Whitehead___The poets were wrong

the three main factors (according to Whitehead) that led to the rise of modern (scientific) thought:


_1) rise of mathematics
2) instinctual belief in a detailed order of nature (connection to the history of religion in vindicating faith with rationalism)
3)unbridled rationalism of thought

[circa 1600 – Later Middle Ages]

passage to truth predominantly metaphysical / abstraction


William Harvey – the biologist

and finally something from Da Vinci – rise of naturalistic art as a key ingredient in the formation of scientific mentality

why? i decided to look up some examples of naturalistic art-

nature as is depicted in art through photography or realism art aims for realistic depictions; iguess that’s a pretty natural flow pun intended – observation techniques, contrasts, mediative instruments and extensions of religious or metaphysical symbolisms;
but if art is abstraction, then what comes forth out of context allows us to gain an a priori experience of the place, but ultimately naturalism is a dead-end craft, since we will never be able to deny the selective, inductive processes in observation and subjectivity will always be a snare to the realism of any one type of representation dialogue.

(this is terribly old news).  What’s new from this?

The nature of induction.

Whitehead asserts that we “cannot substitute from the concrete occasion a mere abstract in which we only consider material objects in a flux of configurations in time and space”  Instead we need to addd the ‘immediate occasion and use reason to elicit a general description of its nature”  Induction PRESUPPOSES metaphysics i.e. it rests upon an antecedent rationalism.

qualitative discussion of occasions (Francis Bacon) often was more classification rather than measurements and relationships between physical quantifiables.

<Mass _ Newton


Galileo  – attend not to the motion of bodies but to the changes of their motions – formularised by Newton in his first law of motion – “Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line, expect so far as it may be compelled by force to change that state”.

This embodies the concept of an entirely isolated space.

Isolation – is not a substantial independance from the things in the universe, by a freedom from causal contingencies in this system.


What is a shadow!??

Newtob’s corpuscular theory vsHyughens wave theory of light



the 17th Century brought to Ionain thinkers the answer to their question” What is the world made of”   – “The world is a succession of instantaneous configurations of matter – or of material”

What is interesting then are dialogues of essential qualities of material- and of course in quantifications, the differences between perception and sense. – but essential qualities= quantifiable mass and simple location.

But ultimately the illusion of concreteness is something that underpins his discussions on abstraction and concreteness; quantification and quality-classifications;sensing and perceptions; and his book reads like a dramatic setting of the stage for the Theory of Relativity to set in.


“Nature gets credit which should in truth be reserved for ourselves: the rose for its scent: the nightingale for his song: and the sun for his radiance.  The poets are entirely mistaken.  They should address the lyrics to themselves, and should turn them into odes of self-congratulation on the excellency of the human mind.  Nature is a dull affair, soundless, scentless, colourless; merely the hurrying of material, endlessly, meaninglessly”.








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