Google full text of our books:


Karl Pearson:
The Scientific Life in a Statistical Age
Theodore M. Porter

Paperback | 2006 | $45.00 | £37.95 | ISBN: 9780691126357
352 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 18 halftones.
Add to Shopping Cart

eBook | ISBN: 9781400835706 |
Our eBook editions are available from these online vendors

Reviews | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF] pdf-icon

Google full text of this book:

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 science.

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.


"Theodore Porter's book on Pearson is not a biography in the conventional sense. It focuses on the early part of his career in an effort to show how he was drawn to the study of statistics and eventually conceived it as the key to a new philosophy of nature, which was to become his life's work. . . . The great value of Porter's book is that this focus on the early phase of Pearson's career highlights the complex route by which his quest for emotional and intellectual satisfaction led him towards the project that would, in effect, create modern statistics."--Peter J. Bowler, Nature

"[A] brilliant biography, one can hardly imagine a better summary of Karl Pearson's fascinating life and complicated persona. . . . [Porter] reveals more about the origins, aspirations, and consequences of modern statistics than any technical treatise of the same length could possibly accomplish. As Porter emphasizes, Pearson's life was a tour de force [and] extremely fascinating to the reader."--Manfred D. Laubichler, Science

"Porter's biography of the young Pearson, the statistician in embryo, exceeds all expectations in recreating the intellectual worlds in which Pearson tried to find a home. The breadth of the reading and the depth of interpretation are impressive. . . . Porter shows us a young Pearson, clever and brave, who has a burning passion to understand things."--John Aldrich, American Scientist

"This book is a remarkable achievement."--Jenny Marie, Journal of the History of Biology

More reviews

Table of Contents:

Preface and Acknowledgments vii
CHAPTER ONE Introduction: An Improbable Personage 1
CHAPTER TWO Lehrjahre of a Poetic Wrangler 13
CHAPTER THREE Apostle of Renunciation: A New Werther 43
CHAPTER FOUR Pearson's Progress: A Nineteenth-Century Passion Play 69
CHAPTER FIVE Cultural Historian in a Political Age 91
CHAPTER SIX Intellectual Love and the Woman Question 125
CHAPTER SEVEN Ether Squirts and the Inaccessibility of Nature 178
CHAPTER EIGHT Scientific Education and Graphical Statistics 215
CHAPTER NINE The Statistical Reformation 249
CHAPTER TEN Epilogue: Composing a Life 297
Bibliography 315
Index 329

Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Theodore M. Porter:

Subject Areas:


Shopping Cart options:

  • For ebooks:

Our eBook editions are available
from these online vendors:

  • Amazon Kindle Store
  • Apple iBooks
  • Barnes & Noble Nook Store
  • Google Play eBook Store
  • Kobo eBook Store
  • Many of our ebooks are available through
    library electronic resources including these platforms:

  • Books at JSTOR
  • Ebrary
  • Ebook Library
  • EBSCO Ebooks
  • MyiLibrary
  • Dawsonera (UK)

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, and Australia

     Paperback : $45.00 ISBN: 9780691126357

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    • For hardcover/paperback orders in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, India, and Pakistan

     Paperback  £37.95 ISBN: 9780691126357

    Add to shopping cart
    View contents of your shopping cart

    Prices subject to change without notice

    File created: 7/11/2017

    Questions and comments to:
    Princeton University Press

    New Book E-mails
    New In Print
    PUP Blog
    Princeton APPS
    Sample Chapters
    Princeton Legacy Library
    Exam/Desk Copy
    Recent Awards
    Princeton Shorts
    Freshman Reading
    PUP Europe
    About Us
    Contact Us
    PUP Home

    Bookmark and Share 
    Send me emails
    about new books in:
    History Of Science And Medicine, Philosophy Of Science
    More Choices