England has witnessed the rise of many geniuses either it is science or arts. One such figure during late nineteenth and early twentieth century was Alfred North Whitehead. He belonged to both worlds of science and arts as he was an eminent mathematician and philosopher. The school of thought called ‘process philosophy’ is something he is much remembered for, which can be applied to an array of disciplines. His early career was more focused on mathematics and wrote numerous paper on the discipline. Most prominent of his works is the Principia Mathematica which he penned in collaboration with the renowned figure, Bertrand Russell.
Alfred North Whitehead was born on 15 February 1861 in Ramsgate, Kent, England. His father was a minister and by profession was a schoolmaster of Chatham House Academy which was founded by his father. Historians claim that Whitehead had a strained relationship with his mother as there was no mention of her in his writings and neither did his wife regarded her respectfully.
Residing in the country, Whitehead received his early education from Sherborne School, Dorset. He had an over-protected childhood, yet he managed to excel in academia and co-curricular activities. After completing secondary education, he went on to attend the prestigious college of that era, Trinity College, Cambridge. There he opted for mathematics as his major and earning a Bachelor’s degree in 1884. Afterwards he was offered a fellowship at the Trinity College which he accepted. While teaching mathematics he also wrote papers on the subject as well.
He spent 26 years teaching at the college and published Treatise on Universal Algebra during that time. Bertrand Russell was the pupil of Whitehead who collaborated with him on one of the notable of works on the century on mathematics. Principia Mathematica is one of the most celebrated works in the discipline of mathematical logic. It was ranked 23rd in the list of top 100 non-fiction books in English language of the twentieth century.
Whitehead tied the knot in 1890 to Evelyn Wade from Irish descent and they had two sons and a daughter. He resigned from his position at Trinity and headed to London without applying for a job beforehand. Consequently, he remained unemployed for a year before he was landed a job at University College London as a lecturer but he was denied the Goldsmid Chair. Afterwards, he was appointed at a newly established college, Imperial College London, as Professor of Mathematics. In 1918, his career flourished as he was elected the Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of London. Having an authoritative role, he lobbied for conferment of Bachelor of Science instead of B.A degree. He also supported the establishment of a new history of science department and making education accessible to those who can’t afford.
With the passage of time Whitehead diverted his attention from science to philosophy. Although he had no background in philosophical studies, he managed to produce philosophical work that was critically appreciated. He served the position of president of the Aristotelian Society after having published The Concept of Nature. Moreover, he was offered a position as a professor of philosophy at Harvard University. While teaching at Harvard he published Science and the Modern World, one of the most distinguished works on philosophy. His most influential works Process and Reality had been compared to Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant both in its complexity and status.