William Whewell, British polymath

William Whewell, British polymath

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Credit: PAUL D STEWART/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: William Whewell (1794-1866), British polymath. The Reverend Whewell was a polymath and leading light at the University of Cambridge during Darwin's time there. Darwin recalled walking home with him from Professor Henslow's study on various occasions. Whewell is said to have been an intimidating figure to the undergraduates. His 'Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences' was a highly influential work on the method of science. Whewell also coined such words as 'scientist', 'cathode' and 'anode' and his interests spanned many disciplines. He was an opponent of evolution however, his 'Indications of the Creator' (1845) expressly aimed to undo the harm the popularity of Chamber's 'Vestiges of Creation' was seen to have done. Whewell opposed Darwin's theory of evolution and wrote politely to say so upon receipt of a complimentary copy in January 1860. This lithographed sketch by E.U. Fiddis dates from 1835.

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