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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > Alfred North Whitehead Quotes > Progress

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Alfred North Whitehead
(15 Feb 1861 - 30 Dec 1947)

English mathematician and philosopher who worked in logic, physics, and later in his life spent more time on the philosophy of science and metaphysics. He worked with Bertrand Russell on Principia Mathematica which shows that logic underlies all mathematics.



Fundamental progress has to do with the reinterpretation of ideas.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In Science and Philosophy (1948), 228.
Science quotes on:  |  Do (1908)  |  Fundamental (251)  |  Idea (845)  |  Progress (468)

In formal logic a contradiction is the signal of a defeat, but in the evolution of real knowledge it marks the first step in progress toward a victory. This is one great reason for the utmost toleration of variety of opinion. Once and forever, this duty of toleration has been summed up in the words, “Let both grow together until the harvest.”
— Alfred North Whitehead
In 'Religion and Science', The Atlantic (Aug 1925).
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Inventive genius requires pleasurable mental activity as a condition for its vigorous exercise. “Necessity is the mother of invention” is a silly proverb. “Necessity is the mother of futile dodges” is much closer to the truth. The basis of growth of modern invention is science, and science is almost wholly the outgrowth of pleasurable intellectual curiosity.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In 'Technical Education and Its Relation to Science and Literature', The Aims of Education and Other Essays (1917), 69.
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The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. Life refuses to be embalmed alive. The more prolonged the halt in some unrelieved system of order, the greater the crash of the dead society.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In Process and Reality: An Essay in Cosmology (1929), 515. As cited in Paul Grimley Kuntz, Alfred North Whitehead (1984), 14.
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The invention of the differential calculus marks a crisis in the history of mathematics. The progress of science is divided between periods characterized by a slow accumulation of ideas and periods, when, owing to the new material for thought thus patiently collected, some genius by the invention of a new method or a new point of view, suddenly transforms the whole subject on to a higher level.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In An Introduction to Mathematics (1911), 217. Whitehead continued by quoting the poet, Percy Shelley, who compared the slow accumulation of thoughts leading to an avalanche following the laying down of a great truth. See the poetic quote beginning, “The sun-awakened avalanche…” on the Percy Shelley Quotations page.
Science quotes on:  |  Accumulation (50)  |  Calculus (65)  |  Characterize (20)  |  Collect (16)  |  Crisis (24)  |  Differential Calculus (11)  |  Divide (76)  |  Divided (50)  |  Genius (285)  |  Higher Level (3)  |  History (675)  |  History Of Mathematics (7)  |  Idea (845)  |  Invention (377)  |  Material (353)  |  Mathematics (1333)  |  Method (506)  |  New (1217)  |  Owing (39)  |  Patient (199)  |  Period (198)  |  Point (580)  |  Point Of View (82)  |  Progress (468)  |  Progress Of Science (34)  |  Science (3880)  |  Slow (101)  |  Subject (522)  |  Sudden (66)  |  Suddenly (88)  |  Thought (954)  |  Transform (73)  |  View (488)  |  Whole (738)

The progress of Science consists in observing interconnections and in showing with a patient ingenuity that the events of this ever-shifting world are but examples of a few general relations, called laws. To see what is general in what is particular, and what is permanent in what is transitory, is the aim of scientific thought.
— Alfred North Whitehead
In An Introduction to Mathematics (1911), 11.
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See also:

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


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