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Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) was a British philosopher and mathematician. He is best remembered for his concept of process philosophy, which has found application in a diverse range of academic disciplines, from ecology to theology to economics. Process philosophy equates metaphysical reality with change and development. Change is not accidental, but is the cornerstone of reality.

Whitehead was born in Ramsgate, Kent, the son of a schoolmaster, and was educated at the best schools of the time, attending Trinity College, Cambridge beginning in 1880. In 1884, he was elected a fellow of Trinity College, a position he held until 1910. From 1910 to 1926 he taught at University College London and Imperial College London, lecturing on physics, the philosophy of science, and education.

Trained as a mathematician, Alfred North Whitehead did not turn his attention to philosophy until later in life. His first philosophical work, The Concept of Nature, appeared in 1920. Four years later, he was invited to become a professor of philosophy at Harvard University in Massachusetts. Whitehead spent the remainder of his life in the United States, teaching at Harvard until his retirement in 1937, and dying ten years later. Much of Whitehead's personal life remains a mystery, as he left instructions for his family to burn his personal papers following his death, as he was fanatically devoted to his privacy.

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