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SIR JOHN GARDNER WILKINSON (1797—1875)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 648 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SIR JOHN GARDNER WILKINSON (1797—1875), English of operation (which they have been accustomed to regard as of traveller and Egyptologist, was born on the 5th of October universal range and necessity) to the facts or assumed facts of 1797, the son of the Rev. John Wilkinson, a well-known student human activity, is a constant source of fresh discussions of the of antiquarian subjects. Having inherited a sufficient income problem. Similarly the modern attempt upon the part of from his parents, who died when he was young, he was sent by psychology to analyse (under whatever limitations and with his guardian to Harrow in 1813, and to Exeter College, Oxford, whatever object of inquiry) all the forms and processes of in 1816. He took no degree, and, suffering from ill-health, human consciousness has inevitably led to an examination of went to Italy, where he met Sir William Gel], and resolved to the consciousness of human freedom: while the postulate study Egyptology. Between 1821 and 1833 he travelled widely of most modern psychologists that conscious processes are not in the Nile Valley and began to publish the results. He returned to be considered as removed from the sphere of those necessary to England in 1833 for the sake of his health, was elected fellow causal sequences with which science deals, produces, if the of the Royal Society in 1834, published The Topography of consciousness of freedom be admitted as a fact of mental Thebes and General Survey of Egypt (1835) and Manners and history, the old metaphysical difficulty in a new and highly Customs of the Ancient Egyptians (3 vols., 1837), and on the specialized form. 26th of August 1839 was knighted by the Melbourne ministry. There is some ground nevertheless for maintaining, contrary In 1842 he returned to Egypt and contributed to the Journal to much modern opinion, that the controversy is fundamentally of the Geographical Society an article entitled " Survey of and in the main a moral controversy. It is true that the precise the Valley of the Natron Lakes." This appeared in 1843, in relation between the activities of human wills and other forms which year he also published an enlarged edition of his Topo- of activity in the natural world is a highly speculative problem graphy, entitled Moslem Egypt and Thebes, a work afterwards and one with which the ordinary man is not immediately con-reissued in Murray's series. During 1844 he travelled in Monte- cerned. It is true also that the ordinary moral consciousness negro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, an account of his observations accepts without hesitation the postulate of freedom, and is being published in 1848 (Dalmatia and Montenegro, 2 vols.). unaware of, or imperfectly acquainted with, the speculative A third visit to Egypt in 1848—1849 resulted in a further article difficulties that surround its possibility. Moreover, much work in the Journal, " On the Country between Wady Halfah and of the highest importance in ethics in modern as well as ancient Jebel Berkel " (1851); in 1855 he again visited Thebes. Subse- times has been completed with but scanty, if any, reference to quently he investigated Cornish antiquities, and studied zoology. the subject of the freedom of the will, or upon a metaphysical He died at Llandovery on the 29th of October 1875. To his basis compatible with most of the doctrines of both the rival old school, Harrow, he had already in 1864 presented his collec- theories. The determinist equally with the libertarian moral tions with an elaborate catalogue. philosopher can give an account of morality possessing internal Besides the works mentioned he published Materia Hieroglyphica coherence and a certain degree of verisimilitude. Yet it may be (Malta, 1828) ; Extracts from several Hieroglyphical Subjects (1830) ; doubted (I) whether the problem would ever have arisen at all Topographical Survey of Thebes (1830); facsimile of the Turin except for the necessity of reconciling the theological and papyrus (1851), previously edited without the writing on the back metaphysical h hypotheses of the omniscience and omnipotence of the papyrus by Lepsius; Architecture of Ancient Egypt (185o); yp A Popular Account of the Ancient Egyptians (1854) ; important notes of God with the needs of a moral universe: and (2) whether it in Rawlinson's Herodotus; Colour and Taste (1858); articles in would retain its perennial interest if the incursions of modern archaeological and scientific periodicals. scientific and psychological inquiry into the domain of human
End of Article: SIR JOHN GARDNER WILKINSON (1797—1875)
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