Chapter 1 deals with Immanuel Kant. It “…presents Kant’s philosophy as a foundation for understanding…Heidegger and Whitehead.” (MOS 2) Smith then delineates his new way of reading Kant as a postmodern thinker, which we’ll get to when we look directly at chapter 1.
Chapter 2 sets out Heidegger’s project. Heidegger rethinks the analysis of a knowing, substantial subject, as it has been taken for most of western history, and transforms it via an existential analysis of “Dasein.” This summary of Heidegger I’m sure readers will find complete-but it is very compact (but this is Heidegger-there’s probably no way around this).
Chapter 3 sets out the Whiteheadian view of reality. Modernity ended in skepticism, and this chapter shows how the “panexperientialist” ontology of process metaphysics moves history forward. It explains the overall metaphysical picture of the world, and the ontology of the “lived body” and its place as enmeshed in that world. It is shown that a more general and synoptic ontology, while it has connections to Heidegger’s analysis of dasein as “being-in-the-world” and “temporality,” is really a furthering or completion of the kind of results that both Kant and Heidegger wanted. Whitehead treads where both Heidegger and Kant couldn’t or wouldn’t. Whitehead’s metaphysics is far-reaching, synoptic, and yet painstakingly specific. Whitehead’s theory of personal identity and the place of the interpretive and expressive self in the world are discussed.
Chapter 4 discusses aspects of Ricoeur’s narrative theory, which sets the ground for incorporating it into Whitehead’s ontology.
Smith points out at the end of the introduction that the central focus of the book is the interpretation of the self, its relationship to the world, and that the story of the self tracks our awareness of ourselves and our awareness of the world. In a broad sense, it could be said, “Know Thyself.”