Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington : ScientificGenius, Philosopher and Quaker Mystic

by Donald Vessey

Pamphlet, 2021



Call number

CP 467


Wallingford, PA: Pendle Hill Publications, 2021.

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LibraryThing member PJCWLibrary
A good biography of Arthur S. Eddington, his thoughts and his life as a Quaker
LibraryThing member QuakerReviews
Vessey's biography of Arthur Eddington, an important 20th century English Quaker (1882-1944), presents not only his scientific achievements but, especially important to Friends, his ideas on consciousness and spiritual reality. He was a brilliant physicist, created the field of astrophysics, and authored the first general book and first textbook in English explaining Einstein's general theory of relativity. He was also a devoted Quaker in a time, the first half of the 20th century, when most scientists overwhelmingly rejected religion, and a pacifist when the British equated patriotism with their war effort.
As well as his scientific work, Eddington spoke and wrote occasionally on the implications of science, specifically the current physics of his day, for philosophy and religion. He wrote about consciousness as the "aggregation of relations and relata which form the building materials for the physical world." Consciousness, he said, may be considered more real than what we think of as the concrete world. As consciousness is the pre-existent "background" of everything, he concluded that everything is made out of consciousness. The nature of all reality is spiritual, not material or dualistic, and our own particular consciousness gives us glimpses of that reality. in 1929, Eddington delivered the annual Swarthmore Lecture at London Yearly Meeting, speaking again about his philosophical/theological thinking. His lecture was pubished as Science and the Unseen World, in the series of published Swarthmore Lectures.
Since 1929, the sciences of physics and consciousness have developed considerably, but Eddington's philosophical insights seem to retain currency. This essay is a very brief introduction to these, and it can be supplemented by his Swarthmore Lecture. They will be of interest to many Friends, including those who consider themselves non-theists.
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Call number

CP 467


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