What We Must Endeavor to Find Out

The Need and the Danger of Knowledge


he following class notes were taken by an unknown student in Alfred North Whitehead graduate seminar (Lecture XI, February 29, 1936) on Science, Philosophy, and Religion


Aristotle showed the way to knowledge by the specializing of study to genera & species – necessary – however his followers got ideas of sharp cut differentiation between fields of knowledge. Religious thought (not in India or China or Egypt) fostered this. Human mind not necessarily limited in possibility of knowledge. Even Bertie (Bertrand) Russel has talked of “things the human mind can never know”! Suppose ancestors 200,000 years ago had given up job of being curious! If one is too curious one ends by getting killed off. Those who tell us what we can never know are usually pretty snuffy (quick to become annoyed or take offense) towards races who know less that we. What we must endeavor to find out: The uniformity of experience within limits of that experience. There is a phobia of materialism. Bishop Berkeley. Phobia of superstition – (history of religion one of discarding superstition) – one determines to cast off all experience in which superstition is apt to arise.

Read more: Advice from Carl Sagen, Alfred North Whitehead, and Adi Da Samraj