February 7, 2016

Alfred North Whitehead Philosopher & Mystic

"Alfred North Whitehead, (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English mathematician and philosopher." (Wikipedia).

"When he advises his students on what's most important, he said what's wanted is an immense feeling for things, not this mind that acquires facts, but he encouraged his students to feel into things. And he said an enormous part of our mature experience cannot be expressed in words. We need to sort of open ourselves to something beyond what we can even articulate. And as for someone as erudite as him to be emphasizing a knowingness that is greater than our intellectual capacities is a very interesting juxtaposition because if he weren't so learned, if he weren't so bright, then you could say he's dismissing knowledge, which he's not at all, but he uses knowledge in service of a greater sense of connectivity with the mystery of life rather than to explain it all and reduce it. So I find it very endearing and inspiring because there are few people who can accomplish so much and be as gracious, and humble about it. This is a beautiful quote, it is a real classic of his more mystical side, he said; '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 apprehension, something whose possession is the final good, and yet is beyond all reach, something which is the ultimate ideal, and the hopeless quest.'" - Amy Edelstein [11:30 - 14:00].

"He's credited with adding the term 'creativity' to the dictionary, which I only learned recently. And that was very much a part of his work. He said that 'creativity is without a character of its own, it is the universal of universals.' And he talked about creativity as this process or flow. He also said it's pure feeling or aliveness. And I think, my understanding of this, is as he was trying to articulate what creativity is, what this sense of flow and novelty and emergence and recreation was, he was trying to feel into a way to describe his sense of God, his sense of something that is underlying everything, that is the substance of life, that essence or nectar that makes life what it is. And, so, he said it's pure feeling, it's curiousity, it's alertness, it's aliveness. He talked about it as love. He talked about creativity as this quality-less quality. . .This mystical understanding was really part of his intimations of what God says. He said, 'God is in the world or nowhere, creating continually in us and around us. This creative principle is everywhere, in animate and so-called inanimate matter, in the ether, water, earth, human hearts. But this creation is a continuing process, and the process is itself the actuality since no sooner you arrive then you start on a fresh journey.'" - Amy Edelstein [24:12 - 26:42].

"He was a precursor of the ecological movement, of the understanding of the interconnectedness and interrelationship of all things. And he influenced very much the thinking that we must look at the world as this vast interconnected web and we must look at our effects and the effects of our decisions and choices, and progress and building, as it's effecting the entire ecosystem all around us. And this was something he talked about and thought about in the 30's and 40's, which was in the middle of WWII, when most people were not really thinking about our effect on the natural world around us." - Amy Edelstein [30:30 - 31:30].

Video Title: Alfred North Whitehead Philosopher & Mystic. Source: Amy Edelstein. Date Published: December 9, 2014. Description: 
Lecture on the life and process philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead by Amy Edelstein held at the University of Pennsylvania. For more information visit: http://amyedelstein.com