- Whitehead , Alfred North
- (1861–1947) British mathematician and philosopherWhitehead, who was born at Ramsgate on the south coast of England, obtained his PhD from Cambridge University in 1884. For the next few years he taught there and met Bertrand Russell, who was one of his students and with whom he was later to collaborate. Whitehead was one of a growing section of philosophers of science who criticized the deterministic and materialistic views prevalent in 19th-century science. The main theme of this critique was that scientific theories were patterns derived from our way of measuring and perceiving the world and not innate properties of the underlying reality. While in Cambridge his mathematical work reflected this viewpoint, developed in his book Treatise of Universal Algebra (1898), which treated algebraic structures as objects worthy of study in their own right, independent of their relationship to real quantities. In 1910 he published, with Russell, the first volume of the vast Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles) which was an attempt, inspired by the work of Gottlob Frege and Guiseppe Peano, to clarify the conceptual foundations of mathematics using the formal methods of symbolic logic.Whitehead then moved to London, where he taught at University College and later became professor at Imperial College. Here he developed his action-at-a-distance theory of relativity, which challenged Einstein's field-theoretic viewpoint but never gained wide acceptance. In 1924 he emigrated to America and worked at Harvard, developing his antimechanistic philosophy of science and a system of metaphysics, until he retired in 1937.
Scientists. Academic. 2011.