18 Facts About William Molyneux


William Molyneux FRS was an Anglo-Irish writer on science, politics and natural philosophy.


William Molyneux is noted as a close friend of fellow philosopher John Locke, and for proposing Molyneux's Problem, a thought experiment widely discussed.


The second of five children, William Molyneux came from a relatively prosperous Anglican background, with his father established at Castle Dillon in County Armagh, and his uncle Colonel Adam Molyneux holding large estates inherited from the Dowdall's in Ballymulvey, near Ballymahon in County Longford.


William Molyneux was close to his brother Sir Thomas Molyneux, with whom he later shared philosophical interests.


In 1671 Molyneux started at Trinity College Dublin where he became an avid reader of the leading figures of the Scientific Revolution.


William Molyneux's wife became ill, which led to blindness after their marriage, and died young.


William Molyneux was appointed Joint Surveyor General of the King's buildings and works in Ireland in 1684, serving alongside William Robinson.

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William Molyneux represented Dublin University in Parliament from 1692 until his death.


William Molyneux had served as a commissioner of forfeited estates in 1693, resigning a few months later due to ill health.


Meanwhile, William Molyneux was responsible for a number of publications reflecting his diverse interests.


William Molyneux's first book was editing and translating into English the work of Rene Descartes which was published in London, 1680 as Six Metaphysical Meditations, Wherein it is Proved that there is a God.


In 1682 William Molyneux collaborated with Roderic O'Flaherty to collect material for Moses Pitt's Atlas.


William Molyneux struck a friendship with O'Flaherty and assisted when the latter's treatise Ogygia was published in London.


William Molyneux published several papers in Philosophical Transactions, as well as papers on optics, natural philosophy, and miscellaneous topics.


Early in 1698, William Molyneux published The Case of Ireland's being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated.


Molyneux's arguments reflected those made in an unpublished piece written about 1660 by his father-in-law Sir William Domville, entitled A Disquisition Touching That Great Question Whether an Act of Parliament Made in England Shall Bind the Kingdom and People of Ireland Without Their Allowance and Acceptance of Such Act in the Kingdom of Ireland.


William Molyneux's arguments remained topical in Ireland as constitutional issues arose throughout the eighteenth century, and formed part of Swift's argument in Drapier's Letters.


William Molyneux proposed the philosophical question that has since become known as William Molyneux's Problem, which Locke discussed in later editions of the Essay.