William Molyneux, Statesman, Philosopher and Scientist, Is Born in Dublin

  • April 17, 1656

William Molyneux FRS (17 April 1656 – 11 October 1698) was an Anglo-Irish writer on science, politics and natural philosophy.

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

He was born in Dublin to Samuel Molyneux (1616–1693), lawyer, landowner and Master Gunner for Ireland, (whose grandfather, Sir Thomas Molyneux, had come to Dublin from Calais in the 1560s), and his wife, Anne, née Dowdall.

Molyneux also proposed the philosophical question that has since become known as Molyneux’s Problem, which Locke discussed in later editions of the Essay. The problem of the blind man who gains sight, which he proposed to Locke, is a topic that has been discussed extensively since its publication and into the 21st Century.