A Master of Science History: Essays in Honor of Charles Coulston Gillispie

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Why do I say this? Well, it stands first to reason. Hamilton had a long professional career. He willingly, and at times candidly, offered guidance to help all of us historians be better at what we do — better for our individualized efforts at self-actualization, and better in our service to what Hamilton believed historians of social science should collectively undertake. Hamilton served to advance the history of social science in every way that he could envision. There are other reasons why I figure that Hamilton might have missed an occasional target. One reason is that he pushed his own abilities; sometimes he tried for selected targets right at the edge of his own knowledge.

I read not only his books and major articles, but also reviews of his books.

Online A Master Of Science History : Essays In Honor Of Charles Coulston Gillispie

Through all that Hamilton accomplished after arriving in Ames, Iowa, in , he actually first struggled a bit. Particularly he did not find it easy to publish that wonderful dissertation. It was a contribution that he so much believed in making to our modern values, and it was a contribution with which he must have so much wanted to please his own advisor. It was , he was forty years old, and he published The Triumph of Evolution: American Scientists and the Heredity-Environment Controversy , —a book later subtitled just slightly differently for subsequent reprinting.

Drawing from ideas germinating at least as early as , Hamilton had done what he could. He had paid the usual price as well, of family moves and family time lost. The book, today recognized as its own kind of triumph, significantly expanded our historical understanding of many complexities as well as ironies and lapses in an overall march of scientific sensibility: the favoring of powers of nurture over nature. The immediate reception of the book, as I silently learned while a graduate student, consisted of some really positive reviews by leading historians, and perhaps a review where it seems a reader at least fairly attempted to figure out what the mission was.

And then there was one really severe review that I found—in my proper role as a graduate student—which it was not my business to ask about. What any of us knows is this: If you work that long and hard on a project that you intend to be a great service, then it must be a shock—and unexpected betrayal—to be so hammered in a review. How did Hamilton respond? In highly complex ways I believe. Yet this book differed too much in viewpoint perhaps. Hamilton reviewed that book, harshly. It is a good book. These things happen. Hamilton mellowed.

He kept motivated. He went through some health crises, issues that arose from years of stress and cigarettes. Then he quit smoking. His health came back. His family life changed, first a bit adversely, then again for the better, but then Hamilton went through yet another health crisis: cancer.

He recovered well enough. Throughout this stretch of a series of personal challenges and events, Hamilton developed other manners of engagement with the profession. We know that during his last couple of decades Hamilton gained a reputation for being as helpful of younger historians as an elder can be. For his own students, his efforts turned simply indefatigable—not least of which was all those many recommendation letters.

For junior-level historians whom he met along the way, he did all he could to help, as well.


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As to the timeline, it quickens. This book, extensively well researched, was again structured to prove the powers of nurture. It is simply a grand accomplishment as a work of synthesis and storytelling, by a keen and determined mind maybe at its best. Then one year, there was a book that people talked about, Richard J. When that book gained its press time, Americans heard about the return of an argument that it is nature that prevails over nurture—that born with little intellect, you amount to relatively little in life.

Or if born from parents with high intellect, you receive high intellect at birth, and your chances of success in life are great. And, said the authors—which so distressed Hamilton and what all of his work aimed to show—there were policy implications. All Hamilton would want me to say, I am going to believe, is that his response was to speak, on a few campuses at least, against that argument.

He did this when he was still not in the best of health.

Related books and articles

Hamilton also brought his viewpoint back to scholarly meetings and conferences. Hamilton was active especially in HSS. In recent years he served on the Finance Committee, he was an Isis advisory editor, and with some regularity he served on the Committee on Meetings and Programs. But Hamilton is remembered most of all, again, for how deeply he cared to bring in young scholars and to help them with their individual projects, as well as bring them into the group.

Scientific Pluralism and the Mission of History and Philosophy of Science

Hamilton published more articles and reviews. He edited or coedited a number of books, typically including quite a number of contributions by younger scholars and even graduate students. Yet with that piece, I believe Hamilton started on his road to being also a historian of social science. This was a bigger question than he could fully answer.


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What did Hamilton do right? My response to such a question, is many things. But most of all he made friends. So many friends. By , Hamilton was truly blessed with caring and devoted friends. Hamilton Cravens died on November 24, We met Charles Gillispie—and each other—for the first time in the fall of , when Princeton launched its Program in the History and Philosophy of Science.

We were its first history entrants, and Charles and John Murdoch, just appointed from Harvard made up the history of science faculty. Charles was immediately a daunting personage: tall and rather imposing, with exceptionally closely cut hair, very uncommon in those days; formal in speech and manner, with a short dry chuckle his normal expression of amusement. His personality was complemented by that of his warm and charming wife, Emily. Charles and Emily would have semester gatherings at their cozy house off campus; these are some of the most vivid and pleasant memories that we cherish.

We did not appreciate that he might have felt his new graduate students a little daunting, too, though for quite different reasons. He was an exceptionally gifted undergraduate teacher, and the program had been built on the success of a Princeton undergraduate course in the history of science that he had begun to offer in and that had evolved into his just-published interpretative survey, The Edge of Objectivity: An Essay in the History of Scientific Ideas Princeton: Princeton University Press, ; some of its anecdotes Joule measuring the temperature of waterfalls on his honeymoon are no doubt echoes from those lectures, and his manner had probably been honed on his undergraduates, with whom all his life he continued to maintain close ties, even after they had graduated.

But graduate students were something new to him. As was the Program: what shape was it to have? Nor was it fostered by or in association with the distinguished Vienna Circle philosopher of science at Princeton, Carl G. Hempel 1. In retrospect, we can sense that he was feeling his way, and that that first year was an experiment in which we were the unknowing subjects.

He must have had in mind a series of three graduate seminars there were then two years of graduate study before qualifying exams, followed by the dissertation; students were supposed to finish in four years [! The first of these seminars, given in spring , addressed the seventeenth century: the class consisted of us and Bill Schuyler, who had just entered the philosophy side of the program a fan of E. We occasionally felt out of our depth. Or if you have, you can share and see this Israeli online a master of science history essays in honor of charles n't.

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