Alfred North Whitehead

Professor of Philosophy, Harvard

Process and Reality

In his series of lectures, Whitehead creates ‘a coherent, logical, necessary system of general ideas in terms of which every element of our experience can be interpreted’. Attending to the reality of the world means that there is no position outside the process of becoming. He argues that to understand reality is to understand an event in full, and therefore its relationship to the totality of history. His ‘philosophy of organism’ is a kind of bios, a life in motion.


Alfred North Whitehead was born on 15 February 1861 in Ramsgate, England. A mathematician and philosopher, he is most known for his ‘process philosophy’. Awarded a mathematics scholarship at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1880, he was made Fellow four years later. In 1910, he moved to University College London, and then became Lecturer in Applied Mathematics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology in 1914. Despite never formally studying philosophy, Whitehead was made Professor of Philosophy at Harvard in 1924. 

Honoured with the James Scott Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1922, and the Butler Medal from Columbia University in 1930, he was Fellow of the British Academy and the Royal Society. Upon his death, his widow destroyed all his manuscripts, as he expressly desired. Notable works include A Treatise on Universal Algebra, with Applications (1898), Principia mathematica, co-authored with Bertrand Russell (1910), An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Natural Knowledge (1919), The Concept of Nature (1920), The Principle of Relativity (1922), The Aims of Education (1929), Adventures of Ideas (1933), and Religion in the Making (1926).

Published/Archival Resources
Published as Process and Reality.