William Whewell, D.D.

Master of Trinity College, Cambridge
Fellow, Royal Society
Co-founder, British Association for the Advancement of Science


Historian-philosopher Laura J. Snyder authored the following biographical sketch of William Whewell (pronounced HEW-əl):

William Whewell (1794–1866) was one of the most important and influential figures in 19th-century Britain. Whewell, a polymath, wrote extensively on numerous subjects, including mechanics, mineralogy, geology, astronomy, political economy, theology, educational reform, international law, and architecture, as well as the works that remain the most well-known today in philosophy of science, history of science, and moral philosophy. He was one of the founding members and a president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the Royal Society, president of the Geological Society, and longtime Master of Trinity College, Cambridge. In his own time his influence was acknowledged by the major scientists of the day, such as John Herschel, Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell and Michael Faraday, who frequently turned to Whewell for philosophical and scientific advice, and, interestingly, for terminological assistance. Whewell invented the terms "anode," "cathode," and "ion" for Faraday. In response to a challenge by the poet S.T. Coleridge in 1833, Whewell invented the English word "scientist"; before this time the only terms in use were "natural philosopher" and "man of science."

Whewell is an essential link in the development of Plato's Idealism into our Idealism today. In him we find the balanced worldview of God as All That Is. His Moral Philosophy and frequent reference to the Platonic Ideas set him apart and lifts him above the materialists and the abject failure of mere materialistic sophistry.


Selected Works of William Whewell

The Elements of Morality, Including Polity, Volume I:
An explication of man's primary and universal rights (personal security, property, contract, family rights, and government), and the cardinal virtues (benevolence, justice, truth, purity, and order).
» Read it here »


The Elements of Morality, Including Polity Volume II:
An explication of man's primary and universal rights (personal security, property, contract, family rights, and government), and the cardinal virtues (benevolence, justice, truth, purity, and order).
» Read it here »


On the Foundations of Morals:
Four Sermons Preached Before the University of Cambridge, November 1837.
» Read it here »


Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy in England:
Lectures given while Rev. Whewell served as Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Cambridge.
» Read it here »


Lectures on Systematic Morality:
Delivered in Lent Term, Trinity College, Cambridge, 1846.
» Read it here »


Preface to Butler's Sermons on Human Nature and Dissertation on Virtue
By W. Whewell, D.D. Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, editor.
» Read it here »

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William Whewell, D.D.
1794–1866
English polymath, scientist, Anglican priest, philosopher, theologian and historian of science.


Whewell
 

References

Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, "Joseph Butler," Encyclopaedia Britannica. June 12, 2019 [accessed November 12, 2019].

Snyder, Laura J., "William Whewell," The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. (Spring 2019 edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) [retrieved November 12, 2019].