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

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

by Paul Lawrence Farber


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780801855375
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date: 12/04/1996
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.51(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Paul Lawrence Farber is professor of history at Oregon State University.

What People are Saying About This

Timothy Lenoir

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.

Timothy Lenoir, University of Arizona

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