Alfred North Whitehead Quotes

Most popular Alfred North Whitehead Quotes

All truths are half truth.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Knowledge shrinks as wisdom grows.

wisdom knowledge and ignorance

Philosophy is the product of wonder.


Error is the price we pay for progress.

progress error

Youth is life as yet untouched by tragedy.
— Alfred North Whitehead
We think in generalities, but we live in detail.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Without adventure civilization is in full decay.


Art flourishes where there is a sense of adventure.
— Alfred North Whitehead


The essence of freedom is the practicability of purpose.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Religion is the reaction of human nature to its search for God.


Religion is what the individual does with his own solitariness.


It requires a very unusual mind to make an analysis of the obvious.
— Alfred North Whitehead
A culture is in its finest flower before it begins to analyze itself.
— Alfred North Whitehead
The deepest definition of Youth is, Life as yet untouched by tragedy.


It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.
— Alfred North Whitehead


The 'silly question' is the first intimation of some totally new development.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Life is an offensive, directed against the repetitious mechanism of the Universe.

life nature

Not a sentence pr a word is independent of circumstances under which it was uttered.
— Alfred North Whitehead
The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order.


The human body is an instrument for the production of art in the life of the human soul.
— Alfred North Whitehead
The greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the invention of the method of invention.


The total absence of humour from the Bible is one of the most singular things in all literature.
— Alfred North Whitehead


It belongs to the self-respect of intellect to pursue every tangle of thought to its final unravelment.

intellect thoughts

Art is the imposing of a pattern on experience, and our esthetic enjoyment in recognition of the pattern.
— Alfred North Whitehead
The worship of God is not a rule of safety—it is an adventure of the spirit, a flight after the unattainable.


Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.
— Alfred North Whitehead


There are no whole truths; all truths are half-truths.  It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.


The besetting sin of philosophers is that, being human, they endeavor to survey the universe from the standpoint of gods.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Intelligence is quickness to apprehend as distinct from ability, which is capacity to act wisely on the thing apprehended.

intelligence ability

If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you.  If a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer.

cats vs dogs

Every intellectual revolution which has ever stirred humanity into greatness has been a passionate protest against inert ideas.


The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato.


A general definition of civilization: a civilized society is exhibiting the five qualities of Truth, Beauty, Adventure, Art, Peace.
— Alfred North Whitehead
Each generation criticizes the unconscious assumptions made by its parents. It may assent to them, but it brings them out in the open.
— Alfred North Whitehead


Familiar things happen, and mankind does not bother about them.  It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.


Every philosophy is tinged with the coloring of some secret imaginative background, which never emerges explicitly into its train of reasoning.


The first man who noticed the analogy between a group of seven fishes and a group of seven days made a notable advance in the history of thought.

thinking analogy

Ideas won't keep.  Something must be done about them. When the idea is new, its custodians have fervor, live for it, and, if need be, die for it.


Ninety percent of our lives is governed by emotion. Our brains merely register and act upon what is telegraphed to them by our bodily experience.


Intellect is to emotion as our clothes are to our bodies; we could not very well have civilized life without clothes, but we would be in a poor way if we had only clothes without bodies.


A man really writes for an audience of about ten persons. Of course if others like it, that is clear gain. But if those ten are satisfied, he is content. A certain amount of encouragement is necessary.


Routine is the god of every social system; it is the seventh heaven of business, the essential component in the success of every factory, the ideal of every statesman.  The social machine should run like clockwork.