The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939

Book Reviews

The Philosophy of A. N. Whitehead. By David L. Miller and
George V. Gentry. (Minneapolis: Burgess Publishing Co.,
1938. Pp. 203. $2.25.)
Any exposition of Philosopher Whitehead's theories is indis-
pensable, if it does anything towards dispelling the unfortunate
linguistic obscurity in which he has shrouded them. The theories
themselves are important, being a synthesis of recent developments
in science and philosophy.
Professors Miller and Gentry, under the influence of that great
interpreter of Whitehead, the late Professor Mead, have succeeded
in illuminating parts of Whitehead's philosophy, but in a style
helpful only to philosophical specialists. The lay reader will get
nothing from their book, which contains the fruits of two years
seminar-study of Whitehead.
Miller's criticisms, in the first half of the book, take shape in
the mould of Mead's "philosophy of the act." He argues that if
Whitehead is to provide for timeless spaces (Newtonian spaces in
miniature), Whitehead must introduce psychological specious
presents in addition to the biological. It takes the fixity of a
mentally envisaged end, Miller believes, to result in a Euclidean
spatial set-up for the course of intervening events. In the opinion
of the reviewer, however, Whitehead's theory of conceptual pre-
hensions and mental poles of actual entities provides for timeless
spaces as adequately as Mead's psychologism, though difficulties
confront both positions. Miller also objects to Whitehead's
"epochal" theory of time, mistaking "epoch of time" as equivalent
to "minimum duration." The reviewer admits his own inability
to understand Whitehead thoroughly on this score, but it seems
to him that the main point of the epochal theory is to limit concrete
time-spans, not to minima, but to finite durational maxima, or
"ages" or "cosmic epochs" within which inductions can occur with
some degree of probability. Whitehead says of induction that it
is "the derivation of some characteristics of a particular future
from the known characteristics of a particular past" (Science
and the Modern World, p. 63). Unlimited futures and pasts reduce
inductions about them to non-probable (if not improbable) judg-
ments, hence the necessity for limited "cosmic epochs" of time.
Gentry, in the other half of the book, detects difficulties in
Whitehead's theory of the "feeler" or subject of experience. On
the one hand, Whitehead describes it as supervening upon and


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 42, July 1938 - April, 1939. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed July 10, 2014.