Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science

Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science

Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science

Louis Agassiz: A Life in Science

Excerpt

Louis Agassiz was a student of nature. This biography seeks to report the conditions and passions of that existence.

To Agassiz, the meaning of the creative process was spiritual, and understanding came to him through emotional involvement in intellectual effort. The study of nature was for Agassiz the study of the universe, and so he thought of himself as mirroring the grandeur of natural history through his perceptions. The inner strength that came from this conception enabled Agassiz to think of himself as a unique and singular individual.

Agassiz was perpetually youthful in outlook because he was always optimistic, always looking toward the future. His romantic soul was forever thrilled by the potentialities of a new venture. People were rarely neutral in their reactions to this vibrant, dedicated man. A giant of the nineteenth century, he strode through the world determined to succeed. Success came to Agassiz because he was a person deeply involved in his surroundings, a man who understood the possibilities of life with an uncommon awareness, who knew the uses of power and the techniques by which society could be shaped to provide for the wants of his intellect and the sustenance of his romance with nature.

A man of science, Agassiz was no less a man of the world. He mastered the social environment of Europe and then demonstrated an even greater ability to dominate the culture of the United States . . .

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