Perception and Bodily Dependency

  • Wolfe Mays


Whitehead is faced with the problem how, if according to the physicist the physical world consists of atomic activities, we nevertheless perceive it as made up of such common sense objects as trees, houses, tables, etc., which have a continuity about them. He notes, for example, the difference between the paving stone as perceived visually and its physical molecular activities. Pragmatically, he tells us, a paving stone is a hard, solid, static, irremovable fact. But this, he goes on, is a very superficial account if physical science is correct. Our sense-experience would then seem to omit any discrimination of the fundamental activities within physical nature.1


Physical World Sensory Quality Atomic Activity Causal Efficacy Emotive Tone 
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    Nature and Life, pp. 64–5.Google Scholar
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    AI, p. 273. On the Category of Transmutation see PR, pp. 355–60.Google Scholar
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    AI, p. 275. Owing to the generality of the Category of Transmutation it does not specify the actual process of simplification. In sense-perception Whitehead’s account seems to be a paraphrase of the physiological findings. When describing the way the physical atomic activities are, as it were, “averaged out” into the continuous macroscopic objects of the physical world, Whitehead does lean heavily on contemporary physical theory.Google Scholar
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1977

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  • Wolfe Mays

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