Whitehead and the Pittsburgh School: Preempting the Problem of Intentionality proposes a revisionary history of the relationship between Alfred North Whitehead and analytic philosophy, as well as a constructive proposal for how thinking with Whitehead can help disabuse analytic philosophy of the problem of intentionality. Lisa Landoe Hedrick defines “analytic” philosophy as primarily the intellectual tradition that runs from Gottlob Frege to Bertrand Russell to Wilfrid Sellars, or, geographically speaking, from Vienna to Cambridge to Pittsburgh between the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. As key members of the Pittsburgh School of philosophy, Robert Brandom and John McDowell pick up the Sellarsian project of reconciling nature and normativity in different ways, yet each of them presupposes a problematic relationship between language and the world precisely bequeathed to them by an implicit metaphysics of subjecthood that characterized analytic thinkers of the early twentieth century. Hedrick both investigates Whitehead’s published and archived critiques of early analytic thought—as an extension of a wider critique of modern philosophy—and employs Whitehead to reimagine nature and normativity after the problem of intentionality by way of his aesthetics of symbolism. This book thereby builds upon a burgeoning effort among philosophers to interface process and analytic thought, but it is the first to focus on contemporary analytic thinkers.
Lisa Landoe Hedrick is a teaching fellow in the Divinity School and the College at the University of Chicago.
Chapter 1: Reading Plato, Aristotle, and Kant with Whitehead
Chapter 2: Whitehead’s Anticipations of Pittsburgh Neo-Hegelianism
Chapter 3: Pittsburgh’s Problem with Intentionality
Chapter 4: The Aesthetics of Experience
Chapter 5: McDowell and the Connivance of the World
Chapter 6: Symbolism and Language
Epilogue: Reclaiming Whitehead’s Theology
"This book is an excellent addition to studies on the relationship between Alfred North Whitehead and analytic philosophy, in general. In particular, it shows how Whitehead’s critique of early trends in analytic thought is relevant to habits that impede progress in analytic thought today. This is especially the case regarding the problem of intentionality as found in the thought of John McDowell and Robert Brandom of “the Pittsburgh School.” An added (and unexpected) feature of the book is the light it sheds on the relationship between contemporary philosophy and ancient thought, particularly Plato."
"Lisa Landoe Hedrick’s book makes good on her stated aim, to interpret Whitehead’s epistemology in a new way and to make her own original contribution. Emphasizing his epistemology over his theology (although her Epilogue rebalances this), she interprets his early conversations with proto-analytic thinkers such as Russell and Pritchard and shows that his criticisms of them still apply to the Neo-Pragmatists, Sellars, Rorty, Brandom, and most especially McDowell. She also develops Whitehead’s thought in new directions. This is explosive philosophy!"
"Lisa Landoe Hedrick is destined to become a leading author on the interpretation of the thought of Alfred North Whitehead. In this extraordinary debut book, she examines Whitehead’s relevance to recent developments in analytic philosophy epitomized in the “Pittsburgh School” of Robert Brandom and John McDowell and contextualized against the philosophy of Donald Davidson and Richard Rorty. Not since the pioneering work of the late George W. Shields has a Whitehead scholar tackled the critical relation of Whitehead to analytic philosophy. Hedrick does it here in a thoroughly up-to-date and decisive way with a brilliant focus on the meaning of intentionality and the need to make sense of the relationship between mind and world."
"With a technically-precise focus on contemporary epistemology and the problems of normativity and intentionality, Dr. Hedrick demonstrates that the sustained critique of prevailing habits of thought within mainstream analytic philosophy, currently pursued by John McDowell and the 'Pittsburgh School,' implicitly shares much in common with a similar but long-forgotten critique of Bertrand Russell’s sense-data theory, launched a century ago by Russell’s erstwhile collaborator, Alfred North Whitehead. Her discussion of these two broad approaches to solving many of the otherwise-intractable dilemmas persistently encountered in conventional analytic epistemology offers a constructive new perspective on intentionality, as well as a promising solution of the mind-body problem itself. Both are grounded in an understanding of 'experience' in the wider natural environment which Whitehead first proposed in alliance with William James and John Dewey, and in stark opposition to the 'logical atomism' of Russell and the Cambridge analytic school. This comprehensive, elegantly-written and revealing argument deserves careful consideration."
"Too often Whitehead scholarship is insular and scholastic, removed from direct engagement with contemporary philosophers on their own terms. This work is however a tour de force: the author not only exhibits a mastery of Whitehead along with McDowell, Brandom, and others but also puts these authors into an extended critical dialogue with one another. Lisa Landoe Hedrick’s impressive erudition and hermeneutic sensitivity are matched by her analytic rigor and speculative boldness. Above all, this book is unmistakably an important contribution to contemporary philosophy: while it is an historically informed inquiry, it is an illuminating exploration of a set of interrelated issues (e.g., agency, subjectivity, experience, language and of course intentionality)."