Nineteenth Century Philosophy

William Whewell

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 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.”


This is a web preview of the "The Handy Philosophy Answer Book" app. Many features only work on your mobile device. If you like what you see, we hope you will consider buying. Get the App