198 Pages
English

A. N. Whitehead and Social Theory

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This book outlines A.N. Whitehead’s philosophy of process, and uses it to re-orient a range of topics within social theory.


The contemporary importance of A. N. Whitehead (1861–1947) lies in his direct yet productive challenge to the culture of thought inherent in modernity, a challenge that suffuses science, social theory and philosophy alike. Unlike some of the more destructive aspects of postmodernism and poststructuralism, Whitehead’s diagnosis of the conceptual fault lines of the modern era does not entail a passive relativism. Instead, he calls for a renewal of our concepts, offering a positive, philosophical approach based on becoming, relativity, and a reconception of subjectivity and the social. This book outlines Whitehead’s philosophy, using it to reorient a range of specific questions and topics within contemporary social theory, namely: the relation of language and the body; the relationship between the individual and society; sexual difference; conceptions of nature; the question of realism; the concept of the social; and capitalism as a process. It also provides detailed analyses and comparisons of Whitehead’s concepts with those of Judith Butler on materiality and the body, and of Luce Irigaray on nature, essentialism and sexual difference.


Acknowledgements; List of Abbreviations; Chapter One: A Culture of Thought – The Bifurcation of Nature; Chapter Two: Introducing Whitehead’s Philosophy – The Lure of Whitehead; Chapter Three: ‘A Thorough-Going Realism’ – Whitehead On Cause and Conformation; Chapter Four: The Value of Existence; Chapter Five: Societies, the Social and Subjectivity; Chapter Six: Language and the Body – From Signification to Symbolism; Chapter Seven: This Nature Which Is Not One; Chapter Eight: Capitalism, Process and Abstraction; Notes; Bibliography; Index

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Published 01 October 2013
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EAN13 9781783080991
Language English

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A. N. Whitehead and Social Theory
A. N. Whitehead and Social Theory
Tracing a Culture of Thought
Michael Halewood
Anthem Press An imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company www.anthempress.com
This edition first published in UK and USA 2013 by ANTHEM PRESS 75-76 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HA, UK or PO Box 9779, London SW19 7ZG, UK and 244 Madison Ave. #116, New York, NY 10016, USA
First published in hardback by Anthem Press in 2011
Copyright © Michael Halewood 2013
The author asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
British Library CataloguinginPublication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
Library of Congress CataloginginPublication Data The Library of Congress has cataloged the hardcover edition as follows: Halewood, Michael. A.N. Whitehead and social theory : tracing a culture of thought / Michael Halewood. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p.) and index. ISBN 978-0-85728-796-0 (hardback : alk. paper) 1. Social sciences–Philosophy. 2. Sociology–Philosophy. 3. Whitehead, Alfred North, 1861–1947. I. Title. H61.15.H34 2011 300.1–dc23 2011028421
ISBN-13: 978 1 78308 069 4 (Pbk) ISBN-10: 1 78308 069 8 (Pbk)
This title is also available as an ebook.
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Acknowledgements List of Abbreviations Chapter One A Culture of Thought  The Bifurcation of Nature Chapter Two Introducing Whiteheads Philosophy  The Lure of Whitehead Chapter Three A Thorough-Going Realism  Whitehead On Cause and Conformation
Chapter Four The Value of Existence
Chapter Five Societies, the Social and Subjectivity
Chapter Six Language and the Body  From Signication to Symbolism
Chapter Seven This Nature Which Is Not One Chapter Eight Capitalism, Process and Abstraction Notes Bibliography Index
vii ix
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23
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63
79
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147 171 179 185
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many and varied are the people who have helped and supported me during the process of producing this book; I owe them much and I am grateful. My initial interest in the work of Whitehead was nurtured by, amongst others, Andrew Barry (who  rst introduced me to him), Mariam Fraser, Celia Lury, Mike Michael and Alberto Toscano. Others who have helped maintain and develop this engagement are Didier Debaise, Roland Faber, Andy Goffey and Steven Shaviro. However, over the last ten years or so, it has been Isabelle Stengers and her work that have most supported, challenged and deepened my understanding of Whitehead. Rob Stones provided advice and support for the publication of this book and Janka Romero at Anthem Press has been a mine of information. Astrid Loranges zesty enthusiasm for the project was much appreciated. More generally, there are many who have had input. I would like to thank my parents, Conor Carville, Joe Daniel, Deirdre Lambe, Mark Lawson, Lynne Pettinger, Darren Thiel, Christian Vaughan-Spruce, Vanessa White, AlexWilkieandAnnaMariaGrigoras¸. In April 2010, I used material from a draft version of this book to give three lectures at the University of Turku and the University of Tampere, both in Finland. I am grateful to the staff and students of these institutions for their comments, questions, suggestions and hospitality, especially Seppo Poutanen. None of the chapters contained in this book is a simple reprint of previously published material. However, some sections do address themes and use material which has been published elsewhere. A section of Chapter One was published in A.N. Whitehead, Information and Social Theory,Theory, Culture andSociety, 22.6 (2005): 7394. Elements of Chapter Two are from M. Halewood and M. Michael, Being a Sociologist and Becoming a Whiteheadian: Toward a Concrescent Methodology,Theory, Culture and Society, 25.4 (2008): 3156. Chapter Four includes material published as Fact, Values, Individuals, and Others: Towards a Metaphysics of Value in R. Faber, B. Henning and C. Combs (eds),Beyond Metaphysics(New York: Rodopi Press, 2010), 22747. Chapter Five includes material from Sociology, Societies, and Sociality in
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A. N. WHITEHEAD AND SOCIAL THEORY
M. Dibben (ed.),Applied Process Thought Volume II(Frankfurt/Lancaster: Ontos Verlag, 2009), 293317. A section of Chapter Six was published as Butler and Whitehead on the (Social) Body in R. Faber and A. Stephenson (eds), Secrets of Becoming. NegotiatingWhitehead, Deleuze and Butler(Fordham University Press: New York, 2011), 10726. I am grateful for being able to reproduce these here.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
The following abbreviations have been used for the works of Whitehead which are cited throughout this text. They have been ordered in terms of approximate frequency of use.
PR  AI  MT  SYM  SMW  CN  SP  RM  PRPS  AE 
Process and Reality Adventures of Ideas Modes of Thought Symbolism. Its Meaning and Effect Science and the Modern World Concept of NatureScience and Philosophy Religion in the Making The Principle of Relativity with applications toPhysical Science The Aims of Education and Other Essays