By Albert E. Moyer
In past due nineteenth-century the United States, Simon Newcomb was once the nation's such a lot celebrated scientist and--irascibly, doggedly, tirelessly--he made the main of it. formally a mathematical astronomer heading a central authority service provider, Newcomb spent as a lot of his lifestyles out of the observatory as in it, performing as a spokesman for the nascent yet restive clinical group of his time.Newcomb observed the "scientific approach" as a possible advisor for all disciplines and a foundation for all sensible motion, and argued passionately that it was once of as a lot use within the halls of Congress as within the laboratory. In so doing, he not just sparked well known aid for American technological know-how but in addition faced a large spectrum of social, cultural, and highbrow matters. this primary full-length research of Newcomb lines the advance of his religion in technological know-how and levels over subject matters of serious public debate within the Gilded Age, from the reform of monetary thought to the recasting of the controversy among technology and faith. Moyer's portrait of a stressed, keen brain additionally illuminates the bustle of past due nineteenth-century the USA.
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Extra resources for A scientist's voice in American culture: Simon Newcomb and the rhetoric of scientific method
Though he felt that he had escaped the benighted villages of his childhood and reached cosmopolitan havens of learning, he never seemed to overcome a sense of not belonging. Whereas in Nova Scotia he had been a highbrow among rustics, in Washington and Cambridge he found himself a rustic among highbrows. Even after rising to a station that permitted him to move with ease through the "World of Sweetness and Light," he still carried a burden: the self-doubt of his Page 20 younger years. He constantly needed to prove himself.
To be sure, he had links to an ongoing philosophical tradition of empiricism and its latest offshoots, particularly positivism, but the tradition was diverse and constantly shifting and, as I show, professional and personal circumstances of a passing nature tempered his response to it. He ended by emphasizing and elaborating one strain of the various empirical and positivist philosophies of science: the strain concerned with method and language. For Newcomb, the essence of scientific method lay in the appropriate use of language, of terms and propositions.
Whether making another exhaustive analysis of a planetary orbit or assuming another exhausting presidency of a learned society, he seemed compelled to achieve. Growing Up in the Maritime Provinces Newcomb was born in Wallace, Nova Scotia, in 1835, a year notable for the return of Halley's Comet. " 2 Indeed, on both his mother's and father's side, he could trace his New England forebears back four or five generations, to well before the Revolutionary War. While this was old Yankee stock, it was not particularly distinguished stock.
A scientist's voice in American culture: Simon Newcomb and the rhetoric of scientific method by Albert E. Moyer