m of care – apr 21
DAVID GRAEBER PHILOSOPHICAL SERIES: WHITEHEAD, WITH STEVEN SHAVIRO
The third public lecture of the David Graeber Philosophical series will be about Alfred North Whitehead, and will be presented by Steven Shaviro and is entitled ‘The Art of Life: David Graeber and Alfred North Whitehead.’
In this talk, I will first give a general account of Alfred North Whitehead’s life and thought, and then speculate upon some of the ways that Whitehead was important to David Graeber. As far as I am aware, in his published writings Graeber only refers to Whitehead briefly, and on a small number of occasions. But there are a several crucial ways in which Graeber implicitly relies upon Whitehead, and I will try to draw these out.
Steven Shaviro is the DeRoy Professor of English at Wayne State University, where he teaches film and media studies. His published work includes discussions of film theory, of music videos, of science fiction, and of Gilles Deleuze, Alfred North Whitehead, and speculative realism.
notes/quotes from meeting:
[vassily in chat: posts i spoke of: http://www.shaviro.com/Blog/?p=338
When Graeber really lost me, though, was with his praise of decision-making through “consensus,” instead of compulsion. Me, I don’t see much of a difference between having to obey hateful and stupid orders issued by clueless assholes (the Leninist model as well as the State and corporate one), and having to sit in meetings for hours on end while the same clueless assholes make endless objections and qualifications that all have to be worked through before the meeting can come to an end. It’s torture either way, and I’m not convinced that the one method is even any more “democratic” than the other. Anarchist “consensus” is just another way of enforcing conformity and group solidarity, by wearing people down until they are browbeaten into agreement; it’s every bit as stifling and oppressive as military hierarchies and fraternity initiations and the “discipline” of the “free market” are. Empirically, different mixtures of these procedures might be more or less oppressive, less or more democratic, in particular instances; there are cases where the looser form of self-determination that Graeber praises might be welcome in comparison to the alternatives. But let’s not kid ourselves that decision-making through “consensus” somehow eliminates inequalities of power, or that it expands human freedom, or that it’s a desirable social ideal.
shaviro: on whitehead’s pursuit to show there’s no certainty.. not even 1+1=2.. et al (sounds like he’s reading wikipedia).. david graeber and i have been involved in this revival..
shaviro: on whitehead’s worldview.. on world being about processes
Alfred North Whitehead (15 February 1861 – 30 December 1947) was an English mathematician and philosopher. He is best known as the defining figure of the philosophical school known as process philosophy, which today has found application to a wide variety of disciplines, including ecology, theology, education, physics, biology, economics, and psychology, among other areas.
In his early career Whitehead wrote primarily on mathematics, logic, and physics. His most notable work in these fields is the three-volume Principia Mathematica (1910–1913), which he wrote with former student Bertrand Russell. Principia Mathematica is considered one of the twentieth century’s most important works in mathematical logic, and placed 23rd in a list of the top 100 English-language nonfiction books of the twentieth century by Modern Library.
of math and men et al
Beginning in the late 1910s and early 1920s, Whitehead gradually turned his attention from mathematics to philosophy of science, and finally to metaphysics. He developed a comprehensive metaphysical system which radically departed from most of Western philosophy. Whitehead argued that reality consists of processes rather than material objects, and that processes are best defined by their relations with other processes, thus rejecting the theory that reality is fundamentally constructed by bits of matter that exist independently of one another. Today Whitehead’s philosophical works – particularly Process and Reality – are regarded as the foundational texts of process philosophy.
Whitehead’s process philosophy argues that “there is urgency in coming to see the world as a web of interrelated processes of which we are integral parts, so that all of our choices and actions have consequences for the world around us.” For this reason, one of the most promising applications of Whitehead’s thought in recent years has been in the area of ecological civilization and environmental ethics pioneered by John B. Cobb
when googling whitehead and graeber.. found david’s radical alterity
tried to read whitehead’s process and reality