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Alfred North Whitehead

1861-1947 ,  British philosopher & mathematician
Alfred North WhiteheadEnglish mathematician and philosopher who collaborated with Bertrand Russell on Principia Mathematica (1910–13) and, from the mid-1920s, taught at Harvard University and developed a comprehensive metaphysical theory.

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The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.

We think in generalities, but we live in detail.

Nobody has a right to speak more clearly than he thinks.

Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of basic ideas.

It is a safe rule to apply that, when a mathematical or philosophical author writes with a misty profundity, he is talking nonsense.

It is the first step in sociological wisdom, to recognize that the major advances in civilization are processes which all but wreck the societies in which they occur.

It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.

The greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the invention of the method of invention.

Education is the acquisition of the art of the utilisation of knowledge.

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change, and to preserve change amid order.

The mentality of mankind and the language of mankind created each other.

A general definition of civilization: a civilized society is exhibiting the five qualities of truth, beauty, adventure, art, peace.

There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.

Shakespeare wrote better poetry for not knowing too much; Milton, I think, knew too much finally for the good of his poetry.

Not ignorance, but ignorance of ignorance is the death of knowledge.

The point about zero is that we do not need to use it in the operation of daily life. No one goes out to buy zero fish.

Philosophy begins in wonder. And, at the end, when philosophic thought has done its best, the wonder remains.

If a dog jumps into 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.

Education which is not modern share the fate of all organic things which are kept too long.

When you're average, you're just as close to the bottom as you are the top.

Seek simplicity, and distrust it.

Religion is the last refuge of human savagery.


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