By Albert E. Moyer
In past due nineteenth-century the USA, 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 company, Newcomb spent as a lot of his lifestyles out of the observatory as in it, appearing as a spokesman for the nascent yet restive clinical neighborhood of his time.Newcomb observed the "scientific technique" as a possible advisor for all disciplines and a foundation for all sensible 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 well known help for American technological know-how but in addition faced a large spectrum of social, cultural, and highbrow concerns. this primary full-length learn of Newcomb lines the improvement of his religion in technological know-how and levels over issues of significant public debate within the Gilded Age, from the reform of financial idea to the recasting of the talk among technology and faith. Moyer's portrait of a stressed, keen brain additionally illuminates the bustle of overdue nineteenth-century the USA.
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Additional info for A scientist's voice in American culture: Simon Newcomb and the rhetoric of scientific method
Often in his methodological pronouncements, he was speaking not only for "American science" but also for himself, thereby mixing two agendas: one for science as a collective enterprise (Schuster and Yeo's primary concern) and the other for himself as an individual citizen-scientist seeking to serve society at large. That is, he frequently linked his efforts to improve the social relations of science with his efforts to promote personal political, economic, religious, philosophical, and pedagogic convictions.
When Newcomb died in 1909, Robert S. Woodward, president of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, singled out his former colleague for not only his "unrivaled productivity" but also the "unusual clearness" of his prose. " 2 To date, scholars have tapped only a small portion of Newcomb's vast, lifetime output of unpublished and published writings. The Simon Newcomb Papers at the Library of Congress number approximately 46,200 items and occupy sixty-two linear feet of shelf space. His published writings extend to almost 550 works, including many books and lengthy monographs.
Attempting to solidify institutional gains, foster the further professionalization of the scientific community, and advertise the distinctiveness of scientists' contribution to American society and thought, he also used method to demarcate the external boundaries of science; he distinguished it from potential competitors such as philosophy, theology, and lay social analysis, and, when useful, associated it with business and other nonscientific realms of culture. Similarly, he turned to method to rebuff philosophical pundits who, through their reappraisals of fundamentals in fields such as physics, seemed to be tarnishing the objectivist image of the natural sciences.