Joseph Dalton Hooker's Ideals for a Professional Man of Science

Journal of the History of Biology 34 (1):51 - 82 (2001)

During the 1840s and the 1850s botanist Joseph Hooker developed distinct notions about the proper characteristics of a professional man of science. While he never articulated these ideas publicly as a coherent agenda, he did share his opinions openly in letters to family and colleagues; this private communication gives essential insight into his and his X-Club colleagues' public activities. The core aspiration of Hooker's professionalization was to consolidate men of science into a dutiful and centralized community dedicated to national well-being. The nation in turn owed the scientific community for its ministration. When the government bestowed funds and status on men of science it was rewarding science -- not purchasing it. His proposed reforms were piecemeal, immediate, and above all practical. He harbored no taste for vast millenarian transformation, and rested his conception of scientific professionalism upon a respectable High Victorian foundation of patronage and pillars of duty, reciprocity, intimacy, and inequality. The process of professionalization he envisioned was as much shrewd compromise between existing interests as a vindication of principle. His power and prestige from the mid-1850s onward gave him considerable ability to carry out his reform program, although his general success did occasion some undesired consequences for the status of natural-history pursuits.
Keywords botany  Joseph Hooker  patronage  professionalization  Robert Brown  scientific societies  William Hooker  X-Club
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DOI 10.1023/A:1010368323221
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A Question of Merit: John Hutton Balfour, Joseph Hooker and the ‘Concussion’ Over the Edinburgh Chair of Botany.Richard Bellon - 2005 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36 (1):25-54.

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