Wright, Chauncey

Wright, Chauncey

(1830–75) philosopher; born in Northampton, Mass. Graduating from Harvard after studies in mathematics and science (1852), he worked for the American Ephemerist and Nautical Almanac, until a legacy in 1872 allowed him to retire. He lived a simple, often melancholy bachelor's existence in Cambridge, where he associated with William James and C. S. Peirce as senior member of a discussion group ironically titled the Metaphysical Club. A stimulating conversationalist, Wright wrote scientific and philosophical essays in an empirical vein; most of these—including his most significant one, "Evolution of Self-Consciousness,"—appeared in the North American Review. He has been praised as anticipating 20th-century trends in philosophy, but he was overshadowed by James and others. He taught sporadically at Harvard (1870, 1874–75).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.