should be like is the Maxwell-Lorentz theory of electrodynamics. And indeed, in his philosophy of science, Whitehead rejects David Hume’s “sensationalist empiricism” (1929c [1985: 57]) and Isaac Newton’s “scientific materialism” (1926a [1967: 17]). Instead Whitehead promotes (i) a radical empiricist methodology, which relies on our perception, not only of sense data (colors, sounds, smells, etc.) but also of a manifold of natural relations, and (ii) an electrodynamics-like worldview, in which the fundamental concepts are no longer simply located substances or bits of matter, but internally related processes and events.

“Modern physical science”, Whitehead wrote,

is the issue of a coordinated effort, sustained for more than three centuries, to understand those activities of Nature by reason of which the transitions of sense-perception occur. (1934 [2011: 65])

But according to Whitehead, Hume’s sensationalist empiricism has undermined the idea that our perception can reveal those activities, and Newton’s scientific materialism has failed to render his formulae of motion and gravitation intelligible.

Whitehead was dissatisfied with Hume’s reduction of perception to sense perception because, as Hume discovered, pure sense perception reveals a succession of spatial patterns of impressions of color, sound, smell, etc. (a procession of forms of sense data), but it does not reveal any causal relatedness to interpret it (any form of process to render it intelligible). In fact, all “relatedness of nature”, and not only its causal relatedness, was “demolished by Hume’s youthful skepticism” (1922 [2004: 13]) and conceived as the outcome of mere psychological association. Whitehead wrote:

Sense-perception, for all its practical importance, is very superficial in its disclosure of the nature of things. … My quarrel with [Hume] concerns [his] exclusive stress upon sense-perception for the provision of data respecting Nature. Sense-perception does not provide the data in terms of which we interpret it. (1934 [2011: 21])

Whitehead was also dissatisfied with Newton’s scientific materialism,

which presupposes the ultimate fact of an irreducible brute matter, or material, spread through space in a flux of configurations. In itself such a material is senseless, valueless, purposeless. It just does what it does do, following a fixed routine imposed by external relations which do not spring from the nature of its being. (1926a [1967: 17])

Whitehead rejected Newton’s conception of nature as the succession of instants of spatial distribution of bits of matter for two reasons. First: the concept of a “durationless” instant, “without reference to any other instant”, renders unintelligible the concepts of “velocity at an instant” and “momentum at an instant” as well as the equations of motion involving these concepts (1934 [2011: 47]). Second: the concept of self-sufficient and isolated bits of matter, having “the property of simple location in space and time” (1926a [1967: 49]), cannot “give the slightest warrant for the law of gravitation” that Newton postulated (1934 [2011: 34]). Whitehead wrote:

Newton’s methodology for physics was an overwhelming success. But the forces which he introduced left Nature still without meaning or value. In the essence of a material body—in its mass, motion, and shape—there was no reason for the law of gravitation. (1934 [2011: 23])

There is merely a formula for succession. But there is an absence of understandable causation for that formula for that succession. (1934 [2011: 53–54])
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Thu Jun 18, 2020 3:16 am

Part 2 of 4

“Combining Newton and Hume”, Whitehead summarized,

we obtain a barren concept, namely, a field of perception devoid of any data for its own interpretation, and a system of interpretation devoid of any reason for the concurrence of its factors. (1934 [2011: 25])

“Two conclusions”, Whitehead wrote,

are now abundantly clear. One is that sense-perception omits any discrimination of the fundamental activities within Nature. … The second conclusion is the failure of science to endow its formulae for activity with any meaning. (1934 [2011: 65])

The views of Newton and Hume, Whitehead continued, are “gravely defective. They are right as far as they go. But they omit … our intuitive modes of understanding” (1934 [2011: 26]).

In Whitehead’s eyes, however, the development of Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetism constituted an antidote to Newton’s scientific materialism, for it led him to conceive the whole universe as “a field of force—or, in other words, a field of incessant activity” (1934 [2011: 27]). The theory of electromagnetism served Whitehead to overcome Newton’s “fallacy of simple location” (1926a [1967: 49]), that is, the conception of nature as a universe of self-sufficient isolated bits of matter. Indeed, we cannot say of an electromagnetic event that it is

here in space, and here in time, or here in space-time, in a perfectly definite sense which does not require for its explanation any reference to other regions of space-time. (1926a [1967: 49])

The theory of electromagnetism “involves the entire abandonment of the notion that simple location is the primary way in which things are involved in space-time” because it reveals that, “in a certain sense, everything is everywhere at all times” (1926a [1967: 91]). “Long ago”, Whitehead wrote, Faraday already remarked “that in a sense an electric charge is everywhere”, and:

the modification of the electromagnetic field at every point of space at each instant owing to the past history of each electron is another way of stating the same fact. (1920 [1986: 148])

The lesson that Whitehead learned from the theory of electromagnetism is unambiguous:

The fundamental concepts are activity and process. … The notion of self-sufficient isolation is not exemplified in modern physics. There are no essentially self-contained activities within limited regions. … Nature is a theatre for the interrelations of activities. All things change, the activities and their interrelations. … In the place of the procession of [spatial] forms (of externally related bits of matter, modern physics) has substituted the notion of the forms of process. It has thus swept away space and matter, and has substituted the study of the internal relations within a complex state of activity. (1934 [2011: 35–36])

But overcoming Newton was insufficient for Whitehead because Hume “has even robbed us of reason for believing that the past gives any ground for expectation of the future” (1934 [2011: 65]). According to Whitehead,

science conceived as resting on mere sense-perception, with no other sources of observation, is bankrupt, so far as concerns its claims to self-sufficiency. (1934 [2011: 66])

In fact, science conceived as restricting itself to the sensationalist methodology can find neither efficient nor final causality. It “can find no creativity in Nature; it finds mere rules of succession” (1934 [2011: 66]). “The reason for this blindness”, according to Whitehead, “lies in the fact that such science only deals with half of the evidence provided by human experience” (1934 [2011: 66]).

Contrary to Hume, Whitehead held that it is untrue to state that our perception, in which sense perception is only one factor, discloses no causal relatedness. Inspired by the radical empiricism of William James and Henri Bergson, Whitehead gave a new analysis of perception. According to Whitehead, our perception is a symbolic interplay of two pure modes of perception, pure sense perception (which Whitehead ultimately called “perception in the mode of presentational immediacy”), and a more basic perception of causal relatedness (which he called “perception in the mode of causal efficacy”). According to Whitehead, taking into account the whole of our perception instead of only pure sense perception, that is, all perceptual data instead of only Hume’s sense data, implies also taking into account the other half of the evidence, namely, our intuitions of the relatedness of nature, of “the togetherness of things”. He added:

the togetherness of things involves some doctrine of mutual immanence. In some sense or other … each happening is a factor in the nature of every other happening. (1934 [2011: 87])

Hume demolished the relatedness of nature; Whitehead restored it, founded the “doctrine of causation … on the doctrine of immanence”, and wrote: “Each occasion presupposes the antecedent world as active in its own nature. … This is the doctrine of causation” (1934 [2011: 88–89]).

Whitehead also noticed that, in a sense, physicists are even more reductionist than Hume. In practice they rely on sense data, but in theory they abstract from most of the data of our five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch) to focus on the colorless, soundless, odorless, and tasteless mathematical aspects of nature. Consequently, in a worldview inspired not by the actual practices of physicists, but by their theoretical speculations, nature—methodologically stripped from its ‘tertiary’ qualities (esthetical, ethical, and religious values)—is further reduced to the scientific world of ‘primary’ qualities (mathematical quantities and interconnections such as the amplitude, length, and frequency of mathematical waves), and this scientific world is bifurcated from the world of ‘secondary’ qualities (colors, sounds, smells, etc.). Moreover, the former world is supposed, ultimately, to fully explain the latter world (so that, for example, colors end up as being nothing more than electromagnetic wave-frequencies).

Whitehead spoke of the “bifurcation of nature into two systems of reality” (1920 [1986: 30]) to denote the strategy—originating with Galileo, Descartes, Boyle and Locke—of bifurcating nature into the essential reality of primary qualities and the non-essential reality of “psychic additions” or secondary qualities, ultimately to be explained away in terms of primary qualities. Whitehead sided with Berkeley in arguing that the primary/secondary distinction is not tenable (1920 [1986: 43–44]), that all qualities are “in the same boat, to sink or swim together” (1920 [1986: 148]), and that, for example,

the red glow of the sunset should be as much part of nature as are the molecules and electric waves by which men of science would explain the phenomenon. (1920 [1986: 29])

Whitehead described the philosophical outcome of the bifurcation of nature as follows:

The primary qualities are the essential qualities of substances whose spatio-temporal relationships constitute nature. … The occurrences of nature are in some way apprehended by minds … But the mind in apprehending also experiences sensations which, properly speaking, are qualities of the mind alone. These sensations are projected by the mind so as to clothe appropriate bodies in external nature. Thus the bodies are perceived as with qualities which in reality do not belong to them, qualities which in fact are purely the offspring of the mind. Thus nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent: the nightingale for his song: and the sun for his radiance. The poets are entirely mistaken. They should address their lyrics to themselves, and should turn them into odes of self-congratulation on the excellency of the human mind. Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying of material, endlessly, meaninglessly. (1926a [1967: 54])

“The enormous success of the scientific abstractions”, Whitehead wrote, “has foisted onto philosophy the task of accepting them as the most concrete rendering of fact” and, he added:

Thereby, modern philosophy has been ruined. It has oscillated in a complex manner between three extremes. There are the dualists, who accept matter and mind as on an equal basis, and the two varieties of monists, those who put mind inside matter, and those who put matter inside mind. But this juggling with abstractions can never overcome the inherent confusion introduced by the ascription of misplaced concreteness to the scientific scheme. (1926a [1967: 55])

Whitehead’s alternative is fighting “the Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness”—the “error of mistaking the abstract for the concrete”—because “this fallacy is the occasion of great confusion in philosophy” (1926a [1967: 51]). The fallacy of misplaced concreteness is committed each time abstractions are taken as concrete facts, and “more concrete facts” are expressed “under the guise of very abstract logical constructions” (1926a [1967: 50–51]). This fallacy lies at the root of the modern philosophical confusions of scientific materialism and progressive bifurcation of nature. Indeed, the notion of simple location in Newton’s scientific materialism is an instance of the fallacy of misplaced concreteness—it mistakes the abstraction of in essence unrelated bits of matter as the most concrete reality from which to explain the relatedness of nature. And the bifurcating idea that secondary qualities should be explained in terms of primary qualities is also an instance of this fallacy—it mistakes the mathematical abstractions of physics as the most concrete and so-called primary reality from which to explain the so-called secondary reality of colors, sounds, etc.

In light of the rise of electrodynamics, relativity, and quantum mechanics, Whitehead challenged scientific materialism and the bifurcation of nature “as being entirely unsuited to the scientific situation at which we have now arrived”, and he clearly outlined the mission of philosophy as he saw it:

I hold that philosophy is the critic of abstractions. Its function is the double one, first of harmonising them by assigning to them their right relative status as abstractions, and secondly of completing them by direct comparison with more concrete intuitions of the universe, and thereby promoting the formation of more complete schemes of thought. It is in respect to this comparison that the testimony of great poets is of such importance. Their survival is evidence that they express deep intuitions of mankind penetrating into what is universal in concrete fact. Philosophy is not one among the sciences with its own little scheme of abstractions which it works away at perfecting and improving. It is the survey of the sciences, with the special object of their harmony, and of their completion. It brings to this task, not only the evidence of the separate sciences, but also its own appeal to concrete experience. (1926a [1967: 87])

Clearly Whitehead’s philosophy was influenced by electrodynamics and relativity, but is it correct to claim that it was influenced by quantum mechanics? Charles Hartshorne writes:

When Whitehead came to Harvard in 1924 he felt obliged to spend his time reading and teaching philosophy, rather than the theoretical physics he had been teaching in London, after teaching mathematics at Cambridge. Consequently his knowledge of physics began to be out of date. Although he had seen Heisenberg’s famous article of 1927 on the Uncertainty Principle (I know because … I showed it … to Whitehead), there is no evidence that he seriously reacted to the controversy about the “Copenhagen interpretation” … (2010: 28)

Even though Whitehead did not react in his writings to the Copenhagen interpretation, he was up to date with respect to the older quantum mechanics (of Planck, Einstein and Bohr), and his philosophy foreshadows some of its present day interpretations. Whitehead was as familiar with Jeans’ Report on Radiation and the Quantum-Theory (1914) as with Eddington’s Report on the Relativity Theory of Gravitation (1918), and prior to his departure to Harvard, on 12 July 1924, Whitehead chaired a symposium—“The Quantum Theory: How far does it modify the mathematical, the physical, and the psychological concepts of continuity?”—which was part of a joint session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Society. Today, for example, Carlo Rovelli’s relational interpretation of the theory of quantum mechanics is strikingly Whiteheadian:

In the world described by quantum mechanics there is no reality except in the relations between physical systems. It isn’t things that enter into relations but, rather, relations that ground the notion of “thing”. The world of quantum mechanics is not a world of objects: it is a world of events. Things are built by the happenings of elementary events: as the philosopher Nelson Goodman wrote in the 1950s, in a beautiful phrase, “An object is a monotonous process.” A stone is a vibration of quanta that maintains its structure for a while, just as a marine wave maintains its identity for a while before melting again into the sea. … We, like waves and like all objects, are a flux of events; we are processes, for a brief time monotonous … (2017: 115–116)

And Rovelli adds that in the speculative world of quantum gravity:

There is no longer space which contains the world, and no longer time during the course of which events occur. There are elementary processes … continuously interact[ing] with each other. Just as a calm and clear Alpine lake is made up of a rapid dance of a myriad of minuscule water molecules, the illusion of being surrounded by continuous space and time is the product of a long-sighted vision of a dense swarming of elementary processes. (2017: 158)

For more details on Whitehead’s philosophy of science, cf. Hammerschmidt 1947, Lawrence 1956, Bright 1958, Palter 1960, Mays 1977, Fitzgerald 1979, Plamondon 1979, Eastman & Keeton (eds) 2004, Bostock 2010, Athern 2011, Deroo & Leclercq (eds) 2011, Henning et al. (eds) 2013, Segall 2013, McHenry 2015, Desmet 2016d, Eastman & Epperson & Griffin (eds) 2016.

5. Philosophy of Education

While in London, Whitehead became involved in many practical aspects of tertiary education, serving as President of the Mathematical Association, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Chairman of the Academic Council of the Senate at the University of London, Chairman of the Delegacy for Goldsmiths’ College, and several other administrative posts. Many of his essays about education date from this time and appear in his book, The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1929a).

At its core, Whitehead’s philosophy of education emphasizes the idea that a good life is most profitably thought of as an educated or civilized life, two terms which Whitehead often uses interchangeably. As we think, we live. Thus it is only as we improve our thoughts that we improve our lives. The result, says Whitehead, is that “There is only one subject matter for education, and that is Life in all its manifestations” (1929a: 10). This view in turn has corollaries for both the content of education and its method of delivery.

(a) With regard to delivery, Whitehead emphasizes the importance of remembering that a “pupil’s mind is a growing organism … it is not a box to be ruthlessly packed with alien ideas” (1929a: 47). Instead, it is the purpose of education to stimulate and guide each student’s self-development. It is not the job of the educator simply to insert into his students’ minds little chunks of knowledge.

Whitehead conceives of the student’s educational process of self-development as an organic and cyclic process in which each cycle consists of three stages: first the stage of romance, then the stage of precision, and finally, the stage of generalization. The first stage is all about “free exploration, initiated by wonder”, the second about the disciplined “acquirement of technique and detailed knowledge”, and the third about “the free application of what has been learned” (Lowe 1990: 61). These stages, continually recurring in cycles, determine what Whitehead calls “The Rhythm of Education” (cf. 1929a: 24–44). In the context of mathematics, Whitehead’s three stages can be conceived of as the stage of undisciplined intuition, the stage of logical reasoning, and the stage of logically guided intuition. By skipping stage one, and never arriving at stage three, bad math teachers deny students the major motivation to love mathematics: the joy of pattern recognition.

That education does not involve inserting into the student’s mind little chunks of knowledge is clear from the description of culture that Whitehead offers as the opening of the first and title essay of The Aims of Education:

Culture is activity of thought, and receptiveness of beauty and humane feeling. Scraps of information have nothing to do with it. (1929a: 1)

On the contrary, Whitehead writes,

we must beware of what I call ‘inert ideas’—that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combinations, (1929a: 1–2)

and he holds that “education is the acquisition of the art of the [interconnection and] utilization of knowledge” (1929a: 6), and that ideas remain disconnected and non-utilized unless they are related

to that stream, compounded of sense perceptions, feelings, hopes, desires, and of mental activities adjusting thought to thought, which forms our life. (1929a: 4)

This point—the point where Whitehead links the art of education to the stream of experience that forms our life—is the meeting point of Whitehead’s philosophy of education with his philosophy of experience, which is also called: ‘process philosophy.’

According to Whitehead’s process philosophy, the stream of experience that forms our life consists of occasions of experience, each of which is a synthesis of many feelings having objective content (what is felt) and subjective form (how it is felt); also, the synthesis of feelings is not primarily controlled by their objective content, but by their subjective form. According to Whitehead’s philosophy of education, the attempt to educate a person by merely focusing on objective content—on inert ideas, scraps of information, bare knowledge—while disregarding the subjective form or emotional pattern of that person’s experience can never be successful. The art of education has to take into account the subjective receptiveness and appreciation of beauty and human greatness, the subjective emotions of interest, joy and adventure, and “the ultimate motive power” (1929a: 62), that is, the sense of importance, values and possibilities (cf.1929a: 45–65).

(b) With regard to content, Whitehead holds that any adequate education must include a literary component, a scientific component, and a technical component.

According to Whitehead:

Any serious fundamental change in the intellectual outlook of human society must necessarily be followed by an educational revolution. (1929a: 116)

In particular, the scientific revolution and the fundamental changes it entailed in the seventeenth and subsequent centuries have been followed by an educational revolution that was still ongoing in the twentieth century. In 1912, Whitehead wrote:

We are, in fact, in the midst of an educational revolution caused by the dying away of the classical impulse which has dominated European thought since the time of the Renaissance. … What I mean is the loss of that sustained reference to classical literature for the sake of finding in it the expression of our best thoughts on all subjects. … There are three fundamental changes … Science now enters into the very texture of our thoughts … Again, mechanical inventions, which are the product of science, by altering the material possibilities of life, have transformed our industrial system, and thus have changed the very structure of Society. Finally, the idea of the World now means to us the whole round world of human affairs, from the revolutions of China to those of Peru. … The total result of these changes is that the supreme merit of immediate relevance to the full compass of modern life has been lost to classical literature. (1947 [1968: 175–176])

Whitehead listed the scientific and industrial revolutions as well as globalization as the major causes for the educational reforms of the nineteenth and twentieth century. These fundamental changes indeed implied new standards for what counts as genuine knowledge. However, together with these new standards emerged a romantic anxiety—the anxiety that the new standards of genuine knowledge, education, and living might impoverish human experience and damage both individual and social wellbeing. Hence arose the bifurcation of culture into the culture of “natural scientists” and the culture of “literary intellectuals” (cf. Snow 1959), and the many associated debates in the context of various educational reforms—for example, the 1880s debate in Victorian England, when Whitehead was a Cambridge student, between T. H. Huxley, an outspoken champion of science, defending the claims of modern scientific education, and Matthew Arnold, a leading man of letters, defending the claims of classical literary education.

As for Whitehead, in whom the scientific and the romantic spirit merged, one cannot say that he sided with either Huxley or Arnold. He took his distance from those who, motivated by the idea that the sciences embody the ultimate modes of thought, sided with Huxley, but also from those who, motivated by conservatism, that is, by an anachronistic longing for a highly educated upper class and an elitist horror of educational democratization, sided with Arnold (cf. 1947 [1968: 23–24]). Next to not taking a stance in the debate on which is the ultimate mode of thought, the scientific or the literary, hence rejecting the antithesis between scientific and literary education, Whitehead also rejected the antithesis between thought and action (cf. 1947 [1968: 172]) and hence, between a liberal, that is, mainly intellectual and theoretical, education, and a technical, that is, mainly manual and practical, education (cf. 1929a: 66–92). In other words, according to Whitehead, we can identify three instead of two cultures but, moreover, we must refrain from promoting any one of these three at the expense of the other two. He writes:

My point is, that no course of study can claim any position of ideal completeness. Nor are the omitted factors of subordinate importance. The insistence in the Platonic culture on disinterested intellectual appreciation is a psychological error. Action and our implication in the transition of events amid the inevitable bond of cause to effect are fundamental. An education which strives to divorce intellectual or aesthetic life from these fundamental facts carries with it the decadence of civilisation. (1929a: 73)

Disinterested scientific curiosity is a passion for an ordered intellectual vision of the connection of events. But the … intervention of action even in abstract science is often overlooked. No man of science wants merely to know. He acquires knowledge to appease his passion for discovery. He does not discover in order to know, he knows in order to discover. The pleasure which art and sciences can give to toil is the enjoyment which arises from successfully directed intention. (1929a: 74)

The antithesis between a technical and a liberal education is fallacious. There can be no technical education which is not liberal, and no liberal education which is not technical: that is, no education which does not import both technique and intellectual vision. (1929a: 74)

There are three main methods which are required in a national system of education, namely, the literary curriculum, the scientific curriculum, the technical curriculum. But each of these curricula should include the other two … each of these sides … should be illuminated by the others. (1929a: 75)

For more details and an extensive bibliography on Whitehead’s philosophy of education, cf. Part VI of Volume 1 of the Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought (Weber & Desmond 2008: 185–214).
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Part 3 of 4

6. Metaphysics

Facing mandatory retirement in London, and upon being offered an appointment at Harvard, Whitehead moved to the United States in 1924. Given his prior training in mathematics, it was sometimes joked that the first philosophy lectures he ever attended were those he himself delivered in his new role as Professor of Philosophy. As Russell comments, “In England, Whitehead was regarded only as a mathematician, and it was left to America to discover him as a philosopher” (1956: 100).

A year after his arrival, he delivered Harvard’s prestigious Lowell Lectures. The lectures formed the basis for Science and the Modern World (1926). The 1927/28 Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh followed shortly afterwards and resulted in the publication of Whitehead’s most comprehensive (but difficult to penetrate) metaphysical work, Process and Reality (1929c). And in the Preface of the third major work composing his mature metaphysical system, Adventures of Ideas (1933), Whitehead stated:

The three books—Science and The Modern World, Process and Reality, Adventures of Ideas—are an endeavor to express a way of understanding the nature of things, and to point out how that way of understanding is illustrated by … human experience. Each book can be read separately; but they supplement each other’s omissions or compressions. (1933 [1967: vii])

Whitehead’s philosophy of science “has nothing to do with ethics or theology or the theory of aesthetics” (1922 [2004: 4]). Whitehead in his London writings was “excluding any reference to moral or aesthetic values”, even though he was already aware that “the values of nature are perhaps the key to the metaphysical synthesis of existence” (1920 [1986: 5]). Whitehead’s metaphysics, on the contrary, not only take into account science, but also art, morals and religion. Whitehead in his Harvard writings did not exclude anything, but aimed at a “synoptic vision” (1929c [1985: 5]) to which values are indeed the key.

Synoptic Gospels, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke in the New Testament, which present similar narratives of the life and death of Jesus Christ. Since the 1780s the first three books of the New Testament have been called the Synoptic Gospels because they are so similar in structure, content, and wording that they can easily be set side by side to provide a synoptic comparison of their content. (The Gospel According to John has a different arrangement and offers a somewhat different perspective on Christ.) The striking similarities between the first three Gospels prompt questions regarding the actual literary relationship that exists between them. This question, called the Synoptic problem, has been elaborately studied in modern times.

-- Synoptic Gospels, by Encyclopaedia Britannica

In his earlier philosophy of science, Whitehead revolted against the bifurcation of nature into the worlds of primary and secondary qualities, and he promoted the harmonization of the abstractions of mathematical physics with those of Hume’s sensationalist empiricism, as well as the inclusion of more concrete intuitions offered by our perception—our intuitions of causality, extension, cogredience, congruence, color, sound, smell, etc. Closely linked to this completion of the scientific scheme of thought, Whitehead developed a new scientific ontology and a new theory of perception. His scientific ontology...

Ontology is the philosophical study of being. More broadly, it studies concepts that directly relate to being, in particular becoming, existence, reality, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations. Traditionally listed as a part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, ontology often deals with questions concerning what entities exist or may be said to exist and how such entities may be grouped, related within a hierarchy, and subdivided according to similarities and differences.

-- Ontology, by Wikipedia

Oxymoron: derived from the Greek ὀξύς oksús (pointedly foolish), e.g., a deafening silence, harmonious discord, an open secret, the living dead.

is one of internally related events (instead of merely externally related bits of matter). His theory of perception (cf. Symbolism: its Meaning and Effect) holds that our perception is always perception in the mixed mode of symbolic reference, which usually involves a symbolic reference of what is given in the pure mode of presentational immediacy to what is given in the pure mode of causal efficacy:

symbolic reference, though in complex human experience it works both ways, is chiefly to be thought of as the elucidation of percepta in the mode of causal efficacy by … percepta in the mode of presentational immediacy. (1929c [1985: 178])

According to Whitehead, the failure to lay due emphasis on the perceptual mode of causal efficacy implies the danger of reducing the scientific method to Hume’s sensationalist empiricism, and ultimately lies at the basis of the Humean failure to acknowledge the relatedness of nature, especially the causal relatedness of nature. Indeed, “the notion of causation arose because mankind lives amid experiences in the mode of causal efficacy” (1929c [1985: 175]). According to Whitehead, “symbolic reference is the interpretative element in human experience” (1929c [1985: 173]), and “the failure to lay due emphasis on symbolic reference … has reduced the notion of ‘meaning’ to a mystery” (1929c [1985: 168]), and ultimately lies at the basis of Newton’s failure to give meaning to his formulae of motion and gravitation.

In his later metaphysics, Whitehead revolted against the bifurcation of the world into the objective world of facts (as studied by science, even a completed science, and one not limited to physics, but stretching from physics to biology to psychology) and the subjective world of values (aesthetic, ethic, and religious), and he promoted the harmonization of the abstractions of science with those of art, morals, and religion, as well as the inclusion of more concrete intuitions offered by our experience—stretching from our mathematical and physical intuitions to our poetic and mystic intuitions. Closely linked to this completion of the metaphysical scheme of thought (cf. Part I of Process and Reality), Whitehead refined his earlier ontology, and generalized his earlier theory of perception into a theory of feelings. Whitehead’s ultimate ontology—the ontology of ‘the philosophy of organism’ or ‘process philosophy’—is one of internally related organism-like elementary processes (called ‘actual occasions’ or ‘actual entities’) in terms of which he could understand both lifeless nature and nature alive, both matter and mind, both science and religion—“Philosophy”, Whitehead even writes, “attains its chief importance by fusing the two, namely, religion and science, into one rational scheme of thought” (1929c [1985: 15]). His theory of feelings (cf. part III of Process and Reality) claims that not only our perception, but our experience in general is a stream of elementary processes of concrescence (growing together) of many feelings into one—“the many become one, and are increased with one” (1929c [1985: 21])—and that the process of concrescence is not primarily driven by the objective content of the feelings involved (their factuality), but by their subjective form (their valuation, cf. 1929c [1985: 240]).

Whitehead’s ontology cannot be disjoined from his theory of feelings. The actual occasions ontologically constituting our experience are the elementary processes of concrescence of feelings constituting the stream of our experience, and they throw light on the what and the how of all actual occasions, including those that constitute lifeless material things. This amounts to the panexperientialist claim that the intrinsically related elementary constituents of all things in the universe, from stones to human beings, are experiential. Whitehead writes: “each actual entity is a throb of experience” (1929c [1985: 190]) and apart from the experiences of subjects there is nothing, nothing, nothing, bare nothingness (1929c [1985: 167])—an outrageous claim according to some, even when it is made clear that panexperientialism is not the same as panpsychism, because “consciousness presupposes experience, and not experience consciousness” (1929c [1985: 53]).

Panpsychism is the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. The view has a long and venerable history in philosophical traditions of both East and West, and has recently enjoyed a revival in analytic philosophy. For its proponents panpsychism offers an attractive middle way between physicalism on the one hand and dualism on the other. The worry with dualism—the view that mind and matter are fundamentally different kinds of thing—is that it leaves us with a radically disunified picture of nature, and the deep difficulty of understanding how mind and brain interact. And whilst physicalism offers a simple and unified vision of the world, this is arguably at the cost of being unable to give a satisfactory account of the emergence of human and animal consciousness. Panpsychism, strange as it may sound on first hearing, promises a satisfying account of the human mind within a unified conception of nature....

The word “panpsychism” literally means that everything has a mind. However, in contemporary debates it is generally understood as the view that mentality is fundamental and ubiquitous in the natural world. Thus, in conjunction with the widely held assumption (which will be reconsidered below) that fundamental things exist only at the micro-level, panpsychism entails that at least some kinds of micro-level entities have mentality, and that instances of those kinds are found in all things throughout the material universe. So whilst the panpsychist holds that mentality is distributed throughout the natural world—in the sense that all material objects have parts with mental properties—she needn’t hold that literally everything has a mind, e.g., she needn’t hold that a rock has mental properties (just that the rock’s fundamental parts do).

We can distinguish various forms of panpsychism in terms of which aspect of mentality is taken to be fundamental and ubiquitous. Two important characteristics of human minds are thought and consciousness. In terms of these characteristics we can distinguish the following two possible forms of panpsychism:

• Panexperientialism—the view that conscious experience is fundamental and ubiquitous
• Pancognitivism—the view that thought is fundamental and ubiquitous.

According to the definition of consciousness that is dominant in contemporary analytic philosophy, something is conscious just in case there is something that it’s like to be it; that is to say, if it has some kind of experience, no matter how basic.[7] Humans have incredibly rich and complex experience, horses less so, mice less so again. Standardly the panexperientialist holds that this diminishing of the complexity of experience continues down through plants, and through to the basic constituents of reality, perhaps electrons and quarks. If the notion of “having experience” is flexible enough, then the view that an electron has experience—of some extremely basic kind—would seem to be coherent (of course we must distinguish the question of whether it is coherent from the question of whether it is plausible; the latter will depend on the strength of the arguments discussed below).

Thought, in contrast, is a much more sophisticated phenomenon, and many doubt that it is correct to ascribe it to non-human animals, never-mind fundamental particles. The traditional view in analytic philosophy is that thoughts are mental states that can be modelled as psychological attitudes towards specific propositions: believing that Budapest is the capital of Hungary, hoping that war is over, fearing that there will be another Global Financial Crisis. Panpsychism is often caricatured as the view that electrons have hopes and dreams, or that quarks suffer from existential angst. However, whilst there have been some defenders of pancognitivism in history, it is panexperientialist forms of panpsychism that are taken seriously in contemporary analytic philosophy. From now on I will equate panpsychism with panexperientialism.

-- Panpsychism, by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

The relational event ontology that Whitehead developed in his London period might serve to develop a relational interpretation of quantum mechanics, such as Rovelli’s (cf. supra) or one of the many proposed by Whitehead scholars (cf. Stapp 1993 and 2007, Malin 2001, Hättich 2004, Epperson 2004, Epperson & Zafiris 2013). But then this ontology has to take into account the fact that quantum mechanics suggests that reality is not only relational, but also granular (the results of measuring its changes do not form continuous spectra, but spectra of discrete quanta) and indeterminist (physicists cannot predetermine the result of a measurement; they can only calculate for each of the relevant discrete quanta, that is, for each of the possible results of the measurement, the probability that it becomes the actual result).

In Whitehead’s London writings, the granular or atomic nature of the events underlying the abstractions of continuous space-time and continuous electromagnetic and gravitational fields is not made explicit. In his Harvard writings, however, “the mysterious quanta of energy have made their appearance” (1929c [1985: 78]), “the ultimate metaphysical truth is atomism” (1929c [1985: 35]), and events are seen as networks (or ‘societies’) of elementary and atomic events, called ‘actual occasions’ or ‘actual entities.’ Whitehead writes:

I shall use the term ‘event’ in the more general sense of a nexus of actual occasions … An actual occasion is the limiting type of an event with only one member. (1929c [1985: 73])

Each actual occasion determines a quantum of extension—“the atomized quantum of extension correlative to the actual entity” (1929c [1985: 73])—and it is by means of the relation of extensive connection in the class of the regions constituted by these quanta that Whitehead attempted to improve upon his earlier construction of space-time (cf. Part IV of Process and Reality).

The atomicity of events in quantum mechanics dovetails with the atomicity of the stream of experience as conceived by William James, hence reinforcing Whitehead’s claim that each actual entity is an elementary process of experience. Whitehead writes:

The authority of William James can be quoted in support of this conclusion. He writes: “Either your experience is of no content, of no change, or it is of a perceptible amount of content or change. Your acquaintance with reality grows literally by buds or drops of perception. Intellectually and on reflection you can divide these into components, but as immediately given, they come totally or not at all”. (1929c [1985: 68])

Whitehead’s conclusion reads: “actual entities are drops of experience, complex and interdependent” (1929c [1985: 18]), and he expresses that reality grows by drops, which together form the extensive continuum, by writing: “extensiveness becomes, but ‘becoming is not itself extensive”, and “there is a becoming of continuity, but no continuity of becoming” (1929c [1985: 35]).

The “drop theory” as an expression of androgyny

Let us now following the act of destruction examine the inner act of creation in the mystic body of the yogi as it is described in the various tantras, especially the Kalachakra Tantra. We have already considered the event where the “fire woman” (candali) reaches the inner roof of the yogi’s skull and melts the bodhicitta (semen) there. This latter is symbolically linked with water and the moon. Its descent is therefore also known as the “way of the moon”, whilst the ascent of the candali goes by the name of the “sun way”. The bodhicitta is also called bindu, which means ‘point’, ‘nil’, ‘zero’, or ‘drop’. According to the doctrine, all the forces of pure consciousness are collected and condensed into this “drop”, in it the “nuclear energy of the microcosm” is concentrated (Grönbold, Asiatische Studien, p. 33).

After the channels and chakras have been cleansed by the fire of the candali, the bodhicitta can flow down the avadhuti (the middle channel) unrestricted. At the same time this extinguishes the fire set by the “fire woman”. Since she is assigned the sun and the “drops of semen” the masculine moon, the lunar forces now destroy the solar ones. But nevertheless at the heart of the matter nothing has been changed through this, since the descent of the “drop”, even though it involves a reversal of the traditional symbolic correspondence, is, as always in the Buddhist tantras, a matter of a victory of the god over the goddess.

Step by step the semen flows down the central channel, pausing briefly in the various lotus centers and producing a feeling of bliss there, until it comes to rest in the tip of the aroused penis. The ecstatic sensations which this progress evokes have been cataloged as “the four joys”. [2]

This descending joy gradually increases and culminates at the end in an indescribable pleasure: “millions upon millions of times more than the normal emission [of semen]" (Naropa, 1994, p. 74). In the Kalachakra Tantra the fixation of orgiastic pleasure which can be attributed to the retention of semen is termed the “unspilled joy” or the “highest immovable” (Naropa, 1994, p. 304, 351).

This “happiness in the fixed” is in stark opposition to the “turbulent” and sometimes “wild” sex which the yogi performs for erotic stimulation at the beginning of the ritual with his partner. It is an element of tantric doctrine that the “fixed” controls the “turbulent”. For this reason, no thangka can fail to feature a Buddha or Bodhisattva who as a non-involved observer emotionlessly regards the animated yab–yum scenes (of sexual union) depicted or impassively lets these pass him by, no matter how turbulent and racy they may be. We also do not know of a single illustration of a sexually aroused couple in the tantric iconography which is not counterbalanced by a third figure who sits in the lotus posture and observes the copulation in total calm. This is usually a small Buddha above the erotic scene. He is, despite his inconspicuousness the actual controlling instance in the sexual magic play — the cold, indifferent, serene, calculating, and mysteriously smiling voyeur of hot loving passions.

The orgiastic ecstasy must at any price be fixed in the mystic body of the adept, he may never squander his masculine force, otherwise the terrible punishments of hell await him. “There exists no greater sin than the loss of pleasure”, we can read in the Kalachakra commentary by Naropa (Naropa, 1994, p. 73, verse 135). Pundarika also treats the delicate topic in detail in his commentary upon the Time Tantra: “The sin arises from the destruction of pleasure, ... a dimming then follows and from this the fall of the own vajra [phallus], then a state of spiritual confusion and an exclusive and unmediated concern with petty things like eating, drinking and so on” (Naropa, 1994, p. 73). That is, to put it more clearly, if the yogi experiences orgasm and ejaculation in the course of the sexual act then he loses his spiritual powers.

Since the drops of semen symbolize the “moon liquid”, its staged descent through the various energy centers of the yogi is linked to each of the phases of the moon. Beneath the roof of the skull it begins as a “new moon”, and grows in falling from level to level, to then reach its brightest radiance during its sixteenth phase in the penis. In his imagination the yogi fixates it there as a shining “full moon” (Naropa, 1994, p. 72, 306).

Logically, in the second, counterposed sequence the “ascent of the full moon” is staged. For the adept there is no longer a waning moon. Since he has not spilled his seed, the full shining abundance of the nightly satellite remains his. This ascendant triumphal procession of the lunar drop up through the middle channel is logically connected to an even more intensive pleasure than the descent, since “the unspilled joy” starts out in the penis as a “full moon” and no longer loses its full splendor.

During its ascent it pauses in every chakra so as to conjure up anew the “highest bliss” there. Through this stepwise ecstatic lingering in the lotus centers the yogi forms his new divine body, which he now refers to as the “body of creation” (Naropa, 1994, p. 311). This is first completed when the “full-moon drop” reaches the lotus in the forehead.

Sometimes, even if not all the time, in wandering through the four pleasure centers the “drop” encounters various goddesses who greet it with “diamond” song. They are young, tender, very beautiful, friendly, and ready to serve. The hissing wildness and the red wrath of the candali is no more!” May you,” the beauties call, “the diamond body, the revolving wheel that delights many beings, the revealer of the benefit of the Buddha aim and the supreme-enlightenment aim, love me with passion at the time of passion, if you, the mild lord wish that I live” (Wayman, 1977, p. 300). Such erotic enticements lead in some cases to an imaginary union with one of the goddesses. But even if it doesn’t come to this, the yogi must in any case keep his member in an erect state during the “ascent of the full moon” (Naropa, 1994, p. 75).

In several Kalachakra commentaries the ecstatic model of the rise and fall of the white moon-drops within the mystic body of the adept is determined by the triumph of the male bodhicitta alone. In the first, falling phase it destroys the fiery candali and leads her into emptiness, so to speak, since the bindu (drop) also means “nothing”, and has control over the power of dissolution. In the second phase the drop forms the sole cosmic building block with which the new body of the yogi will subsequently be constructed. In this view there is thus now talk of the male seed alone and not of a mixture of the semen virile and semen feminile. In his Kalachakra commentary Naropa writes explicitly that it is the masculine moon which produces the creation and the feminine sun which brings about the dissolution (Naropa, 1994, p. 281). One must thus be under the impression that after the extinguishing of the candali there are no further feminine elements existing in the body of the yogi, or, to put it in the words of the popular belief which we have already cited, that sperm rather than blood flows in his veins. But there are other models as well.

Daniel Cozort, for example, in his contemporary study of the Highest Yoga Tantra, speaks of two fundamental drops. The one is white, masculine, lunar, and watery, and is located beneath the roof of the skull; the other is red, feminine, solar, and fiery, and located in the region of the genitals (Cozort, 1986, p. 77). The “four joys from above” are evoked when the white drop flows from the forehead via the throat, heart, and navel to the tip of the penis. The “four joys from below” arise in reverse, when the red drop streams upwards from the base of the spine and through the lotus centers. There are a total of 21,600 masculine and the same number of feminine drops stored in the body of the yogi. The adept who gets them to flow thus experiences 21,600 moments of bliss and dissolves 21,600 “components of his physical body”, since the drops effect not just pleasure but also emptiness (Mullin, 1991, p. 184).

The process is first completed when two “columns of drops” have been formed in the energy body of the adept, the one beginning above, the other from below, and both having been built up stepwise. At the end of this migration of drops, “a broad empty body, embellished with all the markings and distinguishing features of enlightenment, a body which corresponds to the element of space [is formed]. It is 'clear and shining', because it is untouchable and immaterial, emptied of the earthly atomic structure”, as the first Dalai Lama already wrote (Dalai Lama I, 1985, p. 46).

A further version (which also applies to the Time Tantra) introduces us to “four” drops of the size of a sesame seed which may be found at various locations in the energy body and are able to wander from one location to another. [3] Through complicated exercises the yogi brings these four principle drops to a standstill, and by fixating them at certain places in the body creates a mystic body.

The anatomy of the energy body becomes even more complicated in the Kalachakra commentary by Lharampa Ngawang Dhargyey when he introduces another “indestructible drop” in the heart of the yogi in addition to the four drops mentioned above. This androgynous bindu is composed of the “white seed of the father” in its lower half together with the “red seed of the mother” in the upper. It is the size of a sesame seed and consists of a mixture of “extremely fine energies”. The other lotus centers also have such “bisexual” drops, with mixtures of varying proportions, however. In the navel, for example, the bindu contains more red seed than white, in the forehead the reverse is true. One of the meditation exercises consists in dissolving all the drops into the “indestructible heart drop”.

Luckily it is neither our task, nor is it important for our analysis, to bring the various drop theories of tantric physiology into accord with one another. We have nonetheless made an effort to do so, but because of the terminological confusion and hairsplitting in the accessible texts, were left with numerous insoluble contradictions. In general, we can nevertheless say that we are dealing with two basic models.

In the first the divine energy body is constructed solely with the help of the white, masculine bodhicitta. The feminine energy in the form of the candali assists only with the destruction of the old human body.

In the second model the yogi constructs an androgynous body from both red and white, feminine and masculine bodhicitta elements.

The textual passages available to us all presume that the masculine-feminine drops can already be found in the energy system of the adept before the initiation. He is thus regarded from the outset as a bisexual being. But why does he then need an external or even an imagined woman with whom to perform the tantric ritual? Would it in this case not be possible to activate the androgyny (and the corresponding drops) apparently already present in his own body without any female presence? Probably not! A passage in the Sekkodesha, which speaks of the man (khagamukha) possessing a channel filled with semen virile and the woman (sankhini) a channel filled with semen feminile, leads us to suspect that the yogi first draws the red bodhicitta or the red drop off from the karma mudra (the real woman), and that his androgyny is therefore the result of this praxis and not a naturally occurring starting point.

This view is also supported by another passage in the Kalachakra Tantra, in which the sankhini is mentioned as the middle channel in the mystic body of the yogi (Grönbold, 1969, p. 84). Normally, the menstrual blood flows through the sankhini and it may be found in the lower right channel of the woman (Naropa, 1994, p. 72). In contrast, in the body of the yogi before the sexual magic initiation no “menstrual channel” whatever exists. Now when this text refers to the avadhuti (the middle channel) of the tantra master as sankhini, that can only mean that he has “absorbed” the mudra’s red seed following union with her.

We must thus assume that before the sexual magic ritual the red bodhicitta is either completely absent from the adept’s body or, if present, then only in small quantities. He is forced to steal the red elixir from the woman. The extraction technique described above also lends support to this interpretation.

Regardless of whether the Tibetan Lamas are convinced of the overwhelming superiority of their theories and practices, there is in principle no fundamental difference between Hindu and Buddhist techniques (Snellgrove, 1987, vol. 1, 294). Both systems concern the absorption of gynergy and the production of a microcosmic/masculine/androgyne/divine body by the yogi. There are, however, numerous differences in the details. But this is also true when one compares the individual Buddhist tantras with one another. The sole teaching contrary to both schools which one could nominate would be total “Shaktism”, “which elevates the goddess above all gods” (von Glasenapp, 1936, p.125).

-- The Shadow of the Dalai Lama: Sexuality, Magic and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism, by Victor and Victoria Trimondi

In Whitehead’s London writings, he aims at logically reconstructing Einstein’s STR and GTR, which are both deterministic theories of physics, and his notion of causality (that each occasion presupposes the antecedent world as active in its own nature) does not seem to leave much room for any creative self-determination. In his Harvard writings, however, Whitehead considers deterministic interaction as an abstract limit in some circumstances of the creative interaction that governs the becoming of actual entities in all circumstances, and he makes clear that his notion of causality includes both determination by the antecedent world (efficient causation of past actual occasions) and self-determination (final causation by the actual occasion in the process of becoming). Whitehead writes:

An actual entity is at once the product of the efficient past, and is also, in Spinoza’s phrase, causa sui. Every philosophy recognizes, in some form or other, this factor of self-causation. (1929a: 150)

Again: “Self-realization is the ultimate fact of facts. An actuality is self-realizing, and whatever is self-realizing is an actuality” (1929a: 222).

Some feminist matriarchalists have explicitly defended the investigation of prehistory as a political exercise. Eschewing "objectivity" as neither possible nor desirable, they wish to work their "life experiences, histories, values, judgments, and interests" into their research as legitimate interpretive tools. This is not a view limited to feminist matriarchalists. Other prehistorians have enunciated it too, with somewhat different emphases. For example, in Reading the Past, archaeologist Ian Hodder notes that each generation asks their own questions of the past, viewing new or altered evidence in novel ways. With these constantly shifting agendas and methods, Hodder claims that "the ultimate aim" of archaeology "can only be self-knowledge. In projecting ourselves into the past, critically, we come to know ourselves better."

-- The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future, by Cynthia Eller

Introducing indeterminism also means introducing potentiality next to actuality, and indeed, Whitehead introduces pure potentials, also called ‘eternal objects,’ next to actual occasions:

The eternal objects are the pure potentials of the universe, and the actual entities differ from each other in their realization of potentials. (1929c [1985: 149])

Eternal objects can qualify (characterize) the objective content and the subjective form of the feelings that constitute actual entities. Eternal objects of the objective species are pure mathematical patterns: “Eternal objects of the objective species are the mathematical Platonic forms” (1929c [1985: 291]).

Platonism is the view that there exist abstract (that is, non-spatial, non-temporal) objects (see the entry on abstract objects).

The abstract/concrete distinction has a curious status in contemporary philosophy. It is widely agreed that the distinction is of fundamental importance. And yet there is no standard account of how it should be drawn. There is a great deal of agreement about how to classify certain paradigm cases. Thus it is universally acknowledged that numbers and the other objects of pure mathematics are abstract (if they exist), whereas rocks and trees and human beings are concrete. Some clear cases of abstracta are classes, propositions, concepts, the letter ‘A’, and Dante’s Inferno. Some clear cases of concreta are stars, protons, electromagnetic fields, the chalk tokens of the letter ‘A’ written on a certain blackboard, and James Joyce’s copy of Dante’s Inferno.

The challenge is to say what underlies this dichotomy, either by defining the terms explicitly, or by embedding them in a theory that makes their connections to other important categories more explicit. In the absence of such an account, the philosophical significance of the contrast remains uncertain. We may know how to classify things as abstract or concrete by appeal to intuition. But in the absence of theoretical articulation, it will be hard to know what (if anything) hangs on the classification.

It should be stressed that there need not be one single “correct” way of explaining the abstract/concrete distinction. Any plausible account will classify the paradigm cases in the standard way, and any interesting account will draw a clear and philosophically significant line in the domain of objects. Yet there may be many equally interesting ways of accomplishing these two goals, and if we find ourselves with two or more accounts that do the job rather well, there will be no point in asking which corresponds to the real abstract/concrete distinction. This illustrates a general point: when technical terminology is introduced in philosophy by means of examples but without explicit definition or theoretical elaboration, the resulting vocabulary is often vague or indeterminate in reference. In such cases, it is normally pointless to seek a single correct account. A philosopher may find himself asking questions like, ‘What is idealism?’ or ‘What is a substance?’ and treating these questions as difficult questions about the underlying nature of a certain determinate philosophical category. A better approach is to recognize that in many cases of this sort, we simply have not made up our minds about how the term is to be understood, and that what we seek is not a precise account of what this term already means, but rather a proposal for how it might fruitfully be used in the future. Anyone who believes that something in the vicinity of the abstract/concrete distinction matters for philosophy would be well advised to approach the project of explaining the distinction with this in mind.

-- Abstract Objects, by Wikipedia

Because abstract objects are wholly non-spatiotemporal, it follows that they are also entirely non-physical (they do not exist in the physical world and are not made of physical stuff) and non-mental (they are not minds or ideas in minds; they are not disembodied souls, or Gods, or anything else along these lines). In addition, they are unchanging and entirely causally inert — that is, they cannot be involved in cause-and-effect relationships with other objects.[1] All of this might be somewhat perplexing; for with all of these statements about what abstract objects are not, it might be unclear what they are. We can clarify things, however, by looking at some examples.

Consider the sentence ‘3 is prime’. This sentence seems to say something about a particular object, namely, the number 3. Just as the sentence ‘The moon is round’ says something about the moon, so too ‘3 is prime’ seems to say something about the number 3. But what is the number 3? There are a few different views that one might endorse here, but the platonist view is that 3 is an abstract object. On this view, 3 is a real and objective thing that, like the moon, exists independently of us and our thinking (i.e., it is not just an idea in our heads). But according to platonism, 3 is different from the moon in that it is not a physical object; it is wholly non-physical, non-mental, and causally inert, and it does not exist in space or time. One might put this metaphorically by saying that on the platonist view, numbers exist “in platonic heaven”. But we should not infer from this that according to platonism, numbers exist in a place; they do not, for the concept of a place is a physical, spatial concept. It is more accurate to say that on the platonist view, numbers exist (independently of us and our thoughts) but do not exist in space and time....

Platonists about mathematical objects claim that the theorems of our mathematical theories — sentences like ‘3 is prime’ (a theorem of arithmetic) and ‘There are infinitely many transfinite cardinal numbers’ (a theorem of set theory) — are literally true and that the only plausible view of such sentences is that they are about abstract objects (i.e., that their singular terms denote abstract objects and their existential quantifiers range over abstract objects). This general stance toward mathematics goes back to Plato.

-- Platonism in Metaphysics, by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

An eternal object of the objective species can only qualify the objective content of a feeling, and “never be an element in the definiteness of a subjective form” (idem). Eternal objects of the subjective species, on the other hand, include sense data and values.

A member of the subjective species is, in its primary character, an element in the definiteness of the subjective form of a feeling. It is a determinate way in which a feeling can feel. (idem)

But it can also become an eternal object contributing to the definiteness of the objective content of a feeling, for example, when a smelly feeling gives rise to a feeling of that smell, or when an emotionally red feeling is felt by another feeling, and red, an element of the subjective form of the first feeling, becomes an element of the objective content of the second feeling.

Whitehead’s concept of self-determination cannot be disjoined from his idea that each actual entity is an elementary process of experience, and hence, according to Whitehead, it is relevant both at the lower level of indeterminist physical interactions and at the higher level of free human interactions. Indeed, each actual entity is a concrescence of feelings of the antecedent world, which do not only have objective content, but also subjective form, and as this concrescence is not only determined by the objective content (by what is felt), but also by the subjective form (by how it is felt), it is not only determined by the antecedent world that is felt, but also by how it is felt. In other words, each actual entity has to take into account its past, but that past only conditions and does not completely determine how the actual entity will take it into account, and “how an actual entity becomes constitutes what that actual entity is” (1929c [1985: 23]).

How does this relate to eternal objects? How an actual entity takes into account its antecedent world involves “the realization of eternal objects [or pure potentials] in the constitution of the actual entity in question” (1929c [1985: 149]), and this is partly decided by the actual entity itself. In fact, “actuality is the decision amid potentiality” (1929c [1985: 43]). Another way of stating the same is that “the subjective form … has the character of a valuation” and

according as the valuation is a ‘valuation up’ or ‘a valuation down,’ the importance of the eternal object [or pure potentials] is enhanced, or attenuated. (1929c [1985: 240–241])

According to Whitehead, self-determination gives rise to the probabilistic laws of science as well as human freedom. We cannot decide what the causes are of our present moment of experience, but—to a certain extent—we can decide how we take them into account. In other words, we cannot change what happens to us, but we can choose how we take it. Because our inner life is constituted not only by what we feel, but also by how we feel what we feel, not only by objective content, but also by subjective form, Whitehead argues that outer compulsion and efficient causation do not have the last word in our becoming; inner self-determination and final causation do.

Whitehead completes his metaphysics by introducing God (cf. Part V of Process and Reality) as one of the elements to further understand self-determination (and that it does not result in chaos or mere repetition, but promotes order and novelty) and final causation (and that it ultimately aims at “intensity of feeling” (1929c [1985: 27]) or “depth of satisfaction” (1929c [1985: 105])). According to Whitehead: “God is the organ of novelty” and order (1929c [1985: 67]);

Apart from the intervention of God, there could be nothing new in the world, and no order in the world. The course of creation would be a dead level of ineffectiveness, with all balance and intensity progressively excluded by the cross currents of incompatibility; (1929c [1985: 247])

and “God’s purpose in the creative advance is the evocation of intensities (1929c [1985: 105]). Actually, this last quote from Process and Reality is the equivalent of an earlier quote from Religion in the Making—“The purpose of God is the attainment of value in the world” (1926b [1996: 100])—and a later quote from Adventures of Ideas—“The teleology of the Universe is directed to the production of Beauty” (1933 [1967: 265]). Each actual occasion does not only feel its antecedent world (its past), but God as well, and it is the feeling of God which constitutes the initial aim for the actual occasion’s becoming—“His [God’s] tenderness is directed towards each actual occasion, as it arises” (1929c [1985: 105]). Again, however, the actual occasion is “finally responsible for the decision by which any lure for feeling is admitted to efficiency” (1929c [1985: 88]), even if that lure is divine. In other words, each actual occasion is “conditioned, though not determined, by an initial subjective aim supplied by the ground of all order and originality” (1929c [1985: 108]).

For more details on Whitehead’s metaphysics, cf. the books listed in section 1 as well as Emmet 1932, Johnson 1952, Eisendrath 1971, Lango 1972, Connelly 1981, Ross 1983, Ford 1984, Nobo 1986, McHenry 1992, Jones 1998, and Basile 2009.

7. Religion

As Whitehead’s process philosophy gave rise to the movement of process theology, most philosophers think that his take on religion was merely positive. This commonplace is wrong. Whitehead wrote:

Religion is by no means necessarily good. It may be very evil. (1926b [1996: 17])

In considering religion, we should not be obsessed by the idea of its necessary goodness. This is a dangerous delusion. (1926b [1996: 18])

Indeed history, down to the present day, is a melancholy record of the horrors which can attend religion: human sacrifice, and in particular, the slaughter of children, cannibalism, sensual orgies, abject superstition, hatred as between races, the maintenance of degrading customs, hysteria, bigotry, can all be laid at its charge. Religion is the last refuge of human savagery. The uncritical association of religion with goodness is directly negatived by plain facts. (1926b [1996: 37])

This being said, Whitehead didn’t hold that religion is merely negative. To him, religion can be “positive or negative, good or bad” (1926b [1996: 17]). So after highlighting that the necessary goodness of religion is a dangerous delusion in Religion in the Making, Whitehead abruptly adds: “The point to notice is its transcendent importance” (1926b [1996: 18]). In Science and the Modern World, Whitehead expresses this transcendent importance of religion as follows:

Religion is the vision of something which stands beyond, behind, and within, the passing flux of immediate things; something which is real, and yet waiting to be realized; something which is a remote possibility, and yet the greatest of present facts; something that gives meaning to all that passes, and yet eludes all apprehension; something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach; something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest. (1926a [1967: 191–192])

And after pointing out that religion is the last refuge of human savagery in Religion in the Making, Whitehead abruptly adds: “Religion can be, and has been, the main instrument for progress” (1926b [1996: 37–38]). In Science and the Modern World this message reads:

Religion has emerged into human experience mixed with the crudest fantasies of barbaric imagination. Gradually, slowly, steadily the vision recurs in history under nobler form and with clearer expression. It is the one element in human experience which persistently shows an upward trend. It fades and then recurs. But when it renews its force, it recurs with an added richness and purity of content. The fact of the religious vision, and its history of persistent expansion, is our one ground for optimism. (1926a [1967: 192])

With respect to the relationship between science and religion, Whitehead’s view clearly differs from Stephen Jay Gould’s view that religion and science do not overlap. Gould wrote:

The lack of conflict between science and religion arises from a lack of overlap between their respective domains of professional expertise—science in the empirical constitution of the universe, and religion in the search for proper ethical values and the spiritual meaning of our lives. (1997)

Whitehead, on the contrary, wrote: “You cannot shelter theology from science, or science from theology” (1926b [1996: 79]). And: “The conflict between science and religion is what naturally occurs in our minds when we think of this subject” (1926a [1967: 181]).
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Part 4 of 4

However, Whitehead did not agree with those who hold that the ideal solution of the science-religion conflict is the complete annihilation of religion. Whitehead, on the contrary, held that we should aim at the integration of science and religion, and turn the impoverishing opposition between the two into an enriching contrast. According to Whitehead, both religion and science are important, and he wrote:

When we consider what religion is for mankind, and what science is, it is no exaggeration to say that the future course of history depends upon the decision of this generation as to the relation between them. (1926a [1967: 181])

Whitehead never sided with those who, in the name of science, oppose religion with a misplaced and dehumanizing rhetoric of disenchantment, nor with those who, in the name of religion, oppose science with a misplaced and dehumanizing exaltation of existent religious dogmas, codes of behavior, institutions, rituals, etc. As Whitehead wrote: “There is the hysteria of depreciation, and there is the opposite hysteria which dehumanizes in order to exalt” (1927 [1985: 91]). Whitehead, on the contrary, urged both scientific and religious leaders to observe “the utmost toleration of variety of opinion” (1926a [1967: 187]) as well as the following advice:

Every age produces people with clear logical intellects, and with the most praiseworthy grip of the importance of some sphere of human experience, who have elaborated, or inherited, a scheme of thought which exactly fits those experiences which claim their interest. Such people are apt resolutely to ignore, or to explain away, all evidence which confuses their scheme with contradictory instances. What they cannot fit in is for them nonsense. An unflinching determination to take the whole evidence into account is the only method of preservation against the fluctuating extremes of fashionable opinion. This advice seems so easy, and is in fact so difficult to follow (1926a [1967: 187]).

Whitehead’s advice of taking the whole evidence into account implies taking the inner life of religion into account and not only its external life:

Life is an internal fact for its own sake, before it is an external fact relating itself to others. The conduct of external life is conditioned by environment, but it receives its final quality, on which its worth depends, from the internal life which is the self-realization of existence. Religion is the art and the theory of the internal life of man, so far as it depends on the man himself and on what is permanent in the nature of things.

This doctrine is the direct negation of the theory that religion is primarily a social fact. Social facts are of great importance to religion, because there is no such thing as absolutely independent existence. You cannot abstract society from man; most psychology is herd-psychology. But all collective emotions leave untouched the awful ultimate fact, which is the human being, consciously alone with itself, for its own sake.

Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness.
(1926b [1996: 15–16])

Whitehead’s advice also implies the challenge to continually reshape the outer life of religion in accord with the scientific developments, while remaining faithful to its inner life. When taking into account science, religion runs the risk of collapsing. Indeed, while reshaping its outer life, religion can only avoid implosion by remaining faithful to its inner life. “Religions commit suicide”, according to Whitehead, when do they not find “their inspirations … in the primary expressions of the intuitions of the finest types of religious lives” (1926b [1996: 144]). And he writes:

Religion, therefore, while in the framing of dogmas it must admit modifications from the complete circle of our knowledge, still brings its own contribution of immediate experience. (1926b [1996: 79–80])

On the other hand, when religion shelters itself from the complete circle of knowledge, it also faces “decay” and, Whitehead adds, “the Church will perish unless it opens its window” (1926b [1996: 146]). So there really is no alternative. But that does not render the task at hand any easier.

Whitehead lists two necessary, but not sufficient, requirements for religious leaders to reshape, again and again, the outer expressions of their inner experiences: First, they should stop exaggerating the importance of the outer life of religion. Whitehead writes:

Collective enthusiasms, revivals, institutions, churches, rituals, bibles, codes of behavior, are the trappings of religion, its passing forms. They may be useful, or harmful; they may be authoritatively ordained, or merely temporary expedients. But the end of religion is beyond all this. (1926b [1996: 17])

Secondly, they should learn from scientists how to deal with continual revision. Whitehead writes:

When Darwin or Einstein proclaim theories which modify our ideas, it is a triumph for science. We do not go about saying that there is another defeat for science, because its old ideas have been abandoned. We know that another step of scientific insight has been gained.

Religion will not regain its old power until it can face change in the same spirit as does science. Its principles may be eternal, but the expression of those principles requires continual development. This evolution of religion is in the main a disengagement of its own proper ideas in terms of the imaginative picture of the world entertained in previous ages. Such a release from the bonds of imperfect science is all to the good. (1926a [1967: 188–189])

In this respect, Whitehead offers the following example:

The clash between religion and science, which has relegated the earth to the position of a second-rate planet attached to a second-rate sun, has been greatly to the benefit of the spirituality of religion by dispersing [a number of] medieval fancies. (1926a [1967: 190])

On the other hand, Whitehead is well aware that religion more often fails than succeeds in this respect, and he writes, for example, that both

Christianity and Buddhism … have suffered from the rise of … science, because neither of them had … the requisite flexibility of adaptation. (1926b [1996: 146])

If the condition of mutual tolerance is satisfied, then, according to Whitehead: “A clash of doctrines is not a disaster—it is an opportunity” (1926a [1967: 186]). In other words, if this condition is satisfied, then the clash between religion and science is an opportunity on the path toward their integration or, as Whitehead puts it:

The clash is a sign that there are wider truths and finer perspectives within which a reconciliation of a deeper religion and a more subtle science will be found. (1926a [1967: 185])

According to Whitehead, the task of philosophy is “to absorb into one system all sources of experience” (1926b [1996: 149]), including the intuitions at the basis of both science and religion, and in Religion in the Making, he expresses the basic religious intuition as follows:

There is a quality of life which lies always beyond the mere fact of life; and when we include the quality in the fact, there is still omitted the quality of the quality. It is not true that the finer quality is the direct associate of obvious happiness or obvious pleasure. Religion is the direct apprehension that, beyond such happiness and such pleasure remains the function of what is actual and passing, that it contributes its quality as an immortal fact to the order which informs the world. (1926b [1996: 80])

The first aspect of this dual intuition that “our existence is more than a succession of bare facts”


-- Be Here Now, by "Ram Dass," aka The Lama Foundation

(idem) is that the quality or value of each of the successive occasions of life derives from a finer quality or value, which lies beyond the mere facts of life, and even beyond obvious happiness and pleasure, namely, the finer quality or value of which life is informed by God. The second aspect is that each of the successive occasions of life contributes its quality or value as an immortal fact to God.

In Process and Reality, Whitehead absorbed this dual religious intuition in terms of the bipolar—primordial and consequent—nature of God.

God viewed as primordial does not determine the becoming of each actual occasion, but conditions it (cf. supra—the initial subjective aim). He does not force, but tenderly persuades each actual occasion to actualize—from “the absolute wealth of potentiality” (1929: 343)—value-potentials relevant for that particular becoming. “God”, according to Whitehead, “is the poet of the world, with tender patience leading it by his vision of truth, beauty, and goodness” (1929c [1985: 346]).

“The ultimate evil in the temporal world”, Whitehead writes,

lies in the fact that the past fades, that time is a “perpetual perishing.” … In the temporal world, it is the empirical fact that process entails loss. (1929c [1985: 340])

In other words, from a merely factual point of view, “human life is a flash of occasional enjoyments lighting up a mass of pain and misery, a bagatelle of transient experience” (1926a [1967: 192]). According to Whitehead, however, this is not the whole story. On 8 April 1928, while preparing the Gifford Lectures that became Process and Reality, Whitehead wrote to Rosalind Greene:

I am working at my Giffords. The problem of problems which bothers me, is the real transitoriness of things—and yet!!—I am equally convinced that the great side of things is weaving something ageless and immortal: something in which personalities retain the wonder of their radiance—and the fluff sinks into utter triviality. But I cannot express it at all—no system of words seems up to the job. (Unpublished letter archived by the Whitehead Research Project)

Whitehead’s attempt to express it in Process and Reality reads:

There is another side to the nature of God which cannot be omitted. … God, as well as being primordial, is also consequent … God is dipolar. (1929c [1985: 345])

The consequent nature of God is his judgment on the world. He saves the world as it passes into the immediacy of his own life. It is the judgment of a tenderness which loses nothing that can be saved. (1929c [1985: 346])

The consequent nature of God is the fluent world become ‘everlasting’ … in God. (1929c [1985: 347])

Whitehead’s dual description of God as tender persuader and tender savior reveals his affinity with “the Galilean origin of Christianity” (1929c [1985: 343]). Indeed, his

theistic philosophy … does not emphasize the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world, which slowly and in quietness operate by love. (idem)

One of the major reasons why Whitehead’s process philosophy is popular among theologians, and gave rise to process theology, is the fact that it helps to overcome the doctrine of an omnipotent God creating everything out of nothing. This creatio ex nihilo doctrine implies God’s responsibility for everything that is evil, and also that God is the only ultimate reality. In other words, it prevents the reconciliation of divine love and human suffering as well as the reconciliation of the various religious traditions, for example, theistic Christianity and nontheistic Buddhism. In yet other words, the creatio ex nihilo doctrine is a stumbling block for theologians involved in theodicy or interreligious dialogue. Contrary to it, Whitehead’s process philosophy holds that there are three ultimate (but inseparable) aspects of total reality: God (the divine actual entity), the world (the universe of all finite actual occasions), and the creativity (the twofold power to exert efficient and final causation) that God and all finite actual occasions embody. The distinction between God and creativity (that God is not the only instance of creativity) implies that there is no God with the power completely to determine the becoming of all actual occasions in the world—they are instances of creativity too. In this sense, God is not omnipotent, but can be conceived as “the fellow-sufferer who understands” (1929c [1985: 351]).


§ 1. The subject of this chapter is that of the relation of man to his cause, or his past, and if we denominate the supposed First Cause of the world God, it will possess two main connections with the preceding inquiries. In the first place, the conception of a first cause of the world requires to be vindicated against the criticism stated in chapter ii. (§ 10). In the second place, we were led in the last chapter to explain the material cosmos as an interaction between God and the Ego, and to suggest positions which require further elucidation.

It was shown by an examination of the contradiction of causation in chapter ii. that a first cause of existence in general is an irrational conception, in chapter iii. (§ 11) that causation is a thoroughly anthropomorphic conception, derived from, and applicable to, the phenomenal world. On both these grounds, therefore, to say that God is the First Cause of the world is to say that God is the First Cause of the phenomenal world, i.e., the cause of the world-process. For the category of causation does not carry beyond the process of Evolution or the phenomenal world (cp. ch. ii. § 9). But if so interpreted, there is no absurdity in the conception of a First Cause. Our reason impels us to ask for a cause of the changes we see, and at the same time forbids us to say that they arise out of nothing, i.e. causelessly. But if we applied these postulates of our reason to all things, to existence as such, they would lead us into the absurdity that all things having been caused, they must ultimately have been caused by nothing. But if this is impossible, if we cannot derive existence out of nothing, then there must be at least one existence which has never come into existence. Such an existence would be an ultimate fact, and the question as to its cause would be unmeaning. For being non-phenomenal, the idea of coming into existence, or Becoming, which is a conception applying only to the facts of the phenomenal world, would not here be applicable. If, then, God is such an existence, such a conception of God satisfies both the requirements of our demand for causation and solves the difficulty which the conception of a First Cause presents, if taken in an absolute sense.

Thus God is, (1) the unbecome and non-phenomenal Cause of the world-process — the Creator.

(2) We saw in the last chapter that God was also the Sustainer, as being a factor in the interaction of the Ego and the Deity.

(3) It has been implicitly asserted in our discussions of method in chapters v. and viii., that the Deity must be conceived as an intelligent and personal Spirit. For Cause is a category which is valid only if used by persons and of persons (cp. ch. iii. § 11), while personality is the conception expressive of the highest fact we know (cp. ch. viii. § 18); hence it is only by ascribing personality to God that He can be regarded either as the Cause or as the Perfector of the world-process.1 Lastly, Evolution is meaningless if it is not teleological (cp. ch. vll. §§ 20, 21), and we cannot conceive a purpose except in the intelligence of a personal being. And we are prevented by the principle of not multiplying entities needlessly to invent gratuitous fictions like an impersonal intelligence or unconscious purpose.

It follows (4) that God is finite, or rather that to God, as to all realities, infinite is an unmeaning epithet. This conclusion also has already been foreshadowed in many ways. Thus (a) it followed from Kant's criticism of the proofs of the existence of God, that only a finite God could be inferred from the nature of the world (cp. ch. ii. § 19 s.f). No evidence can prove an infinite cause of the world, for no evidence can prove anything but a cause adequate to the production of the world, but not infinite. To infer the infinite from the finite is a fallacy like inferring the unknowable from the known, and all arguments in favour of an infinite God must commit it. We argue with finite minds from finite data, and our conclusions must be of a like nature. (b) It follows from the conception of God as Force (cp. ch. ix. § 21); for Force implies resistance, and if God is to enforce His will upon the world. He cannot just for that reason, be all — unless indeed He is by some inexplicable chance divided against Himself. And so, too (c), just because God is a factor in all things, He cannot be all things. For to interact implies a not-God to react upon God. Lastly (a), finiteness follows from the whole account given in the last chapter of the divine economy of the world.

§ 2. But these conclusions conflict sharply with the ordinary doctrines both of theology and of philosophy. In theology we are wont to hear God called the infinite, omnipotent, Creator of all things, while in philosophy we hear of the all-embracing Absolute and infinite, in which all things are and have their being. And as this conflict can be no longer dissembled or postponed, we must now either make good our defiance of the united forces of theology and philosophy, or be crushed by the overwhelming weight of their authority. In so unequal a contest our only hope lies in the divisions and hesitations of our adversaries. For it may be that their agreement is not so perfect as we had feared, that the bearing of some of their chief objections is ambiguous, and that with a little skill we can find efficient support in the very citadels of our opponents. Hence we must aim at reconciling to the novelty of our views all but the most hopelessly prejudiced, and seek to address appeals to them to which they cannot but listen. In dealing with philosophy we may appeal to reason, in dealing with religion to feeling, and in dealing with theology, which has not hitherto always shown itself very susceptible either to reason or to feeling, to its own interests. Thus we shall show to the first that the rational grounds for the assumption of an infinite existence are mistaken and absurd, to the second, that its emotional consequences are atrocious and destructive of all religious feeling, and to the third, that it is this doctrine which has been the fatal canker that produced the chronic debility of faith, and the real obstacle to the practical supremacy of religion.

§ 3. In pursuance of our practice of starting from the apparently simple and intelligible, but really so confused, conceptions of ordinary thought, we shall examine first the religious conception of God. In the course of that examination it will soon appear that it is a self-contradictory jumble of inconsistent elements, of which those which are practically the most important imply the finiteness of the Deity, and tend in the direction of the doctrine we have propounded, while the others, which are theoretically more prominent, but might be with great advantage dispensed with in practical religion, would, if carried out consistently, result in philosophic atheism.

And not only is the combination of human and infinite elements in the conception of God an outrage upon the human reason, but it leads to no less outrageous consequences from the point of view of human feeling. For by ascribing unlimited power to God, it makes God the author of all evil, and imprisons us in a Hell to escape from which would be rebellion against omnipotence. To be brief, the attribute of infinity contradicts and neutralizes all the other attributes of God, and makes it impossible to ascribe to the Deity either personality, or consciousness, or power, or intelligence, or wisdom, or goodness, or purpose or object in creating the world; an infinite Deity does not effect a single one of the functions which the religious consciousness demands of its God.

It is easy to show that every one of the religious attributes must be excluded from an infinite Deity. Thus an infinite God can have neither personality nor consciousness, for they both depend on limitation. Personality rests on the distinction of one person from another, consciousness on the distinction of Self and Not-Self.2 An all-embracing person, therefore, is an utterly unmeaning phrase, and if it meant anything, it would mean something utterly subversive of all religion. For the infinite personality would equally embrace and impartially absorb the personalities of all finite individuals, and so Jesus and Barabbas would be revealed as co-existent, and therefore as co-equal incarnations of an infinite God.

The phrase infinite power is, as has been stated (§ 1), equally meaningless. Not only is power a finite conception, applicable only to a finite world in which force implies resistance, but when used out of its setting it becomes a contradiction. Power is power only if it overpowers what resists, and it is not infinite if anything resists it. Infinite power, therefore, is as unmeaning as a round square.

Neither can intelligence or wisdom be ascribed to an infinite God. For such a God could have neither personality nor consciousness, his intelligence would have to be impersonal and his wisdom unconscious, and to such terms our minds can give no meaning. And moreover, what we understand by wisdom is an essentially finite quality, shown in the adaptation of means to ends. But the infinite can neither have ends nor require means to attain them.

§ 4. Goodness, again, is doubly impossible as an attribute of an infinite God; in the first place, because to him all things are good, and in the second, because the distinction of good and evil must be entirely unmeaning. To put the difficulty in its homeliest form, God cannot be both all-good and all-powerful, in a world in which evil is a reality. For if God is all-powerful everything must be exactly what it should be, from God's point of view, else He would instantly alter it. If, then, evil things exist, it must be because God wills to have it so, i.e., because God is, from our point of view, evil. Or conversely, if God is good, He must put up with the continuance of evil because He cannot remove it. This is the 'terrible mystery of evil' which for 2,000 years has been a stumbling-block to all practical religion, tried the faith of all believers, and depressed and debased all thought on the ultimate questions of life, and is as 'insoluble a mystery' to theologians now as it was in the beginning. And it is perhaps likely to remain so, seeing that, as Goethe says, "a complete contradiction is alike mysterious to wise men and to fools," and that no labour can ever extract any sense out of a gratuitous combination of incoherent words.

Hence it is not surprising that no attempt at reconciling the divine goodness with divine power has ever been successful; indeed, the only way in which they have ever appeared to be successful was either by covertly limiting the divine power, or by misusing the term goodness in some non-human sense, to denote a quality shown in God's action towards imaginary beings other than man.

Thus Leibnitz's famous Theodicy, e.g., depends on a limitation of God. For to show that the world is the best of all possible worlds is to imply that not all worlds were possible, so that the best possible did not turn out a perfect one.

So, again, to say that God created the world because it was good, is to limit God by the preexistence of a good and evil independent of divine enactment.

Nor, again, can the responsibility for evil be shifted to the Devil or the perversity due to human Free-will, unless these powers really limit the divine omnipotence. For if we or the Devil are permitted to do evil while God is able to prevent or destroy us, the real responsibility rests with God.

On the other hand, the commonplace suggestion that, if we could see the whole universe, the good would be seen to predominate immensely, depends on an invalid use of goodness out of relation to man. For "what care I how good he be, if he be not good to me?" What does goodness mean to us, if it is not goodness to us? And besides, it does not answer the difficulty; for it is still necessary to ask why God could or would not create a world, which was not only predominantly, but entirely good. It surely does not befit infinite power to neglect even the most infinitesimal section, to overlook even the remotest corner, to fall short of making the whole universe perfect.

But perhaps the most curious interference of human limitations with the course of superhuman action is shown in the argument which sets down evil to the imperfection of Law. It is supposed that by a series of miracles all things might have been made perfect, but that this would have been inconsistent with the divine determination to conduct the world according to natural laws. Thus evil is the price paid for 'the reign of Law,' for which we have in modern times developed a good deal of superstitious reverence. But the plausibility of the argument depends upon a wholly unwarranted analogy with human law. It is true that human laws cannot avoid the commission of a certain amount of injustice, because law is general, and cannot be made to fit the requirements of particular cases. But how can we argue from the impotence of limited beings to the powers of omnipotence? How can we suppose the divine intelligence incapable of devising, or the divine omnipotence incapable of executing, laws, which should not fail to be just in every case, to be absolutely good always and under all circumstances? The argument surely forgets that the laws of nature are ex hypothesi the outcome of absolute legislative power directed by absolute wisdom, and might surely have been so enacted as to work with perfect smoothness. And even if the universality of law were incompatible with perfection, why should not perfect goodness have been secured by a series of miraculous interventions? How should we have been the wiser or the worse? Would not such a series have ipso facto become the legitimate order of things? And how could even the most fastidious taste have objected to a deus ex machina, when no other procedure was known? What then can have prompted the preference of law with its imperfection? Shall it be said that it was preferred as demanding less exertion of the divine power? But it is both unprofitable and repugnant to exhaust the resources of unworthy human analogies in order to reject one after another the foolish palliatives of an insoluble contradiction.

§ 5. The simple truth is that the human distinctions of good and evil have no application to an infinite Deity. We must admit that either all things are good, or that God himself is evil; but in either case the value of the human distinction is destroyed. From the standpoint of an infinite Deity, on the other hand, all things must be good, for they depend absolutely on his will, and it is his will that all things should be what they are. God alone is responsible for all that happens, and every action is wholly God's and wholly good. And yet a true instinct tells us that the distinction of good and evil is a vital one, that things are not perfect, that Evil is as real as Good, as real as life, as real as we are, as real as our whole world and its process, and that it can be explained away only at the cost of dissolving the world into a baseless dream.

Yet this is precisely what this unhappy dogma of the infinity of God leads to; it denies the reality of evil, because it denies the reality and destroys the rationality of the whole world. So long as we deal with finite factors, the function of pain and the nature of Evil can be more or less understood, but as soon as it is supposed to display the working of an infinite power, everything becomes wholly unintelligible. We can no longer console ourselves with the hope that "good becomes the final goal of ill," we can no longer fancy that imperfection serves any secondary purpose in the economy of the universe. A process by which evil becomes good is unintelligible as the action of a truly infinite power which can attain its end without a process; it is absurd to ascribe imperfection as a secondary result to a power which can attain all its aims without evil. Hence the world-process, and the intelligent purpose we fancy we detect in it, must be illusory, in precisely the same way and for precisely the same reason, as evil. God can have no purpose, and the world cannot be in process. For a purpose and process both imply limitation. To adapt means to ends implies that the ends cannot be achieved without them; to attain aims by a process implies that they cannot be reached instantaneously. An infinite power, therefore, can have no need of means to attain its ends, no need of a process whereby to evolve the world, no need of evil as a means to good. It requires no means, and hence the ''means" it uses can have no meaning. The world becomes an unintelligible freak of irresponsible insanity. If the world is the product of an infinite power, it is utterly unknowable, because its process and its nature would be alike unnecessary and unaccountable.

Thus the attribute of infinity, so far from exalting the Deity, would rather make him into a devil, careless of, and even rejoicing in, evil and misery, infinitely worse than the Devil of tradition, because armed with omnipotence, and, in view of the impossibility of admitting the independence of the Finite, also infinitely more unaccountable, inasmuch as in inflicting misery on the world, he would after all only be lacerating himself.

-- Riddles of the Sphinx: A Study in the Philosophy of Evolution, by A TROGLODYTE [Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller]

Moreover, the Whiteheadian doctrine of three ultimates—the one supreme being or God, the many finite beings or the cosmos, and being itself or creativity—also implies a religious pluralism that holds that the different kinds of religious experience are (not experiences of the same ultimate reality, but) diverse modes of experiencing diverse ultimate aspects of the totality of reality. For example:

One of these [three ultimates], corresponding with what Whitehead calls “creativity”, has been called “Emptiness” (“Sunyata”) or “Dharmakaya” by Buddhists, “Nirguna Brahman” by Advaita Vedantists, “the Godhead” by Meister Eckhart, and “Being Itself” by Heidegger and Tillich (among others). It is the formless ultimate reality. The other ultimate, corresponding with what Whitehead calls “God”, is not Being Itself but the Supreme Being. It is in-formed and the source of forms (such as truth, beauty, and justice). It has been called “Amida Buddha”, “Sambhogakaya”, “Saguna Brahman”, “Ishvara”, “Yaweh”, “Christ”, and “Allah”. (D. Griffin 2005: 47)

[Some] forms of Taoism and many primal religions, including Native American religions […] regard the cosmos as sacred. By recognizing the cosmos as a third ultimate, we are able to see that these cosmic religions are also oriented toward something truly ultimate in the nature of things. (D. Griffin 2005: 49)

The religious pluralism implication of Whitehead’s doctrine of three ultimates has been drawn most clearly by John Cobb. In “John Cobb’s Whiteheadian Complementary Pluralism”, David Griffin writes:

Cobb’s view that the totality of reality contains three ultimates, along with the recognition that a particular tradition could concentrate on one, two, or even all three of them, gives us a basis for understanding a wide variety of religious experiences as genuine responses to something that is really there to be experienced. “When we understand global religious experience and thought in this way”, Cobb emphasizes, “it is easier to view the contributions of diverse traditions as complementary”. (D. Griffin 2005: 51)

8. Whitehead’s Influence

Whitehead’s key philosophical concept—the internal relatedness of occasions of experience—distanced him from the idols of logical positivism. Indeed, his reliance on our intuition of the extensive relatedness of events (and hence, of the space-time metric) was at variance with both Poincaré’s conventionalism and Einstein’s interpretation of relativity: his reliance on our intuition of the causal relatedness of events, and of both the efficient and the final aspects of causation, was an insult to the anti-metaphysical dogmas of Hume and Russell; his method of causal explanation was also an antipode of Ernst Mach’s method of economic description; his philosophical affinity with James and Bergson as well as his endeavor to harmonize science and religion made him liable to the Russellian charge of anti-intellectualism; and his genuine modesty and aversion to public controversy made him invisible at the philosophical firmament dominated by the brilliance of Ludwig Wittgenstein.

At first—because of Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica collaboration with Russell as well as his application of mathematical logic to abstract the basic concepts of physics—logical positivists and analytic philosophers admired Whitehead. But when Whitehead published Science and the Modern World, the difference between Whitehead’s thought and theirs became obvious, and they grew progressively more dissatisfied over the direction in which Whitehead was moving. Susan Stebbing of the Cambridge school of analysis is only one of many examples that could be evoked here (cf. Chapman 2013: 43–49), and in order to find a more positive reception of Whitehead’s philosophical work, one has to turn to opponents of analytic philosophy such as Robin George Collingwood (for example, Collingwood 1945). The differences with logical positivism and analytic philosophy, however, should not lead philosophers to neglect the affinities of Whitehead’s thought with these philosophical currents (cf. Shields 2003, Desmet & Weber 2010, Desmet & Rusu 2012, Riffert 2012).

Despite signs of interest in Whitehead by a number of famous philosophers—for example, Hannah Arendt, Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Gilles Deleuze—it is fair to say that Whitehead’s process philosophy would most likely have entered oblivion if the Chicago Divinity School and the Claremont School of Theology had not shown a major interest in it. In other words, not philosophers but theologians saved Whitehead’s process philosophy from oblivion. For example, Charles Hartshorne, who taught at the University of Chicago from 1928 to 1955, where he was a dominant intellectual force in the Divinity School, has been instrumental in highlighting the importance of Whitehead’s process philosophy, which dovetailed with his own, largely independently developed thought. Hartshorne wrote:

The century which produced some terrible things produced a scientist scarcely second in genius and character to any that ever lived, Einstein, and a philosopher who, I incline to say, is similarly second to none, unless it be Plato. To make no use of genius of this order is hardly wise; for it is indeed a rarity. A mathematician sensitive to so many of the values in our culture, so imaginative and inventive in his thinking, so eager to learn from the great minds of the past and the present, so free from any narrow partisanship, religious or irreligious, is one person in hundreds of millions. He can be mistaken, but even his mistakes may be more instructive than most other writers’ truth. (2010: 30)

After mentioning a number of other theologians next to Hartshorne as part of “the first wave of … impressive Whitehead-inspired scholars”, Michel Weber—in his Introduction to the two-volume Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought—writes:

In the sixties emerged John B. Cobb, Jr. and Shubert M. Ogden. Cobb’s Christian Natural Theology remains a landmark in the field. The journal Process Studies was created in 1971 by Cobb and Lewis S. Ford; the Center for Process Studies was established in 1973 by Cobb and David Ray Griffin in Claremont. The result of these developments was that Whiteheadian process scholarship has acquired, and kept, a fair visibility … (Weber & Desmond 2008: 25)

Indeed, inspired mainly by Cobb and Griffin, many other centers, societies, associations, projects and conferences of Whiteheadian process scholarship have seen the light of day all over the world—nowadays most prominently in the People’s Republic of China (cf. Weber & Desmond 2008: 26–30). In fact, Weber himself has created in 2001 the Whitehead Psychology Nexus and the Chromatiques whiteheadiennes scholarly societies, and he has been the driving force behind several book series, one of which—the Process Thought Series—includes the already mentioned Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought, in which 101 internationally renowned Whitehead scholars give an impressive overview of the 2008 status of their research findings in an enormous variety of domains (cf. The Centre for Philosophical Practice [Other Internet Resources, OIR] and Armour 2010). Missing in the Handbook, however, are most Whitehead scholars reading Whitehead through Deleuzian glasses—especially Isabelle Stengers, whose 2011 book, Thinking with Whitehead, cannot be ignored. The Lure of Whitehead, edited by Nicholas Gaskill and A. J. Nocek in 2014, can largely remedy that shortcoming. Important for Whitehead scholarship, next to the many book series initiated by Weber, are the older SUNY Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought, the recent Contemporary Whitehead Studies and the Critical Edition of Whitehead (cf. Whitehead Research Project [OIR]) as well as the new Toward Ecological Civilization Series (cf. Process Century Press [OIR]). In the Series Preface of the latter series, John Cobb writes:

We live in the ending of an age. But the ending of the modern period differs from the ending of previous periods, such as the classical or the medieval. The amazing achievements of modernity make it possible, even likely, that its end will also be the end of civilization, of many species, or even of the human species. At the same time, we are living in an age of new beginnings that give promise of an ecological civilization. Its emergence is marked by a growing sense of urgency and deepening awareness that the changes must go to the roots of what has led to the current threat of catastrophe.

In June 2015, the 10th Whitehead International Conference was held in Claremont, CA. Called “Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization”, it claimed an organic, relational, integrated, nondual, and processive conceptuality is needed, and that Alfred North Whitehead provides this in a remarkably comprehensive and rigorous way. We proposed that he could be “the philosopher of ecological civilization”. With the help of those who have come to an ecological vision in other ways, the conference explored this Whiteheadian alternative, showing how it can provide the shared vision so urgently needed.

Cobb refers to the tenth of the bi-annual International Whitehead Conferences, which are sponsored by the International Process Network. The International Whitehead Conference has been held at locations around the globe since 1981. This is an important venture in global Whiteheadian thought, as key Whiteheadian scholars from a variety of disciplines and countries come together for the continued pursuit of critically engaging a process worldview.


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Cobb, John B., 2007, A Christian Natural Theology: Based on the Thought of Alfred North Whitehead, second edition, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press. First edition 1965.
–––, 2015, Whitehead Word Book: A Glossary with Alphabetic Index to Technical Terms in Process and Reality, Anoka, MN: Process Century Press.
Code, Murray, 1985, Order & Organicism, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Collingwood, Robin George, 1945, The Idea of Nature, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Connelly, R. J., 1981, Whitehead vs Hartshorne: Basic Metaphysical Issues, Washington, DC: University Press of America.
Deroo, Emeline & Bruno Leclerc (eds.), 2011, Special Issue on Whitehead’s Early Work, Logique et Analyse, Nouvelle Série, 54(214).
Desmet, Ronny, 2010, “Principia Mathematica Centenary”, Process Studies, 39(2): 225–263. doi:10.5840/process201039223
–––, 2011, “Putting Whitehead’s theory of gravitation in its historical context”, Logique et Analyse, Nouvelle Série, 54(214): 287–315.
–––, 2016a, “Poincaré and Whitehead on Intuition and Logic in Mathematics”, Process Studies Supplements, Issue 22: 1–61.
–––, 2016b, “Out of Season: Evaluating Whitehead’s alternative theory of gravitation by means of the aesthetic criteria induced by Einstein’s general theory of relativity”, Process Studies Supplements, Issue 23: 1–140.
–––, 2016c, “Aesthetic Comparison of Einstein’s and Whitehead’s Theories of Gravity”, Process Studies, 45(1): 33–46. doi:10.5840/process20164512
––– (ed.), 2016d, Intuition in Mathematics and Physics: A Whiteheadian Approach, Anoka, MN: Process Century Press.
Desmet, Ronny & Bogdan Rusu, 2012, “Whitehead, Russell, and Moore: Three Analytic Philosophers”, Process Studies, 41(2): 214–234. doi:10.5840/process201241231
Desmet, Ronny & Michel Weber (eds.), 2010, Whitehead: The Algebra of Metaphysics, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Les Editions Chromatika.
Eastman, Timothy & Hank Keeton (eds.), 2004, Physics and Whitehead: Quantum, Process and Experience, Albany, NY: State Univeristy of New York Press.
Eastman, Timothy & Epperson, Michael & Griffin, David Ray (eds.), 2016, Physics and Speculative Philosophy: Potentiality in Modern Science, Berlin: de Gruyter.
Eddington, Arthur, 1918 [2006], Report on the Relativity Theory of Gravitation, London: Fleetway Press. Reprinted New York: Dover Publications, 2006. [Eddington 1918 available online]
–––, 1924, “Comparison of Whitehead’s and Einstein’s Formulae”, Nature, 113(2832): 192. doi:10.1038/113192a0
Eisendrath, Craig, 1971, The Unifying Moment: The Psychological Philosophy of William James and Alfred North Whitehead, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Emmet, Dorothy, 1932, Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism, London: Macmillan.
Epperson, Michael, 2004, Quantum Mechanics and the Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, New York: Fordham University Press.
Epperson, Michael & Elias Zafiris, 2013, Foundations of Relational Realism, Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Fitzgerald, Janet, 1979, Alfred North Whitehead’s Early Philosophy of Space and Time, Washington. DC: University Press of America.
Ford, Lewis, 1984, The Emergence of Whitehead’s Metaphysics: 1925–1929, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Franklin, Stephen T., 1990, Speaking from the Depths, Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
Gandon, Sébastien, 2012, Russell’s Unknown Logicism: A Study in the History and Philosophy of Mathematics, London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/9781137024657
Gaskill, Nicholas & A.J. Nocek (eds.), 2014, The Lure of Whitehead, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Gibbons, Gary & Clifford M. Will, 2008, “On the Multiple Deaths of Whitehead’s Theory of Gravity”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics, 39(1): 41–61. doi:10.1016/j.shpsb.2007.04.004
Gould, Stephen Jay, 1997, “Nonoverlapping Magisteria”, Natural History, 106(March): 16–22. [Gould 1997 available online]
Grattan-Guinness, Ivor, 1991, “Russell and G.H. Hardy: A Study of Their Relationship”, Journal of the Bertrand Russell Archives, 11(2): 165–79. doi:10.15173/russell.v11i2.1806
–––, 2000, The Search for Mathematical Roots, 1870–1940, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
–––, 2002, “Algebras, Projective Geometry, Mathematical Logic, and Constructing the World: Intersections in the Philosophy of Mathematics of A. N. Whitehead”, Historia Mathematica, 29(4): 427–462. doi:10.1006/hmat.2002.2356
Griffin, David Ray (ed.), 2005, Deep Religious Pluralism, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.
–––, 2007, Whitehead’s Radically Different Postmodern Philosophy, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Griffin, Nicholas & Bernard Linsky (eds.), 2013, Principia Mathematica at 100, Hamilton, ON: Bertrand Russell Research Center.
Griffin, Nicholas, Bernard Linsky & Kenneth Blackwell (eds.), 2011, The Palgrave Centenary Companion to Principia Mathematica, London: Palgrave Macmillan. doi:10.1057/9781137344632
Hammerschmidt, William, 1947, Whitehead’s Philosophy of Time, New York: King’s Crown Press.
Hartshorne, Charles, 1972, Whitehead’s Philosophy: Selected Essays, 1935–1970, Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
–––, 2010, “Whitehead in Historical Context”, in Charles Hartshorne & W. Creighton Peden, Whitehead’s View of Reality, UK: Cambrige Scholar Publishing, 7–30.
Hättich, Frank, 2004, Quantum Processes: A Whiteheadian Interpretation of Quantum Field Theory, Münster: Agenda Verlag.
Henning, Brian, Adam Scarfe & Dorian Sagan (eds.), 2013, Beyond Mechanism, Lanham: Lexington Books.
Herstein, Gary, 2006, Whitehead and the Measurement Problem of Cosmology, Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.
Hosinski, Thomas E., 1993, Stubborn Fact and Creative Advance: An Introduction to the Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.
Irvine, A. D. (ed.), 2009, Philosophy of Mathematics, Amsterdam: Elsevier/North Holland.
Jeans, James, 1914, Report on Radiation and the Quantum-Theory, London: “The Electrician” Printing & Publishing Co.
Johnson, A. H., 1952, Whitehead’s Theory of Reality, Boston: Beacon Press.
Jones, Judith, 1998, Intensity: An Essay in Whiteheadian Ontology, Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press.
Kraus, Elizabeth, 1998, The Metaphysics of Experience: A Companion to Whitehead’s Process and Reality, New York: Fordham University Press.
Lango, J. W., 1972, Whitehead’s Ontology, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Lawrence, N. M., 1956, Whitehead’s Philosophical Development, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Leclerc, Ivor, 1958, Whitehead’s Metaphysics: An Introductory Exposition, London: Allen and Unvin; New York: Macmillan.
Lowe, Victor, 1962, Understanding Whitehead, Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press.
–––, 1985, Alfred North Whitehead: The Man and His Work, Volume I: 1861–1910, Baltimore: The John Hopkins University Press.
–––, 1990, Alfred North Whitehead: The Man and His Work; Volume II: 1910–1947, J.B. Schneewind (ed.), Baltimore and London: The John Hopkins University Press.
Lucas, G. R., 1989, The Rehabilitation of Whitehead, Albany, NY: State University of New York, 1989.
Malin, Shimon, 2001, Nature Loves to Hide: Quantum Physics and the Nature of Reality, a Western Perspective, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
McHenry, Leemon, 1992, Whitehead and Bradley: A Comparative Analysis, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
–––, 2015, The Event Universe: The Revisionary Metaphysics of Alfred North Whitehead, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Mays, Wolfe, 1959, The Philosophy of Whitehead, London: Allen and Unwin.
–––, 1977, Whitehead’s Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.
Mesle, Robert, 2008, Process-Relational Philosophy: An Introduction to Alfred North Whitehead, Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.
Nobo, Jorge Luis, 1986, Whitehead’s Metaphysics of Extension and Solidarity, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Palter, R. M., 1960, Whitehead’s Philosophy of Science, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Plamondon, Ann L., 1979, Whitehead’s Organic Philosophy of Science, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Ramsden Eames, Elizabeth, 1989, Bertrand Russell’s Dialogue with His Contemporaries, Carbondale, IL: South Illinois University Press.
Riffert, Franz, 2012, “Analytic Philosophy, Whitehead, and Theory Construction”, Process Studies, 41(2): 235–260. doi:10.5840/process201241232
Ross, S. D., 1983, Perspective in Whitehead’s Metaphysics, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Rovelli, Carlo, 2017, Reality is not what it seems: The journey to quantum gravity, UK: Penguin Books.
Russell, Bertrand, 1897 [1956], Essay on the Foundations of Geometry, New York: Dover Publications.
–––, 1903, The Principles of Mathematics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
–––, 1948, “Whitehead and Principia Mathematica”, Mind, 57(226): 137–138. doi:10.1093/mind/LVII.226.137
–––, 1956, “Alfred North Whitehead”, in Portraits from Memory, New York: Simon and Schuster, 99–104.
–––, 1959, My Philosophical Development, London: George Allan and Unwin.
–––, 1967, The Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, Volume 1, London: George Allan and Unwin.
Russell, Robert John & Christoph Wassermann, 2004, “A Generalized Whiteheadian Theory of Gravity: The Kerr Solution”, Process Studies Supplement, Issue 6.
Schilpp, Paul (ed.), 1941, The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, La Salle: Open Court.
Segall, Matthew, 2013, Physics of the World-Soul: The Relevance of Alfred North Whitehead’s Philosophy of Organism to Contemporary Scientific Cosmology, UK: Amazon.
Shaviro, Steven, 2009, Without Criteria: Kant, Whitehead, Deleuze, and Aesthetics, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.
Sherburne, Donald W., 1961, A Whiteheadian Aesthetics, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Shields, G. W. (ed.), 2003, Process and Analysis: Whitehead, Hartshorne, and the Analytic Tradition, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.
Smith, Raymond, 1953, Whitehead’s Concept of Logic, Westminster: The Newman Press.
Snow, C.P., 1959, The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution, (Rede Lecture, 1959), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Stapp, Henry, 1993, Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, Berlin: Springer Verlag.
–––, 2007, Mindful Universe: Quantum Mechanics and the Participating Observer, Berlin: Springer Verlag.
Stengers, Isabelle, 2011, Thinking with Whitehead, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Synge, J.L., 1952, “Orbits and rays in the gravitational field of a finite sphere according to the theory of A. N. Whitehead”, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series A 211(1106): 303–319. doi:10.1098/rspa.1952.0044
Temple, George, 1924, “Central Orbits in Relativistic Dynamics treated by the Hamilton-Jacobi Method”, Philosophical Magazine, Series 6, 48(284): 277–292. doi:10.1080/14786442408634491
Von Ranke, Oliver, 1997, Whiteheads Relativitätstheorie, Regensburg: Roderer Verlag.
Weber, Michel & Will Desmond (eds.), 2008, Handbook of Whiteheadian Process Thought, 2 volumes, Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.

Other Internet Resources

• International Process Network
• Alfred North Whitehead, MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive.
• Alfred North Whitehead, Mathematics Genealogy Project.
• Alfred North Whitehead, Project Gutenberg.
• Process Studies, a peer-reviewed journal.
• Society for the Study of Process Philosophies.
• Whitehead and Russell’s Principia Mathematica.
• Whitehead Research Project.
• The Centre for Philosophical Practice “Chromatiques whiteheadiennes”
• Process Century Press
• Center for Process Studies


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Henry Whitehead (bishop)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/17/20

© National Portrait Gallery, London. Henry Whitehead, by Elliott & Fry. Albumen cabinet card, circa 1900. Given by Corporation of Church House, 1949. Sitter: Henry Whitehead (1863-1947), Bishop of Madras. Artist:
Elliott & Fry (active 1863-1962), Photographers. Portrait set: Photographs of Anglican Bishops, 1860s-1940s

Henry Whitehead (19 December 1853 – 14 April 1947) was an eminent Anglican bishop in the last decade of the 19th century[1] and the first quarter of the 20th.

Whitehead was educated at Sherborne and Trinity College, Oxford.[2] Ordained in 1879 his first post was as a preacher at St Nicholas, Abingdon.[3] He then emigrated to India where he was principal of Bishop’s College, Calcutta[4] from 1883 to 1899. On St Peter's Day (29 June) 1899, he was consecrated a bishop by Frederick Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, at St Paul's Cathedral,[5] to serve as the fifth Bishop of Madras,[6][7] an office he held for 23 years. In 1903 he married Isabel Duncan.[8] A noted author on his adopted country, he died on 14 April 1947.[9] He had become a Doctor of Divinity (DD).

Whitehead was the brother of the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead and the father of the mathematician J. H. C. Whitehead.


• Whitehead, Henry (1916). The Village Gods of South India. Humphrey Milford.
• Whitehead, Henry (1924). Indian Problems in Religion, Education, Politics. Constable.
• Anderson, George; Whitehead, Henry (1932). Christian Education in India. Macmillan.
1. The Clergy List, Clerical Guide and Ecclesiastical Directory London, John Phillips, 1900
2. "Who was Who"1897-1990 London, A & C Black, 1991 ISBN 0-7136-3457-X
3. "Church details". Archived from the original on 11 May 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2009.
4. Anglican History
5. "Consecration of bishops". Church Times (#1901). 30 June 1899. p. 783. ISSN 0009-658X. Retrieved 30 October 2019 – via UK Press Online archives.
6. "Consecration Of Bishops". Canterbury Journal, Kentish Times and Farmers' Gazette. 8 July 1899. p. 7 col B. Retrieved 28 May 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
7. The Times, Monday, 13 February 1899; p. 12; Issue 35751; col A Ecclesiastical Intelligence New Bishop of Calcutta
8. "Marriage". Warminster & Westbury Journal, and Wilts County Advertiser. 18 July 1903. p. 8 col E. Retrieved 28 May 2016 – via British Newspaper Archive.
9. "Obituary Bishop Whitehead Forty Years In India" The Times Thursday, 17 April 1947; p. 7; Issue 50737; col E


J. H. C. Whitehead [John Henry Constantine Whitehead]
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/17/20

J. H. C. Whitehead
Born: 11 November 1904, Madras (Chennai), India
Died: 8 May 1960 (aged 55), Princeton, New Jersey
Nationality: British
Alma mater: Oxford University; Princeton University
Known for: CW complex; Simple homotopy; Crossed module; Whitehead group; Whitehead manifold; Whitehead product
Awards: Senior Berwick Prize (1948); Fellow of the Royal Society[1]
Scientific career
Fields: Mathematics
Institutions: Oxford University
Doctoral advisor: Oswald Veblen
Doctoral students: Ronald Brown; Graham Higman; Peter Hilton; Ioan James

John Henry Constantine Whitehead FRS[1] (11 November 1904 – 8 May 1960), known as Henry, was a British mathematician and was one of the founders of homotopy theory. He was born in Chennai (then known as Madras), in India, and died in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1960.


J. H. C. (Henry) Whitehead was the son of the Right Rev. Henry Whitehead, Bishop of Madras, who had studied mathematics at Oxford, and was the nephew of Alfred North Whitehead and Isobel Duncan. He was brought up in Oxford, went to Eton and read mathematics at Balliol College, Oxford. After a year working as a stockbroker, at Buckmaster & Moore, he started a PhD in 1929 at Princeton University. His thesis, titled The representation of projective spaces, was written under the direction of Oswald Veblen in 1930. While in Princeton, he also worked with Solomon Lefschetz.

He became a fellow of Balliol in 1933. In 1934 he married the concert pianist Barbara Smyth [Barbara Sheila Carew Smyth] , great-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Fry and a cousin of Peter Pears; they had two sons. In 1936, he co-founded The Invariant Society, the student mathematics society at Oxford.[2]


During the Second World War he worked on operations research for submarine warfare. Later, he joined the codebreakers at Bletchley Park [with Alan Turing], and by 1945 was one of some fifteen mathematicians working in the "Newmanry", a section headed by Max Newman and responsible for breaking a German teleprinter cipher using machine methods.[3] Those methods included the Colossus machines, early digital electronic computers.[3]

Dead Ends and a Mysterious Disease

The first person to take a serious crack at the Poincare Conjecture was the Englishman John H. C. Whitehead, who usually went by his middle name Henry. Henry Whitehead's father was an Anglican minister; his mother was Isobel Duncan, one of the few female math scholars at Oxford at the time. Mathematics seemed to run in the family: Alfred North Whitehead, the famous philosopher and coauthor -- with Bertrand Russell -- of Principa Mathematica, was his father's brother.

Whitehead's life was quite unspectacular, with little for the biographer to chronicle, as a colleague would put it in an obituary. Henry was born in Madras (now Chennai) in India, where his father served as a bishop. Apparently the parents felt that India was not the ideal place to bring up an English child, and when he was one and a half years old, they brought him back to Britain. There he was raised by his maternal granndmother, who lived in Oxford. Later in life he would fondly remember the drives in her carriage, which shaped his lifelong attachment to the university town, Only after his father's retirement, fifteen years later, did the boy see his parents more than just occasionally.

Henry got the best education that the English school system had to offer. Even though he was of above average intelligence according to his teachers in primary school, he was no child prodigy. Somewhat careless in his work and not very good at mathematical manipulations, he nevertheless managed to pass the entrance examination to Eton, the most prestigious of England's boys' schools, After Eton he did his undergraduate studies at Balliol College at Oxford. Known for his high spirits and good humor, he was considered what the English would call a Jolly good fellow. Excelling above all at boxing, cricket, and billiards, he also did fairly well academically, winning first-class honors in Moderations (a first set of examinations) and Finals. But by no means was he an outstanding student. So upon graduation, it seemed natural for him to look for a job, and he moved to the City to become a stockbroker.

Financial markets did not provide the environment that Whitehead wished for in a career. He did not suffer life among the London banks and brokerage houses for long; after barely a year in the City, Whitehead returned to Oxford to do more work in mathematics. Fortunately, one of the world's foremost mathematicians, Oswald Veblen, from Princeton University, was then on a sabbatical visit to Oxford. Together the two men would produce some major works in differential geometry. When Veblen's year at Oxford was up, Whitehead -- who had just received a Commonwealth fellowship -- followed him back to Princeton. During the ensuing three years his interest in and talent for mathematics were firmly established. Together with Veblen he wrote The Foundations of Differential Geometry, which became a classic in Its field, before his interests started shifting toward topology.

Back at Oxford, Whitehead met and fell in love with Barbara Sheila Carew Smyth, a concert pianist with an interest in agriculture and husbandry. The two married in 1934 and had two sons. World War II found Whitehead at legendary Bletchley Park. Supervised by Alan Turing, one of the fathers of modern computing theory, he spent four years cracking German ciphers. During the night of the worst blitz on London, he took shelter in the wine cellar of a friend and passed the time working on a mathematical problem. Somewhat surprisingly, not a single bottle was opened that night. In 1947 he was named Waynflete professor of Pure Mathematics at Oxford's Magdalen College.

Upon the death of his mother in 1953, Whitehead inherited some cattle from her estate, and he and his wife established Manor Farm in the village of Noke, eight kilometers north of Oxford. The couple liked to entertain friends and students in an informal atmosphere. Whitehead was universally liked, with everybody calling him by his first (actually middle) name, Henry. His habit of breaking into song at appropriate -- and sometimes inappropriate -- occasions made him the life of any party but proved to be somewhat disconcerting to his hosts at more formal events. Whitehead died on a sabbatical visit to Princeton quite unexpectedly from a heart attack. It happened at eight o'clock one morning while he was walking back from an all-night undergraduate poker game.

On both sides of the Atlantic he gained the reputation of a profound and deep thinker in mathematics. In the late 1950s he founded the journal Topology. (Recently the board of editors collectively resigned because the subscription price had become too high.) But he did not dismiss the lighter sides of intellectual exercise, and at one time or another he was fond of card puzzles and of palindromes -- "step on no pets" being one of the latter of his own making. By all accounts he was an inspiring teacher and a wonderful talker. As a writer he was less polished, since he had little time and not much taste for elegance. "He gave his readers a rough ride," one of his friends admitted. As a lecturer, he was even worse. There were many jokes about his style of lecturing. One of them claimed that the initials of his name, J.H.C., stood for "Jesus, he's confusing." It was his cheerful personality that most impressed colleagues and students alike. "The fact that the Mathematical Institute at Oxford ... is one of the happiest of all the university departments and laboratories anywhere, is largely a tribute to his gaiety and wholesomeness of spirit," the Times of London wrote in an obituary.  

Whitehead was eight when Poincare died, and about thirty when he turned his attention to the as yet not very famous conjecture. At that time it was just one of a host of open problems: nobody knew how fiendishly difficult the proof would be. Hence, Whitehead simply turned to the standard tools of algebraic topology in search of a proof....

-- Poincare's Prize: The Hundred-Year Quest to Solve One of Math's Greatest Puzzles, by George G. Szpiro

From 1947 to 1960 he was the Waynflete Professor of Pure Mathematics at Magdalen College, Oxford.

He became president of the London Mathematical Society (LMS) in 1953, a post he held until 1955.[4] The LMS established two prizes in memory of Whitehead. The first is the annually awarded, to multiple recipients, Whitehead Prize; the second a biennially awarded Senior Whitehead Prize.[5]

Joseph J. Rotman, in his book on algebraic topology, as a tribute to Whitehead's intellect, says, "There is a canard that every textbook of algebraic topology either ends with the definition of the Klein bottle or is a personal communication to J. H. C. Whitehead."[6]

Whitehead died from an asymptomatic heart attack during a visit to Princeton University in May 1960.[7]

In the late 1950s, Whitehead had approached Robert Maxwell, then chairman of Pergamon Press, to start a new journal, Topology, however Whitehead died before its first edition appeared in 1962.


Whitehead's definition of CW complexes gave a setting for homotopy theory that became standard. He introduced the idea of simple homotopy theory, which was later much developed in connection with algebraic K-theory. The Whitehead product is an operation in homotopy theory. The Whitehead problem on abelian groups was solved (as an independence proof) by Saharon Shelah. His involvement with topology and the Poincaré conjecture led to the creation of the Whitehead manifold. The definition of crossed modules is due to him. He also made important contributions in differential topology, particularly on triangulations and their associated smooth structures.

Selected publications

• Whitehead, J. H. C. (October 1940). "On C1-Complexes". The Annals of Mathematics. Second Series. 41 (4): 809–824. doi:10.2307/1968861. JSTOR 1968861.
• J. H. C. Whitehead, On incidence matrices, nuclei and homotopy types, Ann. of Math. (2) 42 (1941), 1197–1239.
• J. H. C. Whitehead, Combinatorial homotopy. I., Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 55 (1949), 213–245
• J. H. C. Whitehead, Combinatorial homotopy. II., Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 55 (1949), 453–496
• J. H. C. Whitehead, A certain exact sequence, Ann. of Math. (2) 52 (1950), 51–110
• J. H. C. Whitehead, Simple homotopy types, Amer. J. Math. 72 (1950), 1–57.
• Saunders MacLane, J. H. C. Whitehead, On the 3-type of a complex, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 36 (1950), 41–48.
• Whitehead, J.H.C. (1961). "Manifolds with Transverse Fields in Euclidean Space". The Annals of Mathematics. 73 (1): 154–212. doi:10.2307/1970286. JSTOR 1970286. (published posthumously)

See also

• Simple homotopy
• Spanier–Whitehead duality
• Whitehead conjecture
• Whitehead problem
• Whitehead link
• Whitehead theorem
• Whitehead torsion
• Whitehead's lemma (Lie algebras)


1. Newman, M. H. A. (1961). "John Henry Constantine Whitehead. 1904-1960". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 7: 349–363. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1961.0025.
2. The Early History of the Invariant Society by Robin Wilson, printed in The Invariant (2010), Ben Hoskin
3. Paul Gannon, Colossus: Bletchley Park's Greatest Secret, 2006, Atlantic Books; ISBN 1-84354-330-3. p. 347
4. "MacTutor History of Mathematics archive". Retrieved 8 July 2007.
5. "List of LMS prize winners". Retrieved 27 July 2013.
7. James, I. M. (1962). Mathematical Works of J. C. H. Whitehead. Oxford: Pergamon. p. xviii. ISBN 9781483164731. Retrieved 8 January 2015.

External links

• J. H. C. Whitehead at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
• O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "J. H. C. Whitehead", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.


Oliver Whitehead
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/17/20

Oliver Whitehead
Oliver Whitehead in 2013
Background information
Born: 29 August 1948 (age 71), Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Genres: Jazz, classical
Occupation(s): Guitarist, composer, teacher
Instruments: Guitar
Years active: 1968–present
Labels: Justin Time, IBS, Angel Air
Associated acts: Linda Hoyle, Mo Foster, The Antler River Project

Oliver Whitehead is a guitarist and composer, originally from England, who has worked mostly in Canada. He is an Associate Composer at the Canadian Music Centre.[1] His orchestral works include the oratorio We Shall be Changed (1993), Concerto For Oboe (1996) and Pissarro Landscapes (2000). His jazz album Free For Now was nominated for a Juno Award as Best Jazz Album of 1985.[2] He has composed for, and played with, many individual musicians and groups over the years, most recently world music/jazz group The Antler River Project,[3] the singer Linda Hoyle and the music producer and songwriter/composer Mo Foster. The Fetch, an album of original songs by Linda Hoyle, Mo Foster and Whitehead, was released in August 2015. In 2018, Whitehead’s first opera, Look! An Opera in 9 Paintings – about a couple on an awkward date at an art gallery – was debuted to sold-out performances[4] at Museum London, Canada. Whitehead collaborated with Hoyle on the libretto.

Early life and influences

Oliver's father Henry Whitehead was a mathematician at Balliol College, Oxford, and a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during World War II. His son knew almost nothing of the latter fact until 1995, three decades after his father's death, when the Official Secrets Act on WWII service expired. His mother Barbara began a career as a concert pianist (under her maiden name Smyth), but spent most of the 1950s and 60s running a farm that the family bought in the tiny village of Noke, near Oxford. Barbara's first cousin was the operatic tenor Peter Pears, partner of composer Benjamin Britten. Pears and Britten were close with the Whiteheads, often exchanging visits.

Oliver grew up in a home where classical music was highly valued—and jazz was little understood and rarely played. His parents tried to give him formal piano lessons. Instead, Oliver taught himself guitar and, by means of the radio and his wind-up 78 rpm gramophone, soon discovered all the British chart-toppers of the day, such as Tommy Steele, Lonnie Donegan and Cliff Richard, later finding more advanced models in Andres Segovia and Django Reinhardt.

After his father's early death in 1959, when Oliver was 11, his mother increasingly spent time in Donegal, Ireland, where she had holidayed as a child, eventually moving there permanently in 1970. Traditional Irish tunes became another ingredient in Oliver's mental music box.

The only guitar lesson Oliver ever took was from Julian Bream, who showed him a few blues and jazz licks, during a Christmas party with Britten and Pears in 1962.

At school, Oliver and his friends (including blues singer-guitarist Giles Hedley[5]) shared a passionate love of blues and folk, mostly American. He came to the US at age 17, to study literature at Princeton University, where his father had worked for many years at the Institute For Advanced Study. In 1970 he moved to Canada to pursue post-graduate studies at the University of Toronto.

Musical career

In 1978,Oliver moved to London, Ontario to take up an academic post at Western University. With the encouragement of some new friends there, he began to play and compose jazz for the first time, and formed the Oliver Whitehead Quintet (1983–1990), fronted by sax player Chris Robinson, to play original compositions by him and pianist Patrick Dubois. Their first LP was encouragingly nominated for Best Jazz Album in Canada's Juno Award of 1985. The quintet played twice at the Montreal International Jazz Festival, as well as other jazz fests in Detroit, Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver.

By 1997, Whitehead was incorporating more world music elements in his compositions, beginning with The Mass For All Creatures, a full length mass commissioned for a Blessing of the Animals ceremony, for child and adult choirs, and instrumentation that included African percussion and Celtic harp. The key players in that work went on to form The Antler River Project, which continues to play original jazz/world music compositions by Whitehead and pianist Steve Holowitz.

Whitehead wrote his first classical / art music piece—the oratorio We Shall Be Changed—in 1993, on commission from Pro Musica and Orchestra London Canada. That oratorio is based on the book Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Maurice Bucke, an early 20th-century psychiatrist and mystic who lived in London, Ontario. Other classical commissions followed, described in the list below.


Whitehead has never taught music. After completing a PhD in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, under Northrop Frye, he began in 1978 to teach English and Comparative Literature and Culture, at Western University in London, Ontario, and continued for the next 35 years. Although he started as a full-timer, he resigned in 1988, to take up year-to-year, part-time contracts at the university, to devote more time to music. Over the years, his teaching course load focused on Shakespeare, Foundations of Literature (Homer, Virgil the Bible, Renaissance) and Literature and Music; as well as general survey courses. The field of Comparative Literature allowed him the freedom to break traditional academic boundaries by incorporating all the art forms, especially music, in his courses.

Personal life

Whitehead has been married since 1984 to Mary Malone, a journalist and communications project manager from Montreal. They have two daughters, Anne and Claire. He is a cryptic crossword addict.


Compositions performed by his musical ensembles

Year / Album / Performers & notes / Label

1984 / Free For Now / The Oliver Whitehead Quintet, nominated for the 1985 Juno award – Best Jazz Album / Justin Time

1985 / Pulse/Impulse / The Oliver Whitehead Quintet / Justin Time

1998 / The Mass For All Creatures / The St. Francis Ensemble / --

1998 / Resonance / Oliver Whitehead and Marg Stowe / --

2011 / Latitude 43 / The Antler River Project / --

Compositions performed by other musicians

Year / Album / Whitehead tracks / Performers / Notes / Label

1995 / Transformations / "We Shall Be Changed" (6 tracks) / London Pro Musica and Orchestra London Canada / An oratorio about Richard Maurice Bucke / IBS

1998 / Home Suite Home / "Home Suite Home" (3 tracks) / The Aeolian Winds / A three movement suite for woodwinds / IBS

2007 / The Nightingale's Rhapsody / "Pissarro Landscapes" (4 tracks) / Jerome Summers, clarinet / A suite for clarinet, piano and strings, inspired by paintings by Camille Pissarro / Cambria

2015 / The Fetch / (6 of 12 tracks) "The Fetch," "Confessional," "Brighton Pier," "It's The World," "Maida Vale," "So Simple," "Acknowledgements" / All lyrics by Linda Hoyle / Sung by Linda Hoyle / Angel Air

2018 / Look! An Opera in 9 Paintings / “Arriving,” ”Elmwood Avenue,” “The London Six,” “The White Painting,” “Every Summer.” “Sky Woman,” “Rain,” “Olga and Mary,” “Wheel,” “Dairy Queen,” “Leaving” / Paul Grambo, Sonja Gustafson, Steve Holowitz, Christine Newland / A nine movement opera, with visual projections, about paintings by artists in London, Ontario / Museum London (view opera online)

Arrangements for other artists

Year / Album / Whitehead tracks / Performers

2001 / The World Awaits: Songs for a winter's night / "River" (by Joni Mitchell) "Huron Carol" (by Jean de Brebeuf) "Riu Riu Chiu" (traditional)) / Project Sing; Eleven Eleven Productions

2003 / Goode Cheare: Christmas celebrations old and new / "Carol of The Birds," "Fum Fum Fum," "All Hail to the Dayes," "Gaudete," "Huron Carol," "Patapan," "Tomorrow Shall Be My Dancing Day," "Carol of the Bells" (all traditional) "In The Bleak Midwinter" (by Gustav Holst) / Guelph Chamber Choir

2008 / Songs of the Land / "All The Diamonds in The World" (by Bruce Cockburn) "Early Morning Rain" (co-arranger: Steve Holowitz), If I Could Read Your Mind (both by Gordon Lightfoot) "Night Ride Home," "Big Yellow Taxi" (both by Joni Mitchell) "Sisters of Mercy," "Hey That's No Way To Say Goodbye" (both by Leonard Cohen) "Helpless" (by Neil Young) / London Pro Musica



• Latitude 43 (2011): Played by The Antler River Project (guitar, keyboards, flute, bass, drums, percussion). Whitehead compositions include: "Altitude," "Early Snow," "The River Suite" (movements 1 and 2) "Dusty Feet," "Whirlpool," "African Galliard," "El Jefe" (with co-composer Steve Holowitz).
• Resonance (1985): Played by Oliver Whitehead and Marg Stowe (two guitars). Whitehead compositions include: "Seen Through Green;" "Life Won't Stand Still;" "Plain and Simple;" "By The Sea;" and these titles, co-composed with Marg Stowe: "Openings," "Folie A Deux," "The House of the Spirits."
• Pulse/Impulse[6] (1985): Played by the Oliver Whitehead Quintet (guitar, keyboards, saxophone, bass, drums). Whitehead compositions include: "The Leopard Hunts," "Street Level," "Green Shade," "Touch The Heart" (with co-composer Patrick Dubois).
• Free For Now (1984): Played by the Oliver Whitehead Quintet (guitar, keyboards, saxophone, bass, drums). Whitehead compositions include: "Free For Now," "Six String Waltz," "Excuses, Excuses," "Woman In Blue," "Crazy Season." Liner notes by Katie Malloch of CBC Radio.

Pop / Rock

• The Fetch (2015) : All songs include lyrics written and sung by Linda Hoyle. Whitehead compositions: “The Fetch,” “Confessional,” “Brighton Pier,” “It’s The World,” “Maida Vale,” “So Simple,” “Acknowledgements.” Played by several musicians in Canada and England. Instrumentation includes: guitars, bass (acoustic, electric and fretless), drums, percussion, cello, piano, keyboards, church organ, mandolin, accordion, electric sitar, soprano sax.

Classical and art music

• Look! An Opera in 9 Paintings (2018): A 60 minute chamber opera for soprano and baritone, with piano and cello accompaniment; music and libretto by Oliver Whitehead, with co-lyricist Linda Hoyle and additional lyrics by Claire Whitehead. Supported by the London Arts Council and the Good Foundation Inc. Premiere: 3 June 2018 at Museum London, Canada.
• Excitations (2012) : A three-movement work for flute and piano. Premièred 9 November 2012. with Fiona Wilkinson,[7] flute, and Mark Payne, piano. Von Kuster Hall, Western University.
• Brushstrokes Decorating A Fan (2008): A song-cycle of seven settings of short poems by James Reaney for Soprano voice, flute, piano and guitar; co-composed with Steven Holowitz. Premiere, 15 February 2008 at First St. Andrew's United Church, London, ON, with Sonja Gustafson, soprano.
• Uhuru Peak (2008): A 15-minute work for cello and orchestra, commissioned by Christine Newland and Orchestra London, and supported by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Premiere: 6 June 2008 at the Grand Theatre, London, Ontario.
• The Blue Scales Quintet (2007): Commissioned by CBC Radio for the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival, was composed in 2007 and received its premiere at the festival on 5 August 2008. It is a three-movement piece with many elements drawn from jazz. The mandate of the composition was to use the same instrumentation as Schubert's "Trout" quintet, to which the title punningly refers.
• Pissarro Landscapes (2000): Four pieces for clarinet, piano and string orchestra (length: c.15 m.) Co-commissioned by the International Symphony Orchestra and the Woodstock Strings for Jerome Summers, clarinet. Premiere: 12 February 2000, by the ISO, Port Huron, Michigan. Recorded by Jerome Summers for the Cambria label in Ottawa, April 2006
• The Mass For All Creatures (1997): A world-music mass commissioned by St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in London, Ontario, written for adult choir, children’s choir and an ensemble of flute, Celtic harp, guitar, piano, bass and 3 percussionists. Premiere: October 1997. Released on CD in the fall of 1998
• Games Without Rules (1997): A Seven-part electro-acoustic composition for MIDI-implemented flute, oboe and sequencer. Premiere by Fiona Wilkinson[8] and Harry Sargous, 5 March 1997
• Concerto For Oboe (1997): Premiered 26 November 1997. Ian Franklin with Orchestra London Canada
• The Sorcerer's Apprentice (1995): A 40-minute electronic ballet score for the Ontario Ballet Theatre. Performed throughout Ontario from Oct.'95 to April '96
• Home/Suite/Home (1994): A suite in five movements for woodwind quintet. It is the title piece on the Aeolian Winds' CD of the same name (released summer 1998) on the IBS label. It has been broadcast twice in its entirety by CBC Radio 2, in performances by the Aeolian Winds: 1) A performance on 30 September 1994. 2) A performance in 1996 in London, Ont
• The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe: A ballet adaptation of C.S Lewis's classic children's story, commissioned by the Ontario Ballet Theatre and choreographed by Patti Caplette of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet. The work is approximately forty minutes in length.
• We Shall Be Changed (1993): An oratorio in six movements (43 minutes) for choir with symphony orchestra, premiered by London Pro Musica and Orchestra London in May 1993.
• Aladdin: A forty-minute ballet score for the Ontario Ballet Theatre. Choreographed by Patti Caplette.
• The Wind In The Willows: A 40-minute electronic ballet score for the Ontario Ballet Theatre
• Childhood Musette (1992): A setting of James Reaney's poem for voice and piano, performed by Ernest Redekop in "The Great Reaney Suite," 16 February 1992, Von Kuster Hall, UWO
• Rapunzel: A 40-minute electronic score for the Ontario Ballet Theatre.
• The Magic Flute: A 40-minute electronic ballet for the Ontario Ballet Theatre


1. "Composer Showcase". Canadian Music Centre. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
2. "Yearly Summary". JUNO, Canada's Music Awards. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS). 1985. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
3. "The Antler River Project". Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
4. "A museum. An opera. A unique London experience". The London Free Press. 19 June 2018. Retrieved 15 July 2018.
5. "Giles Hedley". Giles Hedley. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
6. "Downbeat". Downbeat: 38. October 1986.
7. "Fiona Wilkinson, Flute". Western University. Retrieved 10 August 2014.
8. "Fiona Wilkinson, Associate Professor, Flute and Chamber Music". Western University. Retrieved 2 August 2014.


Richard Maurice Bucke
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/17/20

Richard Maurice Bucke.

Richard Maurice Bucke (18 March 1837 – 19 February 1902), often called Maurice Bucke, was a prominent Canadian psychiatrist in the late 19th century.

An adventurer during his youth, Bucke later studied medicine. Eventually, as a psychiatrist, he headed the provincial Asylum for the Insane in London, Ontario. Bucke was a friend of several noted men of letters in Canada, the United States, and England.[1]

Besides publishing professional articles, Bucke wrote three non-fiction books: Man's Moral Nature, Walt Whitman, and Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind, which is his best-known work.

Early life

Richard Maurice Bucke was born in 1837 in Methwold, England, the son of Rev. Horatio Walpole Bucke (a parish curate) and his wife Clarissa Andrews. The parents and their children emigrated to Canada when he was a year old, settling near London, Ontario.

Horatio W. Bucke had given up the profession of religious minister, and trusted his family's income to their Ontario farm. A sibling in a large family, Richard Maurice Bucke was a typical farm boy of that era. He was an athletic boy who enjoyed a good ball game. When he left home at the age of 16, he traveled to Columbus, Ohio and then to California. Along the way, Bucke worked at various odd jobs. He was part of a travelling party who had to fight for their lives when they were attacked by Shoshone Indians, whose territory they were trespassing.[2]

In the winter of 1857–58, he was nearly frozen to death in the mountains of California, where he was the sole survivor of a silver-mining party.[3] He had to walk out over the mountains and suffered extreme frostbite. As a result, a foot and several of his toes were amputated. He then returned to Canada via the Isthmus of Panama, probably in 1858.[4][5]

Medicine and Psychiatry

Bucke enrolled in McGill University's medical school in Montreal, where he delivered a distinguished thesis in 1862. Although he practiced general medicine briefly as a ship's surgeon (in order to pay for his sea travel), he later specialized in psychiatry. He did his internship in London (1862–63) at University College Hospital. During that time he visited France.

He was for several years an enthusiast for Auguste Comte's positivist philosophy.[2] Huston Smith said of Comte's philosophy: "Auguste Comte had laid down the line: religion belonged to the childhood of the human race.... All genuine knowledge is contained within the boundaries of science."[6] Comte's belief that religion, if by that is meant spirituality, had been outmoded by science contrasts with Bucke's later belief concerning the nature of reality.

Bucke returned to Canada in 1864 and married Jessie Gurd in 1865; they had eight children. In January 1876, Bucke became the superintendent of the Asylum for the Insane in Hamilton, Ontario. In 1877, he was appointed head of the provincial Asylum for the Insane in London, Ontario, a post he held for nearly the remainder of his life. In his work with asylum inmates, he was a reformer who encouraged organized sports and what is now called occupational therapy.[2] Some of his surgical treatments proved deeply controversial. After adopting the Victorian-era theory that mental illness in women was often due to defective reproductive organs, Bucke began performing surgical removals of these organs from female patients. He continued this practice until his death, despite receiving increasing amounts of criticism from the medical health care community.[7]

Cosmic consciousness experience

In 1872, after an evening of stimulating conversation with a friend in the countryside, Richard M Bucke, was traveling back to London in a buggy. He relates:

I was in a state of quiet, almost passive enjoyment. All at once, without warning of any kind, I found myself wrapped around as it were by a flame-coloured cloud. For an instant I thought of fire, some sudden conflagration in the great city; the next, I knew that the light was within me.

Directly afterward came upon me a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness accompanied by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe. Into my brain streamed one momentary lightning—flash of the Divine Splendor which has ever since lightened my life; upon my heart fell one drop of Divine Bliss, leaving thenceforward for always an aftertaste of heaven.

Among other things, I did not come to believe: I saw and knew that the Cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love, and that the happiness of everyone in the long run is absolutely certain.

I learned more within the few seconds that illumination lasted than in all my previous years of study and I learned much that no study could ever have taught.

-- Paraphrased in the first person from the book "Cosmic Consciousness" by Richard M Bucke.

He later described the characteristics and effects of the faculty of experiencing this type of consciousness as:

• its sudden appearance
• a subjective experience of light ("inner light")
• moral elevation
• intellectual illumination
• a sense of immortality
• loss of a fear of death
• loss of a sense of sin

Bucke's personal experience of the inner state had yet another attribute, mentioned separately by the author: the vivid sense of the universe as a living presence, rather than as basically lifeless, inert matter.[8]

The supreme occurrence of that night was his real and sole initiation to the new and higher order of ideas. But it was only an initiation. He saw the light but had no more idea whence it came and what it meant than had the first creature that saw the light of the sun.[9]

Bucke did not immediately record the details and interpretation of his experience. This was not done until years later, and only after he had researched much of the world's literature on mysticism and enlightenment and had corresponded with many others about this subject.

Cosmic Consciousness

Bucke's magnum opus was his book Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind.[10] The book is a compilation of various theories rather than strictly a simple record of his original mystical experience.

Bucke borrowed the term "cosmic consciousness" from Edward Carpenter, who had traveled and studied religion in the East. Bucke's friend,[2] Carpenter, had derived the term "cosmic consciousness" from the Eastern term "universal consciousness." In his description of his personal experience, Bucke combined his recollection with thoughts of another of his friends, Caleb Pink ("C.P.")[11]—and others—and recorded his experience in a poetic style.

Cosmic Consciousness was a book which he researched and wrote over a period of many years. It was published in 1901 and has been reprinted several times since then. In it, Bucke describes his own experience, the experiences of contemporaries (most notably Walt Whitman), and the experiences of historical figures, including Jesus, Saint Paul, Muhammad, Plotinus, Dante, Francis Bacon, William Blake, Buddha, and Ramakrishna.

Bucke developed a theory that posited three stages in the development of consciousness:

• the simple consciousness of animals
• the self-consciousness of the mass of humanity (encompassing reason, imagination, and foresight)
• cosmic consciousness — an emerging faculty which is the next stage of human development

Within self-consciousness, there exist gradations among individuals in their degrees of intellectual development and talent. (Bucke considered that no doubt there would be gradations within the level of cosmic consciousness, as well.)

Among the effects of humanity's natural evolutionary progression, Bucke believed he detected a long historical trend in which religious conceptions and theologies had become less and less frightening.

In Cosmic Consciousness, beginning with Part II, Bucke explains how animals developed the senses of hearing and seeing. Further development culminated in the ability to experience and enjoy music. Bucke states that, initially, only a small number of humans were able to see colors and experience music. But eventually these new abilities spread throughout the human race until only a very small number of people were unable to experience colors and music.

In Part III, Bucke hypothesizes that the next stage of human development, which he calls "cosmic consciousness," is slowly beginning to appear and will eventually spread throughout all of humanity.

Bucke’s vision of the world was profoundly optimistic. He wrote in Part I (“First Words”) “that the universe is so built and ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of every one is in the long run absolutely certain.”[12]

Involvement with poetry and literature

Bucke was deeply involved in the poetry scene in America and had friends among the literati, especially those who were poets. In 1869, he read Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, an American poet, and was deeply impressed by it.[2] In Cosmic Consciousness, he notes that his cosmic consciousness experience occurred following a night reading Whitman and Romantic poets.[13] Later, he met Whitman in 1877 in Camden, New Jersey, and the two developed a lasting friendship.

Bucke later testified that he was "lifted to and set upon a higher plane of existence" because of his friendship with Whitman. He published a biography of Whitman in 1883 and was one of Whitman's literary executors.[14]

In 1882, Bucke was elected to the English Literature Section of the Royal Society of Canada.[2]


On February 19, 1902, Bucke slipped on a patch of ice in front of his home and struck his head. He died a few hours later without regaining consciousness.

He was deeply mourned by a large circle of friends, who loved him for his sturdy honesty, his warm heart, his intellectual force, but most of all for his noble qualities as a man.[5]


Bucke's concept of cosmic consciousness took on a life of its own (though not always well understood) and influenced the thought and writings of many other people. His work is directly referenced by the mystics Franklin Merrell-Wolff [15] and Ouspensky,[16] and it was essential to Aldous Huxley's concept of the perennial philosophy [17] and Evelyn Underhill's concept of mysticism.[18] In India, Aurobindo uses the term cosmic consciousness extensively in his work [19] and Ramana Maharshi was asked about Bucke's concept.[20] Erich Fromm says, in Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism, 'What Bucke describes as cosmic consciousness is, in my opinion, precisely the experience which is called satori in Zen Buddhism' and that "Bucke's book is perhaps the book most germane to the topic of this article."[21]

Along with William James's classic work The Varieties of Religious Experience (which cites Bucke), Bucke's Cosmic Consciousness has become part of the foundation of transpersonal psychology.

Bucke was part of a movement that sought to improve the care and treatment of mentally ill persons.

He was one of the founders of the Medical School of the University of Western Ontario. His papers are held at Western University's Archives and Research Collections Centre. The finding aid can be found here ... g_Aid1.pdf

He was portrayed by Colm Feore in the 1990 Canadian film Beautiful Dreamers.


• Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. 2009. ISBN 9780486471907.
• Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind,1905 Innes edition, facsimile, 37 MB PDF file.
• Diary of R. Maurice Bucke, M.D., C.M, 1863.
• Man's Moral Nature: An Essay, 1879 Internet Archive
• Richard Maurice Bucke, Medical Mystic: Letters of Dr. Bucke to Walt Whitman and His Friends, Artem Lozynsky (editor), 1977, Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0814315763.
• The New Consciousness: Selected Papers of Richard Maurice Bucke 1997, compiled by Cyril Greenland & John Robert Colombo. Toronto: Colombo & Company.
• Walt Whitman (original 1883 edition). OCLC 859421735
• Walt Whitman's Canada 1992, compiled by Cyril Greenland & John Robert Colombo. Toronto: Hounslow Press.

See also

• Cosmic Consciousness
• New Thought
• Nondualism
• Recept
• Spirituality
• Walter Russell
• Henry Landor


1. Rechnitzer, Peter A. (1994) The Life of Dr. R.M. Bucke
2. Rechnitzer, Peter A. (1994)
3. Bucke, Richard M. (June 1883). "Twenty-five years ago". Overland Monthly. I. (Second series) (6): 553–560.
4. James H Coyne, Richard Maurice Bucke: A Sketch. Toronto: Henry S. Saunders, 1923, Revised edition Reprinted from the Transactions of The Royal Society of Canada, 1906 pp. 26-30. (NB: Henry Mills Hurd says he returned to Canada in 1860.)
5. Hurd, Henry Mills; William Francis Drewry (1917). The institutional care of the insane in the United States and Canada. 4. et al. Johns Hopkins Press. (google books link) p. 555
6. Smith, Huston (2001) Why Religion Matters. San Francisco: Harper Collins, pp. 94 & 97
7. "The Hysterical Female". Restoring Perspective: Life & Treatment at London's Asylum.
8. Bucke, Richard Maurice (2009). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-486-47190-7.
9. Bucke, Richard Maurice (2009). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-486-47190-7.
10. Bucke, Richard Maurice (2009). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-47190-7.
11. Pink, Caleb (1895). The Angel of the Mental Orient. London: William Reeves.
12. Bucke, Richard Maurice (2009). Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. Mineola, New York: Dover Publications. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-486-47190-7.
13. Cosmic Consciousness, 7
14. Edward Haviland Miller, Walt Whitman, The Correspondence, New York University Press, 1961, vol.1, p.vii
15. Franklin Merrell-Wolff's Experience and Philosophy, 12
16. see The Cosmic Consciousness of Dr. Richard M. Bucke
17. see pg 68 of Huxley's Perennial Philosophy
18. see Underhill, Mysticism, 7, 193, 255
19. see The Divine Life part 1
20. Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, pg 21: "Q: Of what nature is the realization of westerners who relate that they have had flashes of cosmic consciousness
21. Fromm, Erich (1960). Psychoanalysis and Zen Buddhism. George Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-616029-9.


• James, William (1987), The Varieties of Religious Experience, Library of America, pp. 1–477, ISBN 978-0-940450-38-7.
• James H Coyne, Richard Maurice Bucke: A Sketch, 1906, J. Hope & Sons
• George Hope Stevenson, The Life and Work of Richard Maurice Bucke,: An Appraisal, 1937 (American Journal of Psychiatry, 93, pp. 1127 – 1150)
• Cyril Greenland, Richard Maurice Bucke, M.D. 1837-1902. The evolution of a mystic, 1966
• Samuel Edward Dole Shortt, Victorian Lunacy : Richard M. Bucke and the Practice of Late Nineteenth-Century Psychiatry, 1986, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-30999-9
• Peter Rechnitzer, The Life of Dr. R.M. Bucke, 1994, Quarry Press 1997 edition: ISBN 1-55082-064-8
• P. D. Ouspensky, The Cosmic Consciousness of Dr. Richard M. Bucke, Kessinger Publishing, 2005 edition: ISBN 1-4253-4399-6 (48 pp)
• Susan Maynard, The Illumination of Dr. Bucke: A Journey Beyond the Intellect, 2014, AuthorHouse, Kindle eBooks: ASIN: B00MJ5YKFA (website:

External links

• Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
• Notes on Bucke at McGill University
• Collections at University of Western Ontario
• Zero Summer
• Cosmic Consciousness at Google Books
• Works by or about Richard Maurice Bucke at Internet Archive
• Works by Richard Maurice Bucke at Project Gutenberg
• Beautiful Dreamers (1990) on IMDb
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Harvard sued by descendant of U.S. slave photographed in 19th century [Peabody Museum]
by Gabriella Borter
March 20, 2019

American Physical Anthropology

A brief survey of American anthropology at the end of World War I shows that little mattered outside the East Coast. Although there were departments of anthropology in other parts of the country such as Chicago and San Francisco, and though the anatomist Wingate Todd at Case Western Reserve worked on physical anthropology, the undisputed center was in the East. Distance prevented anthropologists outside of Boston, New York and Washington from participating in professional activity. Committee membership particularly illustrates this phenomenon. In the capital, an active local anthropological society together with the Smithsonian Institution partially compensated for the lack of a major university center. Washington’s prime was before World War I, but it remained active during the interwar years. Harvard’s anthropology department together with its affiliated Peabody Museum was second only to New York in significance for the profession. During most of this period, Ronald Dixon, Alfred Tozzer, and Earnest Hooton were Harvard’s leading anthropologists. While certainly very different from each other, they maintained the façade of a team. The distance from New York meant that the Harvard anthropologists could profess partial unity based upon geography, at the same time it was not too far for Harvard to be secluded from the centers of power.

As the intellectual center of the country, New York attracted several active anthropological institutions, with close contacts to major philanthropic sources. The Galton Society and Cold Spring Harbor were the centers for the eugenicists and racists, while the New School for Social Research provided a liberal outlet for the Columbia faculty. Both the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University were the core of anthropological activity and employed anthropologists of liberal and conservative commitments. Despite the ideological diversity, there was contact, at times close, between the opposing camps. The interaction resulted partly from institutional constraints, and partly from association with a larger anthropological community that included many neutrals. Surrounded by, and being part of, the intellectual activity of the city, New York anthropologists were, generally speaking, much more involved in public debates and retreated far less into the ivory tower. Columbia’s anthropology was synonymous with Boas, but he was the exception and many faculty members kept close contacts with eugenics circles. A comparable situation existed in the American Museum where the liberal and conservative groups worked together, though not in cooperation. Henry Fairfield Osborn, the President of the Museum was a close associate of Madison Grant and an adamant Anglo-Saxon supremacist. Nevertheless Boas worked in the Museum for several years, as did Robert Lowie, and later Harry Shapiro and Margaret Mead. The tension and rivalry made a non-partisan approach difficult, and therefore neutrality was not as much a determining force in New York, as it was in Washington and Cambridge.

-- The Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States Between the World Wars, by Elazar Barkan

From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried is a series of 34 "found" photographs that Weems has re-photographed and significantly altered -- tinting, cropping, framing, and inscribing with verbal text. Some of the photographs in this series, the ones upon which I will focus my reading, were long housed in the archives of Harvard's Peabody Museum (Figures 2.2 and 2.3).

2.2 Carrie Mae Weems (American born 1953). "You Became A Scientific Profile." 1995. From the series, From Here I Saw What Happened And I Cried. Chromogenic color print with sand-blasted text on glass. 26-1/2 x 22-3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Carrie Mae Weems, and the Jack Shainman Gallery, NY.

2.3 Carrie Mae Weems (American, born 1953). "& A Photographic Subject." 1995. From the series, From Here I Saw What Happened And I Cried. Chromogenic color print with sand-blasted text on glass. 26-1/2 x 22-3/4 inches. Courtesy of the artist, Carrie Mae Weems, and the Jack Shainman Gallery, NY.

These photographs were originally taken as part of a mid-nineteenth-century anthropological study in which enslaved father-daughter pairs were photographed (by daguerreotype) in a grievous effort to "document" their supposedly subhuman physiognomy. Anthropologist Louis Agassiz and photographer Joseph T. Zealy together were responsible for the mid-nineteenth-century production of these photographs that were intended as tools of scientific enquiry.
Herein surfaces already an aspect of the complex ideological underpinnings of photographic documentation, a problematic that Weems's series for Hidden Witness magisterially invokes. Weems's re-photographing of the daguerreotypes of enslaved Americans raises the following question: what, exactly, did Zealy and Agassiz 's daguerreotypes, before Weems's altering of the images, document? With the mid-nineteenth-century anthropological lens that drove Agassiz removed, we surely no longer interpret the photographs, preserved in Harvard's Peabody Museum, as documenting the brutal claims of racism to lodge in physiognomy. That is, in Weems's retake of these daguerreotypes, the photographs' original documentary intent is now obviated. But there are traces that remain: a history of racism, linkages between early anthropology and racism, and also the forceful residue of insisted-upon personhood that yet gleams in the eyes of the humiliated objects of study, whom Weems witnesses by re-photographing.

The haunting gesture of Weems's re-presentation of the Peabody Museum photographs in From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried -- photographs that do not make up the bulk of her series, but, for me, form the ethical crux of the series -- has not escaped criticism. Some prominent scholars have raised questions focusing on the ethics of Weems reprinting these disturbing images at all. In a conference paper at Duke University, Cherise Smith raised the question of whether by re-presenting these photographs of slaves at their moment of debasement -- the moment at which the human being is forced to appear as an object of study for the anthropologist (the scientist who, in the case of these photographs, was conducting his study specifically to prove his subjects subhuman) -- Weems does not in fact violate certain ethical codes, codes that would urge us to protect the dead from humiliation.

Smith's conference paper effectively recants her glowing interpretation, in "Fragmented Documents." At the conference at Duke, Smith critiqued Weems's gesture of exposing these humiliated photographic subjects. Likewise, Andrea Liss, in an early and overall positive review of the original Getty exhibition, raises the question with regard to Weems's From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried concerning "how to represent the victim without re-victimizing the victim." But surely the problem here is more complex than re-victimization. For the difficulty inheres in the ethical knot of how representation, particularly in the case of Weems's installation re-presenting images of the dead, may be said to revictimize the dead.

Weems herself has voiced ambivalence about the series, which was so admired by the First Lady, Michelle Obama, as to elicit for Weems an invitation to the White House. Weems states that the series makes her cry, a striking fusion of her role as artist and as witness, a statement that comes close to answering the question of who is the "I" in the sentence, "And I Cried" that closes the series. Weems states further that the series made her painfully aware of the power difference between the photographer, who has photo-power, and the photographic subject, vulnerable in her/his embodiment. This series, of all her work, is the only one of which Weems claims "I cannot live with it," a statement that could be interpreted to mean she feels guilt over having produced the series, though Weems goes on to explain that she means she cannot have images from the series in her house, where she lives. This series is also Weems's signal use of the technique of rephotographing.  

The Peabody Museum daguerreotypes, the re-photographs of which constitute part of Weems's installation, were taken some 150 years before Weems's installation was created, and the enslaved Americans whose images the Peabody Museum kept in its files are no longer alive to be re-victimized in a straightforward sense. In a strictly physical sense, those who suffered the humiliation of Agassiz's "study" are now beyond further harm. It seems imperative, then, that we re-explore, adjust, and tighten our notion of how re-victimization can be enacted against the dead through reproduction of the images of the dead. Can re-victimization be spectral, purely performative, strictly textual? For example, the young woman across whose chest Weems places the text "You Became a Scientific Profile" cannot now walk in and see the image of herself in the Getty or MoMA (where the series is owned in the museum's permanent collection). This nineteenth-century woman cannot confront her own image and feel rage, shame, grief, or desire for vengeance -- whatever we might imagine ourselves feeling were we her.

And yet, confronted specifically with this image, we are caught by the possible repetition of debasement of the, now public, mistreated feminine figure (Figure 2.2). I am interested, in particular, in Liss's response to this young woman's image, as well as to another image in the series of a young woman offering her sex, across which Weems has inscribed the text "You Became Playmate to the Patriarch," insofar as Liss instinctively brings these women back to life -- invoking their former inarguable status as victims and verbally moving to protect them from revictimization.

And Eddie Chambers, in his review of Weems's work exhibited at Cafe Gallery Projects in London, states that "a significant number of the more racist images ought really to be set to one side and not given periodic kisses of life even if such resuscitation takes place by an African American artist under the guise of a knowing and artistic deconstruction and engagement with the U.S.A.'s racist past." The spectacle dimensions of sadism -- not only enacted on the vulnerable body, but also enacted through the gaze -- carry a unique ethical freight (again, I am here using the term sadism to indicate cruelty inflicted in a context of absolute relational vulnerability). The ethical problematic of how representation inscribes violence is raised not only by Weems's From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, but also by the complex critical responses to Weems's work. Cherise Smith's objection to this series is made solely on ethical grounds. What Smith, Liss, and Chambers uncannily share, despite their diverse sophistication as critics of visual objects and culture, is a slide into interpreting these representations -- photographs retaken, cropped, framed, tinted, and inscribed, objects functioning on the representational axis par excellence -- as not only vivid but somehow alive, available to be re-victimized, given a bad kiss of life: revenants of representation.

Weems's work is vulnerable to such hypothetical accusations of sadism not only as history and documentary, but also as aesthetic mark. For implicit in the complaints of Smith, Liss, and Chambers against From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried is a critical gesture of holding Weems responsible for the production of revenants: as if, vampire-like, Weems drew the lifeblood of her art from these wounded innocents (the enslaved Americans represented in Agassiz and Zealy's daguerreotypes), and in so doing, made them revenants, gave them an unhallowed, unasked-for second life. Chambers states that Weems has worked under a "guise," as if Weems should not be trusted -- a masked woman, a sadist, a dominatrix wearing a guise herself. This image of Weems as a masked dominatrix presiding over the victimized images of the enslaved fathers and daughters who were already victims of Zealy and Agassiz is profoundly troubling. Weems's gaze, for these critics, comes in to unholy alliance with the gaze of those who first documented the "photographic subject" whom she reprints.

In other words, Chambers interprets Weems the artist as having a responsibility not, as he explicitly states, in her role of presenting images from the Peabody Museum to the public, but rather more, as he intimates, for looking at the photographs of enslaved Americans and not turning away, and also not allowing her audience to turn away. In the view of Chambers, the most ethical stance would be not to look at all at these images, images that unquestionably humiliate their subjects. In looking, Chambers implies, Weems becomes a sadist: a guise or mask crosses her face as she holds her gaze on these sadistically produced images.
Indeed, in revealing, by reproducing, what might be seen as the origins of documentary photography (i.e., "scientific" documentation through photography), Weems bears down on the ethical problematic of the gaze at the heart of the conceit of documentary photography.

Cherise Smith has beautifully traced the originary complexity of documentary photography, with regards to the African American community, writing on Weems's indebtedness to and departures from DeCarava. Crucially, one must interpret Weems's From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried as already itself posing a critique and simultaneous intensification of the claims of documentary photography. The series critiques the very notion that what Zealy and Agassiz set out to "document" was ever in any sense real -- in fact, it was utterly ideological. The problematic of documentary photography -- that it presumes a reality when that very subtext may always already in fact be ideological -- is revealed in Weems's installation. To be sure, the series documents the savagery of an earlier ideology, even as the photographs that Weems represents were also thought, in their day, to be "documents."

However, I am less interested in querying the difficulties and ambiguities of the status of documentary photography -- the question of just how deceptive the conceit of photography as documentation is -- and more concerned with questions around gender and the gaze raised by Weems's controversial series. In particular, I want to intervene in received notions of the passive, heteronormative, presumptively feminine gaze by reconsidering how the figure of a woman watching violence plays through both the conceptualization and the reception of Weems's offering for the Hidden Witness exhibition. That is, regardless of the complex reengagement of documentary that most certainly occurs in Weems's installation, the aspect of this contretemps to which I want to point is the fact that the series is framed within the visual field of a feminine watcher -- a fact ironically brought forward by critics instinctively interpreting Weems as a character in her own series, a masked dominatrix coldly surveying suffering "photographic subjects" (to borrow the phrase from Weems's own taunting inscription in the series). To rephrase with an emphasis on the nexus of gender and watching, the problematic figure of a woman watching sadism plays through Weems's From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried in ways that both surpass and support the series' interrogation of the documentary genre.

As I have suggested in quoting Liss and Chambers, part of the complex reception of this series seems to be viewer discomfort with images of others' humiliation -- not simply because those images are re-photographed by Weems, but more so because recorded in the images is the history of their being seen by Weems. The record of this moment, of Weems herself seeing the images, is recorded in the tinting, cropping, framing, inscribing, claiming with text that marks the representations. Weems's gender, in particular, seems to trouble Chambers, who envisions Weems erotically kissing the images she reprints -- when, in fact, the series is not in the least erotically titillating. By implication, in presenting these rephotographed photographs, Weems makes very clear that she saw them, was able to continue looking at them, and could look at them with an eye steely enough to allow her not only to re-photograph, but also to remake the images.

The gesture of locating the anthropological daguerreotypes in the Peabody Museum that inaugurates the completed installation articulates Weems in the role of the witness, responding quite directly to the charge of the Hidden Witness exhibition. One imagines Weems's first encounter with the images at the Peabody, their very residence in that bastion of scientific history itself a troubling allegory of the persistence of memory across generations. As witness to the images of sadism recorded in the photographs created by Zealy for Agassiz (the one whose gaze precedes that of her audience), Weems's burden is inflected by gender. Insofar as Weems selects, re-photographs, tints, blasts text across, and generally reclaims the images, she as a woman who looks -- an artist known socially and professionally as a woman -- centers the installation. Weems's earlier The Kitchen Table Series (1990), for example, articulated her apparent identification of a confluence of the claims of femininity and the possibility of representing gender by representing the gendered gaze. While not autobiographical, The Kitchen Table Series does unmistakably instate a feminine gaze -- an entity given a representational status of the real in the context of that powerful floating signifier, the kitchen table. To argue as I do that Weems, in the installation of From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried, enacts a feminine gaze is not an argument that would seem at variance with the artist's practice and conceptualization of gendered ways of seeing.

Indeed, a womanly watcher -- a feminine figure who witnesses and watches -- not only is implicit in the series' construction but also explicitly is placed in Weems's From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried series. The piece is framed by George Specht's colonialist 1925 photograph (for National Geographic) "Nobosodrou, Femme Mangetu."

Nobosodrou, by George Specht, 1924

This blue-tinted, reprinted, photographed, feminine profile is positioned by Weems to regard, as a witness, the red-tinted images within the series: to figuratively stand as the "I" who "Saw What Happened" and "Cried." At the inauguration of the series, this profile image looks towards the series of reprinted red-tinted photographs, and the same profile in mirror looks back across the series at its close. The Specht profile tinted blue is marked as the cool witness figure, the cool customer who claims to be crying (as a point of fact, for the words "And I Cried" are written across the second image) but looks anything but tearful. With the words "From Here I Saw What Happened" on the first image and "And I Cried" on the second image, in duplicate the Specht profile re-photographs gaze towards each other across the field of red-tinted debasement and grief contained in the other images of the series. These profile images bookend the series, enclosing the humiliated subjects contained in the photographs that are tinted red. This gesture of the witness, instantiated by the re-photograph of Specht's work, ethically anchors the series, mournfully recuperating the woman's elegant beauty.

That this witness, figuratively performed by the Specht image, is a woman is not incidental to Weems's project. For much of the worst humiliation imaged in From Here I Saw What Happened and I Cried is humiliation recorded visually on the body of a woman. Notably, A. M. Weaver argues that Weems "tells her stories from the perspective of a black woman, indeed she herself is invariably [my italics] the protagonist in her private/public dramas -- it is always her life, her voice, her body that represents the scope of human reality." Deborah Willis likewise observes that "For more than three decades, Weems has focused her lens on her own body and used her writings to extend the conversation." Willis, who has made clear the importance of the explicit witness figure of the artist in Weems's later work, goes on to claim that even when Weems is not pictured in her own work she is, almost mystically, evoked by the images she photographs or re-photographs.

How are we to interpret Weems's offering for the Hidden Witness exhibition in the context of such insistent, almost privative, gendering as is recorded, according to Weaver, in Weems's work? That is, how shall we interpret, in particular, Weems's depiction of the humiliation of enslaved women framed within the elegant and emphatically not enslaved gaze of the Specht photograph -- the woman titled "Nobosodrou," who is herself, it must be made clear, a photographic subject? Is Weems, as Weaver suggests, the real subject of this series? And, if so, which figure is she? The humiliated enslaved person in a photograph by whose caption she is called Delia? Or the elegant Nobosodrou? Weaver's claim seems to founder on this difficult series -- a series that breaks apart and reveals the violence implicit in the conceit of the witness, not to mention to more subtly and insidiously violent strictures of femininity. My suggestion, developing from Willis, is that although Weems is not present visibly in these re-photographed images in From Here I saw What Happened and I Cried, instead Weems invokes a provocatively feminine "I" who should see and should cry. Weems's gaze is the eye that contains the series and this eye is articulated in the act of re-photographing daguerrotypes originally taken by nineteenth-century white men. Her resistance to their gaze is in developing the trope of witnessing.

-- Witnessing Sadism in Texts of the American South: Women, Specularity, and the Poetics of Subjectivity, by Professor Claire Raymond

Earnest Albert Hooton (November 20, 1887 – May 3, 1954) was an American physical anthropologist known for his work on racial classification and his popular writings such as the book Up From The Ape. Hooton sat on the Committee on the Negro, a group that "focused on the anatomy of blacks and reflected the racism of the time."... During this time, he was also Curator of Somatology at the nearby Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

-- Earnest Hooton, by Wikipedia


Over a period of fourteen years (1948-1962) that followed his doctoral training at Harvard, [Lloyd Cabot] Briggs established a home in Algiers (at 7 rue Pierre Viala) and purchased a farm nearby -- these Briggs shared with Danus, who served as something of an assistant to her husband, occasionally accompanying him on his travels. All the while, Briggs was amassing an extraordinary private collection of Tuareg art, especially of the Algerian Sahara. Some of these objects he purchased from other collectors, including Reygasse and a number of French army officers, researchers, and colonial administrators; some he purchased on behalf of the Peabody Museum through the American School for Prehistoric Research, an Algiers-based institution affiliated with the Peabody. Following Briggs's wishes, his family would donate the bulk of his extraordinary collection to the Peabody after his death.

Even before Briggs journeyed to the Sahara with Reygasse, he was writing The Living Races of the Sahara Desert.

-- Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria, by Sarah Abrevaya Stein

(Reuters) - A descendant of an American slave on Wednesday sued Harvard University to gain possession of photos of her great-great-great grandfather that the school commissioned in 1850 on behalf of a professor trying to prove the inferiority of black people.

Tamara Lanier listens as her lawyer speaks to the media about a lawsuit accusing Harvard University of the monetization of photographic images of her great-great-great grandfather, an enslaved African man named Renty, and his daughter Delia, outside of the Harvard Club in New York, U.S., March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

The photos, depicting a black man named Renty and his daughter Delia, were taken as part of a study by Harvard Professor Louis Agassiz and are among the earliest known photos of American slaves. They are currently kept at the Peabody Museum of Archeology and Ethnography at Harvard’s Cambridge, Massachusetts campus.

A representative for Harvard declined to comment and said the university had not yet been served with the complaint.

Tamara Lanier of Norwich, Connecticut, who claims to be the great-great-great-granddaughter of Renty, accused Harvard of celebrating its former professor who studied “racist pseudoscience” and profiting from photos that were taken without Renty and his daughter’s consent.

“What I hope we’re able to accomplish is to show the world who Renty is,” Lanier said at a news conference in New York. “I think this case is important because it will test the moral climate of this country and force this country to reckon with its long history of racism.”

Agassiz encountered Renty and Delia when he was touring plantations in South Carolina for a research project sanctioned by Harvard that sought to support his view that black people were a different species, according to the lawsuit.

Lanier, who filed the lawsuit in Middlesex County Superior Court in Massachusetts, established her relationship to the photographed slaves with family oral history and genealogical information, her lawyers said. She previously asked the university to give her the photos, but Harvard refused, she said.

“By denying Ms. Lanier’s superior claim to the daguerreotypes, Harvard is perpetuating the systematic subversion of black property rights that began during slavery and continued for a century thereafter,” the complaint said, referring to an early form of photography.

In addition to gaining possession of the photos, Lanier is seeking compensation for emotional distress and Harvard’s acknowledgement that it was “complicit in perpetuating and justifying the institution of slavery.”

Harvard is the latest elite academic institution criticized for its failure to reckon with a racist past. In 2016, a member of Yale University’s kitchen staff shattered a stained glass window depicting slaves in a field, drawing national attention and overwhelming support from students who took up his protest against what they said was Yale’s implicit endorsement of a racist history.

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Frank McGurty and Cynthia Osterman


Harvard Gets Slapped With A Lawsuit
by Nana


Harvard University is being sued over photographs of African slaves. The descendants of the man from the photograph are suing the university.

Tamara Lanier, a direct descendant is demanding that Harvard turn over the images, recognize her lineage and pay unspecified damages.

The enslaved African man named Renty and his daughter Delia were stripped and forced to pose for images commissioned by a Swiss-born Harvard professor who espoused a theory that Africans and African-Americans were inferior to whites.

170 years later, Renty and Delia “remain enslaved” by the Ivy League university which is being accused of the “wrongful seizure, possession and expropriation” of the photographs of his great-great-great-granddaughter, Tamara, who wants the photos back.

Lanier, who refers to her great-great-great grandfather as “Papa Renty,” said she learned from years of research and oral history from her family that he was born in Africa, kidnapped by slave merchants and enslaved on a South Carolina plantation. He taught himself and other slaves to read and led secret Bible readings and study on the plantation.

The images were long forgotten until an employee of Harvard’s Peabody Museum discovered them in the museum’s attic in 1976, the lawsuit said.

The employee, Ellie Reichlin, was concerned for the families of the men and women in the images but it was reported that Harvard made no effort to locate their descendants.

Lanier continued gathering evidence of her heritage and, in 2016, contacted the Harvard Crimson, the student newspaper, with her story.

She went to Cambridge for an interview but later learned that her story would not be told because of “concerns the Peabody Museum has raised,” the suit said.

The lawsuit claims the photos of Renty and Delia were taken a few years after Harvard had recruited Agassiz, whose field of study was a branch of zoology that grouped living things based on anatomical characteristics and hierarchical order.

The lawsuit said, “It was an act of both love and resistance that Renty and Delia’s kin kept their memories and stories alive for well over a century. It is unconscionable that Harvard will not allow Ms. Lanier to, at long last, bring Renty and Delia home.”
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Psychology, Anthropology, and Race
by Robert H. Lowie
American Anthropologist
Vol. 25, No. 3
July-September, 1923

Robert Lowie, Kroeber’s colleague at Berkeley, was the more devoted disciple of Boas. On various occasions during his career he was engaged in professional polemics to defend Boas’s views. While still in New York, he contributed to the evolving anti-racist school. But like Kroeber, once he moved to the West Coast, he kept his racial egalitarianism mostly out of the political arena. Similar to other Boasnians, Lowie’s background was Jewish-German: he came from Vienna, which from a New York perspective was close enough. His upbringing was not unlike Kroeber’s either. Following education in New York public schools, he came to Columbia only at the graduate stage, where in a very unsystematic way, intertwined with work at the American Museum, he became an ethnographer. Much of his work was done in the field, and in various memoirs he regretted his own lack of theoretical preparation for some of his general books, primarily his commercially most successful work, Primitive Society. For fifteen years before 1921 Lowie worked at the Museum under Clark Wissler: none the less he remained a Boasian, interacting with anthropologists such as Alexander Goldenweiser, Paul Radin, Leslie Spier, and Elsie Clews Parsons. It was this cultural context that was so important in the formulation of his egalitarian views.

Foraging societies are often said by cultural anthropologists to be "egalitarian," so this looks like a hopeful place for feminist matriarchalists to begin. However, anthropologists mean something by the term egalitarianism that turns out, oddly enough, to be compatible with the most virulent misogyny and sexism. Egalitarian societies are defined by anthropologists as small groups which lack any elaborate political hierarchy. Individuals are free to come and go as they please; they have immediate access to resources and can exert influence over other individuals in their group. There are pecking orders in egalitarian societies, but they depend "more upon personal qualities and skills than upon inherited wealth or status at birth." But among the "personal qualities" most frequently used to determine status in so-called egalitarian societies are "age, sex, and personal characteristics." Now age and sex are not earned. An individual's age changes, inexorably, and in this sense can be regarded as a kind of achieved status. But this is not so for sex, which is "ascribed for life." Thus arises the irony of speaking of societies which systematically discriminate against one sex in preference to the other as "egalitarian." [43] Such discrimination can be relatively minor, as it is among the Mbuti and San of Africa, where men are slightly more likely to participate in collective decision-making, but there are also many glaring examples of male authority, dominance, and disproportionate prestige in foraging societies. Even in societies that lack class systems or political leadership, one can find fathers giving away their daughters, husbands beating their wives or having legitimate control over them sexually, men raping women without penalty, and men claiming a monopoly on the most significant forms of ritual power. [44]

-- The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Won't Give Women a Future, by Cynthia Eller

[Lowie, Robert H. Lowie, Ethnologist. A Personal Record (Berkeley: California University Press, 1959). Robert F. Murphy, Robert H. Lowie (New York: Columbia University Press, 1972). Cora Du Bois, Lowie’s Selected Papers in Anthropology (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1960). For a straightforward criticism of racism by Lowie, especially on Madison Grant and H.F. Osborn, see his “Psychology, Anthropology and Race,” American Anthropologist, 25 (1923), 291-303.)]

In New York the Boasians and the racists competed for influence, while sharing similar institutional space. At the same time as the rest in the anthropology community were shifting professional alliances in an ad-hoc manner, the Boasians were gaining strength, until in the mid-twenties they became the dominant force, controlling the politics of the discipline by sheer numbers. By then, the younger generation of Boasians was coming of age. But before examining their impact, there is a need to chart the developments during the earlier period in physical anthropology, which was the professional locus for studies of race.

American Physical Anthropology

A brief survey of American anthropology at the end of World War I shows that little mattered outside the East Coast. Although there were departments of anthropology in other parts of the country such as Chicago and San Francisco, and though the anatomist Wingate Todd at Case Western Reserve worked on physical anthropology, the undisputed center was in the East. Distance prevented anthropologists outside of Boston, New York and Washington from participating in professional activity. Committee membership particularly illustrates this phenomenon. In the capital, an active local anthropological society together with the Smithsonian Institution partially compensated for the lack of a major university center. Washington’s prime was before World War I, but it remained active during the interwar years. Harvard’s anthropology department together with its affiliated Peabody Museum was second only to New York in significance for the profession. During most of this period, Ronald Dixon, Alfred Tozzer, and Earnest Hooton were Harvard’s leading anthropologists. While certainly very different from each other, they maintained the façade of a team. The distance from New York meant that the Harvard anthropologists could profess partial unity based upon geography, at the same time it was not too far for Harvard to be secluded from the centers of power.

As the intellectual center of the country, New York attracted several active anthropological institutions, with close contacts to major philanthropic sources. The Galton Society and Cold Spring Harbor were the centers for the eugenicists and racists, while the New School for Social Research provided a liberal outlet for the Columbia faculty. Both the American Museum of Natural History and Columbia University were the core of anthropological activity and employed anthropologists of liberal and conservative commitments. Despite the ideological diversity, there was contact, at times close, between the opposing camps. The interaction resulted partly from institutional constraints, and partly from association with a larger anthropological community that included many neutrals. Surrounded by, and being part of, the intellectual activity of the city, New York anthropologists were, generally speaking, much more involved in public debates and retreated far less into the ivory tower. Columbia’s anthropology was synonymous with Boas, but he was the exception and many faculty members kept close contacts with eugenics circles. A comparable situation existed in the American Museum where the liberal and conservative groups worked together, though not in cooperation. Henry Fairfield Osborn, the President of the Museum was a close associate of Madison Grant and an adamant Anglo-Saxon supremacist. Nevertheless Boas worked in the Museum for several years, as did Robert Lowie, and later Harry Shapiro and Margaret Mead. The tension and rivalry made a non-partisan approach difficult, and therefore neutrality was not as much a determining force in New York, as it was in Washington and Cambridge.

-- The Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States Between the World Wars, by Elazar Barkan

WHEN scientists ceased to quote farmers' tales about the cleverness of their horses or dogs and devised laboratory experiments for the testing of animal behavior, a new era began to dawn in the history of psychology. Psychologists are laying aside the anecdotal method in the evaluation of individual and racial worth, and every anthropologist will welcome an improvement in technique that promises to shed light on one of the most obscure of his own problems, the question of the interrelationship of empirically observed achievement and innate capacity. Unfortunately the psychologists who are most prominently associated with anthropological applications of their new tool are so ignorant of anthropology that their results are worthless. It may be said on their behalf that they have been misled by anthropologists, that we ourselves have been guilty of spreading erroneous conceptions, but that only makes matters worse. The situation thus justifies an elementary consideration of the points at issue, a review that shall dispel the farrago of bad logic, bad biology, and bad faith that continues to pervade discussion of racial endowment.


In the first place, it may be well to repudiate some absurd misconceptions, such as the strange notion that certain anthropologists favor an extravagant influence of environmental as contrasted with hereditary factors; and that they teach the absolute equality of all races, nay of all individuals. I do not of course pretend to know the views of all living anthropologists, but I am not acquainted with any colleague who entertains these doctrines. Professor Boas is commonly mentioned as the champion of such dogmas. When, however, I turn from the garbled account of his conclusions in such works as Mr. Madison Grant's The Passing of the Great Race to his own statements, I find nothing to support such misrepresentation. Professor Boas argues for "a strictly limited plasticity" (zugunsten einer eng begrenzten Plastizitat) under the influence of an altered environment.1 On the subject of heredity he has this to say:

Although we have seen that environment, particularly domestication, has a far-reaching influence upon the bodily form of the races of man, these influences are of a quite secondary character when compared to the far-reaching influence of heredity. Even granting the greatest possible amount of influence to environment, it is readily seen that all the essential traits of man are due primarily to heredity. . . . I am inclined to believe that the influence of environment is of such a character, that, although the same race may assume a different type when removed from one environment to another, it will revert to its old type when replaced in its old environment.2

Finally his statement as to the comparative mental make-up of Caucasians and Negroes is extremely cautious; he accepts the possibility of differences but is not convinced of such differences as would incapacitate the Negro for the exigencies of modern life.3

Personally, I take great pains to impress upon my students that the innate equality of all races is an unproved dogma, in spite of the fact that all the demonstrations of inequality hitherto attempted are scientifically worthless. Some time ago I formulated my views in the following words:

As to the existence of superior races, I am an agnostic open to conviction. All evolutionists admit that at some point an organic change of fundamental significance occurred. It is conceivable that the Bushmen and Negrito, Pygmies and Negroes are organically below the remainder of living human types, and that differences of one sort or another even divide more closely related stocks. But between what is conceivable and what is definitely established there yawns a chasm, and where the scientist has no proof he holds no dogmas, though dispassionately he may frame tentative hypotheses.

This is not a very subtle point, but seems to transcend the comprehension of some writers. One of them has even gone so far as to accuse me of denying innate individual differences, referring his readers to certain articles of mine that were expressly designed to illustrate these differences.

It is an interesting fact that those who most vociferously accuse anthropologists of underestimating heredity as compared with environment are themselves the worst offenders in this regard. How does President Osborn, for example, account for the differences of cro-Magnon man in the Aurignacian and in the Magdalenian period? By the influence of environment! He writes as follows:

It is probable that in the genial climate of the Riviera these men obtained their finest development; the country was admirably protected from the cold winds of the north, refuges were abundant, and game by no means scarce to judge from the quantity of animal bones found in the caves.4

In the reduction of the stature of the woman to 5 feet 1 inch and of the man to 5 feet 3 inches; and in the reduction of the brain capacity to 1,500, we may be witnessing the result of exposure to very severe climatic conditions in a race which retained its fine physical and mental characteristics only under the more genial climatic conditions of the south.5

This is environmentalism with a vengeance! One wonders why those who so readily account for a difference of 300 in brain capacity and of 10 inches in stature by a change in geographical conditions refuse to admit that skulls may become somewhat narrower or wider under the influence of changed conditions. The difference of 10 inches in average height is about twice as great as the difference between the Scotch and the South Italians; it is greater than the difference between Andamanese pygmies and Frenchmen; equivalent to the difference between the Nilotics and the Vedda! What does Dr. Osborn mean? Does he believe that a climatic change effected a change in the germ-plasm tantamount to a heritable mutation? Or is he merely suggesting a "modification" in Baur's sense of the term? Even on the latter assumption, he is pleading for a potency of the environment that far transcends Boas's notion of a "strictly limited plasticity."

Mr. Madison Grant is not less of an environmentalist than his scientific sponsor, but apparently he attributes precisely the opposite effects to the same climatic conditions. The Nordics, whom in the particular sections of the book I am now quoting from6 he is pleased to favor, are said to have developed through isolation and the selection due to the rigors of severe winters, while under "the softening influence of a life of ease and plenty" they succumb.7 Genial climate was necessary for the Cro-Magnons, the alleged spiritual forerunners of the Nordics, but a genial climate spells disaster for the Nordics, it seems.

Mr. Grant, however, not merely ascribes considerable influence to the environment when it so pleases him, but also implicitly denies the combined influence of both heredity and environment when the spirit so moves him. It is indeed one of his explicit cardinal doctrines that racial traits are "to all intents and purposes immutable," "fixed and rigid." He furthermore holds that in Sweden "there has been but a single racial type from the beginning" and once he even delivers himself of the statement that "Denmark, Norway and Sweden are purely Nordic."8
Now we must recall that according to this author the Nordics evolved and actually flourish in the climatic conditions characteristic of their present habitation. Nevertheless he concludes a paragraph on the Scandinavian countries with this statement: "To-day all three seem to be intellectually anaemic."9

As a member of the Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Study and of the Scandinavian Club of the University of California, I venture to stigmatize this proposition as arrant nonsense. But apart from the crass ignorance it displays of the intellectual life of the peoples lampooned, how is such degeneration intelligible on Mr. Grant's own principles? If the Nordics are by heredity a favored race; if the Scandinavians are pure Nordics; if they "flourish, do their work and raise their families"10 in precisely the type of habitat they occupy; if racial traits "do not change during the lifetime of a language or an empire";11 then, by what magical process, neither racial nor environmental, do these purest Nordics degenerate to a status of intellectual anaemia within a few brief centuries? Perhaps Mr. Grant is not, after all, the champion of heredity he professes to be when it suits his convenience.

Before leaving this writer, I will call attention to two sentences in immediate contact with each other in his chapter on "The Expansion of the Nordics." In the first, already quoted, the three Scandinavian countries are described as "purely Nordic." In the second, we are told that in southwestern Norway and in Denmark "there is a substantial number of short, dark round heads of Alpine affinities."12 Comment is superfluous.

To sum up, it is not the professional anthropologist, but the professional heredity-monger that disregards the influence of heredity ad libitum. The anthropologist does not assert that the environment induces far-reaching effects on the germ-plasm: he merely asserts that certain phenomena change independently of the germ-plasm and in this claim he is fully supported by the attitude of Professor Elliot Smith, one of the few scientists with primarily biological orientation who have not disdained to try to understand the meaning of culture.13


In the past, arguments on racial differences have almost always been advanced on the assumption that observed differences in cultural achievement must be the expression of correlated differences in inborn capacity. In one sense no one denies this; everyone would admit that a cat, a dog or a monkey is incapable of producing or sharing in human culture. The point at issue is, whether when the organization adequate to the production of culture, or, let us say, of the culture characteristic of the Upper Palaeolithic was reached, any further cultural advance was conditioned by equivalent changes in inborn equipment. The differences between the material culture of, say, the West African Negro or the Shoshoni of Idaho on the one hand and Western civilization on the other are so striking that most writers naively assume that they are patent proofs of organic differences, and popular prejudice doubtless rests on the same fallacy.

The argument is fallacious, in spite of its plausibility, for the following reason. When we study the known history of culture, we find great changes without any corresponding changes in racial constitution. In 1850 no one dreamt of crediting the Germans or the Japanese people with efficiency. Elizabethan England was very different from the England of Queen Anne's day; and those who talk as though an aversion to discussions of sex were a deep-rooted Anglo-Saxon trait have perhaps slight acquaintance with Fielding and the Restoration dramatists. It is true that Galton asserted a racial cause for the magnificence and the decline of Athenian culture, but his claim is an empty allegation and contradictory to his own interpretation of the Renaissance.

The instances hitherto cited involve, however, relatively slight differences when viewed in broadest perspective. Hence it seems desirable to supplement them by others. It is not merely admitted but contended that the Nordic race has not changed in inborn equipment for several thousand years except in so far as it has been debased by amalgamation with inferior types. Yet the culture of the Nordics has developed extraordinarily within the space of from two to three thousand years. The Cro-Magnons provide an even better illustration. They appeared about, say, 25,000 B.C. and persisted through Magdalenian times, which began about 16,000 B.C.14 Here we have a race at least originally superior in inborn capacity to any now living, yet in 9,000 years or more they cannot rise above the level of the Stone Age culturally! Nay, the case is still more curious, for it is the decadent Cro-Magnons -- short and with reduced brain capacity -- who achieve the triumphs of Palaeolithic art!

Culture evidently does not vary with race according to any simple formula of functional relationship. This does not prove that the Tasmanians or Bushmen or Andamanese had the inborn capacity to develop unaided the civilization of Western Europe. It does prove that the difference of their culture from ours is not necessarily rooted in any innate difference, that the popular argument is wholly inconclusive.
We simply do not know whether the evolution of Homo sapiens involved all the organic requirements for any type of culture known, or whether certain deficiencies, as yet undefinable, necessarily bar certain varieties of the species from independently attaining such and such a cultural status.

Since, then, the gross comparison of cultural achievement leads nowhere, so far as the determination of innate possibilities goes, let us turn for aid to the psychologist. Here, too, however, certain elementary precautions are prerequisite.


A comparison of distinct groups involves the consideration of both average values and variability. It is entirely conceivable that two groups should coincide in their average mentality but differ in range, so that one may produce far more remarkable individuals in both positive and negative direction than the other. Professor Fischer, for example, suggests that the Caucasian differs from the Negroid in precisely this point, while not excelling him in average intelligence. If this could be established, it would have far-reaching theoretical and practical bearings: it would account for the differences in cultural achievement without assuming that the average level of intelligence varies in different cultures; and it would imply that for the ordinary tasks of life the Negroid is as well fitted as the average white.

In connection with the occurrence of extreme positive variations it is well to bear in mind another point forcibly made by Father Wilhelm Schmidt. Extreme deviations from the norm naturally occur with greater frequency in large populations than in communities of several hundred. A class of fifty may have the average stature of the whole student body, but it is not so likely to have as tall members as occur in the total campus population of, say, ten thousand. It is not astonishing, then, that hordes of Andamanese or Australians numbering not over a hundred or two should never have produced the personalities which figure in the history of China, India, and Western countries.

Another caution "is of tremendous importance. Since we are interested in establishing the existence or nonexistence of innate differences, the influence of training and other noncongenital factors, all of which for convenience sake we may call environmental, must be eliminated. The light-heartedness, not to say unscrupulousness, of many writers on this point is appalling. Admitting, as they must, that an empirical test cannot eliminate the environmental factor, they decree that certain observed differences are too great to be explained by environmental differences, hence are evidence of hereditary differences. The illegitimacy of this reasoning is apparent as soon as it is couched in clear language. Letting H and E represent hereditary and environmental determinants, respectively, the empirical results may be formulated as follows:

H1+E1=A H2+E2=A ±m

It does not require a profound knowledge of mathematics to see that the difference ± m proves nothing as to the value of H 1 and H2 so long as El and E2 differ by an unknown quantity. This is not academic logic-chopping pure and simple: we are told that Negroes are inferior to Caucasians because in certain tests 79 per cent of the former fell below C as against 25 per cent of Caucasians while only 1 per cent of the Negroes as against 12 per cent of the Caucasians scored above C. This difference, we are told, is too great to be interpreted as the result of educational and other social differences. But New York Negroes practically equal Alabama Whites in the tests! Hence the environmental factor must be taken into account, and unless we devise accurate methods for its quantitative determination, let us hold our tongues concerning inborn differences.


It is a commonplace of modern science that racial and national groups rarely coincide. This has not deterred several prominent psychologists from blandly grouping immigrants into the United States according to their place of origin and then proclaiming that the results of the ensuing group tests are racial statistics. This is the well-nigh incredible procedure of Dr. Robert M. Yerkes in an article on "Testing the Human Mind," contributed to The Atlantic Monthly for March, 1923. Dr. Yerkes not only brushes aside in cavalier fashion the educational differences discussed in the preceding paragraphs but cites tests on Italians, Poles, Turks, Greeks, et al. as establishing racial differences. He also ingeniously suggests that the Mediterranean element accounts for the low scores of recent immigrant groups; that element apparently possesses the miraculous quality of detracting from the Italian average by its presence and from the Polish average by its absence.

I wonder what would be thought of a naturalist who should wish to ascertain the characteristic weight of pure breeds of dogs by averaging an odd assortment of St. Bernards, dachshunds, and bulldogs and comparing the result with a corresponding average for mastiffs, fox terriers, and German police dogs. As a humble exercise in arithmetic the procedure may be justified, but its biological significance would be nil. Yet it would be better than Dr. Yerkes's method, for at least the naturalist would know precisely how many individuals of each breed he had weighed, but when Dr. Yerkes tests "Italians" he does not know how many of them represent each of the relatively pure types whose inborn endowments he is attempting to ascertain.

At this point I must register an emphatic protest against the naive assumption that because certain individuals in a region in which mixture of types has demonstrably occurred display physical features characteristic of type A they are therefore likewise the possessors of the mental traits that are ex hypothesi distinctive of the primeval "pure" type A. President Osborn goes further and lays down the proposition that even when one of the most typical traits of the Nordic, blondness, is lacking the individual may still be "three-fourths or seven-eighths Nordic, because it only requires a single dark-eyed ancestor to lend the dark hair and eye color to an otherwise pure Nordic strain."15 By implication dark hair and eye color will be the only features to dominate and the psychological traits of courage, loyalty, self-sacrifice and idealism innate in the Nordic will remain dominant in miscegenation. There is of course not a shred of evidence in support of such a principle of inheritance. One might well despair of modern biology if such slovenly pronunciamentos were not rejected by sane students of the subject. As Doctors East and Jones point out, we must be

very cautious about drawing genetic conclusions in the human race based upon the possession of particular traits, in the absence of proof of a long-continued isolation. . . . Traits originally characteristic of certain peoples because of isolation and the consequent inbreeding have been shifted back and forth, combined and recombined. . . . It is wholly possible, for example, that a tall, blue-eyed, dolichocephalic Frenchman really possesses less of the so-called Nordic factors than a short, dark-eyed round-head.16

Two other points may well be emphasized in this context. For one thing, the variability of "pure" types is largely unknown; we do not know, for example, how probable it is for a "pure" Alpine to vary so much from the norm of his type as to appear like a typical "pure" Nordic. Secondly, it is about time for writers on European anthropology to realize that things are more complicated than a hasty perusal of Ripley's book, now twenty years old, may indicate. Apart from the Adriatic or Dinaric race recognized by many investigators, we may have other types to consider if Dr. Czekanowski and other anthropologists are correct in their observations in Poland and Russia.17


Is it, then, necessary to abandon all hope of progress in this field? By no means: a calm survey of the difficulties merely leads to a formulation that does not by necessity produce absurd and worthless results. We cannot hope to eliminate all disturbing factors, but that is equally true even of such ancient sciences as astronomy. We can at least get rid of certain conditions that are bound to vitiate comparative results.

First of all we must choose a region that is anthropologically well known and which has been demonstrably occupied by more than one racial strain, but in which strains are locally more or less segregated. Without assuming that it is the only country suitable for the purpose, I venture to suggest that Italy provides a very favorable starting-point. The contrast between the North Italian Alpine type and the South Italian Mediterranean type is notorious. While of course minor variations are not lacking in the south, the uniformity of the South Italian population is remarkable.18 The hair is almost always black; the nasal index for Abruzzi, Campania, Puglie, and Sardinia is 69.77,69.68,69.49, and 68.82, respectively; the stature ranges provincially between the narrow limits of 159.9 cm. for Basilicata to 162 cm. for Campania; "mixed brown" pigmentation occurs in at least half of the individuals examined, rising to 62.2 per cent in Calabria and 70.4 per cent in Sardinia. When we consider, on the other hand, such typical North Italians as the Piedmontese and Venetians' we discover that the hair is often, if not almost always, of chestnut color; that the mean height is distinctly greater than among the Mediterraneans -- 166. 3 against 163.7 cm.; that there is an appreciable percentage of individuals with fair pigmentation. In addition there is the marked difference in head form: the Piedmontese with an index of 85.7 and the Venetians with an index of 85 are markedly brachycephalic; the South Italians while, contrary to current statements not dolichocephalic at present, are either mesocephalic or merely of moderately brachycephalic character. Nevertheless, when we compare the head form of the several South Italian provinces, the impression of homogeneity so strongly suggested by other physical traits disappears; between the extremes represented by Sardinia with 77.5 and Campania with 82.1 there are intermediate figures, such as 78.4 for Calabria and 80.8 for Basilicata.

These data furnish us with the possibility of sketching a program for psychological investigation. In the first place, it is probably not difficult to minimize the environmental factors: a thousand illiterate peasants from Sardinia will probably not differ notably in their cultural influences from an equal number of illiterate peasants from Sicily. Secondly, when we find such regional differences in head form within an otherwise uniform population, they can plausibly be accounted for through racial mixture; specifically, the relatively broad-skulled groups are presumably such through the influence of Alpine mixture. The alleged innate mental differences are accordingly amenable to empirical verification or disproof: the Calabrians with an index of 78.4 may be assumed to be more like the Basilicatans (SO.8) than like the people from Abruzzi (81.9) and Campania (82.1); the Sicilians (79.6) will be more like the Apulians (79.8) than like the other groups mentioned. I am well aware of the fact that very small differences, possibly derived from small series, may not be significant. It is also obvious that, with the variety of complicating factors, the ideal of quantitative refinement here outlined cannot be realized. Nevertheless, if there is anything in the alleged mental difference of the Alpine and Mediterranean types, the repeated comparison of all the otherwise homogeneous Mediterranean groups differing only by a varying degree of Alpine admixture indicated by the cephalic index should constitute a crucial test. In Sardinia, with its excessively dark pigmentation, relatively greatest degree of dolichocephaly among the living (77.5), genuine dolichocephaly (71.53) of cranial material, and maximum trend toward curly hair and prognathism, an especially favorable opportunity presents itself for ascertaining the psychological influence of the Negroid strain that has plausibly been assumed as the factor determining these deviations from the South Italian norm. In the north, the aberrant case of Liguria, where the index of 79.34 stands out in marked contrast with that of the neighboring brachycephalic provinces, corresponding comparative tests seem desirable.

While I have stressed the cephalic index in view of Italian conditions, I should not like to be interpreted as disregarding other physical traits. In Portugal, for example, it may well be that the regional distribution of blondness would provide a better line of cleavage than the character of the head form.

A sane procedure will involve the systematic exploitation of minimal differences in conjunction with historical data. The Danes are known to have had largely the same antecedents as the other Scandinavians but they are about three centimeters shorter and have an index of 80.7 as against 78.5 for Norway. To what extent do they differ in mental make-up from other Scandinavians? In Norway a number of interesting problems arise. In sections of the country where no Lapps are known ever to have existed there is a marked percentage of dark-eyed people.19 This locally segregated group invites comparison with their typical blue-eyed "Nordic" neighbors. The latter may be compared with those Norwegian groups which have demonstrably intermarried with Lapps. Again, "pure" Lapps, such as those measured by Mantegazza, have an index over 87, while the "Lapps" of Troms, where mixture has occurred, have an index of 84.3, besides differing in other respects. Finally, the Karelian Finns differ appreciably from the Finns proper and might well be psychologically tested in comparison with them.20 If I remember Professor Retzius's statement correctly -- his volume is not accessible to me at present -- the history of the Walloons imported into Sweden is fairly well known, and certain districts still clearly reveal the infusion of Alpine blood. Here, then, a comparison of Alpine and Nordic mentality may be feasible.

No doubt many readers of this journal can suggest additional problems. When psychologists without bias shall have attacked them and arrived at statistically unexceptionable positive results, i.e., shall have established real innate differences, anthropologists will accept the conclusions regardless of their personal predilections or prejudices. In the meantime it is their duty to denounce the charlatanism so prevalent in this field and to repudiate not biology but the sham biology that invents facts and even biological "laws" to support personal views.





1 F. Boas: The Mind of Primitive Man, p. 64; Kultur und Rasse, p. 67.

2 The Mind of Primitive Man, p. 76 f.

3 Ibid., p. 271 f.

4 H. F. Osborn: Men of the Old Stone Age, p. 297.

5 Ibid., p. 382.

6 Corresponding qualifications must always be understood to accompany expositions of this writer's views, which change from chapter to chapter, and sometimes even from paragraph to paragraph.

7 Madison Grant: The Passing of the Great Race, pp. 38-41, 170 f.

8 Ibid., pp. 15, 18, 169, 211.

9 Ibid., p. 210.

10 Ibid., p. 39.

11 Ibid., p. 15.

12 Ibid., p. 211.

13 G. Eliot Smith: Primitive Man (Proceedings of the British Academy, VII, 1916), pp. 37, 49 f.

14 H. F. Osborn: Men of the Old Stone Age, pp. 18,261,351.

15 H. F. Osborn in "Preface to Second Edition" of M. Grant, op. cit. xi f.

16 E. M. East and D. F. Jones: Inbreeding and Outbreeding, 1919, p. 250.

17 J. Czekanowski: Recherches anthropologiques de la Pologne, Bulletins et Memoires, Societe d'Anthropologie, 1920, p. 48 seq.

18 For the following data see V. Giuffrida-Ruggeri, A Sketch of the Anthropology of Italy, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, XLVIII, 1918, pp. 80-102.

19 Halfdan Bryn: Troms Fylkes Antropologi, Christiania, 1922, p. 19.

20 Ibid., pp. 33, 37, 174.
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Part 1 of 2

Giordano Bruno
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 6/22/20

11. The Manipulator of Erotic Love:

In this chapter we want to introduce the reader to a spectacular European parallel to the fundamental tantric idea that erotic love and sexuality can be translated into material and spiritual power. It concerns several until now rarely considered theses of Giordano Bruno (1548-1600).

At the age of fifteen, Bruno, born in Nola, Italy, joined the Dominican order. However, his interest in the newest scientific discoveries and his fascination with the late Hellenistic esotericism very soon led him to leave his order, a for the times most courageous undertaking. From this point on he began a hectic life on the road which took him all over Europe. Nonetheless, the restless and ingenious ex-monk wrote and published numerous “revolutionary” works in which he took a critical stance toward the dogmata of the church on all manner of topics. The fact that Bruno championed many ideas from the modern view of the world that was emerging at the time, especially the Copernican system, made him a hero of the new during his own lifetime. After he was found guilty of heresy by the Inquisition in 1600 and burned at the stake at the Campo dei Fiori in Rome, the European intelligentsia proclaimed him to be the greatest “martyr of modern science”. This image has stayed with him up until the present day. Yet this is not entirely justified, then Bruno was far more interested in the esoteric ideas of antiquity and the occultism of his day than in modern scientific research. Nearly all of his works concern magic/mystic/mythological themes.

Like the Indian Tantrics, this eccentric and dynamic Renaissance philosopher was convinced that the entire universe was held together by erotic love. Love in all its variations ruled the world, from physical nature to the metaphysical heavens, from sexuality to heartfelt love of the mystics: it “led either to the animals [sexuality] or to the intelligible and is then called the divine [mysticism]" (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 174).

Bruno extended the term Eros (erotic love) to encompass in the final instance all human emotions and described it in general terms as the primal force which bonded, or rather—as he put it—"chained”, through affect. “The most powerful shackle of all is ... love” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 224). The lover is “chained” to the individual loved. But there is no need for the reverse to apply, then the beloved does not themselves have to love. This definition of love as a “chain” made it possible for Bruno to see even hate as a way of expressing erotic love, since he or she who hates is just as “chained” to the hated by his feelings as the lover is to the beloved. (To more graphically illustrate the parallels between Bruno’s philosophy and Tantrism, we will in the following speak of the lover as feminine rather than masculine. Bruno used the term completely generically for both women and men.

According to Bruno, “the ability to enchain” is also the main characteristic of magic, then a magician behaves like an escapologist when he binds his “victim” (whether human or spirit) to him with love. “There where we have spoken of natural magic, we have described to what extent all chains can be related to the chain of love, are dependent upon the chain of love or arise in the chain of love” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 213). More than anything else, love binds people, and this gives it something of the demonic, especially when it is exploited by one partner to the disadvantage of the other. “As regards all those who are dedicated to philosophy or magic, it is fully apparent that the highest bond, the most important and the most general belongs to erotic love: and that is why the Platonists called love the Great Demon, daemon magnus” (quoted by Couliano, 1987, p. 91).

Now how does this erotic magic work? According to Bruno an erotic/magic involvement arises between the lovers, a fabric of affect, feelings, and moods. He refers to this as rete (net or fabric). It is woven from subtle “threads of affect”, but is thus all the more binding. (Let us recall that the Sanskrit word “tantra” translates as “fabric” or “net”.) The rete (the erotic net) can be expressed in a sexual relationship (through sexual dependency), but in the majority of cases it is of a psychological nature which nonetheless further strengthens its power to bind. Every form of love chains in its own way: “This love”, Bruno says, “is unique, and is a fetter which makes everything one” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 180).

If they wish, a person can control the one whom they bind to themselves with love, since “through this chain [the] lover is enraptured, so that they want to be transferred to the beloved” as Bruno writes (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 181). Accordingly, the real magician is the beloved, who exploits the erotic energy of the lover in the accumulation of his own power. He transforms love into power, he is a manipulator of erotic love. [1] As we shall soon see, even if Bruno’s manipulator is not literally a Tantric, the second part of the definition with which we prefaced our study still seems to fit:

The mystery of Tantric Buddhism consists in ...
the manipulation of erotic love
so as to attain universal androcentric power.

The manipulator, also referred to as a “soul hunter” by Bruno, can reach the heart of the lover through her sense of sight, through her hearing, through her spirit, and through her imagination, and thus chain her to him. He can look at her, smile at her, hold her hand, shower her with flattering compliments, sleep with her, or influence her through his power of imagination. “In enchaining”, Bruno says, “there are four movements. The first is the penetration or insertion, the second the attachment or the chain, the third the attraction, the fourth the connection, which is also known as enjoyment. ... Hence [the] lover wants to completely penetrate the beloved with his tongue, his mouth, with his eyes, etc.” (Samsonow, 1995, pp. 171, 200). That is, not only does the lover let herself be enchained, she must also experience the greatest desire for this bond. This lust has to increase to the point that she wants to offer herself with her entire being to the beloved manipulator and would like to “disappear in him”. This gives the latter absolute power over the enchained one.

The manipulator evokes all manner of illusions in the awareness of his love victim and arouses her emotions and desires. He opens the heart of the lover and can take possession of the one thus “wounded”. He is lord over foreign emotions and “has means at his disposal to forge all the chains he wants: hope, compassion, fear, love, hate, indignation, anger, joy, patience, disdain for life and death” writes Joan P. Couliano in her book, Eros and magic in the Renaissance (Couliano, 1987, p. 94). Yet the magically enacted enchainment may never occur against the manifest will of the enchanted one. In contrast, the manipulator must always awake the suggestion in his victim that everything is happening in her interests alone. He creates the total illusion that the lover is a chosen one, an independent individual following her own will.

Bruno also mentions an indirect method of gaining influence, in which the lover does not know at all that she is being manipulated. In this case, the manipulator makes use of “powerful invisible beings, demons and heroes”, whom he conjures up with magic incantations (mantras) so as to achieve the desired result with their help (Couliano, 1987, p. 88). We learn from the following quotation how these invoked spirits work for the manipulator: They need “neither ears nor a voice nor a whisper, rather they penetrate the inner senses [of the lover] as described. Thus they do not just produce dreams and cause voices to be heard and all kinds of things to be seen, but they also force certain thoughts upon the waking as the truth, which they can hardly recognize as deriving from another” (Samsonow, 1995, p. 140). The lover thus believes she is acting in her own interests and according to her own will, whilst she is in fact being steered and controlled through magic blandishments.

The manipulator himself may not surrender to any emotional inclinations. Like a tantric yogi he must keep his own feelings completely under control from start to finish. For this reason well-developed egocentricity is a necessary characteristic for a good manipulator. He is permitted only one love: narcissism (philautia), and according to Bruno only a tiny elite possesses the ability needed, because the majority of people surrender to uncontrolled emotions. The manipulator has to completely bridle and control his fantasy: “Be careful,” Bruno warns him, “not to change yourself from manipulator into the tool of phantasms” (quoted by Couliano, 1987, p. 92). The real European magician must, like his oriental colleague (the Siddha), be able “to arrange, to correct and to provide phantasy, to create the different kinds at will” (Couliano, 1987, p. 92).

He must not develop any reciprocal feelings for the lover, but he has to pretend to have these, since, as Bruno says, “the chains of love, friendship, goodwill, favor, lust, charity, compassion, desire, passion, avarice, craving, and longing disappear easily if they are not based upon mutuality. From this stems the saying: love dies without love” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 181). This statement is of thoroughly cynical intent, then the manipulator is not interested in reciprocating the erotic love of the lover, but rather in simulating such a reciprocity.

But for the deception to succeed the manipulator may not remain completely cold. He has to know from his own experience the feelings that he evokes in the lover, but he may never surrender himself to these: “He is even supposed to kindle in his phantasmic mechanism [his imagination] formidable passions, provided these be sterile and that he be detached from them. For there is no way to bewitch others than by experimenting in himself with what he wishes to produce in his victim” (Couliano, 1987, p. 102). The evocation of passions without falling prey to them is, as we know, almost a tantric leitmotif.

Yet the most astonishing aspect of Bruno’s manipulation thesis is that, as in Vajrayana, he mentions the retention of semen as a powerful instrument of control which the magician should command, since “through the expulsion of the seed the chains [of love] are loosened, through the retention tightened” (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 175). In a further passage we can read: “If this [the semen virile] is expelled by an appropriate part, the force of the chain is reduced correspondingly (quoted by Samsonow, 1995, p. 175). Or the reverse:
a person who retains their semen, can thereby strengthen the erotic bondage of the lover.

Bruno’s idea that there is a correspondence between erotic love and power is thus in accord with tantric dogma on the issue of sperm gnosis as well. His theory of the manipulability of love offers us valuable psychological insights into the soul of the lover and the beloved manipulator. They also help us to understand why women surrender themselves to the Buddhist yogis and what is played out in their emotional worlds during the rites. As we have already indicated, this topic is completely suppressed in the tantric discussion. But Bruno addresses it openly and cynically — it is the heart of the lover which is manipulated. The effect for the manipulator (or yogi) is thus all the greater the more his karma mudra surrenders herself to him.

Bruno’s treatise, De vinculis in genere [On the binding forces in general] (1591), can in terms of its cynicism and directness only be compared with Machiavelli’s The Prince (1513). But his work goes further. Couliano correctly points out that Machiavelli examines political, Bruno however, psychological manipulation. Then it is less the love of a consort and rather the erotic love of the masses which should — this she claims is Bruno’s intention — serve the manipulator as a “chain”. The former monk from Nola recognized manipulated “love” as a powerful instrument of control for the seduction of the masses. His theory thus contributes much to an understanding of the ecstatic attractiveness that dictators and pontiffs exercise over the people who love them. This makes Bruno’s work up to date despite its cynical content.

Bruno’s observations on “erotic love as a chain” are essentially tantric. Like Vajrayana, they concern the manipulation of the erotic in order to produce spiritual and worldly power. Bruno recognized that love in the broadest sense is the “elixir of life”, which first makes possible the establishment and maintenance of institutions of power headed by a person (such as the Pope, the Dalai Lama, or a “beloved” dictator for example). As strong as love may be, it is, if it remains one-sided, manipulable in the person of the “lover”. Indeed, the stronger it becomes, the more easily it can be used or “misused” for the purposes of power (by the “beloved”).

The fact that Tantrism focuses more upon sexuality than on the more sublime forms of erotic love, does not change anything about this principle of “erotic exploitation”. The manipulation of more subtle forms of love like the look (Carya Tantra), the smile (Kriya Tantra), and the touch (Yoga Tantra) are also known in Vajrayana. Likewise, in Tantric Buddhism as in every religious institution, the “spiritual love” of its believers is a life energy without which it could not exist. In the second part of our study we shall have to demonstrate how the Tibetan leader of the Buddhists, the Dalai Lama, succeeds in binding ever more Western believers to him with the “chains of love”.

Incidentally, in her book which we have quoted (Eros and Magic in the Renaissance) Couliano is of the opinion that via the mass media the West has already been woven into such a manipulable “erotic net” (rete). At the end of her analysis of Bruno’s treatise on power she concludes: “And since the relations between individuals are controlled by ‘erotic’ criteria in the widest sense of that adjective, human society at all levels is itself only magic at work. Without even being conscious of it, all beings who, by reason of the way the world is constructed, find themselves in an intersubjective intermediate place, participate in a magic process. The manipulator is the only one who, having understood the ensemble of that mechanism, is first an observer of intersubjective relations while simultaneously gaining knowledge from which he means subsequently to profit” (Couliano, 1987, p. 103).

-- The Shadow of the Dalai Lama: Sexuality, Magic and Politics in Tibetan Buddhism, by Victor and Victoria Trimondi

Giordano Bruno
Modern portrait based on a woodcut from "Livre du recteur", 1578
Born: Filippo Bruno, January or February 1548, Nola, Kingdom of Naples
Died: 17 February 1600 (aged 51–52), Rome, Papal States
Cause of death: Execution by burning
Era: Renaissance philosophy
Region: Western philosophy
School: Renaissance humanism; Neoplatonism; Neopythagoreanism
Main interests: Philosophy, cosmology, and mathematics
Notable ideas: Cosmic pluralism
Influences: Averroes,[1] Nicolaus Copernicus, Nicolaus Cusanus
Influenced: Galileo Galilei, James Joyce, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Molière,[2] Arthur Schopenhauer, Baruch Spinoza

Giordano Bruno (/dʒɔːrˈdɑːnoʊ ˈbruːnoʊ/, Italian: [dʒorˈdaːno ˈbruːno]; Latin: Iordanus Brunus Nolanus; born Filippo Bruno, January or February 1548 – 17 February 1600) was an Italian Dominican friar, philosopher, mathematician, poet, cosmological theorist, and Hermetic occultist.[3][4] He is known for his cosmological theories, which conceptually extended the then-novel Copernican model. He proposed that the stars were distant suns surrounded by their own planets, and he raised the possibility that these planets might foster life of their own, a philosophical position known as cosmic pluralism. He also insisted that the universe is infinite and could have no "centre".

Starting in 1593, Bruno was tried for heresy by the Roman Inquisition on charges of denial of several core Catholic doctrines, including eternal damnation, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and transubstantiation. Bruno's pantheism was not taken lightly by the church,[5] as was his teaching of the transmigration of the soul/reincarnation. The Inquisition found him guilty, and he was burned at the stake in Rome's Campo de' Fiori in 1600. After his death, he gained considerable fame, being particularly celebrated by 19th- and early 20th-century commentators who regarded him as a martyr for science,[6] although historians agree that his heresy trial was not a response to his astronomical views but rather a response to his philosophical and religious views.[7][8][9][10][11] Bruno's case is still considered a landmark in the history of free thought and the emerging sciences.[12][13]

In addition to cosmology, Bruno also wrote extensively on the art of memory, a loosely organised group of mnemonic techniques and principles. Historian Frances Yates argues that Bruno was deeply influenced by Arab astrology (particularly the philosophy of Averroes[14]), Neoplatonism, Renaissance Hermeticism, and Genesis-like legends surrounding the Egyptian god Thoth.[15] Other studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial concepts of geometry to language.[16]


Early years, 1548–1576

Born Filippo Bruno in Nola (a comune in the modern-day province of Naples, in the Southern Italian region of Campania, then part of the Kingdom of Naples) in 1548, he was the son of Giovanni Bruno, a soldier, and Fraulissa Savolino. In his youth he was sent to Naples to be educated. He was tutored privately at the Augustinian monastery there, and attended public lectures at the Studium Generale.[17] At the age of 17, he entered the Dominican Order at the monastery of San Domenico Maggiore in Naples, taking the name Giordano, after Giordano Crispo, his metaphysics tutor. He continued his studies there, completing his novitiate, and became an ordained priest in 1572 at age 24. During his time in Naples he became known for his skill with the art of memory and on one occasion travelled to Rome to demonstrate his mnemonic system before Pope Pius V and Cardinal Rebiba. In his later years Bruno claimed that the Pope accepted his dedication to him of the lost work On The Ark of Noah at this time.[18]

While Bruno was distinguished for outstanding ability, his taste for free thinking and forbidden books soon caused him difficulties. Given the controversy he caused in later life it is surprising that he was able to remain within the monastic system for eleven years. In his testimony to Venetian inquisitors during his trial, many years later, he says that proceedings were twice taken against him for having cast away images of the saints, retaining only a crucifix, and for having recommended controversial texts to a novice.[19] Such behaviour could perhaps be overlooked, but Bruno's situation became much more serious when he was reported to have defended the Arian heresy, and when a copy of the banned writings of Erasmus, annotated by him, was discovered hidden in the convent privy. When he learned that an indictment was being prepared against him in Naples he fled, shedding his religious habit, at least for a time.[20]

First years of wandering, 1576–1583

Bruno first went to the Genoese port of Noli, then to Savona, Turin and finally to Venice, where he published his lost work On the Signs of the Times with the permission (so he claimed at his trial) of the Dominican Remigio Nannini Fiorentino. From Venice he went to Padua, where he met fellow Dominicans who convinced him to wear his religious habit again. From Padua he went to Bergamo and then across the Alps to Chambéry and Lyon. His movements after this time are obscure.[21]

The earliest depiction of Bruno is an engraving published in 1715 in Germany, presumed based on a lost contemporary portrait.[22]

In 1579 he arrived in Geneva. As D.W. Singer, a Bruno biographer, notes, "The question has sometimes been raised as to whether Bruno became a Protestant, but it is intrinsically most unlikely that he accepted membership in Calvin's communion"[23] During his Venetian trial he told inquisitors that while in Geneva he told the Marchese de Vico of Naples, who was notable for helping Italian refugees in Geneva, "I did not intend to adopt the religion of the city. I desired to stay there only that I might live at liberty and in security."[This quote needs a citation] Bruno had a pair of breeches made for himself, and the Marchese and others apparently made Bruno a gift of a sword, hat, cape and other necessities for dressing himself; in such clothing Bruno could no longer be recognised as a priest. Things apparently went well for Bruno for a time, as he entered his name in the Rector's Book of the University of Geneva in May 1579.[citation needed] But in keeping with his personality he could not long remain silent. In August he published an attack on the work of Antoine de la Faye [fr], a distinguished professor. He and the printer were promptly arrested. Rather than apologising, Bruno insisted on continuing to defend his publication. He was refused the right to take sacrament. Though this right was eventually restored, he left Geneva.[citation needed]

He went to France, arriving first in Lyon, and thereafter settling for a time (1580–1581) in Toulouse, where he took his doctorate in theology and was elected by students to lecture in philosophy. It seems he also attempted at this time to return to Catholicism, but was denied absolution by the Jesuit priest he approached.[citation needed] When religious strife broke out in the summer of 1581, he moved to Paris. There he held a cycle of thirty lectures on theological topics and also began to gain fame for his prodigious memory. Bruno's feats of memory were based, at least in part, on his elaborate system of mnemonics, but some of his contemporaries found it easier to attribute them to magical powers.[citation needed] His talents attracted the benevolent attention of the king Henry III. The king summoned him to the court. Bruno subsequently reported

"I got me such a name that King Henry III summoned me one day to discover from me if the memory which I possessed was natural or acquired by magic art. I satisfied him that it did not come from sorcery but from organised knowledge; and, following this, I got a book on memory printed, entitled The Shadows of Ideas, which I dedicated to His Majesty. Forthwith he gave me an Extraordinary Lectureship with a salary."[24]

In Paris, Bruno enjoyed the protection of his powerful French patrons. During this period, he published several works on mnemonics, including De umbris idearum (On the Shadows of Ideas, 1582), Ars Memoriae (The Art of Memory, 1582), and Cantus Circaeus (Circe's Song, 1582). All of these were based on his mnemonic models of organised knowledge and experience, as opposed to the simplistic logic-based mnemonic techniques of Petrus Ramus then becoming popular.[citation needed] Bruno also published a comedy summarizing some of his philosophical positions, titled Il Candelaio (The Torchbearer, 1582). In the 16th century dedications were, as a rule, approved beforehand, and hence were a way of placing a work under the protection of an individual. Given that Bruno dedicated various works to the likes of King Henry III, Sir Philip Sidney, Michel de Castelnau (French Ambassador to England), and possibly Pope Pius V, it is apparent that this wanderer had risen sharply in status and moved in powerful circles.[citation needed]

England, 1583–1585

Woodcut illustration of one of Giordano Bruno's less complex mnemonic devices

In April 1583, Bruno went to England with letters of recommendation from Henry III as a guest of the French ambassador, Michel de Castelnau. There he became acquainted with the poet Philip Sidney (to whom he dedicated two books) and other members of the Hermetic circle around John Dee, though there is no evidence that Bruno ever met Dee himself. He also lectured at Oxford, and unsuccessfully sought a teaching position there. His views were controversial, notably with John Underhill, Rector of Lincoln College and subsequently bishop of Oxford, and George Abbot, who later became Archbishop of Canterbury. Abbot mocked Bruno for supporting "the opinion of Copernicus that the earth did go round, and the heavens did stand still; whereas in truth it was his own head which rather did run round, and his brains did not stand still",[25] and found Bruno had both plagiarised and misrepresented Ficino's work, leading Bruno to return to the continent.[26]

Nevertheless, his stay in England was fruitful. During that time Bruno completed and published some of his most important works, the six "Italian Dialogues", including the cosmological tracts La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper, 1584), De la Causa, Principio et Uno (On Cause, Principle and Unity, 1584), De l'Infinito, Universo e Mondi (On the Infinite, Universe and Worlds, 1584) as well as Lo Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, 1584) and De gl' Heroici Furori (On the Heroic Frenzies, 1585). Some of these were printed by John Charlewood. Some of the works that Bruno published in London, notably The Ash Wednesday Supper, appear to have given offense. Once again, Bruno's controversial views and tactless language lost him the support of his friends. John Bossy has advanced the theory that, while staying in the French Embassy in London, Bruno was also spying on Catholic conspirators, under the pseudonym "Henry Fagot", for Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's Secretary of State.[27]

Bruno is sometimes cited as being the first to propose that the universe is infinite, which he did during his time in England, but an English scientist, Thomas Digges, put forth this idea in a published work in 1576, some eight years earlier than Bruno.[28] An infinite universe and the possibility of alien life had also been earlier suggested by German Catholic Cardinal Nicholas of Cusa in "On Learned Ignorance" published in 1440.

Last years of wandering, 1585–1592

In October 1585, after the French embassy in London was attacked by a mob, Bruno returned to Paris with Castelnau, finding a tense political situation. Moreover, his 120 theses against Aristotelian natural science and his pamphlets against the mathematician Fabrizio Mordente soon put him in ill favour. In 1586, following a violent quarrel about Mordente's invention, the differential compass, he left France for Germany.[citation needed]

Woodcut from "Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatis mathematicos atque philosophos", Prague 1588

In Germany he failed to obtain a teaching position at Marburg, but was granted permission to teach at Wittenberg, where he lectured on Aristotle for two years. However, with a change of intellectual climate there, he was no longer welcome, and went in 1588 to Prague, where he obtained 300 taler from Rudolf II, but no teaching position. He went on to serve briefly as a professor in Helmstedt, but had to flee again when he was excommunicated by the Lutherans.[citation needed]

During this period he produced several Latin works, dictated to his friend and secretary Girolamo Besler, including De Magia (On Magic), Theses De Magia (Theses on Magic) and De Vinculis in Genere (A General Account of Bonding). All these were apparently transcribed or recorded by Besler (or Bisler) between 1589 and 1590.[29] He also published De Imaginum, Signorum, Et Idearum Compositione (On the Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas, 1591).

In 1591 he was in Frankfurt. Apparently, during the Frankfurt Book Fair,[30] he received an invitation to Venice from the local patrician Giovanni Mocenigo, who wished to be instructed in the art of memory, and also heard of a vacant chair in mathematics at the University of Padua. At the time the Inquisition seemed to be losing some of its strictness, and because the Republic of Venice was the most liberal state in the Italian Peninsula, Bruno was lulled into making the fatal mistake of returning to Italy.[31]

He went first to Padua, where he taught briefly, and applied unsuccessfully for the chair of mathematics, which was given instead to Galileo Galilei one year later. Bruno accepted Mocenigo's invitation and moved to Venice in March 1592. For about two months he served as an in-house tutor to Mocenigo. When Bruno announced his plan to leave Venice to his host, the latter, who was unhappy with the teachings he had received and had apparently come to dislike Bruno, denounced him to the Venetian Inquisition, which had Bruno arrested on 22 May 1592. Among the numerous charges of blasphemy and heresy brought against him in Venice, based on Mocenigo's denunciation, was his belief in the plurality of worlds, as well as accusations of personal misconduct. Bruno defended himself skilfully, stressing the philosophical character of some of his positions, denying others and admitting that he had had doubts on some matters of dogma. The Roman Inquisition, however, asked for his transfer to Rome. After several months of argument, the Venetian authorities reluctantly consented and Bruno was sent to Rome in February 1593.[citation needed]

Imprisonment, trial and execution, 1593–1600

During the seven years of his trial in Rome, Bruno was held in confinement, lastly in the Tower of Nona. Some important documents about the trial are lost, but others have been preserved, among them a summary of the proceedings that was rediscovered in 1940.[32] The numerous charges against Bruno, based on some of his books as well as on witness accounts, included blasphemy, immoral conduct, and heresy in matters of dogmatic theology, and involved some of the basic doctrines of his philosophy and cosmology. Luigi Firpo speculates the charges made against Bruno by the Roman Inquisition were:[33]

• holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith and speaking against it and its ministers;
• holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about the Trinity, divinity of Christ, and Incarnation;
• holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith pertaining to Jesus as Christ;
• holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith regarding the virginity of Mary, mother of Jesus;
• holding opinions contrary to the Catholic faith about both Transubstantiation and Mass;
• claiming the existence of a plurality of worlds and their eternity;
• believing in metempsychosis and in the transmigration of the human soul into brutes;
• dealing in magics and divination.

The trial of Giordano Bruno by the Roman Inquisition. Bronze relief by Ettore Ferrari, Campo de' Fiori, Rome.

Bruno defended himself as he had in Venice, insisting that he accepted the Church's dogmatic teachings, but
trying to preserve the basis of his philosophy. In particular, he held firm to his belief in the plurality of worlds, although he was admonished to abandon it. His trial was overseen by the Inquisitor Cardinal Bellarmine, who demanded a full recantation, which Bruno eventually refused. On 20 January 1600, Pope Clement VIII declared Bruno a heretic, and the Inquisition issued a sentence of death. According to the correspondence of Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, he is said to have made a threatening gesture towards his judges and to have replied: Maiori forsan cum timore sententiam in me fertis quam ego accipiam ("Perhaps you pronounce this sentence against me with greater fear than I receive it").[34]

He was turned over to the secular authorities. On Ash Wednesday, 17 February 1600, in the Campo de' Fiori (a central Roman market square), with his "tongue imprisoned because of his wicked words", he was hung upside down naked before finally being burned at the stake.[35][36] His ashes were thrown into the Tiber river. All of Bruno's works were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum in 1603. The inquisition cardinals who judged Giordano Bruno were Cardinal Bellarmino (Bellarmine), Cardinal Madruzzo (Madruzzi), Camillo Cardinal Borghese (later Pope Paul V), Domenico Cardinal Pinelli, Pompeio Cardinal Arrigoni, Cardinal Sfondrati, Pedro Cardinal De Deza Manuel and Cardinal Santorio (Archbishop of Santa Severina, Cardinal-Bishop of Palestrina).

The measures taken to prevent Bruno continuing to speak have resulted in his becoming a symbol for free thought and speech in present-day Rome, where an annual memorial service takes place close to the spot where he was executed.[37]

Physical appearance

The earliest likeness of Bruno is an engraving published in 1715[38] and cited by Salvestrini as "the only known portrait of Bruno". Salvestrini suggests that it is a re-engraving made from a now lost original.[22] This engraving has provided the source for later images.

The records of Bruno's imprisonment by the Venetian inquisition in May 1592 describe him as a man "of average height, with a hazel-coloured beard and the appearance of being about forty years of age". Alternately, a passage in a work by George Abbot indicates that Bruno was of diminutive stature: "When that Italian Didapper, who intituled himselfe Philotheus Iordanus Brunus Nolanus, magis elaboratae Theologiae Doctor, &c. with a name longer than his body...".[39] The word "didapper" used by Abbot is the derisive term which at the time meant "a small diving waterfowl".[40]


Contemporary cosmological beliefs

See also: Celestial spheres § History

Illuminated illustration of the Ptolemaic geocentric conception of the universe. The outermost text reads "The heavenly empire, dwelling of God and all the selected"

In the first half of the 15th century, Nicholas of Cusa challenged the then widely accepted philosophies of Aristotelianism, envisioning instead an infinite universe whose centre was everywhere and circumference nowhere, and moreover teeming with countless stars.[41] He also predicted that neither were the rotational orbits circular nor were their movements uniform.[42]

In the second half of the 16th century, the theories of Copernicus (1473–1543) began diffusing through Europe. Copernicus conserved the idea of planets fixed to solid spheres, but considered the apparent motion of the stars to be an illusion caused by the rotation of the Earth on its axis; he also preserved the notion of an immobile centre, but it was the Sun rather than the Earth. Copernicus also argued the Earth was a planet orbiting the Sun once every year. However he maintained the Ptolemaic hypothesis that the orbits of the planets were composed of perfect circles—deferents and epicycles—and that the stars were fixed on a stationary outer sphere.[43]

Despite the widespread publication of Copernicus' work De revolutionibus orbium coelestium, during Bruno's time most educated Catholics subscribed to the Aristotelian geocentric view that the Earth was the centre of the universe, and that all heavenly bodies revolved around it.[44] The ultimate limit of the universe was the primum mobile, whose diurnal rotation was conferred upon it by a transcendental God, not part of the universe (although, as the kingdom of heaven, adjacent to it[45]), a motionless prime mover and first cause. The fixed stars were part of this celestial sphere, all at the same fixed distance from the immobile Earth at the center of the sphere. Ptolemy had numbered these at 1,022, grouped into 48 constellations. The planets were each fixed to a transparent sphere.[46]

Few astronomers of Bruno's time accepted Copernicus's heliocentric model. Among those who did were the Germans Michael Maestlin (1550–1631), Christoph Rothmann, Johannes Kepler (1571–1630); the Englishman Thomas Digges, author of A Perfit Description of the Caelestial Orbes; and the Italian Galileo Galilei (1564–1642).

Bruno's cosmological claims

In 1584, Bruno published two important philosophical dialogues (La Cena de le Ceneri and De l'infinito universo et mondi) in which he argued against the planetary spheres (Christoph Rothmann did the same in 1586 as did Tycho Brahe in 1587) and affirmed the Copernican principle.

In particular, to support the Copernican view and oppose the objection according to which the motion of the Earth would be perceived by means of the motion of winds, clouds etc., in La Cena de le Ceneri Bruno anticipates some of the arguments of Galilei on the relativity principle.[47] Note that he also uses the example now known as Galileo's ship.

Theophilus – [...] air through which the clouds and winds move are parts of the Earth, [...] to mean under the name of Earth the whole machinery and the entire animated part, which consists of dissimilar parts; so that the rivers, the rocks, the seas, the whole vaporous and turbulent air, which is enclosed within the highest mountains, should belong to the Earth as its members, just as the air [does] in the lungs and in other cavities of animals by which they breathe, widen their arteries, and other similar effects necessary for life are performed. The clouds, too, move through accidents in the body of the Earth and are in its bowels as are the waters. [...] With the Earth move [...] all things that are on the Earth. If, therefore, from a point outside the Earth something were thrown upon the Earth, it would lose, because of the latter's motion, its straightness as would be seen on the ship [...] moving along a river, if someone on point C of the riverbank were to throw a stone along a straight line, and would see the stone miss its target by the amount of the velocity of the ship's motion. But if someone were placed high on the mast of that ship, move as it may however fast, he would not miss his target at all, so that the stone or some other heavy thing thrown downward would not come along a straight line from the point E which is at the top of the mast, or cage, to the point D which is at the bottom of the mast, or at some point in the bowels and body of the ship. Thus, if from the point D to the point E someone who is inside the ship would throw a stone straight up, it would return to the bottom along the same line however far the ship moved, provided it was not subject to any pitch and roll."[48]

Bruno's infinite universe was filled with a substance—a "pure air", aether, or spiritus—that offered no resistance to the heavenly bodies which, in Bruno's view, rather than being fixed, moved under their own impetus (momentum). Most dramatically, he completely abandoned the idea of a hierarchical universe.

The universe is then one, infinite, immobile.... It is not capable of comprehension and therefore is endless and limitless, and to that extent infinite and indeterminable, and consequently immobile.[49]

Bruno's cosmology distinguishes between "suns" which produce their own light and heat, and have other bodies moving around them; and "earths" which move around suns and receive light and heat from them.[50] Bruno suggested that some, if not all, of the objects classically known as fixed stars are in fact suns.[50] According to astrophysicist Steven Soter, he was the first person to grasp that "stars are other suns with their own planets."[51]

Bruno wrote that other worlds "have no less virtue nor a nature different from that of our Earth" and, like Earth, "contain animals and inhabitants".[52]

During the late 16th century, and throughout the 17th century, Bruno's ideas were held up for ridicule, debate, or inspiration. Margaret Cavendish, for example, wrote an entire series of poems against "atoms" and "infinite worlds" in Poems and Fancies in 1664. Bruno's true, if partial, vindication would have to wait for the implications and impact of Newtonian cosmology.[53] Bruno's overall contribution to the birth of modern science is still controversial. Some scholars follow Frances Yates stressing the importance of Bruno's ideas about the universe being infinite and lacking geocentric structure as a crucial crossing point between the old and the new. Others see in Bruno's idea of multiple worlds instantiating the infinite possibilities of a pristine, indivisible One,[54] a forerunner of Everett's many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics.[55]

While many academics note Bruno's theological position as pantheism, several have described it as pandeism, and some also as panentheism.[56][57] Physicist and philosopher Max Bernhard Weinstein in his Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis ("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature"), wrote that the theological model of pandeism was strongly expressed in the teachings of Bruno, especially with respect to the vision of a deity for which "the concept of God is not separated from that of the universe."[58] However, Otto Kern takes exception to what he considers Weinstein's overbroad assertions that Bruno, as well as other historical philosophers such as John Scotus Eriugena, Anselm of Canterbury, Nicholas of Cusa, Mendelssohn, and Lessing, were pandeists or leaned towards pandeism.[59] Discover editor Corey S. Powell also described Bruno's cosmology as pandeistic, writing that it was "a tool for advancing an animist or Pandeist theology",[60] and this assessment of Bruno as a pandeist was agreed with by science writer Michael Newton Keas,[61] and The Daily Beast writer David Sessions.[62]

Retrospective views of Bruno

The monument to Bruno in the place he was executed, Campo de' Fiori in Rome

Monument to Giordano Bruno at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany, referencing his burning at the stake while tied upside down.
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Late Vatican position

The Vatican has published few official statements about Bruno's trial and execution. In 1942, Cardinal Giovanni Mercati, who discovered a number of lost documents relating to Bruno's trial, stated that the Church was perfectly justified in condemning him. On the 400th anniversary of Bruno's death, in 2000, Cardinal Angelo Sodano declared Bruno's death to be a "sad episode" but, despite his regret, he defended Bruno's prosecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors "had the desire to serve freedom and promote the common good and did everything possible to save his life".[63] In the same year, Pope John Paul II made a general apology for "the use of violence that some have committed in the service of truth".[64]

A martyr of science

Some authors have characterised Bruno as a "martyr of science", suggesting parallels with the Galileo affair which began around 1610.[65] "It should not be supposed," writes A. M. Paterson of Bruno and his "heliocentric solar system", that he "reached his conclusions via some mystical revelation....His work is an essential part of the scientific and philosophical developments that he initiated."[66] Paterson echoes Hegel in writing that Bruno "ushers in a modern theory of knowledge that understands all natural things in the universe to be known by the human mind through the mind's dialectical structure".[67]

Ingegno writes that Bruno embraced the philosophy of Lucretius, "aimed at liberating man from the fear of death and the gods."[68] Characters in Bruno's Cause, Principle and Unity desire "to improve speculative science and knowledge of natural things," and to achieve a philosophy "which brings about the perfection of the human intellect most easily and eminently, and most closely corresponds to the truth of nature."[69]

Other scholars oppose such views, and claim Bruno's martyrdom to science to be exaggerated, or outright false. For Yates, while "nineteenth century liberals" were thrown "into ecstasies" over Bruno's Copernicanism, "Bruno pushes Copernicus' scientific work back into a prescientific stage, back into Hermeticism, interpreting the Copernican diagram as a hieroglyph of divine mysteries."[70]

According to historian Mordechai Feingold, "Both admirers and critics of Giordano Bruno basically agree that he was pompous and arrogant, highly valuing his opinions and showing little patience with anyone who even mildly disagreed with him." Discussing Bruno's experience of rejection when he visited Oxford University, Feingold suggests that "it might have been Bruno's manner, his language and his self-assertiveness, rather than his ideas" that caused offence.[71]

Theological heresy

In his Lectures on the History of Philosophy Hegel writes that Bruno's life represented "a bold rejection of all Catholic beliefs resting on mere authority."[72]

Alfonso Ingegno states that Bruno's philosophy "challenges the developments of the Reformation, calls into question the truth-value of the whole of Christianity, and claims that Christ perpetrated a deceit on mankind... Bruno suggests that we can now recognise the universal law which controls the perpetual becoming of all things in an infinite universe."[73] A. M. Paterson says that, while we no longer have a copy of the official papal condemnation of Bruno, his heresies included "the doctrine of the infinite universe and the innumerable worlds" and his beliefs "on the movement of the earth".[74]

Michael White notes that the Inquisition may have pursued Bruno early in his life on the basis of his opposition to Aristotle, interest in Arianism, reading of Erasmus, and possession of banned texts.[75] White considers that Bruno's later heresy was "multifaceted" and may have rested on his conception of infinite worlds. "This was perhaps the most dangerous notion of all... If other worlds existed with intelligent beings living there, did they too have their visitations? The idea was quite unthinkable."[75]

Frances Yates rejects what she describes as the "legend that Bruno was prosecuted as a philosophical thinker, was burned for his daring views on innumerable worlds or on the movement of the earth." Yates however writes that "the Church was... perfectly within its rights if it included philosophical points in its condemnation of Bruno's heresies" because "the philosophical points were quite inseparable from the heresies."[76]

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "in 1600 there was no official Catholic position on the Copernican system, and it was certainly not a heresy. When [...] Bruno [...] was burned at the stake as a heretic, it had nothing to do with his writings in support of Copernican cosmology."[77]

The website of the Vatican Apostolic Archive, discussing a summary of legal proceedings against Bruno in Rome, states:

"In the same rooms where Giordano Bruno was questioned, for the same important reasons of the relationship between science and faith, at the dawning of the new astronomy and at the decline of Aristotle's philosophy, sixteen years later, Cardinal Bellarmino, who then contested Bruno's heretical theses, summoned Galileo Galilei, who also faced a famous inquisitorial trial, which, luckily for him, ended with a simple abjuration."[78]

Artistic depictions

Following the 1870 Capture of Rome by the newly created Kingdom of Italy and the end of the Church's temporal power over the city, the erection of a monument to Bruno on the site of his execution became feasible. The monument was sharply opposed by the clerical party, but was finally erected by the Rome Municipality and inaugurated in 1889.[79]

A statue of a stretched human figure standing on its head, designed by Alexander Polzin and depicting Bruno's death at the stake, was placed in Potsdamer Platz station in Berlin on 2 March 2008.[80][81]

Retrospective iconography of Bruno shows him with a Dominican cowl but not tonsured. Edward Gosselin has suggested that it is likely Bruno kept his tonsure at least until 1579, and it is possible that he wore it again thereafter.[82]

An idealised animated version of Bruno appears in the first episode of the 2014 television series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey. In this depiction, Bruno is shown with a more modern look, without tonsure and wearing clerical robes and without his hood. Cosmos presents Bruno as an impoverished philosopher who was ultimately executed due to his refusal to recant his belief in other worlds, a portrayal that was criticised by some as simplistic or historically inaccurate.[83][84][85] Corey S. Powell, of Discover magazine, says of Bruno, "A major reason he moved around so much is that he was argumentative, sarcastic, and drawn to controversy...He was a brilliant, complicated, difficult man.[83]

The 2016 song "Roman Sky" by hard rock band Avenged Sevenfold focuses on the death of Bruno.[86]

Also the song "Anima Mundi" by Massimiliano Larocca and the album Numen Lumen by neofolk group Hautville, which tracks Bruno's lyrics, were dedicated to the philosopher.

References in poetry

Algernon Charles Swinburne wrote a poem honouring Giordano Bruno in 1889, when the statue of Bruno was constructed in Rome.[87]

Czeslaw Milosz evokes the story and image of Giordano Bruno in his poem "Campo Dei Fiori" (Warsaw 1943).[88] Randall Jarell's poem "The Emancipators" addresses Bruno, along with Galileo and Newton, as an originator of the modern scientific-industrial world.[citation needed]

Heather McHugh depicted Bruno as the principal of a story told (at dinner, by an "underestimated" travel guide) to a group of contemporary American poets in Rome. The poem (originally published in McHugh's collection of poems Hinge & Sign, nominee for the National Book Award, and subsequently reprinted widely) channels the very question of ars poetica, or meta-meaning itself, through the embedded narrative of the suppression of Bruno's words, silenced towards the end of his life both literally and literarily.[89]

Louis L’amour wrote To Giordano Bruno, a poem published in Smoke From This Altar, 1990.

Appearances in fiction

Bruno and his theory of "the coincidence of contraries" (coincidentia oppositorum) play an important role in James Joyce's novel Finnegans Wake. Joyce wrote in a letter to his patroness, Harriet Shaw Weaver, "His philosophy is a kind of dualism – every power in nature must evolve an opposite in order to realise itself and opposition brings reunion".[90] Amongst his numerous allusions to Bruno in his novel, including his trial and torture, Joyce plays upon Bruno's notion of coincidentia oppositorum through applying his name to word puns such as "Browne and Nolan" (the name of Dublin printers) and '"brownesberrow in nolandsland".[91]

Giordano Bruno features as the hero in a series of historical crime novels by S.J. Parris (a pseudonym of Stephanie Merritt). In order these are Heresy, Prophecy, Sacrilege, Treachery, Conspiracy and Execution.[92]

The Last Confession by Morris West (posthumously published) is a fictional autobiography of Bruno, ostensibly written shortly before his execution.[93]

In 1973 the biographical drama Giordano Bruno was released, an Italian/French movie directed by Giuliano Montaldo, starring Gian Maria Volonté as Bruno.[94]

Giordano Bruno Foundation

Main article: Giordano Bruno Foundation

The Giordano Bruno Foundation (German: Giordano-Bruno-Stiftung) is a non-profit foundation based in Germany that pursues the "Support of Evolutionary Humanism". It was founded by entrepreneur Herbert Steffen in 2004. The Giordano Bruno Foundation is critical of religious fundamentalism and nationalism[95]

Giordano Bruno Memorial Award

The SETI League makes an annual award honouring the memory of Giordano Bruno to a deserving person or persons who have made a significant contribution to the practice of SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence). The award was proposed by sociologist Donald Tarter in 1995 on the 395th anniversary of Bruno's death. The trophy presented is called a Bruno.[96]

Astronomical objects named after Bruno

The 22 km impact crater Giordano Bruno on the far side of the Moon is named in his honour, as are the main belt Asteroids 5148 Giordano and 13223 Cenaceneri; the latter is named after his philosophical dialogue La Cena de le Ceneri ("The Ash Wednesday Supper") (see above).

Other remembrances

Radio broadcasting station 2GB in Sydney, Australia is named for Bruno. The two letters "GB" in the call sign were chosen to honour Bruno, who was much admired by Theosophists who were the original holders of the station's licence.

Hans Werner Henze set his large scale cantata for orchestra, choir and four soloists, Novae de infinito laudes to Italian texts by Bruno, recorded in 1972 at the Salzburg Festival reissued on CD Orfeo C609 031B.[97]


• De umbris idearum (The Shadows of Ideas, Paris, 1582)
• Cantus Circaeus (The Incantation of Circe, 1582)[98]
• De compendiosa architectura et complento artis Lulli (A Compendium of Architecture and Lulli's Art, 1582)[99]
• Candelaio (The Torchbearer or The Candle Bearer, 1582; play)
• Ars reminiscendi (The Art of Memory, 1583)
• Explicatio triginta sigillorum (Explanation of Thirty Seals, 1583)[100]
• Sigillus sigillorum (The Seal of Seals, 1583)[101]
• La Cena de le Ceneri (The Ash Wednesday Supper, 1584)
• De la causa, principio, et uno (Concerning Cause, Principle, and Unity, 1584)
• De l'infinito universo et mondi (On the Infinite Universe and Worlds, 1584)
• Spaccio de la Bestia Trionfante (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast, London, 1584)
• Cabala del cavallo Pegaseo (Cabal of the Horse Pegasus, 1585)
• De gli heroici furori (The Heroic Frenzies, 1585)[102]
• Figuratio Aristotelici Physici auditus (Figures From Aristotle's Physics, 1585)
• Dialogi duo de Fabricii Mordentis Salernitani (Two Dialogues of Fabricii Mordentis Salernitani, 1586)
• Idiota triumphans (The Triumphant Idiot, 1586)
• De somni interpretatione (Dream Interpretation, 1586)[103]
• Animadversiones circa lampadem lullianam (Amendments regarding Lull's Lantern, 1586)[103]
• Lampas triginta statuarum (The Lantern of Thirty Statues, 1586)[104]
• Centum et viginti articuli de natura et mundo adversus peripateticos (One Hundred and Twenty Articles on Nature and the World Against the Peripatetics, 1586)[105]
• De Lampade combinatoria Lulliana (The Lamp of Combinations according to Lull, 1587)[106]
• De progressu et lampade venatoria logicorum (Progress and the Hunter's Lamp of Logical Methods, 1587)[107]
• Oratio valedictoria (Valedictory Oration, 1588)[108]
• Camoeracensis Acrotismus (The Pleasure of Dispute, 1588)[109]
• De specierum scrutinio (1588)[110][failed verification]
• Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatis mathematicos atque Philosophos (One Hundred and Sixty Theses Against Mathematicians and Philosophers, 1588)[111]
• Oratio consolatoria (Consolation Oration, 1589)[111]
• De vinculis in genere (Of Bonds in General, 1591)[110]
• De triplici minimo et mensura (On the Threefold Minimum and Measure, 1591)[14]
• De monade numero et figura (On the Monad, Number, and Figure, Frankfurt, 1591)[112]
• De innumerabilibus, immenso, et infigurabili (Of Innumerable Things, Vastness and the Unrepresentable, 1591)
• De imaginum, signorum et idearum compositione (On the Composition of Images, Signs and Ideas, 1591)
• Summa terminorum metaphysicorum (Handbook of Metaphysical Terms, 1595)[113][114]
• Artificium perorandi (The Art of Communicating, 1612)


• Jordani Bruni Nolani opera latine conscripta (Giordano Bruno the Nolan's Works Written in Latin), Dritter Band (1962) / curantibus F. Tocco et H. Vitelli

See also

• Fermi paradox
• List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics


1.       Leo Catana (2005). The Concept of Contraction in Giordano Bruno's Philosophy. Ashgate Pub. ISBN 978-0754652618. When Bruno states in De la causa that matter provides the extension of particulars, he follows Averroes.
2.       Bouvet, Molière; avec une notice sur le théâtre au XVIIe siècle, une biographie chronologique de Molière, une étude générale de son oeuvre, une analyse méthodique du "Malade", des notes, des questions par Alphonse (1973). Le malade imaginaire; L'amour médecin. Paris: Bordas. p. 23. ISBN 978-2-04-006776-2.
3.       Gatti, Hilary. Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science: Broken Lives and Organizational Power. Cornell University Press, 2002, 1, ISBN 0-801-48785-4
4.       Bruno was a mathematician and philosopher, but is not considered an astronomer by the modern astronomical community, as there is no record of him carrying out physical observations, as was the case with Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo. Pogge, Richard W. 1999.
5.       Birx, H. James. "Giordano Bruno" The Harbinger, Mobile, AL, 11 November 1997. "Bruno was burned to death at the stake for his pantheistic stance and cosmic perspective."
6.       Arturo Labriola, Giordano Bruno: Martyrs of free thought no. 1
7.       Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1964, p. 450
8.       Michael J. Crowe, The Extraterrestrial Life Debate 1750–1900, Cambridge University Press, 1986, p. 10, "[Bruno's] sources... seem to have been more numerous than his followers, at least until the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century revival of interest in Bruno as a supposed 'martyr for science.' It is true that he was burned at the stake in Rome in 1600, but the church authorities guilty of this action were almost certainly more distressed at his denial of Christ's divinity and alleged diabolism than at his cosmological doctrines."
9.       Adam Frank (2009). The Constant Fire: Beyond the Science vs. Religion Debate, University of California Press, p. 24, "Though Bruno may have been a brilliant thinker whose work stands as a bridge between ancient and modern thought, his persecution cannot be seen solely in light of the war between science and religion."
10.      White, Michael (2002). The Pope and the Heretic: The True Story of Giordano Bruno, the Man who Dared to Defy the Roman Inquisition, p. 7. Perennial, New York. "This was perhaps the most dangerous notion of all... If other worlds existed with intelligent beings living there, did they too have their visitations? The idea was quite unthinkable."
11.      Shackelford, Joel (2009). "Myth 7 That Giordano Bruno was the first martyr of modern science". In Numbers, Ronald L. (ed.). Galileo goes to jail and other myths about science and religion. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. p. 66. "Yet the fact remains that cosmological matters, notably the plurality of worlds, were an identifiable concern all along and appear in the summary document: Bruno was repeatedly questioned on these matters, and he apparently refused to recant them at the end.14 So, Bruno probably was burned alive for resolutely maintaining a series of heresies, among which his teaching of the plurality of worlds was prominent but by no means singular."
12.      Gatti, Hilary (2002). Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science: Broken Lives and Organizational Power. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-0801487859. Retrieved 21 March 2014. For Bruno was claiming for the philosopher a principle of free thought and inquiry which implied an entirely new concept of authority: that of the individual intellect in its serious and continuing pursuit of an autonomous inquiry… It is impossible to understand the issue involved and to evaluate justly the stand made by Bruno with his life without appreciating the question of free thought and liberty of expression. His insistence on placing this issue at the centre of both his work and of his defense is why Bruno remains so much a figure of the modern world. If there is, as many have argued, an intrinsic link between science and liberty of inquiry, then Bruno was among those who guaranteed the future of the newly emerging sciences, as well as claiming in wider terms a general principle of free thought and expression.
13.      Montano, Aniello (2007). Antonio Gargano (ed.). Le deposizioni davanti al tribunale dell'Inquisizione. Napoli: La Città del Sole. p. 71. In Rome, Bruno was imprisoned for seven years and subjected to a difficult trial which analysed, minutely, all his philosophical ideas. Bruno, who in Venice had been willing to recant some theses, become increasingly resolute and declared on 21 December 1599 that he 'did not wish to repent of having too little to repent, and in fact did not know what to repent.' Declared an unrepentant heretic and excommunicated, he was burned alive in the Campo dei Fiori in Rome on Ash Wednesday, 17 February 1600. On the stake, along with Bruno, burned the hopes of many, including philosophers and scientists of good faith like Galileo, who thought they could reconcile religious faith and scientific research, while belonging to an ecclesiastical organisation declaring itself to be the custodian of absolute truth and maintaining a cultural militancy requiring continual commitment and suspicion.
14.     "Giordano Bruno". Encyclopædia Britannica.
15.      The primary work on the relationship between Bruno and Hermeticism is Frances Yates, Giordano Bruno and The Hermetic Tradition, 1964; for an alternative assessment, placing more emphasis on the Kabbalah, and less on Hermeticism, see Karen Silvia De Leon-Jones, Giordano Bruno and the Kabbalah, Yale, 1997; for a return to emphasis on Bruno's role in the development of Science, and criticism of Yates' emphasis on magical and Hermetic themes, see Hillary Gatti (1999), Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science, Cornell.
16.      Alessandro G. Farinella and Carole Preston, "Giordano Bruno: Neoplatonism and the Wheel of Memory in the 'De Umbris Idearum'", in Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 55, No. 2, (Summer, 2002), pp. 596–624; Arielle Saiber, Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language, Ashgate, 2005
17.      Dorothea Waley Singer (1950), Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York.
18.      This is recorded in the diary of one Guillaume Cotin, librarian of the Abbey of St. Victor, who recorded recollections of a number of personal conversations he had with Bruno. Bruno also mentions this dedication in the Dedicatory Epistle of The Cabala of Pegasus (Cabala del Cavallo Pegaseo, 1585).
19.      Gargano (2007), p. 11
20.      Gosselin has argued that Bruno's report that he returned to Dominican garb in Padua suggests that he kept his tonsure at least until his arrival in Geneva in 1579. He also suggests it is likely that Bruno kept the tonsure even after this point, showing a continued and deep religious attachment contrary to the way in which Bruno has been portrayed as a martyr for modern science. Instead, Gosselin argues, Bruno should be understood in the context of reformist Catholic dissenters. Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 673–678.
21.      Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950 "Following the northern route back through Brescia, Bruno came to Bergamo where he resumed the monastic habit. He perhaps visited Milan, and then leaving Italy he crossed the Alps by the Mont Cenis pass, and came to Chambéry. He describes his hospitable reception there by the Dominican Convent, but again he received no encouragement to remain, and he journeyed on to Lyons. Bruno's next movements are obscure. In 1579 he reached Geneva."
22.      Virgilio Salvestrini, Bibliografia di Giordano Bruno, Firenze, 1958
23.      Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950; Singer points out in a footnote that Bruno's name appears in a list, compiled one hundred years later, of Italian refugees who had belonged to the Protestant church of Geneva. However, she does not find this evidence convincing.
24.      William Boulting (1916). Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom, p. 58
25.      Weiner, Andrew D. (1980). "Expelling the Beast: Bruno's Adventures in England". Modern Philology. 78 (1): 1–13. doi:10.1086/391002. JSTOR 437245.
26.      Hannam, James. God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science. Icon Books Ltd, 2009, 312, ISBN 978-1848310704)
27.      Bossy, John (1991). Giordano Bruno and the Embassy Affair. New Haven: Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-04993-0.
28.      John Gribbin (2009). In Search of the Multiverse: Parallel Worlds, Hidden Dimensions, and the Ultimate Quest for the Frontiers of Reality, ISBN 978-0470613528. p. 88
29.      Giordano Bruno, Cause Principle and Unity, and Essays on Magic, Edited by Richard J. Blackwell and Robert de Lucca, Cambridge, 1998, xxxvi
30.      Boulting, William (2014). Giordano Bruno: His Life, Thought, and Martyrdom. Routledge. pp. 220–226. ISBN 978-1138008144.
31.      "Giordano Bruno". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 8 May2014. At the time such a move did not seem to be too much of a risk: Venice was by far the most liberal of the Italian states; the European tension had been temporarily eased after the death of the intransigent pope Sixtus V in 1590; the Protestant Henry of Bourbon was now on the throne of France, and a religious pacification seemed to be imminent.
32.      "II Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101.
33.      Luigi Firpo, Il processo di Giordano Bruno, 1993.
34.      This is discussed in Dorothea Waley Singer, Giordano Bruno, His Life and Thought, New York, 1950, ch. 7, "A gloating account of the whole ritual is given in a letter written on the very day by a youth named Gaspar Schopp of Breslau, a recent convert to Catholicism to whom Pope Clement VIII had shown great favour, creating him Knight of St. Peter and Count of the Sacred Palace. Schopp was addressing Conrad Rittershausen. He recounts that because of his heresy Bruno had been publicly burned that day in the Square of Flowers in front of the Theatre of Pompey. He makes merry over the belief of the Italians that every heretic is a Lutheran. It is evident that he had been present at the interrogations, for he relates in detail the life of Bruno and the works and doctrines for which he had been arraigned, and he gives a vivid account of Bruno's final appearance before his judges on 8 February. To Schopp we owe the knowledge of Bruno's bearing under judgement. When the verdict had been declared, records Schopp, Bruno with a threatening gesture addressed his judges: "Perchance you who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it." Thus he was dismissed to the prison, gloats the convert, "and was given eight days to recant, but in vain. So today he was led to the funeral pyre. When the image of our Saviour was shown to him before his death he angrily rejected it with averted face. Thus my dear Rittershausen is it our custom to proceed against such men or rather indeed such monsters."
35.      Fitzgerald, Timothy (2007). Discourse on Civility and Barbarity. Oxford University Press. p. 239. ISBN 978-0-19-804103-0. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
36.      "Il Sommario del Processo di Giordano Bruno, con appendice di Documenti sull'eresia e l'inquisizione a Modena nel secolo XVI", edited by Angelo Mercati, in Studi e Testi, vol. 101; the precise terminology for the tool used to silence Bruno before burning is recorded as una morsa di legno, or "a vise of wood", and not an iron spike as sometimes claimed by other sources.
37.      Ingrid D. Rowland (26 April 2016). Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. p. 8. ISBN 978-1-4668-9584-3.
38.      Edward A. Gosselin, "A Dominican Head in Layman's Garb? A Correction to the Scientific Iconography of Giordano Bruno", in The Sixteenth Century Journal, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Autumn, 1996), p. 674
39.      Robert McNulty, "Bruno at Oxford", in Renaissance News, 1960 (XIII), pp. 300–305
40.      The apparent contradiction is possibly due to different perceptions of "average height" between Oxford and Venice.
41.      Hopkins, Jasper (1985). Nicholas of Cusa on learned ignorance : a translation and an appraisal of De docta ignorantia(2nd ed.). Minneapolis: A.J. Benning Press. pp. 89–98. ISBN 978-0938060307. OCLC 12781538.
42.      Certeau, Michel De; Porter, Catherine (1987). "The Gaze Nicholas of Cusa". Diacritics. 17 (3): 15. doi:10.2307/464833. ISSN 0300-7162. JSTOR 464833.
43.      Koyré, Alexandre (1943). "NICOLAS COPERNICUS". Bulletin of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America. 1: 705–730.
44.      Blackwell, Richard (1991). Galileo, Bellarmine, and the Bible. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press. p. 25. ISBN 978-0268010249.
45.      See e.g. Cosmography by Peter Apian, Antwerp 1539 and its outer sphere
46.      Russell, Henry Norris (1931). "Tidying Up the Constellations". Scientific American. 144 (6): 380–381. Bibcode:1931SciAm.144..380R. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0631-380. ISSN 0036-8733.
47.      Alessandro De Angelis and Catarina Espirito Santo (2015), "The contribution of Giordano Bruno to the principle of relativity" (PDF), Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 18 (3): 241–248, arXiv:1504.01604, Bibcode:2015JAHH...18..241D
48.      Giordano Bruno, Teofilo, in La Cena de le Ceneri, "Third Dialogue", (1584), ed. and trans. by S.L. Jaki (1975).
49.      Giordano Bruno, Teofilo, in Cause, Principle, and Unity, "Fifth Dialogue", (1588), ed. and trans. by Jack Lindsay (1962).
50.      Bruno, Giordano. "Third Dialogue". On the infinite universe and worlds. Archived from the original on 27 April 2012.
51.      Soter, Steven (13 March 2014). "The cosmos of Giordano Bruno". Discover. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
52.      "Giordano Bruno: On the Infinite Universe and Worlds (De l'Infinito Universo et Mondi) Introductory Epistle: Argument of the Third Dialogue". Archived from the original on 13 October 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
53.      Hussey, John (21 June 2014). Bang to Eternity and Betwixt: Cosmos.
54.      Hetherington, Norriss S., ed. (2014) [1993]. Encyclopedia of Cosmology (Routledge Revivals): Historical, Philosophical, and Scientific Foundations of Modern Cosmology. Routledge. p. 419. ISBN 978-1317677666. Retrieved 29 March 2015. Bruno (from the mouth of his character Philotheo) in his De l'infinito universo et mondi (1584) claims that "innumerable celestial bodies, stars, globes, suns and earths may be sensibly perceived therein by us and an infinite number of them may be inferred by our own reason."
55.      Max Tegmark, Parallel Universes, 2003
56.      Biernacki, Loriliai; Clayton, Philip (2014). Panentheism Across the World's Traditions. OUP USA. ISBN 9780199989898.
57.      Thielicke, Helmut (November 1990). Modern Faith and Thought. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 120. ISBN 9780802826725. bruno panentheistic.
58.      Max Bernhard Weinsten, Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature") (1910), p. 321: "Also darf man vielleicht glauben, daß das ganze System eine Erhebung des Physischen aus seiner Natur in das Göttliche ist oder eine Durchstrahlung des Physischen durch das Göttliche; beides eine Art Pandeismus. Und so zeigt sich auch der Begriff Gottes von dem des Universums nicht getrennt; Gott ist naturierende Natur, Weltseele, Weltkraft. Da Bruno durchaus ablehnt, gegen die Religion zu lehren, so hat man solche Angaben wohl umgekehrt zu verstehen: Weltkraft, Weltseele, naturierende Natur, Universum sind in Gott. Gott ist Kraft der Weltkraft, Seele der Weltseele, Natur der Natur, Eins des Universums. Bruno spricht ja auch von mehreren Teilen der universellen Vernunft, des Urvermögens und der Urwirklichkeit. Und damit hängt zusammen, daß für ihn die Welt unendlich ist und ohne Anfang und Ende; sie ist in demselben Sinne allumfassend wie Gott. Aber nicht ganz wie Gott. Gott sei in allem und im einzelnen allumfassend, die Welt jedoch wohl in allem, aber nicht im einzelnen, da sie ja Teile in sich zuläßt."
59.      Review of Welt- und Lebensanschauungen, Hervorgegangen aus Religion, Philosophie und Naturerkenntnis ("World and Life Views, Emerging From Religion, Philosophy and Nature") in Emil Schürer, Adolf von Harnack, editors, Theologische Literaturzeitung ("Theological Literature Journal"), Volume 35, column 827 (1910): "Dem Verfasser hat anscheinend die Einteilung: religiöse, rationale und naturwissenschaftlich fundierte Weltanschauungen vorgeschwebt; er hat sie dann aber seinem Material gegenüber schwer durchführbar gefunden und durch die mitgeteilte ersetzt, die das Prinzip der Einteilung nur noch dunkel durchschimmern läßt. Damit hängt wohl auch das vom Verfasser gebildete unschöne griechisch-lateinische Mischwort des 'Pandeismus' zusammen. Nach S. 228 versteht er darunter im Unterschied von dem mehr metaphysisch gearteten Pantheismus einen 'gesteigerten und vereinheitlichten Animismus', also eine populäre Art religiöser Weltdeutung. Prhagt man lieh dies ein, so erstaunt man über die weite Ausdehnung, die dem Begriff in der Folge gegeben wird. Nach S. 284 ist Scotus Erigena ein ganzer, nach S. 300 Anselm von Canterbury ein 'halber Pandeist'; aber auch bei Nikolaus Cusanus und Giordano Bruno, ja selbst bei Mendelssohn und Lessing wird eine Art von Pandeismus gefunden (S. 306. 321. 346.)." Translation: "The author apparently intended to divide up religious, rational and scientifically based philosophies, but found his material overwhelming, resulting in an effort that can shine through the principle of classification only darkly. This probably is also the source of the unsightly Greek-Latin compound word, 'Pandeism.' At page 228, he understands the difference from the more metaphysical kind of pantheism, an enhanced unified animism that is a popular religious worldview. In remembering this borrowing, we were struck by the vast expanse given the term. According to page 284, Scotus Erigena is one entirely, at p. 300 Anselm of Canterbury is 'half Pandeist'; but also Nicholas of Cusa and Giordano Bruno, and even in Mendelssohn and Lessing a kind of Pandeism is found (p. 306 321 346.)".
60.      Powell, Corey S., "Defending Giordano Bruno: A Response from the Co-Writer of 'Cosmos', Discover, March 13, 2014: "Bruno imagines all planets and stars having souls (part of what he means by them all having the same "composition"), and he uses his cosmology as a tool for advancing an animist or Pandeist theology."
61.      Michael Newton Keas (2019). UNbelievable: 7 Myths About the History and Future of Science and Religion. pp. 149–150.
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90.      James Joyce, Letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver, 27 January 1925, Selected Letters, p. 307
91.      McHugh, Roland. Annotations to Finnegans Wake. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980. Print, xv.
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• Blackwell, Richard J.; de Lucca, Robert (1998). Cause, Principle and Unity: And Essays on Magic by Giordano Bruno. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-59658-9.
• Blum, Paul Richard (1999). Giordano Bruno. Munich: Beck Verlag. ISBN 978-3-406-41951-5.
• Blum, Paul Richard (2012). Giordano Bruno: An Introduction. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi. ISBN 978-90-420-3555-3.
• Bombassaro, Luiz Carlos (2002). Im Schatten der Diana. Die Jagdmetapher im Werk von Giordano Bruno. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag.
• Culianu, Ioan P. (1987). Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-12315-8.
• Aquilecchia, Giovanni; montano, aniello; bertrando, spaventa (2007). Gargano, Antonio (ed.). Le deposizioni davanti al tribunale dell'Inquisizione. La Citta del Sol.
• Gatti, Hilary (2002). Giordano Bruno and Renaissance Science. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-8785-9.
• Kessler, John (1900). Giordano Bruno: The Forgotten Philosopher. Rationalist Association.
• McIntyre, J. Lewis (1997). Giordano Bruno. Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 978-1-56459-141-8.
• Mendoza, Ramon G. (1995). The Acentric Labyrinth. Giordano Bruno's Prelude to Contemporary Cosmology. Element Books Ltd. ISBN 978-1-85230-640-3.
• Rowland, Ingrid D. (2008). Giordano Bruno: Philosopher/Heretic. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-8090-9524-7.
• Saiber, Arielle (2005). Giordano Bruno and the Geometry of Language. Ashgate. ISBN 978-0-7546-3321-1.
• Singer, Dorothea (1950). Giordano Bruno: His Life and Thought, With Annotated Translation of His Work – On the Infinite Universe and Worlds. Schuman. ISBN 978-1-117-31419-8.
• White, Michael (2002). The Pope & the Heretic. New York: William Morrow. ISBN 978-0-06-018626-5.
• Yates, Frances (1964). Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-95007-5.
• Michel, Paul Henri (1962). The Cosmology of Giordano Bruno. Translated by R.E.W. Maddison. Paris: Hermann; London: Methuen; Ithaca, New York: Cornell. ISBN 0-8014-0509-2
• The Cabala of Pegasus by Giordano Bruno, ISBN 0-300-09217-2
• Giordano Bruno, Paul Oskar Kristeller, Collier's Encyclopedia, Vol 4, 1987 ed., p. 634
• Il processo di Giordano Bruno, Luigi Firpo, 1993
• Giordano Bruno,Il primo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il trattato sull'intelligenza artificiale, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
• Giordano Bruno,Il secondo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, Il Sigillo dei Sigilli, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore.
• Giordano Bruno, Il terzo libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, La logica per immagini, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
• Giordano Bruno, Il quarto libro della Clavis Magna, ovvero, L'arte di inventare con Trenta Statue, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
• Giordano Bruno L'incantesimo di Circe, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
• Guido del Giudice, WWW Giordano Bruno, Marotta & Cafiero Editori, 2001 ISBN 88-88234-01-2
• Giordano Bruno, De Umbris Idearum, a cura di Claudio D'Antonio, Di Renzo Editore
• Guido del Giudice, La coincidenza degli opposti, Di Renzo Editore, ISBN 88-8323-110-4, 2005 (seconda edizione accresciuta con il saggio Bruno, Rabelais e Apollonio di Tiana, Di Renzo Editore, Roma 2006 ISBN 88-8323-148-1)
• Giordano Bruno, Due Orazioni: Oratio Valedictoria – Oratio Consolatoria, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2007 ISBN 88-8323-174-0
• Giordano Bruno, La disputa di Cambrai. Camoeracensis Acrotismus, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, 2008 ISBN 88-8323-199-6
• Somma dei termini metafisici, a cura di Guido del Giudice, Di Renzo Editore, Roma, 2010
• Massimo Colella, "'Luce esterna (Mitra) e interna (G. Bruno)'. Il viaggio bruniano di Aby Warburg", in «Intersezioni. Rivista di storia delle idee», XL, 1, 2020, pp. 33–56.

External links

• Dilwyn Knox (2019). Giordano Bruno. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
• How 'Cosmos' Bungles the History of Religion and Science
• Bruno's works: text, concordances and frequency list
• Writings of Giordano Bruno
• Giordano Bruno Library of the World's Best Literature Ancient and Modern Charles Dudley Warner Editor
• Bruno's Latin and Italian works online: Biblioteca Ideale di Giordano Bruno
• Complete works of Bruno as well as main biographies and studies available for free download in PDF format from the Warburg Institute and the Centro Internazionale di Studi Bruniani Giovanni Aquilecchia
• Online Galleries, History of Science Collections, University of Oklahoma Libraries High resolution images of works by and/or portraits of Giordano Bruno in .jpg and .tiff format.
• Works by Giordano Bruno at Project Gutenberg
• Works by Giordano Bruno at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Works by or about Giordano Bruno at Internet Archive
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Part 1 of 4

Henry Sidgwick
by Barton Schultz
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
First published Tue Oct 5, 2004; substantive revision Tue Jul 9, 2019
Copyright © 2019 by Barton Schultz <>

Henry Sidgwick was one of the most influential ethical philosophers of the Victorian era, and his work continues to exert a powerful influence on Anglo-American ethical and political theory, with an increasing global impact as well. His masterpiece, The Methods of Ethics was first published in 1874 (seventh edition: 1907) and in many ways marked the culmination of the classical utilitarian tradition—the tradition of Jeremy Bentham and James and John Stuart Mill—with its emphasis on “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” as the fundamental normative demand. Sidgwick’s treatment of that position was more comprehensive and scholarly than any previous one, and he set the agenda for most of the twentieth-century debates between utilitarians and their critics. Utilitarians and consequentialists from G. E. Moore and Bertrand Russell to J. J. C. Smart and R. M. Hare down to Derek Parfit, Peter Singer and Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek have acknowledged Sidgwick’s Methods as a vital source for their arguments. But in addition to authoritatively formulating utilitarianism and inspiring utilitarians and their sympathizers, the Methods has also served as a general model for how to do ethical theory, since it provides a series of systematic, historically informed comparisons between utilitarianism and its leading alternatives.

Even such influential critics of utilitarianism as William Frankena, Marcus Singer, and John Rawls have looked to Sidgwick’s work for guidance. C. D. Broad, a later successor to Sidgwick’s Cambridge chair, famously went so far as to say “Sidgwick’s Methods of Ethics seems to me to be on the whole the best treatise on moral theory that has ever been written, and to be one of the English philosophical classics” (Broad 1930: 143). In recent years, Broad’s assessment has been endorsed by an increasing number of prominent philosophers (Parfit 2011; de Lazari-Radek & Singer 2014; and Crisp 2015). Engaging with Sidgwick’s work remains an excellent way to cultivate a serious philosophical interest in ethics, metaethics, and practical ethics, not to mention the history of these subjects. Moreover, he made important contributions to many other fields, including economics, political theory, classics, educational theory, and parapsychology. His significance as an intellectual and cultural figure has yet to be fully appreciated, but recent years have witnessed an impressive expansion of Sidgwick studies, and he has even been featured in popular novels (Cohen 2010; Entwistle 2014).

1. Life and Background

Sidgwick was born on May 31, 1838, in the small Yorkshire town of Skipton. The extended Sidgwick family was well-known in the area and quite prosperous, with their cotton-spinning mills representing the oldest manufacturing firms in the town (Dawson 1882, Schultz 2017). But Henry was the second surviving son of Mary Crofts and the Reverend William Sidgwick, the headmaster of the grammar school in Skipton, who died when Henry was only three. Henry’s older brother William went on to become an Oxford don, as did his younger brother Arthur. His sister Mary, known as Minnie, ended up marrying a second cousin, Edward White Benson, who in addition to being an early mentor of Henry’s (and Rugby master) went on to become the archbishop of Canterbury. The Sidgwick and Benson families would contribute much to English letters and science over the course of the 19th and 20th centuries, though their legacies have also been controversial on some counts (Askwith 1971; Schultz 2004, 2017; Bolt 2011; and Goldhill 2016).

Henry was educated at Rugby and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he took his degree in 1859. As an undergraduate, he excelled at both mathematics and, especially, classics, in due course becoming Craven Scholar, 33rd Wrangler, and Senior Classic, also winning the Chancellor’s Medal. He wound up staying at Cambridge his entire life, first, beginning in October of 1859, as a Fellow of Trinity and a lecturer in classics—a position that in the later sixties evolved into a lectureship in the moral sciences—then, from 1875, as praelector in moral and political philosophy, and finally, from 1883, as Knightbridge Professor of Moral Philosophy. He resigned his Fellowship in 1869 because he could no longer subscribe in good conscience to the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, as the position required. This act helped inspire the successful opposition to such requirements. In 1881 he was elected an honorary Fellow, and in 1885, he regained a full Fellowship, remarking on the changing times: “Last time I swore that I would drive away strange doctrine; this time I only pledged myself to restore any College property that might be in my possession when I ceased to be a Fellow” (Sidgwick and Sidgwick, 1906: 400).

Sidgwick’s Cambridge career was rich in reformist activity (Rothblatt 1968; Harvie 1976; and Todd 1999). As an undergraduate, he had been elected to the “Apostles,” the secret Cambridge discussion society that did much to shape the intellectual direction of modern Cambridge; Sidgwick’s allegiance to this group was a very significant feature of his life and work (Lubenow 1998). The 1860s, which he described as his years of “Storm and Stress” over his religious views and commitments, were also the years in which his identity as an academic liberal took shape, and he got caught up in a range of causes emphasizing better and broader educational opportunities, increased professionalism, and greater religious freedom. He evolved into an educational reformer committed to downplaying the influence of classics, introducing modern subjects, and opening up higher education to women. Much influenced by the writings of F. D. Maurice and J. S. Mill, he would become one of the leading proponents of higher education for women and play a guiding role in the foundation of Newnham College, Cambridge, one of the first colleges for women in England (Tullberg [1975], 1998, and Sutherland 2006). He was also active in the cause of university reorganization generally, in due course serving on the General Board of Studies, the Special Board for Moral Sciences, and the Indian Civil Service Board, and he worked tirelessly to expand educational opportunities and professionalize educational efforts through such vehicles as correspondence courses, extension lectures, the Cambridge Working Men’s College, and the University Day Training College for teachers (initiated by Oscar Browning). Such educational reforms were, he held, also of political value in overcoming class conflict and social strife. But Sidgwick’s broader political commitments, which ranged from academic liberal to Liberal Unionist—he joined the breakaway faction of the Liberal Party opposing Gladstone’s policy of Home Rule for Ireland—to independent, were complex and shifting; he was not, alas, always able to rise above the marked imperialistic and orientalist tendencies of the late Victorian era (Schultz 2004, 2007; and Bell 2007, 2016).

In 1876 Sidgwick married Eleanor Mildred Balfour, the sister of his former student, Arthur Balfour, the future prime minister. An accomplished and independent woman with serious scientific interests—she collaborated with her brother-in-law Lord Rayleigh on many scientific papers—Eleanor Sidgwick worked as an equal partner with her husband on many fronts, particularly higher education for women and parapsychology. She eventually took over as Principal of Newnham in 1892, and was for many decades a mainstay of the Society for Psychical Research, an organization that Henry had helped to found (in 1882) and several times headed, though his interest in the paranormal had been evident long before. The Sidgwicks hoped that their psychical research might ultimately support some core religious claims, particularly concerning the personal survival of physical death, which they deemed a vital support for morality. Their extensive and often quite methodologically sophisticated investigations were not as conclusive as they had hoped, but following Henry’s death from cancer on August 28, 1900, Eleanor did become persuaded that he had succeeded in communicating from “the other world.” The Sidgwicks’ work in this field continues to this day to be debated by academic parapsychologists (Gauld 1968, and Braude 2003).

Although Sidgwick published extensively in his lifetime, he is best known for his first major book, The Methods of Ethics, which first appeared in 1874 and went through five editions during his lifetime. His second most widely read book would be his Outlines of the History of Ethics for English Readers, which appeared in 1886 as an expanded version of the article on the subject that he had contributed to the famous ninth edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. But he also published The Principles of Political Economy (1883), The Elements of Politics (1891), and Practical Ethics, A Collection of Addresses and Essays (1898), and after his death, Eleanor Sidgwick worked with various of his former colleagues to bring out Lectures on the Ethics of T. H. Green, H. Spencer, and J. Martineau (1902), Philosophy, Its Scope and Relations (1902), The Development of European Polity (1903), Miscellaneous Essays and Addresses (1904), Lectures on the Philosophy of Kant and Other Philosophical Lectures and Essays (1905), and Henry Sidgwick, A Memoir (1906), which Eleanor and Arthur Sidgwick assembled largely from his correspondence and journal. These posthumous works are typically quite polished and shed a great deal of light on the works that Sidgwick himself saw through publication (Schneewind 1977).

As Sidgwick’s publications attest, he was not only a pre-eminent moral philosopher, with sophisticated views on both going controversies in ethics and metaethics and the history of these subjects, but also an accomplished epistemologist, classicist, economist, political theorist, political historian, literary critic, parapsychologist, and educational theorist. If he was a founder of the Cambridge school of philosophy, he was also a founder of the Cambridge school of economics (along with his colleague and sometimes nemesis Alfred Marshall) and of the Cambridge school of political theory (along with such colleagues as Browning and Sir John Seeley). If such students as Moore and Russell owed him much, so too did such students and admirers as Balfour, J. N. Keynes, F. W. Maitland, F. Y. Edgeworth, James Ward, Frank Podmore, and E. E. Constance Jones. He had serious interests in many areas of philosophy and theology, and also wrote insightfully about poetry and literature, two of his great loves (at Newnham, he lectured on Shakespeare, along with such subjects as philosophy and economics). Indeed, Sidgwick was a force in the larger cultural developments of his age, active in such influential discussion societies as the Metaphysical Society and the Synthetic Society. His friends included George Eliot, T. H. Green, James Bryce, H. G. Dakyns, Roden Noel, and, of special importance, John Addington Symonds, the erudite cultural historian, poet, and man of letters who was a pioneer in the serious historical study of same sex love (Schultz 2004). Sidgwick’s versatile and many-sided intellect—not to mention his keen wit—are typically better displayed in his essays and letters than in his best-known academic books. He was in fact much loved for his gentle humor (or “Sidgwickedness”) and sympathetic conversation, and his philosophical students prized him for his candor. As Balfour put it: “Of all the men I have known he was the readiest to consider every controversy and every controversialist on their merits. He never claimed authority; he never sought to impose his views; he never argued for victory; he never evaded an issue.” (Sidgwick and Sidgwick, 1906: 311).

2. The Methods Of Ethics And Philosophy

2.1 Preliminaries

Sidgwick’s Methods was long in the making. His correspondence with his close friend H. G. Dakyns, a Clifton master who had been a private tutor for the Tennyson family, reveals how long and volatile the development of his ethical views was, particularly during the 1860s when he was working himself free of Anglican orthodoxy. As early as 1862, he wrote to Dakyns that he was “revolving a Theory of Ethics” and working on “a reconciliation between the moral sense and utilitarian theories” (Sidgwick and Sidgwick, 1906: 75). He started telling people that he was “engaged on a Great Work,” which would indeed turn out to be the case. By 1867, much of the basic intellectual structure of the Methods was clearly in place; according to Marshall, at the faculty discussion group known as the “Grote Club,” Sidgwick “read a long & general sketch of the various systems of morality: I. Absolute right II. Make yourself noble III. Make yourself happy IV Increase the general happiness. In the course of it he committed himself to the statement that without appreciating the effect of our action on the happiness of ourselves or of others we could have no idea of right & wrong” (quoted in Schultz 2004: 142).

It was also in 1867 that Sidgwick sent a draft of his pamphlet on “The Ethics of Conformity and Subscription” to J. S. Mill, inviting comments. This work, part of his efforts with the Free Christian Union (an organization for promoting free and open religious inquiry), reflected his casuistical struggles over whether he had a right to keep his Fellowship, given his increasingly Theistic views. He had been increasingly drawn to Theism, which then, as now, stressed that “God’s will and purpose, and God’s assurance of an ultimate fulfilment, are behind all that is happening” (Polkinghorne 1998: 114), but without the orthodox commitments to belief in the Trinity, miracles, eternal punishment, etc.. As Sidgwick explained to his sister: “I have written a pamphlet … on the text ‘Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.’ That is really the gist of the pamphlet—that if the preachers of religion wish to retain their hold over educated men they must show in their utterances on sacred occasions the same sincerity, exactness, unreserve, that men of science show in expounding the laws of nature. I do not think that much good is to be done by saying this, but I want to liberate my soul, and then ever after hold my peace” (Sidgwick and Sidgwick, 1906: 226). As he put it in the pamphlet, which appeared in 1870:

What theology has to learn from the predominant studies of the age is something very different from advice as to its method or estimates of its utility; it is the imperative necessity of accepting unreservedly the conditions of life under which these studies live and flourish. It is sometimes said that we live in an age that rejects authority. The statement, thus qualified, seems misleading; probably there never was a time when the number of beliefs held by each individual, undemonstrated and unverified by himself, was greater. But it is true that we only accept authority of a particular sort; the authority, namely, that is formed and maintained by the unconstrained agreement of individual thinkers, each of whom we believe to be seeking truth with single-mindedness and sincerity, and declaring what he has found with scrupulous veracity, and the greatest attainable exactness and precision. (Sidgwick 1870: 14–15).

This was a vision of inquiry and even culture that Sidgwick would promote throughout his life (Schultz 2004, 2011, 2017), though after this point he no longer openly directed his criticisms at the church. Mill had replied to his effort to address the question of subscription on “objective” and “utilitarian” grounds: “What ought to be the exceptions … to the general duty of truth? This large question has never yet been treated in a way at once rational and comprehensive, partly because people have been afraid to meddle with it, and partly because mankind have never yet generally admitted that the effect which actions tend to produce on human happiness is what constitutes them right or wrong” (quoted in Schultz 2004: 134). Mill urged Sidgwick to turn his “thoughts to this more comprehensive subject,” and apparently when the latter did, he concluded that it would not be conducive to the general happiness to continue his open attacks on organized religion. The reasons for this larger conclusion are only partly evident from the Methods itself.

Sidgwick did always explicitly claim, however, that his struggles with the ethics of subscription shaped the views set forth in the Methods. These struggles had led him “back to philosophy” from his more theological and philological investigations—for which he had learned German and Hebrew and struggled with biblical hermeneutics. He found the problem of whether he ought to resign his Fellowship very “difficult, and I may say that it was while struggling with the difficulty thence arising that I went through a good deal of the thought that was ultimately systematised in the The Methods of Ethics” (Sidgwick and Sidgwick, 1906: 38). One of the ways in which this is evident has been highlighted in the work of J. B. Schneewind, whose Sidgwick’s Ethics and Victorian Moral Philosophy (1977) was the most comprehensive and sophisticated commentary on Sidgwick’s ethics produced in the twentieth century. As part of an extensive account of the historical context of the Methods, underscoring how Sidgwick’s work was shaped by both the utilitarian tradition and its intuitionist and religious opposition (represented in part by the “Cambridge Moralists” William Whewell, Julius Hare, F. D. Maurice, and John Grote), Schneewind argued that

it is a mistake to view the book as primarily a defence of utilitarianism. It is true, of course, that a way of supporting utilitarianism is worked out in detail in the Methods, and that there are places in it where Sidgwick seems to be saying quite plainly that utilitarianism is the best available ethical theory. From his other writings we know also that he thinks of himself as committed to utilitarianism, and that he assumes it in analysing specific moral and political issues. Yet it does not follow that the Methods itself should be taken simply as an argument for that position. We must try to understand it in a way that makes sense of its author’s own explicit account of it. (Schneewind 1977: 192).

That account, as both Schneewind and Rawls have stressed, repeatedly affirms that the aim of the book is less practice than knowledge, “to expound as clearly and as fully as my limits will allow the different methods of Ethics that I find implicit in our common moral reasoning; to point out their mutual relations; and where they seem to conflict, to define the issue as much as possible.” That is, echoing his views on theological inquiry, he confesses that:

I have thought that the predominance in the minds of moralists of a desire to edify has impeded the real progress of ethical science: and that this would be benefited by an application to it of the same disinterested curiosity to which we chiefly owe the great discoveries of physics. It is in this spirit that I have endeavoured to compose the present work: and with this view I have desired to concentrate the reader’s attention, from first to last, not on the practical results to which our methods lead, but on the methods themselves. I have wished to put aside temporarily the urgent need which we all feel of finding and adopting the true method of determining what we ought to do; and to consider simply what conclusions will be rationally reached if we start with certain ethical premises, and with what degree of certainty and precision (Sidgwick 1874 [1907: vi]),

The model for such an approach is not Bentham or even J. S. Mill, but Aristotle, whose Ethics gave us “the Common Sense Morality of Greece, reduced to consistency by careful comparison: given not as something external to him but as what ‘we’—he and others—think, ascertained by reflection.” This was really, in effect, “the Socratic induction, elicited by interrogation” (Sidgwick 1874 [1907: xix]).

As Marcus Singer and others have observed (Singer 1974), Sidgwick’s notion of a “method” of ethics is not the same as that of an ethical principle, ethical theory, or ethical decision-procedure. A “method” is a way of “obtaining reasoned convictions as to what ought to be done” and thus it might reflect a commitment to one or more ethical principles as the ultimate ground of one’s determination of what one has most reason to do, here and now, while allowing that one might ordinarily be reasoning from such principles either directly or indirectly. Thus, one might, on theological grounds, hold that the moral order of the universe is utilitarian, with God willing the greatest happiness of the greatest number, while also holding that the appropriate guide for practical reason is enlightened self-interest, since utilitarian calculations are God’s business and God has ordered the cosmos to insure that enlightened self-interest conduces to the greatest happiness. In this case, one’s “method of ethics” would be rational egoism, but the ultimate philosophical justification for this method would appeal to utilitarian principles. Still, despite this emphasis on the reasoning process between principles and practical conclusions—another reflection of his struggles with subscription—Sidgwick obviously had quite a bit to say in the Methods about the defense of the ultimate principles of practical reason (Crisp 2014, 2015).

Many have felt that, in setting up the systematic comparison between the main methods of ethics, Sidgwick was not nearly as neutral and impartial as he thought, and in various ways slanted the discussion against a wide range of alternatives, including Aristotelian and other forms of perfectionism, Whewellian rationalism, Idealism, and more (Donagan 1977, 1992; Irwin 1992, 2007, and 2011; Hurka 2014a, 2014b). He simply dismisses the traditional philosophical concern with the “moral faculty,” explaining that he is going to leave that matter to psychologists. For Sidgwick, in any given situation, there is something that it is right or that one ought to do, and this is the proper sphere of ethics. The basic concept of morality is this unique, highly general notion of “ought” or “right” that is irreducible to naturalistic terms, sui generis, though moral approbation is “inseparably bound up with the conviction, implicit or explicit, that the conduct approved is ‘really’ right—that is, that it cannot without error, be disapproved by any other mind” (Sidgwick 1874 [1907: 27]). On this count, at least, his student G. E. Moore was willing to declare the Methods untainted by the “naturalistic fallacy”—that is, the confusion of the “is” of attribution and the “is” of identity that supposedly infected much previous ethical theory, including that of Bentham and the Mills. And indeed, it is plain that Sidgwick parted company from classical utilitarianism in many ways, rejecting the empiricism, psychological egoism, and associationism (supposedly) characteristic of the earlier tradition. F.H. Hayward, who wrote one of the first books on Sidgwick’s ethics, famously complained that E. E. Constance Jones had missed just how original Sidgwick was: “Sidgwick’s identification of ‘Right’ with ‘Reasonable’ and ‘Objective’; his view of Rightness as an ‘ultimate and unanalysable notion’ (however connected subsequently with Hedonism); and his admission that Reason is, in a sense, a motive to the will, are due to the more or less ‘unconscious’ influence of Kant. Miss Jones appears to think that these are the common-places of every ethical system, and that real divergences only arise when we make the next step in advance. I should rather regard this Rationalistic terminology as somewhat foreign to Hedonism. I do not think that Miss Jones will find, in Sidgwick’s Hedonistic predecessors, any such emphasis on Reason (however interpreted)” (Hayward 1900–1: 361). Sidgwick himself allowed that Kant was one of his “masters,” and he was also quite familiar with the works of Hegel. Schneewind’s reading (Schneewind 1977) has stressed this influence, along with the influence of Joseph Butler, whose works persuaded Sidgwick of the falsity of psychological egoism and of the reality of other than self-interested actions (Frankena 1992). Indeed, the comparison between Sidgwick and Kant has proved to be a fertile and ongoing source of academic work on Sidgwick, and one of increasing significance (Parfit 2011; Paytas 2018)

However, despite the considerable influence Kant and Kantianism—and the Cambridge Moralists—exercised on Sidgwick, the Methods also deviated from some stock features of such views, among other things rejecting the issue of free will as largely irrelevant to ethical theory and failing to appreciate the Kantian arguments about expressing one’s autonomy and the incompatibility of the categorical imperative and rational egoism. As Schneewind allows, Sidgwick’s

basic aim is similar to Kant’s, but, as his many points of disagreement with Kant suggest, the Kantian aspect of his thinking needs to be defined with some care. He detaches the issue of how reason can be practical from the most distinctive aspects of Kantianism. He rejects the methodological apparatus of the ‘critical philosophy’, the Kantian distinction of noumenal and phenomenal standpoints, and the association of the issue with the problem of free will. He treats the question of the possibility of rationally motivated action as answerable largely in terms of commonplace facts; he does not attribute any special synthesizing powers to reason beyond those assumed in ordinary logic; and he does not take morality to provide us with support for religious beliefs.. In refusing to base morality on pure reason alone, moreover, he moves decisively away from Kant, as is shown by his very un-Kantian hedonistic and teleological conclusions.. These points make it clear that the Kantian strain in Sidgwick’s thought is most marked in his central idea about the rationality of first principles (Schneewind 1977: 419–20).

Naturally, a Sidgwickian position on the venerable free will issue is bound to be controversial, and recent work on the Sidgwick/Kant comparison has brought out how divided commentators continue to be on this matter (Crisp 2015; Skelton 2016; Paytas 2018). Moreover, there has also been significant controversy over just how internalist Sidgwick’s account of moral motivation actually was. On balance, he held that the dictates or imperatives of reason were “accompanied by a certain impulse to do the acts recognized as right,” while admitting that other impulses may conflict (Sidgwick 1874 [1907: 34]). Brink (1988, 1992) has urged that some of Sidgwick’s chief arguments make better sense if he is construed, in externalist fashion, as allowing the possibility that one may have good reasons not to be moral. But Sidgwick’s moderate, qualified internalism seems plain and plausible enough to most commentators (Schultz 2004; de Lazari-Radek & Singer 2014; and Crisp 2015).

There has been perhaps even more controversy surrounding Sidgwick’s account of the “good.” The Methods is at least fairly clear in arguing that the difference between “right” and “good” in part concerns the way in which judgments of ultimate good do not necessarily involve definite precepts to act or even the assumption that the good in question is attainable or the best attainable good under the circumstances. Rightness and goodness thus “represent differentiations of the demands of our own rationality as it applies to our sentient and our active powers” (Schneewind 1977: 493). But Sidgwick offers an intricate account of ultimate good that has struck some as highly naturalistic. In A Theory of Justice, Rawls famously explained that Sidgwick “characterizes a person’s future good on the whole as what he would now desire and seek if the consequences of all the various courses of conduct open to him were, at the present point of time, accurately foreseen by him and adequately realized in imagination. An individual’s good is the hypothetical composition of impulsive forces that results from deliberative reflection meeting certain conditions” (Rawls, [1971], 1999: 366). Many have followed the Rawlsian line in casting Sidgwick as a defender of a naturalistic “full-information” account of the “good” (for example, Sobel 1994, and Rosati 1995), but the balance of scholarly opinion has it that Sidgwick’s account adumbrates an “objective list” view that allows that some desires, however informed, may be rejected as irrational or unreasonable (see especially Schneewind 1977; de Lazari-Radek & Singer 2014; and Parfit 1984, 2011). Crisp (1990, 2015) and Shaver (1997) provide helpful reviews of the debates; although the former offers perhaps the best possible defense of the interpretation of Sidgwick’s view as a naturalistic full-information account (with an experience requirement), it also admits that the objective list reading is a more charitable one.

Some commentators have made much of the difference between Sidgwick and Moore on the notion of ultimate good, urging that whereas Sidgwick prioritizes an unanalysable notion of “right,” Moore prioritizes an unanalysable notion of “good,” while adding a suspect ontological claim about “goodness” involving a non-natural property (Moore 1903; and Shaver 2000). However, Hurka (2003) has offered some forceful arguments against most such accounts:

After defining the good as what we ought to desire, he [Sidgwick] added that ‘since irrational desires cannot always be dismissed at once by voluntary effort,’ the definition cannot use ‘ought’ in ‘the strictly ethical sense,’ but only in ‘the wider sense in which it merely connotes an ideal or standard.’ But this raises the question of what this ‘wider sense’ is, and in particular whether it is at all distinct from Moore’s ‘good.’ If the claim that we ‘ought’ to have a desire is only the claim that the desire is ‘an ideal,’ how does it differ from the claim that the desire is good? When ‘ought’ is stripped of its connection with choice, its distinctive meaning seems to slip away (Hurka 2003: 603–4).

Moreover, as Hurka has developed the point, the “initial reviewers of Principia did not see it as altering Sidgwick’s ontology but emphasized its continuity with Sidgwick, while Moore himself said little about his non-natural property and even tried to limit his metaphysical claims, saying that though goodness is an object and therefore ‘is somehow’, it does not ‘exist’, and in particular does not exist in a ‘supersensible reality’ ” (Hurka 2014: 90). For his part, Sidgwick goes on to argue that the best going account of ultimate goodness is a hedonistic one, and that this is an informative, non-tautological claim, though also a more controversial one than many of the others that he defends. As Irwin and Richardson have insightfully argued, Sidgwick’s hedonistic commitments, and his criticisms of such views as T. H. Green’s, often reflected the (problematic) conviction that practical reason simply must be fully clear and determinate in its conclusions (Irwin 1992: 288–90; Richardson 1997). Without some such metric as the hedonistic one, Sidgwick argued, how can one virtue be compared to another? And can one really recommend making people more virtuous at the expense of their happiness? What if the virtuous life were conjoined to extreme pain, with no compensating good to anyone? But here again, Sidgwick’s arguments are not as perspicuous as they at first seem. Admittedly, as Shaver points out, “Sidgwick works out what it is reasonable to desire, and so attaches moral to natural properties, by the ordinary gamut of philosopher’s strategies—appeals to logical coherence, plausibility, and judgment after reflection.” (Shaver 1997: 270). Even so, as Rawls noted, “Sidgwick denies that pleasure is a measurable quality of feeling independent of its relation from volition. This is the view of some writers, he says, but one he cannot accept. He defines pleasure ‘as a feeling which, when experienced by intelligent beings, is at least apprehended as desirable or—in cases of comparison—preferable.’ It would seem that the view he here rejects is the one he relies upon later as the final criterion to introduce coherence among ends.” (Rawls [1971], 1999: 488). Sumner, in an important treatment, has also urged that Sidgwick and Mill, by contrast with Bentham,

seemed to recognize that the mental states we call pleasures are a mixed bag as far as their phenomenal properties are concerned. On their view what pleasures have in common is not something internal to them—their peculiar feeling tone, or whatever—but something about us—the fact that we like them, enjoy them, value them, find them satisfying, seek them, wish to prolong them, and so on (Sumner 1996: 86).

Although the last few years have seen a remarkable rehabilitation of ethical hedonism, particularly in the works of Crisp (2006, 2007, and 2015), Feldman (2004, 2010), and de Lazari-Radek and Singer (2017), the forms of hedonism being defended usually reconfigure or qualify the Sidgwickian approach in important ways. Crisp, who defends an internalist account of pleasure, even urges that Sidgwick’s writings did not express his better inclinations on the subject “Sidgwick is at heart an internalist about pleasure who was mislead by the heterogeneity argument into offering an externalist view which is open to serious objections” (Crisp 2007: 134). Indeed, on this count, Sidgwick might appear to be defending a position that is “intermediate between internalism and externalism,” as de Lazari-Radek and Singer note in their recent and very informed defenses of Sidgwickian hedonism against all the other alternatives, including the desire satisfaction view that Singer had previously adopted (de Lazari-Radek & Singer 2014: 254, 2016). However, Shaver (2016) has offered a subtle account and defense of Sidgwick’s notion of pleasure as feeling apprehended, perhaps wrongly, as desirable qua feeling, rather than as feeling manifesting a special tone of pleasantness.

This rehabilitation of Sidgwickian hedonism has also involved a recognition of the importance of the hedonimetrics of F. Y. Edgeworth, the brilliant economist who was a slightly junior contemporary of Sidgwick’s and one of his most enthusiastic philosophical disciples, though one whose work has until recently been largely ignored in philosophical commentary on Sidgwick (Edgeworth 1877 and 1881 [2003]). Edgeworth’s approach has been revived in economics by such figures as Kahneman (2011), and the convergence of economic and philosophical (and neurobiological) interests on this point suggests that Sidgwickian hedonism represents a new growth area in ethics. But it does seem that in key respects Sidgwick’s account remains superior to these more recent developments, which rely on a rather crude claim about pleasurable consciousness as a state that a subject wishes to prolong.
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