Book ID: CBB663108200

Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science (2016)


Abraham, Tara H. (Author)

MIT Press

Publication Date: 2016
Physical Details: 321 pages
Language: English

Warren S. McCulloch (1898--1969) adopted many identities in his scientific life -- among them philosopher, poet, neurologist, neurophysiologist, neuropsychiatrist, collaborator, theorist, cybernetician, mentor, engineer. He was, writes Tara Abraham in this account of McCulloch's life and work, "an intellectual showman," and performed this part throughout his career. While McCulloch claimed a common thread in his work was the problem of mind and its relationship to the brain, there was much more to him than that. In Rebel Genius, Abraham uses McCulloch's life as a window on a past scientific age, showing the complex transformations that took place in American brain and mind science in the twentieth century -- particularly those surrounding the cybernetics movement.Abraham describes McCulloch's early work in neuropsychiatry, and his emerging identity as a neurophysiologist. She explores his transformative years at the Illinois Neuropsychiatric Institute and his work with Walter Pitts -- often seen as the first iteration of "artificial intelligence" but here described as stemming from the new tradition of mathematical treatments of biological problems. Abraham argues that McCulloch's dual identities as neuropsychiatrist and cybernetician are inseparable. He used the authority he gained in traditional disciplinary roles as a basis for posing big questions about the brain and mind as a cybernetician. When McCulloch moved to the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT, new practices for studying the brain, grounded in mathematics, philosophy, and theoretical modeling, expanded the relevance and ramifications of his work. McCulloch's transdisciplinary legacies anticipated today's multidisciplinary field of cognitive science.

Reviewed By

Review Ken Aizawa (2018) Review of "Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science". Metascience: An International Review Journal for the History, Philosophy and Social Studies of Science (pp. 251-253). unapi

Review Katja Guenther (2018) Review of "Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science". Bulletin of the History of Medicine (pp. 223-224). unapi

Review Yvan Prkachin (2018) Review of "Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science". British Journal for the History of Science (pp. 313-314). unapi

Review Ronald R. Kline (2017) Review of "Rebel Genius: Warren S. McCulloch's Transdisciplinary Life in Science". Isis: International Review Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences (pp. 942-943). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Abraham, Tara H.
Pettigrew, Jack D.
Papert, Seymour A.
Leblanc, Richard
Warren S. McCulloch
Dreher, B.
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews
Historical Records of Australian Science
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Journal of the History of the Neurosciences
Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences
Biology and Philosophy
Carlos Albizu University
University of Pittsburgh Press
The MIT Press
McGill-Queen's University Press
John Wiley & Sons
McCulloch, Warren
Pitts, Walter
Eccles, John Carew
Von Neumann, John
Vogt, Oskar
Vogt, Cécile
Time Periods
20th century
21st century
20th century, early
19th century
United States
Geneva (Switzerland)
Great Britain

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