Monday, April 27, 2015

Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead was a British Mathematician and philosopher whose famous work  Principia Mathematica was co-written with his student Bertand Russell. That book is one of the classics of the 20th century.

And so, where are the great thinkers of this day? We seem to have been overrun in the sphere of education by middle management.

Whitehead had said in his essay on the Aims of Education,
In training a child to activity of thought, above all things we must beware of what I will call “inert ideas”—that is to say, ideas that are merely received into the mind without being utilized, or tested, or thrown into fresh combinations.
That's where the hands come into play, for as Charles H. Hamm had noted, the mind seeks the truth but the hands discover it. Utilizing, testing, and throwing into new combinations is what the hands do best under most circumstances.

Whitehead had described a learning in depth process whose levels started with romance of the idea, then the development of precision in the application of that idea, culminating in what he called "generalization" or the ability to leap toward application into fresh territory. I can explain the hand's role in this process, and it is a relationship I will explain in a subsequent post.

This Friday we have a Wisdom of the Hands fundraiser, 6-8 PM in the home of Susan and Jim Nelson, here in Eureka Springs. If you are interested in attending, you must RSVP. You may do so through my email address in the sidebar at upper right.

As you can see in the photo I am making progress on the bent wood boxes, adding part of the wooden hinge to each of the lids. Next will come the hinge parts affixed to the back of each box.

Make, fix and create...


  1. Don't forget that the Principia Mathematica led to Frege's work being rediscovered hence symbolic logic hence computers! AND Whitehead "invented" process theology!

  2. Thanks, I was unfamiliar with Whitehead until yesterday when one of my fellow teachers had mentioned his essay on education. Process theology is a thing I will have to investigate.