Item 129 - William Whewell to Richard Jones

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Add. MS c/51/129


William Whewell to Richard Jones


  • [19 Feb. 1832] (Creation)

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4 pp.

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Trinity College - WW is concerned with RJ's health and lifestyle. When RJ has 'time [after writing his book on wages] you shall write your fill about the economical conditions of political institutions but pray do not set off on this cross road at present'. RJ should not start with just any principle: 'If any truth is to be got at pluck it when it has grown ripe, and do not like the deductive savages cut down the tree to get at it'. WW has been reading 'the St. Simonian - who is the man that writes the exposition? - he must be a fine fellow: I am entirely charmed with the beauty and coherence of great part of his theory...his theory of organic and critical periods is constructed and followed into its various developments with consummate perception of the period state and tendency of men's thought and the cravings of their nature. I do not think the doctrine of the perpetual diminution of anlaganism is quite so well made out; and the assumption of a complete difference in kind between the next organic period and all preceding ones is as appears to me quite forced and illogical'. WW agrees with RJ that there 'are as you say several right notions about the character of science - one in which they have hit on the same way which I have used for nearly the same thing. The conceptions which must exist in the mind in order to get by induction a law from a collection of facts: and the impossibility of inducting or even of collecting without this. ' Charles Babbage told WW that he had a project of publishing a book like John Herschel's ['A Preliminary Discourse on Natural Philosophy', 1830]. WW agrees with RJ's view of Charles Babbage's new book ['On the Economy of Manufactures', 1832]: 'But still there is a great deal of ingenuity in his speculations and the one you mention about skilled labour is I think the brightest of them. Moreover the book is of a kind which will receive its full need of praise in these days'.

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