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Discovering Birds

The Emergence of Ornithology as a Scientific Discipline, 1760-1850

Paul Lawrence Farber

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In this penetrating case study of the history of ornithology, Farber demonstrates interesting continuities: as natural history evolved into individual sciences (botany, geology, and zoology) and specialties (entomology and ichthyology), the study of birds emerged as a distinct scientific discipline that remained observational and taxonomic.

In Discovering Birds, Paul Lawrence Farber rejects the view that eighteenth-century natural history disappeared with the rise of nineteenth-century biology. In this penetrating case study of the history of ornithology, Farber demonstrates interesting\u2026

In this penetrating case study of the history of ornithology, Farber demonstrates interesting continuities: as natural history evolved into individual sciences (botany, geology, and zoology) and specialties (entomology and ichthyology), the study of birds emerged as a distinct scientific discipline that remained observational and taxonomic.

In Discovering Birds, Paul Lawrence Farber rejects the view that eighteenth-century natural history disappeared with the rise of nineteenth-century biology. In this penetrating case study of the history of ornithology, Farber demonstrates interesting continuities: as natural history evolved into individual sciences (botany, geology, and zoology) and specialties (entomology and ichthyology), the study of birds emerged as a distinct scientific discipline that remained observational and taxonomic. Ornithologists continued to see one of their primary tasks as classification, and they found no need to alter their approach.

Their efforts were greatly aided at the end of the eighteenth century as colonization and exploration brought new dataa plethora of exotic and previously unknown birds. By the mid-nineteenth century, ornithology had become a scientific discipline with international experts, a large empirical base, and a rigorous methodology of watching and cataloging.

Reviews

Reviews

Farber's study is rigorous, thoughtfully articulated, and—at its best—clearly transcends the history of ornithology, natural history, and the history of science.

Anyone concerned with the formation of new scientific disciplines will find Farber's account invaluable.

A good resource for those interested in the early days and origins of ornithology.

By situating the conceptual development of ornithology within its social and institutional context, Farber's study offers rich new materials and fresh insights into the problems of discipline building and professionalization in the natural science. An outstanding monograph.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
224
ISBN
9780801855375
Illustration Description
10 b&w illus.
Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Paul Lawrence Farber, Ph.D.

Paul Lawrence Farber is OSU Distinguished Professor of History of Science, Emeritus, at Oregon State University and author of Discovering Birds: The Emergence of Ornithology as a Scientific Discipline, 1760–1850 and Finding Order in Nature: The Naturalist Tradition from Linnaeus to E. O. Wilson, both also published by Johns Hopkins.