Whitehead and Eurhythmic Becoming. The Forgotten Ontology of Rhythms
The purpose of this text is to outline Whitehead’s position within the philosophical debate of the 20th century, namely in relation to quantum mechanics and relativity theory. The adventure into the unknown led to the shaking of the philosophical foundations of physics, just as it had happened before with non-Euclidean geometries and with the paradoxes discovered by Bertrand Russell in his attempt to reduce the building of mathematics to logic. Whitehead has matured intellectually over, and through, these two major conceptual revisions. Its position, although peripheral, is quite unusual, and neglected.
Whitehead aimed to melt his expertise in mathematical logic and in mathematical physics in order to get both an axiomatic and a cosmological frame different from the Newtonian: the notion of field, first introduced by electromagnetism, is not reconcilable with the mechanist image of the world; still, both in relativity and quantum theory, non-linear phenomena have shown the limits of applicability of classical postulates. The symbolic formalization carried on by Whitehead has as exemplifying counter-side the ontological notion of rhythm, one common to both micro- middle- and macro-scales. Despite the efforts made by many scholars4, Whitehead’s realistic stance invalidates any attempt to relate his philosophy to either the Copenhagen’s and the orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics. My aim is to show that what is missing in the latter, and is instead the very heart of the former, is an ontology.