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Rethinking Whitehead’s Symbolism

Thought, Language, Culture

Edited by Roland Faber, Jeffrey A. Bell, Joseph Petek

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Explores the contemporary significance of Alfred North Whitehead’s 1927 book Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect

This collection of 11 essays form a new examination of Whitehead’s Barbour-Page lectures, which were published as the book Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect in 1927. Leading Whitehead scholars give you exciting insights into the contemporary implications of Whitehead's symbolism in an era of new scientific, cultural and technological developments. As a result, Whitehead's philosophy is reinvigorated in the context of contemporary discussions and debates.

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Notes on the Contributors


Joseph Petek

Part I: Perception and Paradox

1. Whitehead on Causality and Perception
Steven Shaviro

2. Originary Symbolism: Whitehead, Deleuze, and the Process View on Perception
Keith Robinson

3. Uniting Earth to the Blue of Heaven Above: Strange Attractors in Whitehead's Symbolism
Roland Faber

Part II: Adventures in Culture and Value

4. The Inhumanity of Symbolism
Michael Halewood

5. Reverence, Revision, and Creaturely Life: Whitehead’s Political Theology of Enjoyment
Beatrice Marovich

6. Ren and Causal Efficacy: Confucians and Whitehead on the Social Role of Symbolism
Hyo-Dong Lee

7. Avoiding a Fatal Error: Extending Whitehead's Symbolism Beyond Language
Sheri Kling

Part III: Misplaced Concreteness in Ethics and Science

8. A Dog’s Life: Thought, Symbols, and Concepts
Jeffrey Bell

9. From Manipulation to Co-Creation: Whitehead on the Ethics of Symbol Creation
Luke Higgins

10. On Symbols, Propositions, and Idiocies: Toward a Slow Technoscience
Adam Nocek

11. Of Symbolism: Climate Concreteness, Causal Efficacy, and the Whiteheadian Cosmopolis
Catherine Keller

Notes on the Contributors


About the Author

Roland Faber is the Kilsby Family/John B. Cobb Jr Professor of Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology and Founder of the Whitehead Research Project. His research and publication is in Whitehead's philosophy, Process Philosophy and Process Theology; De/constructive Theology; Poststructuralism (Gilles Deleuze); Transreligious Discourse and interreligious applications (e.g., Christianity, Buddhism, Baha'i Faith); Comparative Philosophy and Mysticism; and Theopoetics. His publications include The Becoming of God (Cascade Books, 2017), The Divine Manifold (Lexington Books, 2014) and God as Poet of the World (Westminster John Knox Press, 2008).

Jeffrey A. Bell is Professor of Philosophy at Southeastern Louisiana University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on Deleuze and Deleuze and Guattari, including Deleuze and Guattari's What is Philosophy?: A Critical Introduction and Guide (Edinburgh University Press, 2016), Deleuze’s Hume (Edinburgh University Press, 2008), Philosophy at the Edge of Chaos (University of Toronto Press, 2006) and The Problem of Difference: Phenomenology and Poststructuralism (University of Toronto Press, 1998). Bell is co-editor with Paul Livingston and Andrew Cutrofello of Beyond the Analytic–Continental Divide: Pluralist Philosophy in the Twenty-First Century (Routledge, 2015) and with Claire Colebrook of Deleuze and History (Edinburgh University Press, 2009).

Joseph Petek is Assistant Editor and Archivist at the Whitehead Research Project, Claremont School of Theology.


Rethinking Symbolism contributes to the emergence of a "new" Whitehead fundamental to rethinking the humanities, social sciences, and the sciences. With essays by major figures in the revitalization of Whitehead Studies, it brilliantly highlights Whitehead’s thought while bringing animal studies; ethics; climate change; creatures and theology; Confucianism; and Jung into the orbit of Whiteheadian speculative thought.

- James J. Bono, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

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