The second volume of the Edinburgh Critical Edition of the Complete Works of Alfred North Whitehead was published in January 2021 as The Harvard Lectures of Alfred North Whitehead, 1925–1927: General Metaphysical Problems of Science (abbreviated as HL2). It covers Whitehead's second and third years teaching at Harvard and reveals aspects of Whitehead's philosophy and its development that were previously unknown.
The first volume of Whitehead's Harvard lectures, published in February 2017 as The Harvard Lectures of Alfred North Whitehead, 1924–1925: Philosophical Presuppositions of Science (HL1), established that Whitehead used his Harvard classroom to test out his philosophical ideas, a conclusion supported by the fact that Whitehead would later write in the preface to Process and Reality that “[i]n the expansion of these lectures to the dimensions of the present book, I have been greatly indebted to the critical difficulties suggested by the members of my Harvard classes” (xiv–xv).
The publication of HL2 has now provided scholars access to the laboratory of Whitehead's classroom from the time just after the publication of his Science and the Modern World, through his delivery of the 1926 Lowell lectures that would become Religion in the Making, and up to his delivery of the Barbour-Page lectures that would become Symbolism: Its Meaning and Effect.
In September 2022, an online conference was held that aimed to examine the significance of this new volume. Fourteen people presented papers, and there were a total of 118 registrants from 22 different countries.
What follows is five of these essays, revised and expanded for publication in this special issue of Process Studies focused on HL2. The topics range from Whitehead's conception of eternal objects, to his views on ethics, to the basis of his thought in biology. Together they are a distillation of the many ways in which our understanding of Whitehead and his philosophy is changed by HL2. We hope that readers will find them as illuminating as we have.