Alfred Whitehead

1861 - 1947

A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on mathematics, purity, and thought

The point of mathematics is that in it we have always got rid of the particular instance, and even of any particular sorts of entities. So that for example, no mathematical truths apply merely to fish, or merely to stones, or merely to colours. So long as you are dealing with pure mathematics, you are in the realm of complete and absolute abstraction. . . . Mathematics is thought moving in the sphere of complete abstraction from any particular instance of what it is talking about.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

Source: Science and the Modern World

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on future, knowledge, past, and present

The only use of a knowledge of the past is to equip us for the present. The present contains all that there is. It is holy ground; for it is the past, and it is the future.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on aim, ambition, fame, labor, mankind, sharing, virtue, and wisdom

Wisdom alone is true ambition's aim.   Wisdom the source of virtue, and of fame,  Obtained with labor, for mankind employed,  And then, when most you share it, best enjoyed.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on existence and nature

To be an abstraction does not mean that an entity is nothing. It merely means that its existence is only a factor of a more concrete element of nature.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

Source: The Concept of Nature

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on circumstances, life, possibility, and purpose

Our minds are finite, and yet even in these circumstances of finitude we are surrounded by possibilities that are infinite, and the purpose of life is to grasp as much as we can out of that infinitude.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

Source: N. Rose Mathematical Maxims and Minims, Raleigh NC:Rome Press Inc., 1988.

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on disappointment, effort, fatherhood, mathematics, science, study, water, and weapons

The study of mathematics is apt to commence in disappointment. . . . We are told that by its aid the stars are weighed and the billions of molecules in a drop of water are counted. Yet, like the ghost of Hamlet's father, this greatest science eludes the efforts of our mental weapons to grasp it.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

Source: An Introduction to Mathematics

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on civilization and thinking

Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations that we can perform without thinking about them.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on life and religion

Religion increasingly is tending to degenerate into a decent formula wherewith to embellish a comfortable life.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on intelligence and value

The race that does not value trained intelligence is doomed.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

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A Quote by Alfred North Whitehead on war

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War can protect; it cannot create.

Alfred Whitehead (1861 - 1947)

Source: W.H. Auden and L. Kronenberger The Viking Book of Aphorisms, New York: Viking Press, 1966.

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