portrait of Alfred North Whitehead
Harvard University photo, circa 1924

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Quotes of the Day for 15 February 2004 – Alfred North Whitehead

Alfred North Whitehead was born at Ramsgate, Isle of Thanet, Kent, England on this day in 1861, the youngest child of a popular Anglican vicar. Though young Alfred was a normally, healthy child, his parents took it in mind that he was frail and kept him out of school until he was fourteen. In 1879 he won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics and stayed on as a lecturer after graduation. After his marriage in 1891 he started to question his Anglican upbringing, spending seven years carefully considering joining the Roman Catholic Church - and finally deciding he was an agnostic! From 1914 to 1924 he was a professor of mathematics at the Imperial College of Science and Technology at London, then suddenly switched fields and countries to become a professor of philosophy at Harvard. Somewhat confusing, but these quotes seem clear enough.

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You will find an expanded profile, photo, additional biographical links, and all quotes from this author on the author's Notable Quotable page.


The quotes:

An open mind is all very well in its way, but it ought not to be so open that there is no keeping anything in or out of it.

Ideas won't keep; something must be done about them.

It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.

Periods of tranquility are seldom prolific of creative achievement. Mankind has to be stirred up.

The "silly question" is the first intimation of some totally new development.

We think in generalities, but we live in details.
     - All from Alfred North Whitehead, 1861 - 1947


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