E.E. Constance Jones was born in Wales and died in Weston-super-Mare on 9 April 1922. She attended Alston Court in Cheltenham during 1865–6, and entered Girton College, Cambridge in October 1875, where, prompted by having read Henry Fawcett’s Manual of Political Economy (1863) and Mill’s Logic (1843), she chose the Moral Sciences Tripos. After receiving a first in 1880, having studied with Henry Sidgwick, James Ward and J.N. Keynes, she completed the translation of Lotze’s Mikrokosmus initiated by Elizabeth Hamilton. Returning to Girton in 1884, Jones served as lecturer of moral sciences, librarian, Vice-Mistress and lastly as Mistress of the college from 1903 to 1916. A steady contributor to International Journal of Ethics, Mind and Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, she served on the Aristotelian Society’s executive committee from 1914 to 1916, having joined the society in December 1892. She spent her final years in Weston-super-Mare, drafting As I Remember (1922) and working on a translation of Hegel’s ‘Larger Logic’.
Jones’s major work is A New Law of Thought and Its Logical Bearings (1911), the product of years of refinement of her proposal to replace the Law of Identity in its form of A is A with the Law of Significant Assertion: ‘Every Subject of Predication is an identity (of denotation) in diversity (of intension)’ (p. 3). Contending that the traditional Law of Identity is inadequate to justify propositions of the form S is P, S is not P, she argued that if categorical propositions are to have significance, then the first law of thought must be of the form A is B. By addressing problems associated with Carroll’s barber shop paradox and accounts of immediate inference and the syllogism, Jones highlighted the ‘new’ law’s efficacy in resolving difficulties in formal logic. Of historic import is that the identity-in-diversity view first appeared in her Elements of Logic as a Science of Propositions (1890), two years prior to Frege’s analysis of categorical propositions in ‘Über Sinn und Bedeutung’, although Lotze’s influence upon both apparently accounts for their separate paths to similar views. Regarding questions of influence, a recent suggestion that F.H. Bradley in Appearance and Reality (2nd edn, 1897) and Russell in The Principles of Mathematics (1903) were indebted to Jones’s view of identity (see Waithe and Cicero, 1995) requires caution. The Bradley Papers and Bradley’s published discussion point to L.T. Hobhouse being the prod for his further consideration of identity, and the evidence presented for Russell’s alleged indebtedness remains circumstantial. Yet this suggestion cannot be wholly dismissed, since both men routinely read the journals in which Jones’s logical articles appeared.
Jones’s ethical writings were wielded chiefly in defence of the rationality of Sidgwick’s ethical hedonism, whose lectures on Green, Spencer and Martineau she also edited. She offered close analyses of criticisms advanced by Bradley,J.S. Mackenzie, G.E. Moore, James Seth and F.H. Hayward. Jones’s philosophic acuity and willingness to join issue in ethics and logic with her contemporaries make her writings an especially good read.
‘Bibliography of E. E. Constance Jones’,
NOEMA: The Collaborative Bibliography of Women in Philosophy
, 22 October 2001.