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Whewell and the Reform of Inductive Philosophy

Whewell and the Reform of Inductive Philosophy

(p.33) Chapter One Whewell and the Reform of Inductive Philosophy
Reforming Philosophy
University of Chicago Press

This chapter shows that Whewell and Jones were engaged from their early undergraduate days in what they believed to be their “mission,” namely, to “bring the people to the right way of viewing induction.” As they noted, everyone appealed to the “inductive method” as the proper way to conduct science, but very few understood correctly in what this method consisted. Whewell, with his friend's help, developed a view of induction that incorporated both empirical and rational elements of knowledge. Because of the rationalist aspect of Whewell's view, it has often been argued that his epistemology is essentially a British version of Kantianism. This chapter argues that this is not the case; there are important differences between Whewell's epistemology and Kant's. It addresses as well the claim that Whewell was strongly influenced by German romanticism as it was expressed in England in the work of Coleridge.

Keywords:   inductive philosophy, William Whewell, Kantianism, knowledge, rationalism, romanticism

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