On the Categories of Explanation in Process and Reality

James Williams

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Why return to Whitehead today? What reasons could there be for disinterring a philosophy many judge to have been well buried even in its day, overtaken by a wave of powerful rejections of all forms of speculative metaphysics? The answer is that Whitehead offers – and knew he offered – critical counters to the age supposed to have over- taken him. His philosophy is not so much outdated as prescient, or per- haps untimely, in that Nietzschean sense which seems ever more important in an age where philosophy and theory are asked to have answers and applications ‘in the moment’ and ‘on demand’. This article attempts to demonstrate that, through a series of critical ideas, Whitehead calls into question two key tenets of current theoretical approaches: first, that empirical science and the philosophies that underpin it have somehow passed beyond metaphysical presuppositions and into a blessed state of positivist explanatory neutrality; second, that theoretical innovations have no place unless subservient to well-determined empirical observations.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)166-86
    Number of pages21
    JournalAnalysis and Metaphysics
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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