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Controlling Life : Jacques Loeb and the Engineering Ideal in Biology - Philip J. Pauly

Controlling Life

Jacques Loeb and the Engineering Ideal in Biology

Hardcover

Published: 16th April 1987
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The biologist Jacques Loeb (1859-1924) helped to shape the practice of modern biological research through his radical emphasis on reductionist experimentation. This biography traces his career and convincingly argues that Loeb's desire to control organisms, manifested in studies of both reproduction and animal behavior, contributed to a new self-image for biologists. The author places Loeb's experiments and the controversies they generated in their intellectual and institutional contexts, tracing his influence on the development of behaviorism, genetics, and reproductive biology.

"Superb . . . . Rarely does a scientific biography so clearly illumine deep and long-lasting ideological differences in the conduct of scientific work." --The New York Review of Books "In this highly imaginative and meticulously researched biography, the emphasis is not so much on Loeb's more striking achievements, but on the extent to which he pioneered and proselytized a new approach to living matter--called, by Pauly, the 'engineering ideal'....A fascinating and scholarly book that blends detailed archival research with sensitive contextual analysis of laboratories and university systems in the U.S. and Germany. It both complements and contrasts with other studies of scientists from this period."--The Times Higher Education Supplement "This extremely well written and well researched book provides a comprehensive history of one of biology's most important figures....A rich mine of information and an extremely thought-provoking analysis of the engineering ideal and of the life of one of its founding fathers. Controlling Life is an excellent example of the relevance of the history of biology to the understanding of the foundations of modern biology."--Cell "Few scientists of the past century have excited more passion and popular interest than Jacques Loeb...It is remarkable that Loeb has received little attention from biographers; it is more remarkable that this, the first book-length biography of Loeb, succeeds so richly in capturing not only the details of his life but also the meaning and implications of his work...Loeb's career touches upon such familiar issues in the history of science as the development of experimental biology, the conflict between mechanism and vitalism, and the rise of American universities as centers of research. Pauly handles these with a deftness and good judgment that inspire admiration . . . . Pauly's ambitious and rewarding effort to understand the origins of biotechnology deserves applause and a wide readership." --Science "Pauly does a masterful job of presenting Loeb in his scientific and cultural context....The book is a model of scholarly integrity and intuition, and will inspire historians and biologists alike."--The Scientist "This highly topical and fascinating book deals essentially with the historical roots of biotechnology. Pauly weaves a rich fabric by integrating Loeb's career and his ideas into the social and political world of science and medicine in late 19th-century Germany and early 20th-century America....Recommended for college and university history of science collections."--Choice "Pauly's study of the life of the physiologist Jacques Loeb and of his influence in the United States is a remarkable tour de force which opens up a fresh chapter in the history of modern biology. The style is lively, the organization clear, and the impressive support from documents is successfully compressed within the notes so as to relieve the pressure on the main text." --Nature "A superb portrait." --Hastings Center Report "An excellent, scholarly biography." --New Scientist "Pauly's book brings that rare combination of excellent narrative, provocative subject matter, a well-argued thesis, and a wealth of solid informative data. This new Oxford monographic series has produced a real gem in this well-edited and virtually error-free volume, which at most any educated reader should find extremely valuable and enjoyable to read." --Journal of the History of Biology "Superb . . . . Rarely does a scientific biography so clearly illumine deep and long-lasting ideological differences in the conduct of scientific work." --The New York Review of Books "In this highly imaginative and meticulously researched biography, the emphasis is not so much on Loeb's more striking achievements, but on the extent to which he pioneered and proselytized a new approach to living matter--called, by Pauly, the 'engineering ideal'....A fascinating and scholarly book that blends detailed archival research with sensitive contextual analysis of laboratories and university systems in the U.S. and Germany. It both complements and contrasts with other studies of scientists from this period."--The Times Higher Education Supplement "This extremely well written and well researched book provides a comprehensive history of one of biology's most important figures....A rich mine of information and an extremely thought-provoking analysis of the engineering ideal and of the life of one of its founding fathers. Controlling Life is an excellent example of the relevance of the history of biology to the understanding of the foundations of modern biology."--Cell "Few scientists of the past century have excited more passion and popular interest than Jacques Loeb...It is remarkable that Loeb has received little attention from biographers; it is more remarkable that this, the first book-length biography of Loeb, succeeds so richly in capturing not only the details of his life but also the meaning and implications of his work...Loeb's career touches upon such familiar issues in the history of science as the development of experimental biology, the conflict between mechanism and vitalism, and the rise of American universities as centers of research. Pauly handles these with a deftness and good judgment that inspire admiration . . . . Pauly's ambitious and rewarding effort to understand the origins of biotechnology deserves applause and a wide readership." --Science "Pauly does a masterful job of presenting Loeb in his scientific and cultural context....The book is a model of scholarly integrity and intuition, and will inspire historians and biologists alike."--The Scientist "This highly topical and fascinating book deals essentially with the historical roots of biotechnology. Pauly weaves a rich fabric by integrating Loeb's career and his ideas into the social and political world of science and medicine in late 19th-century Germany and early 20th-century America....Recommended for college and university history of science collections."--Choice "Pauly's study of the life of the physiologist Jacques Loeb and of his influence in the United States is a remarkable tour de force which opens up a fresh chapter in the history of modern biology. The style is lively, the organization clear, and the impressive support from documents is successfully compressed within the notes so as to relieve the pressure on the main text." --Nature "A superb portrait." --Hastings Center Report "An excellent, scholarly biography." --New Scientist "Pauly's book brings that rare combination of excellent narrative, provocative subject matter, a well-argued thesis, and a wealth of solid informative data. This new Oxford monographic series has produced a real gem in this well-edited and virtually error-free volume, which at most any educated reader should find extremely valuable and enjoyable to read." --Journal of the History of Biology "This is a useful book. We can learn something from it by studying Loeb the outsider. We can learn what the mainstream was, and what it was not. It is perhaps in this sense that Pauly has made an important contribution. Indeed, Pauly succeeds admirably in demonstrating, in a most convincing way, the large gap between Loeb and the vast majority of American life scientists on many key issues of science and its profession. Pauly handles these issues with precision and intelligence. And I can agree that his portrait of Loeb as a scientist with certain ideas and experiences is or appears to be highly accurate."--Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences "Fascinating." --New York Review of Books

1: The Shaping of a Biologist 2: The Engineering Standpoint 3: New American Environments 4: Evolution and Experimentation 5: The Invention of Artificial Parthenogenesis 6: Investigating Animal Behavior 7: The Problems of a Mechanistic Conception of Life 8: The Loebian Influence in American Biology

ISBN: 9780195042443
ISBN-10: 0195042441
Series: Monographs on the History & Philosophy of Biology
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 260
Published: 16th April 1987
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.67 x 16.05  x 2.41
Weight (kg): 0.56