Los Angeles Review of Books: On Aesthetics and Mentality in Speculative Philosophy Today
FOR OVER HALF A CENTURY, the work of Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) was little more than a footnote to the history of philosophy. Until recently, he is most likely to have been remembered, if at all, for his collaboration with Bertrand Russell in the Principia Mathematica (1910, 1912, 1913), a foundational text for the development of analytical philosophy. Subsequently, Whitehead turned his attention to metaphysics at a time when the emerging disciplines of analytical and Continental thought rejected this style of philosophy as the dogmatic relic of a pre-Kantian past. Though Whitehead enjoyed prestigious posts at the University College London and Harvard University in later years, and published major treatises on metaphysics in the 1920s and 1930s, his influence quickly faded. With analytical philosophers under the spell of Wittgenstein’s philosophy of language and Continentals enamored with Husserlian and Heideggerian phenomenology, Whitehead’s brazen adoption of an outmoded philosophical method fated his work to gather dust on bookshelves for the rest of the 20th century.