William Mitchell (philosopher)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sir William Mitchell
William Mitchell (retouched).jpg
Sir William Mitchell (1941)
Born(1861-03-27)27 March 1861
Died24 June 1962(1962-06-24) (aged 101)
Era20th-century philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy

Sir William Mitchell (27 March 1861 – 24 June 1962) was an Australian philosopher and academic. He was Professor of English Language, Literature, Mental and Moral Philosophy at the University of Adelaide from 1894–1922, Vice-Chancellor 1916–1942 and Chancellor 1942–1948.


Mitchell was educated at the University of Edinburgh where he graduated with a Master of Arts degree with first class honors in 1886, followed by a doctor of science in 1891 from the Department of Mental Science. At Edinburgh, Mitchell's thesis was supervised by Alexander Campbell Fraser, and he was assistant to Henry Calderwood.[1]


Mitchell was an enthusiast for literary societies, and was in 1883 a foundation member of the South Australian Literary Societies' Union, served as its president in 1901, and remained a staunch supporter of the Union in 1937.[2] Mitchell was Professor of English Language, Literature, Mental and Moral Philosophy at the University of Adelaide from 1894–1922. He also held the position of Vice-Chancellor from 1916–1942 and was Chancellor from 1942–1948.[3]

Mitchell wrote about issues overlapping philosophy of mind and science, neurology, quantum theory and philosophical psychology.[4][5]

His work is the subject of a book by W. Martin Davies, The Philosophy of Sir William Mitchell, 1861–1962 : A Mind's Own Place (2003) ISBN 0-7734-6733-5.

He is also the benefactor of The Professor Sir William Mitchell Prize for Philosophy, Level II, and gives his name to the South Australian Electoral District of Mitchell.

Personal life[edit]

On 18 January 1900 William Mitchell married Marjory Erlistoun Barr Smith (1868 – 3 August 1913), fourth daughter of Robert Barr Smith. Their daughter Joanna "Nan" Mitchell (1900– ) married Major David Thompson, of Farnham House, Farnham Royal. Buckinghamshire c. 1 May 1925.


Mitchell was knighted in 1927.[6]


  • Davies, W. Martin (2003). "Sir William Mitchell, K.C.M.G. (1861–1962): Philosopher and Chancellor of the University of Adelaide". In Healey, John (ed.). S.A.'s Greats: The men and women of the North Terrace plaques. Kent Town, South Australia: Historical Society of South Australia. ISBN 0-9579430-0-8.


  1. ^ Boucher, David (2005). "Mitchell, William (1861–1962)". In Brown, Stuart (ed.). Dictionary of Twentieth-Century British Philosophers: 2 Volumes (First ed.). Thoemmes. pp. 687–689. ISBN 978-1843710967.
  2. ^ "Record Debating Season For Literary Union". The Advertiser (Adelaide). South Australia. 28 April 1937. p. 25. Retrieved 29 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ Davies 2003, p. 92
  4. ^ Davies, W. Martin (1 September 1999). "Sir William Mitchell and the 'new mysterianism'". Australasian Journal of Philosophy. 77 (3): 253–273. doi:10.1080/00048409912349031. ISSN 0004-8402.
  5. ^ Davies, W. Martin (2001). A mind's own place : the thought of Sir William Mitchell / William Martin Davies (Thesis thesis).
  6. ^ "Mitchell, William | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy".

External links[edit]