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Whitehead poem vectors

Found Poem with Whitehead’s Words

Found Poem with Whitehead’s Words

We’re excited that you’ve joined the conversation! At HMU, we want to continue the great authors’ conversations in a contemporary context, and this blog will help us do that. We look back to Aristotle and the early philosophers who used reason and discourse to gain wisdom and now we endeavor to do the same every day.


September 1, 2023

Thanks to Alissa Simon, HMU Tutor, for today’s post.

The following poem is constructed entirely from Sections VI-XI from Chapter III (“The Order of Nature”) in Alfred North Whitehead’s Process and Reality. To create the poem, I simply chose sections of text from Whitehead’s own words. Therefore, none of the remaining words are mine, I have merely excerpted and arranged them with a few added symbols. I like think that Whitehead would appreciate a mathematical-leaning poem, its own vector of sorts.


‘specialization’ = (complexity + strictly conditioned stability);
unspecialized society = – structural pattern.

    Intensity is mated
    with survival.

The close association of all physical bodies
suggests that development of mentality
is characteristic of the actual occasions
which make up the structured societies
which we know as ‘material bodies.’

Subjective aim
    originates novelty
    to match the novelty
of the environment.

    The cell
    is an animal body.

Life is a bid for freedom:
an enduring entity binds
any one of its occasions
to the line of its ancestry.

Life cannot be
a defining characteristic. It is
the name for originality,
and not for tradition.

Life: reaction
adapted to capture of intensity
dictated by the present
not by the past

    the clutch at vivid

In the case of living societies  
takes the form
of robbery.
Life is robbery.

At this point
morals become acute.
The robber
requires justification.

    The complexity
    of nature
    is inexhaustible.

    life = conceptual novelty
    life = novelty
    life = originality
    life ≠ tradition

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