Education: Platonic Pickwick

"I saw history," said Philosopher Alfred North Whitehead once, "before I read it." He played games amid relics of the Roman, Saxon and Norman conquests; his father was vicar of a church built by the medieval Minster monks. As a boy he watched British seapower—in full sail—pass through the Channel. He prepped at 1,200-year-old Sherborne School, which claims Alfred the Great as a pupil.

Today, at 86, a retired Harvard professor, Philosopher Whitehead lives quietly in Cambridge, Mass., seeing only friends (and never the press),*reading history and philosophy, and recalling the past. On long London bus rides he used to amuse himself...

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