Nicholas Maxwell

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Nicholas Maxwell (born 3 July 1937)[1] is a philosopher who has devoted much of his working life to arguing that there is an urgent need to bring about a revolution in academia so that it seeks and promotes wisdom and does not just acquire knowledge.

For nearly thirty years he taught philosophy of science at University College London, where he is now Emeritus Reader and Honorary Senior Research Fellow. In 2003 he founded Friends of Wisdom, an international group of people sympathetic to the idea that academic inquiry should help humanity acquire more wisdom by rational means. [2] He has published six books spelling out different aspects of the argument for an intellectual revolution, from knowledge to wisdom and has contributed to twenty other books. He has published over seventy papers in scientific and philosophical journals on problems that range from consciousness, free will, value and art to the rationality of science, simplicity, scientific realism, explanation, time and quantum theory.

Philosophical Contribution[edit]

Maxwell’s work has been devoted to tackling two fundamental interlinked problems:-
Problem 1: How can we understand our human world, embedded as it is within the physical universe, in such a way that justice is done both to the richness, meaning and value of human life on the one hand, and to what modern science tells us about the physical universe on the other hand?
Problem 2: What ought to be the overall aims and methods of science, and of academic inquiry more generally, granted that the basic task is to help humanity achieve what is of value – a more civilized world – by cooperatively rational means (it being assumed that knowledge and understanding can be of value in themselves and form a part of civilized life)?


David Miller and Maxwell had a short exchange about Aim Oriented Empricism, which was the central thesis of Maxwell's The Comprehensibility of The Universe. [3][4] [5][6]


  • 1976, What’s Wrong With Science?, Bran’s Head Books, Hayes, Middlesex.
  • 1984, From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution in the Aims and Methods of Science, Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
  • 1998, The Comprehensibility of the Universe: A New Conception of Science, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  • 2001, The Human World in the Physical Universe: Consciousness, Free Will and Evolution, Rowman and Littlefield, Lanham.
  • 2004, Is Science Neurotic?, Imperial College Press, London.
  • 2007, From Knowledge to Wisdom: A Revolution for Science and the Humanities, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged, Pentire Press, London.
  • 2008, ed., with R. Barnett, Wisdom in the University, Routledge, London.
  • 2009, What's Wrong With Science?, 2nd edition, revised with new preface, Pentire Press, London.
  • 2009, L. McHenry, ed., Science and the Pursuit of Wisdom: Studies in the Philosophy of Nicholas Maxwell, Ontos Verlag, Frankfurt.
  • 2010, Cutting God in Half - And Putting the Pieces Together Again: A New Approach to Philosophy, Pentire Press, London.
  • 2014 How Universities Can Help Create a Wiser World: The Urgent Need for an Academic Revolution, Imprint Academic, Exeter.


  1. ^ "Birthdays". The Guardian (Guardian Media). 3 July 2014. p. 33. 
  2. ^ Knowledge to Wisdom
  3. ^ Maxwell, N. 1998, The Comprehensibility of the Universe: A New Conception of Science, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  4. ^ Miller, D. Out of Error Aldershot & Burlington VT: Ashgate 2006, Chapter 4.3,
  5. ^
  6. ^

External links[edit]