Philosophy, Reviews

Review: Snyder, Reforming Philosophy

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John Stuart Mill, a man popularly thought to be responsible for the reformation of Victorian philosophy, is a household name among philosophers. Unfortunately one of his greatest contemporaries is not. William Whewell, a man equally engaged in transforming the philosophical conventions of his era, is often overshadowed by Mill’s fame. However, as noted by a recent review in the Times Literary Supplement, Laura J. Snyder’s Reforming Philosophy: A Victorian Debate on Science and Society eloquently demonstrates that it was not Mill alone, but rather the dialectic generated by the rivalry of these two great thinkers that was ultimately responsible for the radical transformations in the field of philosophy that took place during the Victorian era. Placing their teachings in their proper intellectual, cultural, and argumentative spheres, Laura Snyder revises the standard views of Victorian philosophy, showing that the concerns of both men remain relevant today.
A rich and nuanced understanding of the intellectual spirit of Victorian Britain, TLS calls Snyder’s work “science history at its best.” Reforming Philosophy will be welcomed by philosophers and historians of science, scholars of Victorian studies, and students of the history of philosophy and political economy.