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By Roland Faber; Brian G Henning; Clinton Combs

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Extra resources for Beyond metaphysics? : explorations in Alfred North Whitehead's late thought

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But in what sense can these two criteria be subsumed under or unified by the criterion of necessity? Whitehead gives an implicit answer in the following paragraphs. By saying that “[t]he metaphysical first principles can never fail of exemplification” (PR 4), he describes their applicability: The system needs exemplification in any instance of experience. By saying that “the philosophic scheme should be ‘necessary,’ in the sense of bearing in itself its own warrant of universality throughout all experience” (PR 4), he refers to their adequacy: The system needs exemplification in every instance of experience.

System is,” Whitehead insists, “important. 9 Speculative thought must assume systematic form. That is, it requires an intricately detailed and coherently elaborated form. 12 Whatever its kinship to poetry, such thought must go beyond intimation and allusion. , in all historical realizations of the speculative impulse, including Whitehead’s own monumental achievement. He identifies this task as assem blage. 13 Indeed, we seem warranted in claiming that the impor tance of assemblage is primary, that of system derivative and secondary.

But as a speculative system with the aim of universal applicability Whitehead’s project reaches far beyond the principally restricted and abstracting perspectives of the natural sciences. These circumstances make it difficult to describe his notion of cosmology in terms of well-known and established scientific classifications. Moreover, Whitehead’s use of the term “cosmology” is obviously not uniform throughout and therefore requires further differentiation. A. Whitehead’s notion of philosophical cosmology I distinguish between three different uses of the term “cosmology” in PR as follows: Firstly, Whitehead uses “cosmology” as a rough equivalent of “view of the world” or “view of life”.

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