Alfred North Whitehead

English philosopher and mathematician who collaborated with Bertrand Russell (1861-1947)

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A clash of doctrines is not a disaster--it is an opportunity.
Almost all really new ideas have a certain aspect of foolishness when they are first produced.
An enormous part of our mature experience cannot not be expressed in words.
Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our aesthetic enjoyment is recognition of the pattern.
But you can catch yourself entertaining habitually certain ideas and setting others aside; and that, I think, is where our personal destinies are largely decided.
Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.
Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking.
Every philosophy is tinged with the coloring of some secret imaginative background, which never emerges explicitly into its train of reasoning.
Everything of importance has been said before by somebody who did not discover it.
Human life is driven forward by its dim apprehension of notions too general for its existing language.
I have suffered a great deal from writers who have quoted this or that sentence of mine either out of its context or in juxtaposition to some incongruous matter which quite distorted my meaning , or destroyed it altogether.
I will not go so far as to say that to construct a history of thought without profound study of the mathematical ideas of successive epochs is like omitting Hamlet from the play which is named after him. . . But it is certainly analogous to cutting out the part of Ophelia. This simile is singularly exact. For Ophelia is quite essential to the play, she is very charming-- and a little mad.
Ideas won't keep something must be done about them.
Ideas won't keep, something must be done about them.
If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.
If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.
Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended.
It does not matter what men say in words, so long as their activities are controlled by settled instincts. The words may ultimately destroy the instincts. But until this has occurred, words do not count. - from Science and the Modern World
It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.
It takes a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.
Nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent, the nightingale for its song; and the sun for its radiance. The poets are entirely mistaken. They should address their lyrics to themselves and should turn them into odes of self congratulation on the excellence of the human mind.
Periods of tranquility are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.
Periods of tranquillity are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.
Philosophy is the product of wonder.
Religion is what a person does in his solitariness.
Seek simplicity, and distrust it.
The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.
The deepest definition of youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.
The only use of a knowledge of the past is to equip us for the present. The present contains all that there is. It is holy ground; for it is the past, and it is the future.
The vitality of thought is in adventure. Ideas won't keep. Something must be done about them.
There are no whole truths all truths are half- truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
There are no whole truths; all truths are half- truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.
Through and through the world is infested with quantity. To talk sense is to talk quantities, It is no use saying the nation is large- how large? It is no use s aying that radium is scarce- how scarce? You can not evade quantity. You may fly to poetry and music and quantity and number will face you in your rhythms and your octaves.
We cannot think first and act afterward. From the moment of birth we are immersed in action, and can only fitfully guide it by taking thought.
We think in generalities, but we live in detail.
What is morality in any given time or place? It is what the majority then and there happen to like, and immorality is what they dislike.
Without adventure civilization is in full decay.

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