, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 90–109 | Cite as

A.N. Whitehead and Subjectivity

  • Paul StennerEmail author
Original Article


This paper comes at subjectivity from a Whiteheadian perspective. It argues that Whitehead provides us with a “deep” form of empiricism grounded in the notion of the “actual occasion” of experience and in the temporal and spatial co-assembly of multiplicities of such occasions. A deep empiricism that embraces process, affirms creativity, foregrounds value and refuses to bifurcate nature into irreconcilable subjective and objective aspects, it is argued, might serve as a useful corrective to current tendencies in social theory to avoid subjectivity and to elide the differences between forms of subjectivity.


Whitehead subjectivity deep empiricism critical psychology experience process 


  1. Curt, B. (1994). Textuality and Tectonics: Troubling Social and Psychological Science. Buckingham: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Deleuze, G . and Parnet, C. (1987). Dialogues. Tomlinson, H. and Habberjam, B. (trans.). London: Althone Press.Google Scholar
  3. Halewood, M. (2005). On Whitehead and Deleuze: The Process of Materiality. Configurations, 13 (1), pp. 57–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hartshorne, C. (1934). The Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  5. Hayden, P. (1998). Multiplicity and Becoming: The Pluralist Empiricism of Gilles Deleuze. New York: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  6. Henriques, J., Hollway, W., Urwin, C., Venn, C. and Walkerdine, V. (1984). Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity. London: Methuen.Google Scholar
  7. Hofmeister, A. (2005). Health and Subjectivity: Beyond Governmentality. In Gulerce, A., Hofmeister, A., Staeuble, I., Saunders, G. and Kaye, J. (eds) Contemporary Theorizing in Psychology: Global Perspectives. Concord, Ontario: Captus University Publications.Google Scholar
  8. Hollway, W. (1989). Subjectivity and Method in Psychology. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  9. James, W. (1912). Essays in Radical Empiricism. Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  10. Johnson, A.H. (1945). The Psychology of Alfred North Whitehead. The Journal of General Psychology, 32, pp. 175–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Langer, S. (1988). Mind: An Essay on Human Feeling. Baltimore, Maryland: The John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Malone-France, D. (2005). Hartshorne and Popper on Existential Necessity: A Deep Empiricist Interpretation. International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion, 57 (3), pp. 193–208.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mays, W. (1959). The Philosophy of Whitehead. London: George Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
  14. Middleton, D. and Brown, S.D. (2005). The Social Psychology of Experience. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  15. Musil, R. (1997). The Man Without Qualities. London: Picador.Google Scholar
  16. Pred, R. (2005). Onflow: Dynamics of Consciousness of Experience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  17. Riffert, F. and Weber, M. (eds) (2003). Searching for New Contrasts: Whiteheadian Contributions to Contemporary Challenges in Neurophysiology, Psychology, Psychotherapy and the Philosophy of Mind. Franfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
  18. Rose, P. (2002). On Whitehead. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  19. Serres, M. (1982). The Parasite. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Stengers, I. (1997). Power and Invention. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota press.Google Scholar
  21. Stengers, I. (2002). Penser avec Whitehead: une libre et sauvage création de concepts. Paris: Gallimard.Google Scholar
  22. Stengers, I. (2005). Whitehead's Account of the Sixth Day. Configurations, 13 (1), pp. 35–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Stenner, P. (2005). An Outline of an Autopoietic Systems Approach to Emotion. Cybernetics of Human Knowing, 12 (4), pp. 8–22.Google Scholar
  24. Stenner, P. (2008). Non-foundational Criticality? On the Need for a Process Ontology of the Psychosocial. Outlines: Critical Social Studies, 9 (2), pp. 44–55.Google Scholar
  25. Stephenson, N. and Papadopoulos, D. (2006). Analysing Everyday Experience. Social Research and Political Change. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Thrift, N. (2008). Non-representational Theory: Space/Politics/Affect. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Tolman, C.W. and Maiers, W. (1991). Critical Psychology: Contributions to an Historical Science of the Subject. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Whitehead, A.N. (1920/2004). The Concept of Nature. New York: Prometheus Books.Google Scholar
  29. Whitehead, A.N. (1926/1985). Science and the Modern World. London: Free Association Books.Google Scholar
  30. Whitehead, A.N. (1926/1996). Religion in the Making. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Whitehead, A.N. (1927/1985). Symbolism: It's Meaning and Effect. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Whitehead, A.N. (1927–1928/1985). Process and Reality. Corrected edition. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  33. Whitehead, A.N. (1929/1958). The Function of Reason. Boston: The Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  34. Whitehead, A.N. (1933/1935). Adventures in Ideas. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Whitehead, A.N. (1934). Nature and Life. London: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Whitehead, A.N. (1938/1966). Modes of Thought. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  37. Wolf, G. (1981). Psychological physiology from the standpoint of a physiological psychologist. Process Studies, 11 (4), pp. 274–291.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan Ltd 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of BrightonBrightonUK

Personalised recommendations