Karl Pearson, founder of modern statistics, came to this field
by way of passionate early studies of philosophy and cultural
history as well as ether physics and graphical geometry. His faith
in science grew out of a deeply moral quest, reflected also in his
socialism and his efforts to find a new basis for relations between
men and women. This biography recounts Pearson's extraordinary
intellectual adventure and sheds new light on the inner life of
Theodore Porter's intensely personal portrait of Pearson extends
from religious crisis and sexual tensions to metaphysical and even
mathematical anxieties. Pearson sought to reconcile reason with
enthusiasm and to achieve the impersonal perspective of science
without sacrificing complex individuality. Even as he longed to
experience nature directly and intimately, he identified science
with renunciation and positivistic detachment. Porter finds a
turning point in Pearson's career, where his humanistic interests
gave way to statistical ones, in his Grammar of Science
(1892), in which he attempted to establish scientific method as the
moral educational basis for a refashioned culture.
In this original and engaging book, a leading historian of
modern science investigates the interior experience of one man's
scientific life while placing it in a rich tapestry of social,
political, and intellectual movements.
Subjects: History of Science & Technology, History
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