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American Science in the Age of Jackson

Written by George Daniels

Publication Year: 1994

In this first effort to define an American scientific community, originally published in 1968, George Daniels has chosen for special study the 56 scientists most published in the 16 scientific journals identified as “national” during the period 1815 to 1845. In this reprint edition, with a new preface and introduction, Daniels shows how American scientists emerged from a disorganized group of amateurs into a professional body sharing a common orientation and common goals.

Published by: The University of Alabama Press


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pp. vii

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Preface to the 1994 Edition

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pp. ix-xviii

In 1962, when I began the research that was later published as American Science in the Age if Jackson, American science was either a spurious field, as many people held, or one badly in need of definition, as it appeared to a growing number of young scholars. A handful of books and articles dealing with specifically American subjects had appeared; many were very ...

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pp. 20-23

This book is intended as a study of key issues in the intellectual history of the American scientific community during the first half of the nineteenth century. It has nothing to do with Andrew Jackson and only indirectly does it have to do with "Jacksonian De mocracy." "Age of Jackson" refers only to the fact that the kind ...

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pp. xix-xx

There are two fundamentally different ways of approaching the history of science -or, for that matter, the history of any subject whatever. One can either assume that the phenomenon he is studying is a part of a continuing development, or he can assume that it is part of deny that every human activity has both these aspects at the same ...

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1. The Pursuit of Science in America, 1815-1845

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pp. 6-33

In 1885 Thomas Henry Huxley looked back over the achievements of science after the second quarter of the nineteenth century and found ample cause for satisfaction. It had been the most fruitful sixty years in the entire history of science, he told his associates at the Royal Society...

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2. The Scientific Profession

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pp. 34-62

As the gentleman amateur had been the prototype of the man of science in the eighteenth century, by the mid-nineteenth century the trained specialist -the professional whose sole source of support was his scientific employment-had come to be the new type. The emergence of a community of such professionals was the most significant development in nineteenth-century American science. Most of the controversies within science can be understood in terms of this development, and the necessity...

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3. The Reign of Bacon in America

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pp. 63-85

Edward Everett, editor of the North American Review, Unitarian minister, and Massachusetts politician, began a review in 1823 with a remark that might very well characterize the intellectual temper of the period in which he lived. "At the present day, as is well known," he observed, "the Baconian philosophy has become synonymous with the true philosophy." Everett's choice of the adjective "true" was not a matter of accident -it was not merely that Francis Bacon's philosophy was the most adequate...

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4. The Philosophy in Action

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pp. 86-101

Although Tyler was the outstanding exponent of Baconianism in America, and may be said to have voiced a clear majority opinion on most matters connected with the subject, there is no record that he ever conducted an investigation along Baconian lines. His was, rather, the task of formulating and expressing the chief value judgments of his period, and of showing how a particular method of scientific investigation was in keeping...

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5. A Deluge of Facts

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pp. 102-117

The chief source of difficulty that Baconian science faced in the early years of the nineteenth century was, paradoxically enough, spectacular success in the area of its competence, the collection of facts. Early fact gathering, being largely random and undirected, had resulted in an overwhelming mass of undigested data that ultimately became a source of...

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6. The Limits of Baconianism: History and the Imponderables

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pp. 118-137

In 1848 James D. Whelpley came to a conclusion that must have shocked many of his contemporaries. He noted that there was a defect in the commonly held notion that no theory could be admitted as true until it had been tested by experience. Despite the fact that Baconian philosophy was very clear about this matter, the criterion simply could not be met in some very important cases, Whelpley argued, for it was manifestly...

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7. Finalism, Positivism, and Scientific Explanation

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pp. 138-162

Maintaining the scientific orthodoxy developed in America became an increasingly difficult task in the face of growing knowledge and the consequent growing specialization of interests. Scientists were forced to impose severe limitations upon themselves concerning both method and objects of study. They had to forbid such things as chemical speculations about physiological processes, inquiries into geological origins, and any effort...

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8. The Inductive Process and the Doctrine of Analogy

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pp. 163-190

Scientists could not for long ignore the fact that they were bound, in some measure, to take account of that which they could not directly observe. The newer scientinc interests of the period -historical studies like geology, or the study of the imponderables, such as inference that went signincantly ''beyond the facts." Conventional ...

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9. Science, Theology, and Common Sense

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pp. 191-200

Science, we like to think, is the highest product of man's reasoning progress toward the ultimate in rationality and logic. As noted in the Introduction to this study, this strong presentist conviction presents history of scientific thought. Put very bluntly, the historian is automatically tempted to employ a line of analysis that borders on ...

Appendix I. Biographical and Bibliographical Sketches of Fifty-five Leading American Scientists of the Period 1815 to 1845

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pp. 201-228

Appendix II. American Scientific Journals, 1771-1849

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pp. 229-232


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pp. 233-276


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pp. 277-282

E-ISBN-13: 9780817384487
Print-ISBN-13: 9780817307400

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 1994