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A. N. Whitehead and Social Theory

Tracing a Culture of Thought

Michael Halewood
 

A. N. Whitehead and Social Theory

This book outlines A.N. Whitehead’s philosophy of process, and uses it to re-orient a range of topics within social theory.

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9781783080694
October 2013 | 198 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6
 
PRICE:  £25.00  /  $40.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com
 
 
9781783080694

About This Book

‘Whitehead’s work is scantly mentioned in the social sciences and his name has gone unrecognized. Halewood’s book offers a corrective to this omission… Halewood gives us a review of Whiteheadian thought that is sophisticated and thorough yet still within the reach of, say, an advanced undergraduate… Halewood’s book does the important work of elucidating how Whiteheadian process-relational thought offers a useful framework for the social sciences of today.’ —Michael Carolan, ‘Process Studies’

‘Michael Halewood’s book is a brilliant exposition of the philosophy of A. N. Whitehead. Outstanding scholarship, combined with careful, sophisticated illustration, brings out the enormous relevance of Whitehead’s radical process thinking for contemporary social theory and social scientific analysis.’ —Professor Mike Michael, Goldsmiths, University of London

‘What if social theory gave up defining the social as opposed to the natural, and accepted the demands of a “culture of thought”, assuming nothing, ruling out nothing? Halewood’s book, exploring the challenge associated with Whitehead’s speculative philosophy, does not propose still another theory, but a new idea of theory.’ —Professor Isabelle Stengers, Université Libre de Bruxelles

The contemporary importance of A. N. Whitehead (1861–1947) lies in his direct yet productive challenge to the culture of thought inherent in modernity, a challenge that suffuses science, social theory and philosophy alike. Unlike some of the more destructive aspects of postmodernism and poststructuralism, Whitehead’s diagnosis of the conceptual fault lines of the modern era does not entail a passive relativism. Instead, he calls for a renewal of our concepts, offering a positive, philosophical approach based on becoming, relativity, and a reconception of subjectivity and the social. This book outlines Whitehead’s philosophy, using it to reorient a range of specific questions and topics within contemporary social theory, namely: the relation of language and the body; the relationship between the individual and society; sexual difference; conceptions of nature; the question of realism; the concept of the social; and capitalism as a process. It also provides detailed analyses and comparisons of Whitehead’s concepts with those of Judith Butler on materiality and the body, and of Luce Irigaray on nature, essentialism and sexual difference.

Readership: Advanced undergraduates, postgraduates (particularly taught MA courses), research students and academics in sociology, social theory and contemporary philosophy.

Author Information

Michael Halewood is a Senior Lecturer in Social Theory at the University of Essex. He has published articles and chapters on Whitehead’s relation to Deleuze, Badiou and Butler, as well as pieces on John Dewey, subjectivity and materiality, the body, language and sociality. He has also edited a special section of the journal ‘Theory, Culture and Society’ dedicated to Whitehead, and is an International Academic Advisor to the Whitehead Research Project.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; List of Abbreviations; Chapter One: A Culture of Thought – The Bifurcation of Nature; Chapter Two: Introducing Whitehead’s Philosophy – The Lure of Whitehead; Chapter Three: ‘A Thorough-Going Realism’ – Whitehead On Cause and Conformation; Chapter Four: The Value of Existence; Chapter Five: Societies, the Social and Subjectivity; Chapter Six: Language and the Body – From Signification to Symbolism; Chapter Seven: This Nature Which Is Not One; Chapter Eight: Capitalism, Process and Abstraction; Notes; Bibliography; Index

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