WorldCat Identities

Playfair, John 1748-1819

Works: 126 works in 570 publications in 3 languages and 4,986 library holdings
Genres: History  Biography  Textbooks 
Roles: Author, Editor
Classifications: QA451, 550
Publication Timeline
Most widely held works about John Playfair
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Most widely held works by John Playfair
Illustrations of the Huttonian theory of the earth; a facsimile reprint, with an introduction by George W. White by John Playfair( Book )

73 editions published between 1802 and 2011 in 3 languages and held by 1,051 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

John Playfair (1748-1819) was a Scottish mathematician and geologist best known for his defence of James Hutton's geological theories. He attended the University of St Andrews, completing his theological studies in 1770. In 1785 he was appointed joint Professor of Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, and in 1805 he was elected Professor of Natural Philosophy. This highly influential book, first published in 1802, contains Playfair's clarification and summary of Hutton's geological concepts. Playfair concisely explains Hutton's theories on erosion and geothermal heat in rock formation and the concept of uniformitarianism in geology, illustrating these theories with his own precise observations on different types of rock strata. The clarity of Playfair's explanations was instrumental in popularising Hutton's geological theories, many of which are now recognised as key principles of modern geology. Playfair's strident defence of Hutton's ideas formed part of a controversial debate between Hutton's supporters and his detractors
System of the earth, 1785. Theory of the earth, 1788. Observations on granite, 1794. Together with Playfair's Biography of Hutton by James Hutton( Book )

5 editions published between 1970 and 1973 in English and held by 382 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

A short, simple, and plain method of demonstrating the fifth book of Euclid's Elements by John Playfair( Book )

9 editions published between 1812 and 1815 in English and held by 228 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Outlines of natural philosophy : being heads of lectures delivered in the University of Edinburgh by John Playfair( Book )

33 editions published between 1812 and 1971 in English and Undetermined and held by 202 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The works of John Playfair ... with a memoir of the author by John Playfair( Book )

6 editions published in 1822 in English and held by 173 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

James Hutton & Joseph Black : biographies by John Playfair( Book )

11 editions published in 1997 in English and held by 123 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Dissertation second, exhibiting a general view of the progress of mathematical and physical science, since the revival of letters in Europe by John Playfair( Book )

14 editions published between 1800 and 2010 in English and held by 97 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Letter to the author of the examination of Professor Stewart's short statement of facts, with an appendix by John Playfair( Book )

6 editions published in 1806 in English and held by 29 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Description of the slide of Alpnach by John Playfair( Book )

1 edition published in 1822 in English and held by 21 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

On the origin and investigation of porisms by John Playfair( )

12 editions published between 1792 and 2005 in English and held by 19 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Dissertations on the history of metaphysical and ethical, and of mathematical and physical science by Dugald Stewart( Book )

10 editions published between 1835 and 2009 in English and held by 18 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

"When I ventured to undertake the task of contributing a Preliminary Dissertation to the Encyclopædia Britannica, my original intention was, after the example of Jean le Rond D'Alembert, to have begun with a general survey of the various departments of human knowledge. The outline of such a survey, sketched by the comprehensive genius of Francis Bacon, together with the corrections and improvements suggested by his illustrious disciple, would, I thought, have rendered it comparatively easy to adapt their intellectual map to the present advanced state of the sciences; while the unrivalled authority which their united work has long maintained in the republic of letters, would, I flattered myself, have softened those criticisms which might be expected to be incurred by any similar attempt of a more modern hand. On a closer examination, however, of their labours, I found myself under the necessity of abandoning this design. Doubts immediately occurred to me with respect to the justness of their logical views, and soon terminated in a conviction that these views are radically and essentially erroneous. Instead, therefore, of endeavouring to give additional currency to speculations which I conceived to be fundamentally unsound, I resolved to avail myself of the present opportunity to point out their most important defects; ?defects which, I am nevertheless very ready to acknowledge, it is much more easy to remark than to supply. The critical strictures which, in the course of this discussion, I shall have occasion to offer on my predecessors, will, at the same time, account for my forbearing to substitute a new map of my own, instead of that to which the names of Bacon and D'Alembert have lent so great and so well-merited a celebrity; and may perhaps suggest a doubt, whether the period be yet arrived for hazarding again, with any reasonable prospect of success, a repetition of their bold experiment. For the length to which these strictures are likely to extend, the only apology I have to offer is the peculiar importance of the questions to which they relate, and the high authority of the writers whose opinions I presume to controvert. It is necessary to comprehend, in one general scheme, all the various departments of study; to arrange them into proper classes; and to point out their mutual relations and dependencies. Such a scheme is sometimes likened by D'Alembert to a map or chart of the intellectual world; sometimes to a Genealogical or Encyclopedical Tree, indicating the manifold and complicated affinities of those studies, which, however apparently remote and unconnected, are all the common offspring of the human understanding. For executing successfully this chart or tree, a philosophical delineation of the natural progress of the mind may (according to D'Alembert) furnish very useful lights"--Introduction. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)
Supplement to the fourth, fifth and sixth editions of the Encyclopædia Britannica : with preliminary dissertations on the history of the sciences by inc Encyclopaedia Britannica( Book )

2 editions published in 1824 in English and held by 17 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Biographical account of James Hutton, M.D.F.R.S. Ed. by John Playfair( Book )

8 editions published between 1797 and 2011 in English and held by 15 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Dissertation second: by John Playfair( Book )

5 editions published in 1824 in English and held by 8 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

The Element of geometry by John Playfair( Book )

3 editions published in 1836 in English and held by 7 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

Elements of plane geometry according to Euclid : with several new improvements and additions by Andrew Bell( Book )

4 editions published between 1836 and 1845 in English and held by 6 WorldCat member libraries worldwide

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Audience Level
  Kids General Special  
Audience level: 0.59 (from 0.40 for System of ... to 0.91 for Elements o ...)

Illustrations of the Huttonian theory of the earth; a facsimile reprint, with an introduction by George W. White
Alternative Names
John Playfair britisk matematikar

John Playfair britisk matematiker

John Playfair Brits wiskundige

John Playfair brittisk matematiker

John Playfair matematico e filosofo scozzese

John Playfair schottischer Mathematiker und Geologe

Джон Плейфеър

Плейфэр, Джон

جان پلی‌فیر ریاضی‌دان بریتانیایی

جون بلايفير

ჯონ პლეიფერი



English (400)

French (17)

Spanish (1)

The elements of Euclid, viz. the first six books together with the eleventh and twelfth. The errors by which Theon, or others, have long ago vitiated these books are corrected and some of Euclid's demonstrations are restored. Also the book of Euclid's Data, in like manner correctedBiographical account of James Hutton, M.D.F.R.S. Ed.