The Quantum of Explanation: Whitehead’s Radical Empiricism, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

The Quantum of Explanation

Whitehead’s Radical Empiricism, 1st Edition

By Randall E. Auxier, Gary L. Herstein


370 pages

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The Quantum of Explanation advances a bold new theory of how explanation ought to be understood in philosophical and cosmological inquiries. Using a complete interpretation of Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophical and mathematical writings and an interpretive structure that is essentially new, Auxier and Herstein argue that Whitehead has never been properly understood, nor has the depth and breadth of his contribution to the human search for knowledge been assimilated by his successors. This important book effectively applies Whitehead’s philosophy to problems in the interpretation of science, empirical knowledge, and nature. It develops a new account of philosophical naturalism that will contribute to the current naturalism debate in both Analytic and Continental philosophy. Auxier and Herstein also draw attention to some of the most important differences between the process theology tradition and Whitehead’s thought, arguing in favor of a Whiteheadian naturalism that is more or less independent of theological concerns. This book offers a clear and comprehensive introduction to Whitehead’s philosophy and is an essential resource for students and scholars interested in American philosophy, the philosophy of mathematics and physics, and issues associated with naturalism, explanation and radical empiricism.


"This is an insightful and provocative account of Whitehead's metaphysics by two gifted and determined scholars … Between them, the authors do exhibit the requisite skills for fully understanding Whitehead and put them to good use in this remarkable, highly original treatment … I heartily recommend that all readers who have ever entertained interest in or curiosity about Whitehead read this remarkable and pathbreaking study. The authors, who write with enviable force and clarity, are by and large right on target in their constructive re-interpretations of his philosophy."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Table of Contents


1. Reading Whitehead

2. Whitehead's Radical Empiricism

3. The Logic in Metaphysics

4. The Quantum of Explanation

5. Extensive Relatedness (The Metaphysics in Logic)

6. The Principle of Relativity

7. Genetic and Co-ordinate Division and Divisibility

8. The Problem of Possibility

9. The Algebra of Negative Prehension

10. The Nature of Naturalism

11. Synoptic Pluralism and the Problem of Whiteheadian "Theology"

12. Possibility and God

13. God’s Mortal Soul

About the Authors

Randall E. Auxier is Professor of Philosophy at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. He is the author of Time, Will and Purpose: Living Ideas from the Philosophy of Josiah Royce.

Gary L. Herstein is an independent scholar with research interests in the philosophy of science, logic, and American philosophy. He is the author of Whitehead and the Measurement Problem of Cosmology.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in American Philosophy

This series is dedicated to monographs and essay collections that examine, from diverse theoretical perspectives, any aspects of America’s rich web of philosophical traditions, from the 17th Century onwards. Frequently associated with pragmatism, particularly in the United States, American philosophy also encompasses many other schools of thought, and has had a significant impact on the development of contemporary epistemology, ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of language, philosophy of science, and political philosophy. By publishing outstanding treatments of its many diverse threads, this series aims to become the default resource for scholars and students interested in a full picture of American philosophy.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Metaphysics
PHILOSOPHY / Movements / Empiricism