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A. N. Whitehead and Social Theory

A. N. Whitehead and Social Theory

Tracing a Culture of Thought

By Michael Halewood

This book outlines A.N. Whitehead’s philosophy of process and uses it to re-orient a range of topics within social theory, namely: the relation of language and the body; sexual difference and conceptions of nature; the question of realism; the concept of the social; and capitalism as process.

PDF, 198 Pages

ISBN:9781783080991

January 2013

£20.00, $32.00

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
  • Series
  • Table of Contents
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About This Book

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.

Reviews

‘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


‘Alfred North Whitehead is best known as a mathematician and as a speculative metaphysician. But in this incisive book, Michael Halewood breaks new ground by showing Whitehead’s surprising relevance for social theory, and especially for feminist and Marxist concerns.’ —Professor Steven Shaviro, Wayne State University, Detroit


‘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

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.

Series

Key Issues in Modern Sociology

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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