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Alfred North Whitehead

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  • Lab God
    Here s a question to challenge the MythSoc Hive Mind: Does anybody know if CSL, Tolkien, or any of the other Inklings ever expressed an opinion of (or made
    Message 1 of 8 , Jul 16, 2010
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      Here's a question to challenge the MythSoc Hive Mind:

      Does anybody know if CSL, Tolkien, or any of the other Inklings ever expressed an opinion of (or made reference to) the mathematician-philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)? I'm interested in Whitehead's "process philosophy" and am curious if he or his philosophy ever caused a blip on the Inklings' radar.

      — Pat
    • John Rateliff
      I don t find a mention of him in the index to CSL S GREAT WAR W. OWEN BARFIELD, where I might expect it, but there is a citation in COLLECTED LETTERS OF CSL,
      Message 2 of 8 , Jul 17, 2010
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        I don't find a mention of him in the index to CSL'S GREAT WAR W. OWEN BARFIELD, where I might expect it, but there is a citation in COLLECTED LETTERS OF CSL, Vol. III, page 127. In a letter to Helen D. Calkins (March 29th, 1952), he points out various small errors in a piece she's written and sent to him. On page 49, he notes that in a footnote "You quote as if it was mine what I (as I told you) was quoting from Whitehead. Return it to him. I haven't got a copy to hand but it'll do you no harm to read his Chapter II !
           Hooper's ftnt to this passage reads "In Miracles: A Preliminary Study (London: Bles, 1947; Fount, 1998), pp. 90, 110, Lewis quotes from Alfred North Whitehead's Science and the Modern World (1925)."

        --so this at least establishes that Lewis knew of Whitehead's work. Does that help?

        --John R.


        On Jul 16, 2010, at 11:57 AM, Lab God wrote:
        Here's a question to challenge the MythSoc Hive Mind:

        Does anybody know if CSL, Tolkien, or any of the other Inklings ever expressed an opinion of (or made reference to) the mathematician-philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)? I'm interested in Whitehead's "process philosophy" and am curious if he or his philosophy ever caused a blip on the Inklings' radar.

        — Pat

      • John Rateliff
        Correction: the citation appears in COLLECTED LETTERS page 176. Sorry for the error; I shd have double-checked before sending the message off. And of course
        Message 3 of 8 , Jul 17, 2010
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          Correction: the citation appears in COLLECTED LETTERS page 176. Sorry for the error; I shd have double-checked before sending the message off. And of course it's page 49 of her book that Lewis is referring to, not of Hooper's edition, in case I didn't make that clear.
             So, Lewis knew, quoted, and recommended at least one of Whitehead's works.

          I also found a passing reference in a letter about Anthroposophy probably written in 1940, where Lewis ends with the paragraph "I should perhaps add that the works of Dr. Steiner are extremely difficult reading: unassisted popular opinion on them is likely to be no more reliable than the same opinion on Kant or Whitehead." (COLLECTED LETTERS, Vol II, page 421).

          Finally, a quick glance through a few more indexes turned up another reference in the colleciton GOD IN THE DOCK: ESSAYS ON THEOLOGY AND ETHICS (ed. Hooper, 1970). In the third essay, "Dogma and the Universe", Lewis writes

          ". . . Does this mean that Christians on different levels of general education conceal radically different beliefs under an identical form of words? Certainly not. For what they agree on is the substance, and what they differ about is the shadow. When one imagines his God seated in a local heaven above a flat earth, where another sees God and creation in terms of Professor Whitehead's philosophy,[7] this difference touches precisely what does not matter . . . "
          [footnote 7]:  Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), who wrote, among other works, Science and the Modern World (1925) and Religion in the Making (1926). 

          --I don't know whether by footnote is by Lewis or Hooper; I assume the latter.

          "Dogma and the Universe" was originally published in THE GUARDIAN on March 19th and March 26th 1943, according to Hooper's Preface to the book. 

          Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher during the early 1920s, I'd be surprised if he wasn't familiar with at least some of Whitehead's work.

          --JDR


          On Jul 17, 2010, at 1:30 PM, John Rateliff wrote:
          I don't find a mention of him in the index to CSL'S GREAT WAR W. OWEN BARFIELD, where I might expect it, but there is a citation in COLLECTED LETTERS OF CSL, Vol. III, page 127. In a letter to Helen D. Calkins (March 29th, 1952), he points out various small errors in a piece she's written and sent to him. On page 49, he notes that in a footnote "You quote as if it was mine what I (as I told you) was quoting from Whitehead. Return it to him. I haven't got a copy to hand but it'll do you no harm to read his Chapter II !
             Hooper's ftnt to this passage reads "In Miracles: A Preliminary Study (London: Bles, 1947; Fount, 1998), pp. 90, 110, Lewis quotes from Alfred North Whitehead's Science and the Modern World (1925)."
          --so this at least establishes that Lewis knew of Whitehead's work. Does that help?
          --John R.


          On Jul 16, 2010, at 11:57 AM, Lab God wrote:
          Here's a question to challenge the MythSoc Hive Mind:
          Does anybody know if CSL, Tolkien, or any of the other Inklings ever expressed an opinion of (or made reference to) the mathematician-philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)? I'm interested in Whitehead's "process philosophy" and am curious if he or his philosophy ever caused a blip on the Inklings' radar.
          — Pat

        • lynnmaudlin
          Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher during the early 1920s, I d be surprised if he wasn t familiar with at least some of Whitehead s
          Message 4 of 8 , Jul 18, 2010
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            "Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher during the early 1920s, I'd be surprised if he wasn't familiar with at least some of Whitehead's work."

            Did he? I always understood that youngish CS Lewis thought of himself as primarily a *poet*...??

            -- Lynn --


            --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, John Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
            >
            > Correction: the citation appears in COLLECTED LETTERS page 176. Sorry for the error; I shd have double-checked before sending the message off. And of course it's page 49 of her book that Lewis is referring to, not of Hooper's edition, in case I didn't make that clear.
            > So, Lewis knew, quoted, and recommended at least one of Whitehead's works.
            >
            > I also found a passing reference in a letter about Anthroposophy probably written in 1940, where Lewis ends with the paragraph "I should perhaps add that the works of Dr. Steiner are extremely difficult reading: unassisted popular opinion on them is likely to be no more reliable than the same opinion on Kant or Whitehead." (COLLECTED LETTERS, Vol II, page 421).
            >
            > Finally, a quick glance through a few more indexes turned up another reference in the colleciton GOD IN THE DOCK: ESSAYS ON THEOLOGY AND ETHICS (ed. Hooper, 1970). In the third essay, "Dogma and the Universe", Lewis writes
            >
            > ". . . Does this mean that Christians on different levels of general education conceal radically different beliefs under an identical form of words? Certainly not. For what they agree on is the substance, and what they differ about is the shadow. When one imagines his God seated in a local heaven above a flat earth, where another sees God and creation in terms of Professor Whitehead's philosophy,[7] this difference touches precisely what does not matter . . . "
            > [footnote 7]: Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947), who wrote, among other works, Science and the Modern World (1925) and Religion in the Making (1926).
            >
            > --I don't know whether by footnote is by Lewis or Hooper; I assume the latter.
            >
            > "Dogma and the Universe" was originally published in THE GUARDIAN on March 19th and March 26th 1943, according to Hooper's Preface to the book.
            >
            > Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher during the early 1920s, I'd be surprised if he wasn't familiar with at least some of Whitehead's work.
            >
            > --JDR
            >
            >
            > On Jul 17, 2010, at 1:30 PM, John Rateliff wrote:
            > > I don't find a mention of him in the index to CSL'S GREAT WAR W. OWEN BARFIELD, where I might expect it, but there is a citation in COLLECTED LETTERS OF CSL, Vol. III, page 127. In a letter to Helen D. Calkins (March 29th, 1952), he points out various small errors in a piece she's written and sent to him. On page 49, he notes that in a footnote "You quote as if it was mine what I (as I told you) was quoting from Whitehead. Return it to him. I haven't got a copy to hand but it'll do you no harm to read his Chapter II !
            > > Hooper's ftnt to this passage reads "In Miracles: A Preliminary Study (London: Bles, 1947; Fount, 1998), pp. 90, 110, Lewis quotes from Alfred North Whitehead's Science and the Modern World (1925)."
            > > --so this at least establishes that Lewis knew of Whitehead's work. Does that help?
            > > --John R.
            > >
            > >
            > > On Jul 16, 2010, at 11:57 AM, Lab God wrote:
            > >> Here's a question to challenge the MythSoc Hive Mind:
            > >> Does anybody know if CSL, Tolkien, or any of the other Inklings ever expressed an opinion of (or made reference to) the mathematician-philosopher Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947)? I'm interested in Whitehead's "process philosophy" and am curious if he or his philosophy ever caused a blip on the Inklings' radar.
            > >> — Pat
            >
          • David Bratman
            Lynn Maudlin wrote, ... Artistically he considered himself a poet. Professionally, he was planning to become a philosopher. No conflict; it s different
            Message 5 of 8 , Jul 19, 2010
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              Lynn Maudlin wrote,

              >"Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher
              >during the early 1920s, I'd be surprised if he wasn't familiar with
              >at least some of Whitehead's work."
              >
              >Did he? I always understood that youngish CS Lewis thought
              >of himself as primarily a *poet*...??

              Artistically he considered himself a poet. Professionally, he was planning
              to become a philosopher. No conflict; it's different roles, like saying
              that he was both a son and a brother at the same time.
            • John Rateliff
              Yes, what David said. I shd have been more specific that I was talking about CSL s role within academe (philosopher), vs. his self-image as a writer (poet).
              Message 6 of 8 , Jul 19, 2010
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                Yes, what David said. I shd have been more specific that I was talking about CSL's role within academe (philosopher), vs. his self-image as a writer (poet).
                   Here's how I put it in 1992 (published 1996):

                "Tolkien and Lewis were, at the beginning of 1936, largely frustrated authors. [snip Tolkien section] . . . Lewis, in his late thirties, had also been writing all his life yet published very little: only three books (two of them pseudonymously) -- two of poetry and one satire, with a volume of literary history (The Allegory of Love) forthcoming. His philosophical papers, his chief production of the 1920s, had been read by no one except Owen Barfield, and his dreams of fame as a poet had, after the promising start of Spirits in Bondage, vanished after his second book, Dymer, met with a deservedly poor reception. His fictional juvenilia, the Boxen stories, had been lovingly catalogued and then permanently shelved in 1930; there is no sign that he ever seriously attempted to publish such stories as he still occasionally wrote, like "The Man Born Blind," contenting himself with showing them to friends like Tolkien and Barfield. The same holds true for his later narrative poems like "The Queen of Drum," "Lancelot," and "The Nameless Isle" (all of which Hooper dates to the late 1920s or early 1930s). In a poignant passage of self-evaluation, Lewis states: "From the age of sixteen onwards I had one single ambition [i.e., to be a great poet] from which I never wavered, in the prosecution of which I spent every ounce I could, on wh. I really & deliberately staked my whole contentment: and I recognize myself as having unmistakably failed in it" (They Stand Together, p. 378-379) . . . "  [TOLKIEN'S LEGENDARIUM, pages 200-201]

                --JDR



                On Jul 19, 2010, at 10:55 AM, David Bratman wrote:
                Lynn Maudlin wrote,

                [JDR wrote:] "Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher
                during the early 1920s, I'd be surprised if he wasn't familiar with
                at least some of Whitehead's work."

                Did he? I always understood that youngish CS Lewis thought
                of himself as primarily a *poet*...??

                Artistically he considered himself a poet.  Professionally, he was planning
                to become a philosopher.  No conflict; it's different roles, like saying
                that he was both a son and a brother at the same time.

              • lynnmaudlin
                wait... C.S. Lewis was a son AND a brother...?!?! *scratching my head* ;)
                Message 7 of 8 , Jul 20, 2010
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                  wait... C.S. Lewis was a son AND a brother...?!?! *scratching my head* ;)


                  --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, "David Bratman" <dbratman@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Lynn Maudlin wrote,
                  >
                  > >"Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher
                  > >during the early 1920s, I'd be surprised if he wasn't familiar with
                  > >at least some of Whitehead's work."
                  > >
                  > >Did he? I always understood that youngish CS Lewis thought
                  > >of himself as primarily a *poet*...??
                  >
                  > Artistically he considered himself a poet. Professionally, he was planning
                  > to become a philosopher. No conflict; it's different roles, like saying
                  > that he was both a son and a brother at the same time.
                  >
                • lynnmaudlin
                  Thank you, John R and David B - just another example of where we get snagged because of underlying assumptions; the more I live, the more I notice this!
                  Message 8 of 8 , Jul 20, 2010
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                    Thank you, John R and David B - just another example of where we get snagged because of underlying assumptions; the more I live, the more I notice this!

                    Academe versus art....

                    -- Lynn --


                    --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, John Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                    >
                    > Yes, what David said. I shd have been more specific that I was talking about CSL's role within academe (philosopher), vs. his self-image as a writer (poet).
                    > Here's how I put it in 1992 (published 1996):
                    >
                    > "Tolkien and Lewis were, at the beginning of 1936, largely frustrated authors. [snip Tolkien section] . . . Lewis, in his late thirties, had also been writing all his life yet published very little: only three books (two of them pseudonymously) -- two of poetry and one satire, with a volume of literary history (The Allegory of Love) forthcoming. His philosophical papers, his chief production of the 1920s, had been read by no one except Owen Barfield, and his dreams of fame as a poet had, after the promising start of Spirits in Bondage, vanished after his second book, Dymer, met with a deservedly poor reception. His fictional juvenilia, the Boxen stories, had been lovingly catalogued and then permanently shelved in 1930; there is no sign that he ever seriously attempted to publish such stories as he still occasionally wrote, like "The Man Born Blind," contenting himself with showing them to friends like Tolkien and Barfield. The same holds true for his later narrative poems like "The Queen of Drum," "Lancelot," and "The Nameless Isle" (all of which Hooper dates to the late 1920s or early 1930s). In a poignant passage of self-evaluation, Lewis states: "From the age of sixteen onwards I had one single ambition [i.e., to be a great poet] from which I never wavered, in the prosecution of which I spent every ounce I could, on wh. I really & deliberately staked my whole contentment: and I recognize myself as having unmistakably failed in it" (They Stand Together, p. 378-379) . . . " [TOLKIEN'S LEGENDARIUM, pages 200-201]
                    >
                    > --JDR
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > On Jul 19, 2010, at 10:55 AM, David Bratman wrote:
                    > > Lynn Maudlin wrote,
                    > >
                    > >> [JDR wrote:] "Given that Lewis considered himself primarily a philosopher
                    > >> during the early 1920s, I'd be surprised if he wasn't familiar with
                    > >> at least some of Whitehead's work."
                    > >>
                    > >> Did he? I always understood that youngish CS Lewis thought
                    > >> of himself as primarily a *poet*...??
                    > >
                    > > Artistically he considered himself a poet. Professionally, he was planning
                    > > to become a philosopher. No conflict; it's different roles, like saying
                    > > that he was both a son and a brother at the same time.
                    >
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