A scientist's voice in American culture: Simon Newcomb and by Albert E. Moyer

By Albert E. Moyer

In overdue nineteenth-century the United States, Simon Newcomb used to be the nation's so much celebrated scientist and--irascibly, doggedly, tirelessly--he made the main of it. formally a mathematical astronomer heading a central authority supplier, Newcomb spent as a lot of his lifestyles out of the observatory as in it, appearing as a spokesman for the nascent yet restive medical neighborhood of his time.Newcomb observed the "scientific procedure" as a possible advisor for all disciplines and a foundation for all functional motion, and argued passionately that it used to be of as a lot use within the halls of Congress as within the laboratory. In so doing, he not just sparked renowned aid for American technological know-how but additionally faced a large spectrum of social, cultural, and highbrow matters. this primary full-length research of Newcomb lines the improvement of his religion in technology and levels over themes of significant public debate within the Gilded Age, from the reform of financial thought to the recasting of the talk among technology and faith. Moyer's portrait of a stressed, keen brain additionally illuminates the bustle of past due nineteenth-century the US.

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Newcomb and American Pragmatism 205 Pragmatists in Historical Context 207 The Philosophical Core of Pragmatism 214 Newcomb as a Catalyst 221 13. Pragmatism and Methodological Rhetoric 224 Pragmatists as Apostles of Scientific Method 227 Pragmatism's Emergence in the Late Nineteenth Century 230 Notes 239 Select Bibliography 279 Index 293 Page x ILLUSTRATIONS Simon Newcomb in 1857 at age twenty-two Pages from Newcomb's diary during his Cambridge years Simon and Mary Newcomb shortly after their marriage in 1863 "Professor" Newcomb at the Naval Observatory's telescope Astronomers at the Naval Observatory preparing for the 1874 transit of Venus Newcomb in the 1870s The superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office and president of the Washington Philosophical Society A draft, in Newcomb's hand, of his "Religious Autobiography," ca 18791880 The elder statesman of American science, Newcomb in 1903 at age sixty-eight Page xi PREFACE If we judge a scientist's influence by recognition from his contemporaries, then Simon Newcomb stands out as the most influential American scientist of the late nineteenth century.

Because such pronouncements are likely conditioned by a scientist's personal and professional circumstances, the study of ideological methodology offers the possibility of illuminating the human and cultural dimensions of science. In Newcomb's case, his professed methodology is interwoven with his personal political, eco- Page 6 nomic, philosophical, religious, and pedagogic convictions and his perceptions of the institutional and conceptual status of science in late nineteenth-century America.

In Newcomb's case, his professed methodology is interwoven with his personal political, eco- Page 6 nomic, philosophical, religious, and pedagogic convictions and his perceptions of the institutional and conceptual status of science in late nineteenth-century America. And as with his colleagues Chauncey Wright and Charles Sanders Peirce, his views on method connect to the broader cultural tradition of American pragmatism. The Rhetorical Aspects of Scientific Method Of the few recent studies that deal exclusively with ideological methodology, one stands out for providing an overview of the topic: The Politics and Rhetoric of Scientific Method, edited by John Schuster and Richard Yeo.

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