Henry Nelson Wieman


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Henry Nelson Wieman was born on 19 August 1884 in Rich Hill, Missouri, the first of eight children of a Presbyterian minister. While in high school he read Fiske’s Destiny of Man (1884) and accepted evolution with his father's agreement. He graduated with a BA from Park College in 1907. He had become skeptical of traditional supernaturalistic explanations of the power of religion to transform life, yet he remained convinced that the source of this power was real and discoverable. Wieman pursued his religious inquiry at San Francisco Theological Seminary and in a year-long study in Germany with Rudolf Eucken, Wilhelm Windelband, and Ernst Troeltsch. Typically, he claimed that historical and theological studies were irrelevant to his interest in discovering the naturalistic equivalent of the traditional idea of the divine. He then served as a Presbyterian minister for two and a half years in Davis, California, and read the works of Henri Bergson. Wieman went to Harvard University to study with William Ernest Hocking. He accepted Hocking's interest, like William James’s, in religious experience as a datum for inquiry but rejected Hocking's idealism. Wieman received the PhD in philosophy in 1917 and taught philosophy and religion at Occidental College until 1927. During this time he read Alfred North Whitehead, discovering a form of process philosophy without Bergson's anti-intellectualism.


From The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Philosophy.

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