Constance Jones, E.E. (1848–1922)

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Constance Jones, E.E. (1848–1922)

British philosopher whose ideas were misrepresented by Bertrand Russell as his own. Born Emily Elizabeth Constance Jones in Wales in 1848; died in 1922; daughter of the squire of the parish of Llangarron; tutored at home; attended boarding school in Cheltenham; Moral Sciences Tripos at Girton College, Cambridge University, 1880.

Was a lecturer at Girton College from 1884; served as librarian of Girton College (1890–93); was vice-mistress of Girton College (1896–1903); was mistress of Girton College (from 1903); served as executive member of the Aristotelian Society (1914–16); published prolifically, particularly on logic.

Selected works:

Elements of Logic as a Science of Propositions (1890); An Introduction to General Logic (1892); "Symposium: Character and Circumstance," in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series 3 (1902–03); "Character and Circumstance" in International Journal of Ethics 9; Primer of Logic (1905); "Logic and Identity in Difference" in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society (1907); "Precise Number and Numerical Identity," in Mind (1908); A Primer of Ethics (1909); "Mr. Russell's Objections to Frege's Analysis of Propositions," in Mind (1910); "A New 'Law of Thought' and Its Implications," in Mind (1911); A New Law of Thought and Its Logical Bearings (1911); As I Remember (1922).

Although Emily Elizabeth Constance Jones spent her childhood and most of her life in Britain, where her father was squire of the parish of Llangarron, Herefordshire, she spent her early adolescence with her family just outside Capetown, South Africa, and received much of her early education there. In the Constance Jones' large servant-filled house in Capetown, Emily was tutored by governesses in French and German and read the philosophers of the time who wrote in these languages: Schiller, Goethe, Voltaire, Moliere, Racine, and Corneille.

Having acquired a thirst for knowledge, Emily began earnest study upon her return to England. She went to a boarding school for girls in Cheltenham, where she continued to study languages (now including Italian) and mathematics. At age 19, when her basic schooling was complete, she returned home. Emily joined an essay society and was inspired to go to university by a friend of her brothers; this friend was studying Moral Science and shared with her some of his philosophical readings by Fawcett and Mill.

As the family put greater priority on their sons' educations, most of the support for Emily's education came from an aunt on her father's side, a Mrs. Collins. Emily attended the only women's college she knew of, Girton College, Cambridge, with periodic interruptions when her aunt had difficulty providing the financing. At Girton, she prepared for the Moral Science Tripos, a program that included all of the traditional areas of philosophy as well as political economics and psychology, and studied under Henry Sidgwick, James Ward, and John Neville Keynes. Despite having to miss terms, which hurt her academic career, she was so accomplished that recommendations from Sidgwick and Ward earned her the job of completing the translation of Herman Lotze's Mikrokosmos.

In 1880, Constance Jones completed her studies and passed her examinations Class 1. When she returned to Cambridge in 1884, she studied logic and began to pursue the philosophy of language. These topics were the focus of the "analytic" movement that was overtaking philosophy at the time and which dominated 20th-century philosophy in Britain and North America. Constance Jones' ideas, particularly her view of categorical propositions (statements that characterize objects, such as "the cat is black"), were very influential and admired by her colleagues as original and important contributions to the field of logic. Her professional career was spent developing her view that categorical propositions are composed of a subject and a predicate related by identity or non-identity. Bertrand Russell, who had also recently graduated from Cambridge, is known to have presented her ideas as his own without crediting her. Because Constance Jones did not publish any books until 1890, and because she was very modest, Russell's plagiarism was not recognized for some time.

Constance Jones was closely involved with the Aristotelian Society, a prestigious organization for the discussion of philosophy. A great deal of her work showed up in their publications and in the philosophical journal Mind. From 1890 to 1893, she acted as the librarian of Girton College, because the position was hard to fill. She became vice-mistress of the college in 1896, and mistress in 1903. From 1914 to 1916, she served on the executive committee of the Aristotelian Society. Constance Jones continued to publish philosophy prolifically, and in 1922, the year of her death, published her autobiography, As I Remember.

Catherine Hundleby , M.A. Philosophy, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada

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