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Additional resources for Beyond metaphysics? : explorations in Alfred North Whitehead's late thought
Later in this opening chapter to what is his most monumental achievement, he writes of phi losophy: “Its ultimate appeal is to the general consciousness of what in practice we experience. Whatever thread of presupposition characterizes social expres sion throughout the various epochs of rational society must find its place in phi losophic theory” (PR 17). This certainly might seem odd to suggest, since the opening chapter of PR is so detailed and developed in comparison to the more or less scattered methodologi cal pronouncements to be gathered from MT.
That is, it requires an intricately detailed and coherently elaborated form. 12 Whatever its kinship to poetry, such thought must go beyond intimation and allusion. , in all historical realizations of the speculative impulse, including Whitehead’s own monumental achievement. He identifies this task as assem blage. 13 Indeed, we seem warranted in claiming that the impor tance of assemblage is primary, that of system derivative and secondary. ” (MT 2). Such emphasis amounts to nothing less than the identification of what is important for any philosopher to take into account.
It is better approached, if only initially, in terms of functionality as opposed to intentionality: Whatever fulfills the function of expression is expressive, regardless of whether or not it is describable in terms of what are ordinarily taken to be intentional predicates. Indeed, expression is so pervasive and manifest, in such diverse contexts and myriad forms, that we seem justified in taking expression to be characteristic of nothing less than being (cf. John E. Smith). To be is either to possess the capacity to press outward, at the very least leaving some discernible or intelligible trace of having been (for however brief a duration), or actually to press outward in such a way is to make a difference of largely indeterminable significance, at least in the immediate present.