I'm not a native english speaker, so I was not familiar with the term "cogredience" when I first saw it in Concept of Nature. frankly, it seems like its a word Whitehead used in a different context than was originally intended.

In a quick Google search, I found that the term is originally "cogredient", and has two definitions:

  • (mathematics) system of variables subject to undergo linear transformations identical with those of another system of variables.

  • (literally) coming together.

Next I saw that in Process and Reality Whitehead defines "cogredience" (emphasis mine):

The percipient event is always here and now in the associated present duration. It has, what may be called, an absolute position in that duration. Thus one definite duration is associated with a definite percipient event, and we are thus aware of a peculiar relation which finite events can bear to durations. I call this relation 'cogredience.'

So, in a way, it seems that the usage of "cogredience" for Whitehead is a correlation between duration and percipient event.

I wonder, is there any specific reason for Whitehead to use the convoluted, non-conventional term "cogredience" rather than simpler terms such as "correlation" or "correspondence"? (that is, aside from the word being obviously part of his mathematical lingo)

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    I doubt that even many native English mathematicians are familiar with the word unless they work on invariants of bilinear forms and have a liking for old school approach. One reason Whitehead would use it is to mark his distinctive concept vs something generic like "correlation" or "correspondence". It also suggests a stronger relation than those two, cogredient variables are linked by a linear transformation and so change "in concert" in a more definitive sense.
    – Conifold
    Oct 1, 2020 at 10:05

1 Answer 1


Think of the word 'ingredient' and what 'co' means. What Whitehead is trying to convey in a complex way (as a person who has to hold his recognition in an academic environment), is a kaleidoscope of existence, where each entity is an ingredient emerging and morphing along with 'other' ingredients in a 'co' relationship, like an 'existence kaleidoscope'. I wrote about this in my Medium essay titled 'Explorations in Synechism: Nature Rarer Uses Yellow'. Hope that helps! :)

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