Process and Reality. An Essay in Cosmology by Alfred North Whitehead

"The chief danger to philosophy is narrowness in the selection of evidence. This narrowness
arises from the idiosyncrasies and timidities of particular authors, of particular social groups, of
particular schools of thought, of particular epochs in the history of civilization. The evidence relied
upon is arbitrarily biased by the temperaments of individuals, by the provincialities of groups, and
by the limitations of schemes of thought.
The evil, resulting from this distortion of evidence, is at its worst in the consideration of the topic
of the final part of this investigation—ultimate ideals. We must commence this topic by an
endeavour to state impartially the general types of the great ideals which have prevailed at sundry
seasons and places. Our test in the selection, to be impartial, must be pragmatic: the chosen stage
of exemplification must be such as to compel attention, by its own intrinsic interest, or by the
intrinsic interest of the results which flow from it. For example, the stern self-restraint of the Roman
farmers in the early history of the Republic issued in the great epoch of the Roman Empire; and the
stern self-restraint of the early Puritans in New England issued in the flowering of New England
culture. The epoch of the Covenanters has had for its issue the deep impression which modern
civilization owes to Scotland. Neither the Roman farmers, nor the American Puritans, nor the
Covenanters, can wholly command allegiance. Also they differ from each other. But in either case,
there is greatness there, greatly exemplified. In contrast to this example, we find the flowering time
of the aesthetic culture of ancient Greece, the Augustan epoch in Rome, the Italian Renaissance, the
Elizabethan epoch in England, the Restoration epoch in England, French and Teutonic
civilization throughout the centuries of the modern world, Modern Paris, and Modern New York.
Moralists have much to say about some of these societies. Yet, while there is any critical judgment
in the lives of men, such achievements can never be forgotten. In the estimation of either type of
these contrasted examples, sheer contempt betokens blindness. In each of these instances, there are
elements which compel admiration. There is a greatness in the lives of those who build up religious
systems, a greatness in action, in idea and in self-subordination, embodied in instance after instance
through centuries of growth. There is a greatness in the rebels who destroy such systems:
they are the Titans who storm heaven, armed with passionate sincerity. It may be that the revolt is
the mere assertion by youth of its right to its proper brilliance, to that final good of immediate joy.
Philosophy may not neglect the multifariousness of the world—the fairies dance, and Christ is
nailed to the cross."