Hello world!

This is a group blog for collecting blog posts on the history and philosophy of science, and for posting new ones too. It is named after William Whewell (pronounced “hew-ell”), whose works History of the Inductive Sciences and Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences in the mid 19th century set off both the proper and separate history of science, and the philosophy of science, respectively. It’s no accident that Whewell coined the term “scientist”. It was said of him that he had read a great many prefaces, which is a bit unfair as scientists tended to lay out their philosophy in the prefaces to their technical books.

We aim to collect as many authors who write decent and accurate history and philosophy of science as we can. So if you are inclined to post something either on your own blog or are looking for a place to do so, please contact John Lynch or John Wilkins to be added, and let us raise Whewell’s Ghost.

About John M. Lynch

teacher, historian, biologist, beer snob. not necessarily in that order.
This entry was posted in Administrative, History, Philosophy. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Hello world!

  1. Brandon says:

    Just to start off the commenting:

    “A controversy used to exist in Cambridge as to the proper pronunciation of Whewell’s name. He was described in a newspaper article as a man whose name was more easy to whistle than to spell; and in practice the pronunciation was somewhat various, some saying You-ell, others Woo-ell, or perhaps rather Whoo-ell. On a public occasion, when he recited his own name, I remember that his own pronunciation corresponded nearly to the last of these three, which therefore I presume may be regarded as the correct rendering of the name.”

    [Harvey Carlisle, in Macmillan’s Magazine, volume XLV, p. 139.]

    Of course, I’ve never figured out the difference between Woo-ell and Whoo-ell, so Hew-ell it usually is.

  2. John S. Wilkins says:

    The h is clearly not silent, so “hwoo-ell”? Too hard for an Australian, so I’ll stick with “hew-ell”.

  3. Rebekah Higgitt says:

    I think that being brought up in Scotland helps with this one – a place where “wh” gets pronounced properly.

  4. Thony C. says:

    I was taught that it’s pronounced “hu-ell”!

  5. First year teaching my DarRev course, I pronounced it “Wheee-Well” for the first half and then “Hu-ell” (after realizing my error). Confused the heck out of the students!

  6. Rebekah is probably right about Whewell’s 19th-century Lancashire ‘wh’ being related to the contemporary Scottish ‘wh’. Of course, I really would have an easier time whistling that than saying it.

  7. Thony C. says:

    I did my apprenticeship as a historian of formal logic and there one is only accepted as an insider if you can correctly pronounce the family name of Charles Saunders Peirce maybe Whewell has the same function for philosophers of science.

  8. zackoz says:

    Some speakers of English pronounce “wh” as a voiceless”w”, which might account for the claimed difference between “Woo-ell” and “Whoo-ell”.

    It’s pretty rare, but I once had a boss who did that. It sounded a little snooty, though that wasn’t his character generally.

  9. Rebekah Higgitt says:

    Test yourself: when you say “which witch?” what does it sound like?

  10. Peter Lund says:

    And a hello to you! 🙂

    I’m looking forward to what you’ll write for us eager readers. I already knew the albino from the counterweight continent but the Scotswoman was new to me. Will the canine-looking mathematicus also be contributing?

    PS: Yes, it is “Purse”, isn’t it? Btw, the pronunciation of Niels Bohr’s name has the same shibboleth nature. No, it is NOT pronounced “Neil’s”.

  11. Ian Whewell says:

    When you have an initial” I ” as I have, I like to be a ” hew- ell ” rather than ” wee well” otherwise I’d be accused of urinating quite successfully. Ian Whewell.

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