Speculative metaphysics and the future of philosophy: The contemporary relevance of Whitehead's defence of speculative metaphysics

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 77 (2):127 – 145 (1999)
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While some philosophers and increasing numbers of scientists are striving to revive speculative metaphysics as a condition for further advancing science, solving the central problems of contemporary philosophy and confronting the major problems facing society, even philosophers decrying the increasingly marginal status of philosophy continue to ignore or denigrate their efforts. It is argued that this lack of appreciation and the associated misrepresentations of speculative metaphysics stems from the failure to appreciate work in this area as an ongoing tradition among historians and historically oriented philosophers of science and philosopher scientists. Most importantly, it stems from ignorance of Whitehead's defence of speculative metaphysics against analytic philosophy and the impact of this defence on the tradition of speculative metaphysics. Whitehead's metaphilosophy is analysed as a successful refutation of the assumptions on which Russell's early analytic approach to philosophy was based, assumptions which came to inform the whole tradition of analytic philosophy. The paper concludes by indicating the importance of Whitehead's defence of speculative metaphysics not only for philosophy, but also for the future of society.
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