Whitehead’s Conversion of Metaphysics to Speculative Philosophy

Philosophia: International Journal of Philosophy (Philippine e-journal) 19 (2):137-151 (2018)
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Like many of his contemporaries such as Bradley and Collingwood, Whitehead wrote at a time when positivism was the dominant philosophical influence in British philosophy, following the disintegration of the Hegelian synthesis. Central to Whitehead’s philosophical project is the task of rehabilitation of metaphysics against the backdrop of its deconstruction by logical positivism. While Whitehead is broadly sympathetic to the ideal of metaphysics, he believes that the grandiose conception of metaphysics as science of being qua being associated with traditional metaphysics is out of tune with scientific rationality and as such is problematic. At the core of Whitehead’s rehabilitation of metaphysics, therefore, is an attempt to broker rapprochement between metaphysical rationality and scientific rationality by converting metaphysics into speculative metaphysics, with the ambition of focusing on our universe of experience rather than all universes of discourse, as is typical of traditional metaphysics. While there is no doubt that Whitehead’s rehabilitation of metaphysics is an answer to positivism, it is at the same time an attempt to tone down the claims of metaphysics such as to bring it in accord with scientific rationality. Yet it remains to be seen whether Whitehead’s rehabilitation of metaphysics is successful in so far as the reconciliation of metaphysical rationality and scientific rationality through speculative philosophy focuses only on particular experiences rather than universal experiences, so that the concern of metaphysics to address the fundamental nature of the real in all its expressions remain pressing beyond the ideal of speculative philosophy.



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