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Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index W > William Whewell Quotes > Fact

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William Whewell
(24 May 1794 - 6 Mar 1866)

English scholar and philosopher known for his survey of the scientific method and for creating scientific words, including the word “scientist.”


William Whewell Quotes on Fact (9 quotes)

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Facts are the materials of science, but all Facts involve Ideas. … we must, for the purposes of science, take care that the Ideas are clear and rigorously applied.
— William Whewell
Aphorism 4, 'Aphorisms Concerning Science', The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), Vol. 1, xxxvii.
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Hypotheses may be useful, though involving much that is superfluous, and even erroneous: for they may supply the true bond of connexion of the facts; and the superfluity and error may afterwards be pared away.
— William Whewell
Aphorism 11, 'Aphorisms Concerning Science', The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), Vol. 1, xxxvi.
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In order that the facts obtained by observation and experiment may be capable of being used in furtherance of our exact and solid knowledge, they must be apprehended and analysed according to some Conceptions which, applied for this purpose, give distinct and definite results, such as can be steadily taken hold of and reasoned from.
— William Whewell
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), Vol. 2, 205.
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The law of gravitation is indisputably and incomparably the greatest scientific discovery ever made, whether we look at the advance which it involved, the extent of truth disclosed, or the fundamental and satisfactory nature of this truth.
— William Whewell
In History of the Inductive Sciences, Bk. 7, chap. 8, sect. 6.
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The principles which constituted the triumph of the preceding stages of the science, may appear to be subverted and ejected by the later discoveries, but in fact they are, (so far as they were true), taken up into the subsequent doctrines and included in them. They continue to be an essential part of the science. The earlier truths are not expelled but absorbed, not contradicted but extended; and the history of each science, which may thus appear like a succession of revolutions, is, in reality, a series of developments.
— William Whewell
In History of the Inductive Sciences (1837) Vol. 1, 10.
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The two processes by which Science is constructed are the Explication of Conceptions and the Colligation of Facts.
— William Whewell
Aphorism 1, 'Aphorisms Concerning Science', The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), Vol. 1, xxxvii.
Science quotes on:  |  Conception (154)  |  Construct (124)  |  Fact (1212)  |  Facts (553)  |  Science (3880)  |  Two (937)

To discover a Conception of the mind which will justly represent a train of observed facts is, in some measure, a process of conjecture, ... and the business of conjecture is commonly conducted by calling up before our minds several suppositions, selecting that one which most agrees with what we know of the observed facts. Hence he who has to discover the laws of nature may have to invent many suppositions before he hits upon the right one; and among the endowments which lead to his success, we must reckon that fertility of invention which ministers to him such imaginary schemes, till at last he finds the one which conforms to the true order of nature.
— William Whewell
Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1847), Vol. 2, 54.
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We have here spoken of the prediction of facts of the same kind as those from which our rule was collected. But the evidence in favour of our induction is of a much higher and more forcible character when it enables us to explain and determine cases of a kind different from those which were contemplated in the formation of our hypothesis. The instances in which this has occurred, indeed, impress us with a conviction that the truth of our hypothesis is certain. No accident could give rise to such an extraordinary coincidence. No false supposition could, after being adjusted to one class of phenomena, so exactly represent a different class, when the agreement was unforeseen and contemplated. That rules springing from remote and unconnected quarters should thus leap to the same point, can only arise from that being where truth resides.
— William Whewell
In The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), Vol. 2, 230.
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[A] theory is a Fact; a Fact is a familiar Theory.
— William Whewell
In The Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences (1840), Vol. I, 40.
Science quotes on:  |  Fact (1212)  |  Familiarity (19)  |  Theory (972)


See also:
  • 24 May - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Whewell's birth.
  • William Whewell - context of quote “Gold and iron…are the rulers of the world” - Medium image (500 x 250 px)
  • William Whewell - context of quote “Gold and iron…are the rulers of the world” - Large image (800 x 400 px)
  • William Whewell: Theory of Scientific Method, by William Whewell. - book suggestion.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
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