Earlier this year I was at a party of the theology and philosophy departments and was talking to a theologian about Alfred North Whitehead. At some point in the conversation, David Hume came up, and I mentioned Hume was part of the trinity of Hume, James, and Whitehead. This theologian was shocked that I'd include Hume. What I forgot was the fourth figure--the Romantic poet William Wordsworth. Wordsworth's view of experience was deeply influential on Alfred North Whitehead.
This week I began reading The Prelude and immediately began to see the sorts of statements that must have enticed Whitehead and sent him into deep philosophical speculation about the nature of reality and experience. Here are a few examples:
Dust as we are, the immortal spirit grows
Like harmony in music; there is a dark
Inscrutable workmanship that reconciles
Discordant elements, makes them cling together
In one society.
How Nature by extrinsic passion first
Peopled the mind with forms sublime or fair,
And made me love them
To those first-born affinities that fit
Our new existence to existing things
I held unconscious intercourse with beauty
even then I felt
Gleams like the fleshing of a shield;--the earth
And common face of Nature spake to me