Item 99 - William Whewell to Richard Jones

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Add. MS c/51/99

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William Whewell to Richard Jones

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  • [25 Feb. 1831] (Creation)

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4 pp.

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Trinity College - Nassau Senior's notions about the nature of science will provide WW with specimens of what is to be avoided: 'I will refer to the passages and revel in their absurdity'. The world will soon see them as non-sensical. WW will be glad to see RJ's recent speculations about induction - 'for among other questions it is certainly an important one how the true faith can best be propagated. I have done what I could in my review of Herschel' ['Modern Science: Inductive Philosophy', Quarterly Review 45, 1831]. What would RJ make of a 'popular exposition of the matter applied mainly to moral political and other notional sciences is what I do not so well see'. The principles of induction can only be taught or learnt by numerous examples. Of induction applied to subjects outside of natural philosophy WW can only think of RJ's book, and 'a good deal of Malthus's population is a beginning of such a process excluding of course his anticipatory thesis, the only thing usually talked of'. There are various subjects which are well worth an examination for this purpose, such as language and antiquities - but in what RJ calls intellectual philosophy WW sees 'scarcely a possibility of exemplifying induction. So if you can make anything of the matter I shall be very glad to see it'. Rather, WW thinks the pupil should first 'read Euclid and algebra and when he has done that, mechanics and Newton, and there then is some chance of his knowing in his third year what induction is'.

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