Michel Weber, Whitehead's Pancreativism: The Basics Reviewed by [Book Review]

Philosophy in Review 27 (6):444-447 (2007)
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Michel Weber Whitehead’s Pancreativism: The Basics. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag 2007. Pp. 255. US$106.00 (cloth ISBN-13: 978-3-938793-15-2). In his introduction to After Virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre called upon his readers to imagine a culture in which, to begin with, the natural sciences had been destroyed by an anti-science movement, and then, reacting against this movement, people had attempted to reconstruct science from surviving fragments. In this imaginary world adults argue over the respective merits of different theories, and children learn by heart the surviving portions of the periodic table and recite as incantations some of the theorems of Euclid, but ‘nobody, or almost nobody, realizes that what they are doing is not natural science in the proper sense at all.’ The contexts needed to make sense of scientific arguments have been lost, perhaps irretrievably. This imaginary world is used by MacIntyre to suggest that in the actual world we inhabit moral philosophy and morality itself are in the same state of grave disorder as natural science in this imaginary world. Reading Michel Weber’s book makes one aware that it is not only moral philosophy that is in a grave state of disorder, but philosophy itself, and it is not only morality but our entire culture which is affected by this. Analytic philosophy and other anti-philosophy movements have so destroyed the background beliefs and contexts assumed by philosophers in the past that while there are still philosophy departments in universities producing works that are widely read, there is no real understanding of what philosophy is. Weber’s book provides not only a sense of what has been lost, but also provides some of the background knowledge required to revive philosophy.

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Arran Gare
Swinburne University of Technology


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