Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947)

Tor Hernes

in The Oxford Handbook of Process Philosophy and Organization Studies

Published in print May 2014 | ISBN: 9780199669356
Published online October 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191749360 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Business and Management

Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947)

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Born in England in 1861, Alfred North Whitehead turned to philosophy after a brilliant career in mathematics, where he developed a philosophical scheme based on experience as the ultimate unit of analysis, rejecting what he called the bifurcation between mind and nature that had dominated philosophical thought. He also invoked the idea of concrete experience to connect to American pragmatism, and especially to William James’s work. This chapter first provides an overview of Whitehead’s life and times before turning to his philosophical views. It examines Whitehead’s notion of atomism and his influence on organization studies. Finally, it discusses three aspects of events that may help lay foundations for an event-based organization theory inspired by Whitehead’s philosophy: events as spatio-temporal durations, the forming of events through mirroring, and the open structures of events.

Keywords: Alfred North Whitehead; panpsychism; events; pragmatism; William James; atomism; organization studies; organization theory; philosophy; mirroring

Article.  8113 words. 

Subjects: Organizational Theory and Behaviour ; Business History

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