February 15 ~  Clash of Doctrines Adventures of Ideas

"A clash of doctrines is not a disaster-- it is an opportunity." ~ Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead

Mathematician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) was born in Kent, England. The son of an Anglican clergyman, Whitehead had a special gift for mathematics as a child.

He once said, "We think in generalities, but we live in detail."

Whitehead attended Cambridge's Trinity College from 1880-1910. A scholar, fellow, and senior lecturer, this brilliant mathematician was a pioneer in the development of modern algebra.

"Ideas won't keep," he observed. "Something must be done about them."

Professor Whitehead collaborated with his student Bertrand Russell on the three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910-1913), a thorough examination of deductive logic that revolutionized 20th Century math and philosophy. All mathematics, he said, could be derived from a few logical concepts.

"Every really new idea looks crazy at first," Whitehouse explained.

A prolific writer, in his later years, he wrote his classic Process and Reality (1929) about process philosophy, the philosophy of organism, which celebrated the changing universe. He taught philosophy at Harvard University where he continued to explore scientific and metaphysical theory. He was awarded the British Order of Merit for distinguished service in 1945.

More Alfred North Whitehead Quotations

Differences are merely new opportunities.