Clifford, William Kingdon

▪ British mathematician and philosopher
born May 4, 1845, Exeter, Devon, England
died March 3, 1879, Madeira Islands, Portugal
 British philosopher and mathematician who, influenced by the non-Euclidean geometries (non-Euclidean geometry) of Bernhard Riemann (Riemann, Bernhard) and Nikolay Lobachevsky (Lobachevsky, Nikolay Ivanovich), wrote “On the Space-Theory of Matter” (1876). He presented the idea that matter and energy are simply different types of curvature of space, thus foreshadowing Albert Einstein (Einstein, Albert)'s general theory of relativity (relativity).

      Clifford was educated at King's College, London, and at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was elected a fellow of the latter in 1868. In 1871 he was named professor of mathematics at University College, London. Three years later he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

      Clifford developed the theory of biquaternions (a generalization of the Irish mathematician Sir William Rowan Hamilton (Hamilton, Sir William Rowan)'s theory of quaternions) and then linked them with more general associative algebras. He used biquaternions to study motion in non-Euclidean spaces and certain closed Euclidean manifolds (manifold) (surfaces), now known as “spaces of Clifford-Klein.” He showed that spaces of constant curvature could have several different topological structures.

      Karl Pearson (Pearson, Karl) of England further developed Clifford's views on the philosophy of science, which were related to those of Hermann von Helmholtz (Helmholtz, Hermann von) and Ernst Mach (Mach, Ernst), both of Germany. In philosophy Clifford's name is chiefly associated with two phrases he coined: “mind-stuff” (the simple elements of which consciousness is composed) and “the tribal self.” The latter gives the key to his ethical view, which explains conscience and moral law by the development in each individual of a “self” that prescribes conduct conducive to the welfare of the “tribe.” He recognized the serious difficulties created for certain features of Immanuel Kant (Kant, Immanuel)'s philosophy by the non-Euclidean geometries of Riemann and Lobachevsky.

      Clifford's early death from tuberculosis meant that his works were for the most part published posthumously, and they include Elements of Dynamic, 2 vol. (1878, 1887), Seeing and Thinking (1879), Lectures and Essays (1879), Mathematical Papers (1882), and The Common Sense of the Exact Sciences, completed by Karl Pearson (1885).

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Clifford, William Kingdon — (1845 79)    A mathematician and philosopher, Clifford wrote in his oft anthologised essay The Ethics of Belief this famous statement of evidentialism: It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything on insufficient evidence… …   Christian Philosophy

  • William Kingdon Clifford — (* 4. Mai 1845 in Exeter, Devon, England; † 3. März 1879 auf Madeira, Portugal) war ein britischer Philosoph und Mathematiker …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • William Kingdon Clifford — William Kingdon Clifford. William Kingdon Clifford,(4 de Mayo de 1845 3 de Marzo de 1879) fue un matemático inglés que también escribió sobre Filosofía. Junto con Hermann Grassmann es el fundador de lo que ahora se conoce como álgebra geométrica …   Wikipedia Español

  • William Kingdon Clifford — Infobox Scientist name = William Clifford box width = 300px image width = 300px caption = William Kingdon Clifford (1845 1879) birth date = birth date|1845|05|04 birth place = Exeter, Devon, England death date = death date and… …   Wikipedia

  • William Kingdon Clifford — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Clifford. William Kingdon Clifford William Kingdon Clifford (né à Exeter le 4 mai 1845 décédé dan …   Wikipédia en Français

  • CLIFFORD (W. K.) — CLIFFORD WILLIAM KINGDON (1845 1879) Mathématicien et philosophe qui a élaboré la théorie des biquaternions (généralisation de la théorie des quaternions du mathématicien irlandais sir William Rowan Hamilton) et l’a rattachée à des algèbres… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Clifford — is both a given name and a surname of Old English origin that applies to a number of individuals or places. It simply means ford by a cliff .[1] Clifford was a common surname mainly in the 18th century but lost its prominence over the years.… …   Wikipedia

  • William Clifford (disambiguation) — William Clifford may refer to:* William Clifford (priest), d. 1670 * William Clifford (1811 1841), English cricketer * William Clifford (actor) (1877 1941), American actor of the silent era * William Kingdon Clifford (1845 1879), mathematician… …   Wikipedia

  • Clifford — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Betsy Clifford (* 1953), kanadische Skirennläuferin Buzz Clifford (* 1942), US amerikanischer Sänger Charles Clifford (1813–1893), neuseeländischer Politiker Clark M. Clifford (1906–1998), US… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Clifford analysis — Clifford analysis, using Clifford algebras named after William Kingdon Clifford, is the study of Dirac operators, and Dirac type operators in analysis and geometry, together with their applications. Examples of Dirac type operators include, but… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.