by Adam Robbert
Taking account means an event inflecting the arc of its becoming as a function of its feeling the influence of other events, either in its initial conditions or en route. An electron is an occasion of experience for Whitehead. It ‘takes account’ of the electromagnetic field of the nucleus of the atom in the dynamic form expressed as its orbit and in its quantum character (the unity of the dynamic form expressed as its orbit and energy level). The electron registers the ‘importance’ of its fellow creatures of the nucleus, and expresses it in the dynamic unity of its own pathmaking. The trees along a river take account of the surrounding mountains in how they are able to take in the rain washing down from them, negotiating with their shadows for their growth, or availing themselves of the mountain’s protection from the wind. The life of a tree is a ‘society’ of occasions of experience whose taking-account of other events—weather events, geological events, the earth’s gravitation, the sun’s rising and setting—contributes to a continuing growth pattern. Tree rings are one of the ways in which this growing lived abstraction is seen for itself. Our taking in the pattern at a glance is a semblance of a life. But even outside any encounter with human perception, the electron, the mountains, the tree involve perceptions. They are perceptions in themselves: they are how they take account, in their own self-formative activity, of the world of activity always and already going around (Semblance and Event, p. 26).