The Organisation of Feelings

  • Dorothy Emmet


It will be recalled that Whitehead says that he holds the central discovery of the Kantian philosophy to be that an act of experience is a construction.1 But where his Philosophy of Organism parted company from Kant was in saying that what is constructed is not an objective world out of the experience of the subject, but primarily the subject itself, which is constructed according to the way in which it feels its objective world. So he says “in Cartesian language” “the essence of an actual entity consists solely in the fact that it is a prehending thing.”2 That is to say, if we are to take the concept of process seriously, a “thing” is simply the becoming or growth of a new way of feeling the rest of the world. It will be noted that we here use the term “feeling” as synonymous with “prehension.”3 It is used in this way throughout the latter part of Process and Reality, as covering every kind of relation which he described as “positive prehension,” i.e. any action of one entity upon another.


Actual World Actual Entity Causal Efficacy Propositional Function Actual Occasion 
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  1. 1.
    Cf. A. E. Murphy, “Objective Relativism in Dewey and Whitehcad” (Philosophical Review, 1927).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    There is of course the wider sense, in which it is said that Hamlet is true “of human nature,” or that it makes us understand the world better, and so forth. But the point is that this kind of “truth,” whatever it may be (and this is a very difficult question), is quite clearly distinguishable from the truth of the propositions in Hamlet about their logical subjects. Perhaps we should say that “poetic truth,” and possibly most of what is called “religious truth,” gives us insight, which makes us appreciate the inner side of actuality called here “subjective aim,” rather than truth of propositions (cf Chapter III.; and A. D. Lindsay, The Nature of Religious Truth [London, 1927]).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dorothy Emmet 1966

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dorothy Emmet
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of ManchesterUK
  2. 2.Lady Margaret HallOxfordUK

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