William Torrey Harris

American philosopher

William Torrey Harris (10 September 18355 November 1909) was an American educator, and lexicographer. He was the US Commissioner of Education from 1889 to 1906, and was the editor-in-chief of Webster's New International Dictionary (1909).

William Torrey Harris (circa 1902)


  • The progress of the world moves from the consolidation of the three powers of government in one person to the co-ordination of those powers in separate departments; from the constitutional forms in which one type prevails (as that of the family prevails in the patriarchal government of China) to the form in which the family, civil society, the State, and the Church are independent and complete in their functions without usurping the functions of one another. This will destroy the illusion of socialism, which wishes the State to absorb civil society, as well as the illusion of the “Nihilist,” who wishes civil society to absorb the State.
    • William T Harris 1888 Preface to The science of rights by Fichte, Johann Gottlieb, 1762-1814; translated by Kroeger, Adolph Ernest, 1837-1882
  • Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.
    • source: The Philosophy of Education (His 1889 book)
  • The great purpose of school can be realized better in dark, airless, ugly places.... It is to master the physical self, to transcend the beauty of nature. School should develop the power to withdraw from the external world.
    • source: The Philosophy of Education (His 1889 book)
Wikipedia has an article about: