Whitehead: Modes of Thought


“Connectedness is of the essence of all things of all types. It is of the essence of types, that they be connected. Abstraction from connectedness involves the omission of an essential factor in the fact considered. No fact is merely itself. The penetration of literature and art at their height arises from our dumb sense that we have passed beyond mythology; namely, beyond the myth of isolation.”

— Alfred North Whitehead, Modes of Thought

I’ve been trying to make use of some additional time to restart my Stoic practice. I’ve been away for too long, and I’m find it difficult. Epictetus is correct regarding the relaxing of attention. Additionally, I’m trying to get back into the habit of reading philosophy. I’ve been spending some time with Whitehead, who while not a Stoic, touches on some topics which I find useful.

I’m still working through Modes of Thought, but thus far my takeaway has been a new perspective of my philosophical work.  There is a danger, Whitehead admonishes, in the need to systematize.  If we systematize before making enough observations, we’ll leave something out, and “[p]hilosophy can exclude nothing.”

In this early section, he also discusses “importance” and “interest” in a way which has caused me to pause and reflect in a way which I think will be fruitful.  It’s a bit early for me to report back, but I wanted to share this with others in case you also wanted to read and discuss this work.

My university will mail books out, so I’m using a dead-tree version (I’m the second person to check out since 1958), but if its’ difficult to source for you, there is an html-version here.

I have generally not paid too much attention to modern philosophy, since much of it sets asides the ancients.  But like Seneca’s spy, I shall dip into the other camp to see how things are done.  I will report back.

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