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Adventures of Ideas de Alfred North…
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Adventures of Ideas (1933 original; edició 1967)

de Alfred North Whitehead

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History of the human race from the point of view of mankind's changing ideas--sociological, cosmological, philosophica.
Títol:Adventures of Ideas
Autors:Alfred North Whitehead
Informació:Free Press (1967), Edition: 1st Free Press Pbk. Ed, Paperback, 320 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
Etiquetes:No n'hi ha cap

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Adventures of Ideas de Alfred North Whitehead (1933)

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This book is more ambitious than its title, which suggests a primer for youths interested in philosophy, might indicate. Then one comes to the final chapters and gains a full grasp of what the terms “adventure” and “ideas” signified for the author. Adventures of Ideas represents an integral part of Whitehead’s lifelong quest to reestablish metaphysics in a way that takes seriously challenges to previous metaphysics raised by sensationalist views of the human mind (Locke through Hume) and positivist views of society and history. This project was not pursued for its own sake, however. As Whitehead writes: “The point is, that speculative extension beyond direct observation spells some trust in metaphysics, however vaguely these metaphysical notions may be entertained in explicit thought. Our metaphysical knowledge is slight, superficial, incomplete. Thus errors creep in. But, such as it is, metaphysical understanding guides imagination and justifies purpose. Apart from metaphysical presupposition there can be no civilization” (p. 128). High stakes indeed. Still, he admits that the project cannot be crowned with any “triumphs of finality. We cannot produce that final adjustment of well-defined generalities which constitute a complete metaphysics” (p. 145).
Whitehead wrote at a time when unbridled capitalism and industrialism had been overcome; this seems poignant in light of recent developments. He confidently declares: “[N]o one now holds that, apart from some further directive agency, mere individualistic competition, of itself and by its own self-righting character, will produce a satisfactory society” (p. 35). One could not help but think of the post-2016-election society as the author diagnoses a civilization that has passed its zenith and reached the close of an epoch. He sees two possibilities. One is slow decline: “The prolongation of outworn forms of life means a slow decadence in which there is repetition without any fruit in the reaping of value.” The other is when a form of civilization has been exhausted, but not the creative springs of originality that were its basis. “In that case, a quick period of transition may set in, which may or may not be accompanied by dislocations involving widespread unhappiness” (p. 278). So which are we in for?
This book is said to be one of the author’s more accessible works, but I could have used some help bootstrapping my way into his thought-world. For a long stretch, the material seemed so disparate that I asked myself for whom the book was written or whether the book had an overall point. Then in the last three chapters, it all came together. Still, this reader would have found it helpful if the connecting tissue would have been more evident throughout. Also, I would have liked to see more sentences that began “for instance.”
When going back over the book a second time, I noticed that the author had given clues along the way of where he was heading. For instance, in Chapter 6, Foresight, he writes a description of philosophy that seemed to sum up his aim in this book:
“Philosophy is not a mere collection of noble sentiments. A deluge of such sentiments does more harm than good. Philosophy is at once general and concrete, critical and appreciative of direct intuition. It is not—or, at least, should not be—a ferocious debate between irritable professors. It is a survey of possibilities and their comparison with actualities. In philosophy, the fact, the theory, the alternatives, and the ideal, are weighed together. Its gifts are insight and foresight, and a sense of the worth of life, in short, that sense of importance which nerves all civilized effort. Mankind can flourish in the lower stages of life with merely barbaric flashes of thought. But when civilization culminates, the absence of a coördinating philosophy of life, spread throughout the community, spells decadence, boredom, and the slackening of effort.”
This claim seems to express the rationale behind Whitehead’s project. For him, nothing less is at stake than the progress of civilization, a teleological aim he sees threatened by a loss of the sense of adventure.
My copy could have been copy-edited more carefully. Not a significant number of typos overall, but more than a quality book should have. Some were amusing, though. On page 216, I’m fairly sure Whitehead meant “brain,” not “grain.” ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
Alfred North Whitehead's "Adventures of Ideas" of 1933 could be two separate books. Parts I and II ("Sociological" and "Cosmological") show a fine thinker considering the history of ideas and the rise of civilization. There are interesting propositions on every page, presented with refreshing clarity of thought. It is not a fast read but is accessible.

Parts III and IV ("Philosophical" and "Civilization"), perhaps except for the early chapters, are not for the general reader but rather for students of Philosophy. It may today strike others as consisting of overfine distinctions, some of matters fairly obvious and others of concepts which appear possible of simplification (for instance by reference to adaptive models). I am not competent here of fair judgement.

Well worth five stars for the first parts; benefit of the doubt for the rest. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
Perhaps it is a flaw of character, but I have a need to finish the books I started. They may be boring, incomprehensible, stupid, but once started, they must be finished. It may take me a month or a year, but by God I will read it through! However, what if it turns out that the book is so bad I shouldn’t have started it in the first place? Write a damning review, of course. ( )
  tfk | Jan 21, 2008 |
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