What was William Whewell's fundamental antithesis of knowledge?

Whewell claimed that "in every act of knowledge ... there are two opposite elements, which we may call Ideas and Perceptions." Whewell was influenced by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and shared Kant's belief that scientific information is not a pure collection of objective facts in the world, but that a prior system of ideas is required to arrive

How did William Whewell describe the method of science?

In his 1837 book, History of the Inductive Sciences, Whewell described scientific methodology as a three-part process, beginning with a "prelude" of isolated facts, progressing toward laws or generalizations, and culminating in "colligation" by scientists during an "inductive epoch" in which a theory is created. The last stage is a "sequel" in which the theory is refined and applied to new facts.

at scientific knowledge. However, he did not go as far as Kant in locating the possibility for scientific knowledge wholly within the mind. That is, unlike Kant, Whewell thought that the world as it is known to human beings exists independently of human minds. Neither did Whewell go as far as the empiricists, who emphasized induction and observation, in what he called the "sensationalistic school."

What did William Whewell mean by the sensationalistic school?

Whewell meant to belittle the view of empiricists who held that all knowledge was the result of sensory experience, or what Whewell thought was "mere" sensation.

What were William Whewell's main ideas?

Whewell posited certain "Fundamental Ideas," such as Space, Time, Cause, and Resemblance, which enabled "unconscious inference" so that we could structure and relate our sensations in ways that resulted in our perceptions of objects. He thought that each science has a distinct Particular Fundamental Idea that makes sense of its subject matter: For instance, the idea of Space for geometry, Cause for mechanics, and Substance for chemistry. The fundamental idea of a science can be further modified to fit the requirements of that science, such as the idea of force as a modification of the idea of Cause in mechanics.

In what ways did William Whewell disagree with Immanuel Kant?

Whewell disagreed with Kant (1724-1804) in not limiting the number of Fundamental Ideas, and claiming that we can have objective knowledge of the world as it exists in itself, independently of our Fundamental Ideas. Kant, on the other hand, held that we cannot know things as they are in themselves, but only things as our categories enable us to understand them. Whewell posited God as the creator of our Fundamental Ideas. Because God had created them, these ideas matched reality.

What was William Whewell's theory of induction?

In his Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences, Founded upon Their History (1840; revised, 1847; expanded, 1858), Whewell focused on "Discoverers' Induction" as used

What is the British Association of Science?

The purpose of the British Association of Science is to promote sustainability and make science and technology accessible to the public. However, on the organization's website they credit David Brewster, who invented the Kaleidoscope in 1815, as its principal founder, not William Whewell.

The Association now has about 3,000 members, is mainly concerned with the popularization of science, and sponsors a Young Scientist program that has about 12,000 members. Each year since 1932, the British Association of Science has held a Festival of Science, featuring hundreds of speakers. You can learn more about their current activities at the-ba.net/the-ba/.

to construct phenomenal laws or generalizations, and causal laws, or explanations. This is where he described "colligation" as a "renovation" of Francis Bacon's (15611626) principles.

In colligation, the mind "superinduces" upon facts some conception that can be used to generalize. For example, Whewell described astronomer Johannes Kepler as having colligated the points of the Martian orbit. Whewell argued that discovery occurs not as the result of new facts, but in applying the right conception to existing facts. Thus, according to Whewell, Kepler applied his ellipse conception to the facts of Mars' orbit that were already collected by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe.

Whewell believed that choosing the right conception to colligate facts cannot be done by simple observation or guesswork, but requires a "special process in the mind" in which "we infer more than we see." Once theories are created, theories can be extended to what cannot be observed, such as light waves, orbit shapes, and gravity. In other words, Whewell thought that we always approach experience with something in mind that helps us interpret experience and go beyond it.

How did William Whewell think consilience, coherence, and predictions should be applied to test theories?

Scientific theories must withstand the tests of consilience, coherence, and prediction. "Consilience" refers to new kinds of cases confirming the theory. A theory's coherence is its ability to explain new kinds of facts. The theory's "coherence" ought to increase over time. Predictions should turn out to be accurate. Once they have withstood such tests, theories and basic scientific principles become necessary—it is a contradiction to deny them, given an understanding of their meaning.

< Prev   CONTENTS   Next >