Nicolas Rashevsky's Mathematical Biophysics

Journal of the History of Biology 37 (2):333 - 385 (2004)
This paper explores the work of Nicolas Rashevsky, a Russian émigré theoretical physicist who developed a program in "mathematical biophysics" at the University of Chicago during the 1930s. Stressing the complexity of many biological phenomena, Rashevsky argued that the methods of theoretical physics -- namely mathematics -- were needed to "simplify" complex biological processes such as cell division and nerve conduction. A maverick of sorts, Rashevsky was a conspicuous figure in the biological community during the 1930s and early 1940s: he participated in several Cold Spring Harbor symposia and received several years of funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. However, in contrast to many other physicists who moved into biology, Rashevsky's work was almost entirely theoretical, and he eventually faced resistance to his mathematical methods. Through an examination of the conceptual, institutional, and scientific context of Rashevsky's work, this paper seeks to understand some of the reasons behind this resistance.
Keywords Mathematical biology  Neurophysiology  Nicolas Rashevsky  Physiology  Rockefeller Foundation  Theory  University of Chicago  Warren Weaver
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1023/B:HIST.0000038267.09413.0d
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,224
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
The Normative Structure of Mathematization in Systematic Biology.Beckett Sterner & Scott Lidgard - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 46 (1):44-54.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Foundations of Mathematical Biophysics.N. Rashevsky - 1934 - Philosophy of Science 1 (2):176-196.
The Biophysics of Space and Time.N. Rashevsky - 1935 - Philosophy of Science 2 (1):73-85.
Outline of a Mathematical Theory of Human Relations.N. Rashevsky - 1935 - Philosophy of Science 2 (4):413-430.
Physico-Mathematical Aspects of the Gestalt-Problem.N. Rashevsky - 1934 - Philosophy of Science 1 (4):409-419.
The Devious Roads of Science.N. Rashevsky - 1963 - Synthese 15 (1):107 - 114.
The Experiential Foundations of Mathematical Knowledge.Nicolas D. Goodman - 1981 - History and Philosophy of Logic 2 (1-2):55-65.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
18 ( #277,408 of 2,192,001 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #289,023 of 2,192,001 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature