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Samuel Alexander Papers

Date range: 1866-1938

Medium: Archive

Papers of Samuel Alexander (1859–1938), Professor of Philosophy at Owens College and later the University of Manchester, 1893-1924.

Arguably Manchester’s most distinguished philosopher, Alexander modernizing the discipline by recognizing the philosophical significance of contemporary developments in psychology, biology and evolutionary theory. He is best known for his theory of ‘emergent evolution’, expounded in his major work, Space, Time and Deity (1920), in which he argued that existence is hierarchically ordered, and that through a process of evolution ever higher levels of existence emerge.

In later life Alexander broadened his interests to include aesthetics and literature. He was also active in the life and politics of the University, and was a keen advocate of women’s suffrage.

Alexander’s papers include a significant body of correspondence. Correspondents include philosophers such as F. H. Bradley, John MacCunn, J. S. Mackenzie, J. H. Muirhead, David Ritchie, Bertrand Russell and Alfred North Whitehead. There are also letters from the newspaper editor C. P. Scott and his Manchester Guardian colleagues A. N. Monkhouse and C. E. Montague; figures from the world of literature and letters, including A. C. Bradley, Lascelles Abercrombie and Leslie Stephen; individuals involved in the theatre such as Annie Horniman and Sybil Thorndike; and politicians and political activists including Beatrice Webb, A. J. Balfour, and Chaim Weizmann (Alexander supported the campaign for a Jewish homeland in Palestine).

The collection includes in addition Alexander's correspondence with his publishers, his research notebooks, pamphlets and offprints, and some biographical and obituary material.

Further information:

Catalogue available online via ELGAR.


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