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A Scientist's Voice in American CultureSimon Newcomb and the Rhetoric of Scientific Method$
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Albert Moyer

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520076891

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520076891.001.0001

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Influences of Comte, Darwin, and Mill

Influences of Comte, Darwin, and Mill

(p.36) Chapter III Influences of Comte, Darwin, and Mill
A Scientist's Voice in American Culture

Albert E. Moyer

University of California Press

This chapter details Newcomb's exposure to the ideas of Auguste Comte, Charles Darwin, and John Stuart Mill. In the years bracketing 1860, many professors, ministers, and other illuminati in the Harvard community were opposed to Comte's positivism, Darwin's evolutionary principles, and Mill's skeptical empiricism. The community was, after all, predisposed to the philosophical precepts of Scottish Realism as intertwined with the theological premises of Unitarianism. Nevertheless, some members of the community—especially among the growing contingent of scientifically minded thinkers—were sympathetic to Comte, Darwin, and Mill. That a young Cambridge scholar, Newcomb, could become so well versed in the provocative views of the three Europeans was due to the coupling of normal Cambridge opportunities with a twofold scientific exposure: his dual tenure at Harvard's Lawrence Scientific School and the Almanac Office.

Keywords:   Simon Newcomb, Auguste Comte, positivism, Charles Darwin, evolutionary theory, John Stuart Mill, empiricism

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