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The Concept of Nature (Dover Books on Science) [Paperback]

Alfred North Whitehead
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

25 Feb 2005 Dover Books on Science
The distinguished mathematician offers undergraduate students and other readers an absorbing exploration of the fundamental problems of substance, space, and time. The discussions are highlighted by a criticism of Einstein's method of interpreting results, and by the author's alternative development of the theory of the four-dimensional space-time manifold. 1920 edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc. (25 Feb 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486438996
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486438993
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 15 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,386,280 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and mind-expanding 18 Jun 2005
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book from 1920 consists of the Tarner Lectures in the philosophy of science and features Whitehead's assessment of the impact of Einstein's theories on nature. He argues for taking events and the process of becoming as the starting points for analysing reality. This organic interpretation is not simple, but it does make more sense than the abstract concept of matter as assumed by scientists and philosophers for so long.
Whitehead criticizes the idea of nature as a mere aggregate of independent entities, each capable of isolation. According to this idea, by their accidental relations entities form the system of nature. In this theory space might exist without time, and time without space. The relational theory of space is an admission that space without matter or matter without space cannot exist.
But the seclusion of both from time is still accepted. Whitehead's alternative is that nothing in nature could be what it is except as an ingredient in nature as it exists. There cannot be time apart from space, because every event forms part of a whole and is significant in the whole. Likewise there can be no space apart from time.
Our knowledge of nature is an experience of activity or passage. Events are active entities; their relations with one another differentiate into space-relations and time-relations. But this differentiation is comparatively superficial, since time and space are each partial expressions of one fundamental relation between events, which is neither spatial not temporal. Whitehead calls this relation Extension: it is the relation of including and does not require spatio-temporal differentiation.
I found the book extremely challenging to read and had to go back constantly to re-read and properly assimilate previous passages in order to proceed.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and mind-expanding 18 Jun 2005
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book from 1920 consists of the Tarner Lectures in the philosophy of science and features Whitehead's assessment of the impact of Einstein's theories on nature. He argues for taking events and the process of becoming as the starting points for analysing reality. This organic interpretation is not simple, but it does make more sense than the abstract concept of matter as assumed by scientists and philosophers for so long.
Whitehead criticizes the idea of nature as a mere aggregate of independent entities, each capable of isolation. According to this idea, by their accidental relations entities form the system of nature. In this theory space might exist without time, and time without space. The relational theory of space is an admission that space without matter or matter without space cannot exist.
But the seclusion of both from time is still accepted. Whitehead's alternative is that nothing in nature could be what it is except as an ingredient in nature as it exists. There cannot be time apart from space, because every event forms part of a whole and is significant in the whole. Likewise there can be no space apart from time.
Our knowledge of nature is an experience of activity or passage. Events are active entities; their relations with one another differentiate into space-relations and time-relations. But this differentiation is comparatively superficial, since time and space are each partial expressions of one fundamental relation between events, which is neither spatial not temporal. Whitehead calls this relation Extension: it is the relation of including and does not require spatio-temporal differentiation.
I found the book extremely challenging to read and had to go back constantly to re-read and properly assimilate previous passages in order to proceed.
Read more ›
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
5.0 out of 5 stars Challenging and mind-expanding 23 July 2005
By Pieter Uys HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Unknown Binding
This book from 1920 consists of the Tarner Lectures in the philosophy of science and features Whitehead's assessment of the impact of Einstein's theories on nature. He argues for taking events and the process of becoming as the starting points for analysing reality. This organic interpretation is not simple, but it does make more sense than the abstract concept of matter as assumed by scientists and philosophers for so long.
Whitehead criticizes the idea of nature as a mere aggregate of independent entities, each capable of isolation. According to this idea, by their accidental relations entities form the system of nature. In this theory space might exist without time, and time without space. The relational theory of space is an admission that space without matter or matter without space cannot exist.
But the seclusion of both from time is still accepted. Whitehead's alternative is that nothing in nature could be what it is except as an ingredient in nature as it exists. There cannot be time apart from space, because every event forms part of a whole and is significant in the whole. Likewise there can be no space apart from time.
Our knowledge of nature is an experience of activity or passage. Events are active entities; their relations with one another differentiate into space-relations and time-relations. But this differentiation is comparatively superficial, since time and space are each partial expressions of one fundamental relation between events, which is neither spatial not temporal. Whitehead calls this relation Extension: it is the relation of including and does not require spatio-temporal differentiation.
I found the book extremely challenging to read and had to go back constantly to re-read and properly assimilate previous passages in order to proceed.
Read more ›
Comment | 
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