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Observing by Hand


REVIEWS:

David DeVorkin | Metascience

"Magisterial. . . . [An] exhaustively researched and thoughtfully constructed history."

Elizabeth A. Kessler, Stanford University | Journal for the History of Astronomy

"Nasim has written an in-depth history of nineteenth-century nebular observations. His ability to muster the history of science, art, and philosophy to make evident the essential place of drawing during this period makes this an invaluable book. Even more impressive, the ideas explored here have broad generative potential. The careful attention to the distinctive qualities of different types of images and their uses, as well as the clear demonstration of how image-making shapes understanding have ready applicability to other periods in the history of astronomy and the history of science more generally."

Carla Nappi | New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

“In Omar W. Nasim’s new book, a series of fascinating characters sketch, paint, and etch their way toward a mapping of the cosmos and the human mind. . . . Nasim’s approach blends the history and philosophy of science in a study that informs the histories of astronomy, images, and paperwork, and that emphasizes the importance of the philosophy of mind and its history in shaping this heavenly narrative. His transdisciplinary approach spans several media that include maps and portraits, oil paintings and etchings, private drawings and collectively produced published images. The book helped me see Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and the starry night above, with new eyes and a new appreciation for the vision and visioning of nineteenth century astronomical observers.”

Choice

"Nasim investigates drawings of nebulae from the 19th century. Arguments over the nature of nebulae arose from publications presenting results that came from different telescopes taken with different observing techniques. Nasim takes readers back to the source material--the observing notebooks upon which the publications were based. He argues that the act of drawing complements the acts of seeing and knowing, and that the use of various materials and methods (including observing notes) affected the astronomers' conclusions about the nature of the objects they observed. . . . This brilliant analysis questions the relation between observing and communicating. The publisher uses high-quality paper for excellent reproduction of the copious illustrations. Extensive notes and a 20-page list of works cited add to the value of the book. Highly recommended."

Matthew Stanley | Endeavour

"The book has a great deal to offer anyone exploring the various interconnections between science and art. Its emphasis on the creation, use, and transformation of material records provides an entry point for people from many fields. . . . A gorgeous volume that is both aesthetically and intellectually valuable."

Jimena Canales, Harvard University

“Travel to the nebulae during the nineteenth century and find there a time when scientists could observe with their hands rather than eyes, when they could measure by drawing, and where graphite, stylus, and paper joined the telescope in importance. This is when publicly shared standards about what constituted a scientific observation were still in formation—and it is beautiful. Omar W. Nasim invites us to go where few have ventured, to the unstable, informal and private ‘context of discovery,’ and to admire its splendor.”

Robert W. Smith, University of Alberta

Observing by Hand is a thoughtful, deeply researched, and important study that engages with significant and fascinating topics: the representations of nebulae—with the focus on drawings—by various observers in the nineteenth century and what such representations can tell us about the nature of scientific observation in general in that century. A major contribution to scholarship.”

Friedrich Steinle, Technische Universität Berlin

“Observing the position of stars is one thing, observing extended and faint nebulae in a time before photography is quite another. How did researchers pin down their observations, how did they communicate them? In his brilliant analysis of astronomical practice, Omar W. Nasim shows how nineteenth-century observers coped with such challenges. He provides an intriguing case study of how closely observing and communicating are intertwined.”

Charlotte Bigg, CNRS/Centre Alexandre Koyré d’Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques, Paris

“In Observing by Hand, Omar W. Nasim focuses on the unpublished notebooks and drawings of six of the most significant nebulae observers of the nineteenth century. He convincingly demonstrates that drawing was a fundamental component of observation and contributed in essential ways in constituting these elusive phenomena, how they were visualized, conceptualized, and studied. This is an impeccably researched and carefully crafted piece of work, and one that provides the closest study of the practices of observation in astronomy—and possibly even in the history of science altogether—that exists to this day.”

Observing by Hand


REVIEWS:

David DeVorkin | Metascience

"Magisterial. . . . [An] exhaustively researched and thoughtfully constructed history."

Elizabeth A. Kessler, Stanford University | Journal for the History of Astronomy

"Nasim has written an in-depth history of nineteenth-century nebular observations. His ability to muster the history of science, art, and philosophy to make evident the essential place of drawing during this period makes this an invaluable book. Even more impressive, the ideas explored here have broad generative potential. The careful attention to the distinctive qualities of different types of images and their uses, as well as the clear demonstration of how image-making shapes understanding have ready applicability to other periods in the history of astronomy and the history of science more generally."

Carla Nappi | New Books in Science, Technology, and Society

“In Omar W. Nasim’s new book, a series of fascinating characters sketch, paint, and etch their way toward a mapping of the cosmos and the human mind. . . . Nasim’s approach blends the history and philosophy of science in a study that informs the histories of astronomy, images, and paperwork, and that emphasizes the importance of the philosophy of mind and its history in shaping this heavenly narrative. His transdisciplinary approach spans several media that include maps and portraits, oil paintings and etchings, private drawings and collectively produced published images. The book helped me see Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and the starry night above, with new eyes and a new appreciation for the vision and visioning of nineteenth century astronomical observers.”

Choice

"Nasim investigates drawings of nebulae from the 19th century. Arguments over the nature of nebulae arose from publications presenting results that came from different telescopes taken with different observing techniques. Nasim takes readers back to the source material--the observing notebooks upon which the publications were based. He argues that the act of drawing complements the acts of seeing and knowing, and that the use of various materials and methods (including observing notes) affected the astronomers' conclusions about the nature of the objects they observed. . . . This brilliant analysis questions the relation between observing and communicating. The publisher uses high-quality paper for excellent reproduction of the copious illustrations. Extensive notes and a 20-page list of works cited add to the value of the book. Highly recommended."

Matthew Stanley | Endeavour

"The book has a great deal to offer anyone exploring the various interconnections between science and art. Its emphasis on the creation, use, and transformation of material records provides an entry point for people from many fields. . . . A gorgeous volume that is both aesthetically and intellectually valuable."

Jimena Canales, Harvard University

“Travel to the nebulae during the nineteenth century and find there a time when scientists could observe with their hands rather than eyes, when they could measure by drawing, and where graphite, stylus, and paper joined the telescope in importance. This is when publicly shared standards about what constituted a scientific observation were still in formation—and it is beautiful. Omar W. Nasim invites us to go where few have ventured, to the unstable, informal and private ‘context of discovery,’ and to admire its splendor.”

Robert W. Smith, University of Alberta

Observing by Hand is a thoughtful, deeply researched, and important study that engages with significant and fascinating topics: the representations of nebulae—with the focus on drawings—by various observers in the nineteenth century and what such representations can tell us about the nature of scientific observation in general in that century. A major contribution to scholarship.”

Friedrich Steinle, Technische Universität Berlin

“Observing the position of stars is one thing, observing extended and faint nebulae in a time before photography is quite another. How did researchers pin down their observations, how did they communicate them? In his brilliant analysis of astronomical practice, Omar W. Nasim shows how nineteenth-century observers coped with such challenges. He provides an intriguing case study of how closely observing and communicating are intertwined.”

Charlotte Bigg, CNRS/Centre Alexandre Koyré d’Histoire des Sciences et des Techniques, Paris

“In Observing by Hand, Omar W. Nasim focuses on the unpublished notebooks and drawings of six of the most significant nebulae observers of the nineteenth century. He convincingly demonstrates that drawing was a fundamental component of observation and contributed in essential ways in constituting these elusive phenomena, how they were visualized, conceptualized, and studied. This is an impeccably researched and carefully crafted piece of work, and one that provides the closest study of the practices of observation in astronomy—and possibly even in the history of science altogether—that exists to this day.”

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Bertrand Russell and the Edwardian Philosophers


REVIEWS:

Graham Stevens | Russell: The Journal for Bertrand Russell Studies

"This book is a very original study that genuinely deepens our understanding of Russell by presenting new insight into his motivations and concerns at the time when he was engaged in some of the most important work of his career. What it shows is that contrary to popular myth, Russell’s philosophical development in the first decade of the twentieth century was not purely the product of a single-minded investigation into mathematical logic, conducted independently of the surrounding philosophical context of the period. Rather, Russell’s 'Edwardian' philosophical contemporaries exerted a significant influence on him.This is in itself is good reason for looking again at what they had to say. Nasim’s book is an excellent place to start looking."

 

Andreas Vrahimis | Mind

"Early twentieth-century British philosophy is often associated with a charge against ‘British Idealism’, led by Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore. However, the ‘British New Realists’, including Russell and Moore, did not all agree on what their ‘Realism’ stands for. Between 1904 and 1916, a number of British philosophers engaged in what, with hindsight, may be seen as a controversy regarding the problem of the external world. Omar W. Nasim’s excellent book revisits this little-known series of exchanges, demonstrating its significant role in shaping the history of analytic philosophy...In addition to making a substantial contribution to Russell scholarship, this book offers much that is of interest in relation to the more general history of early twentieth-century philosophy, as well as its relation to the history of other disciplines such as mathematics and psychology."

Bertrand Russell and the Edwardian Philosophers


REVIEWS:

Graham Stevens | Russell: The Journal for Bertrand Russell Studies

"This book is a very original study that genuinely deepens our understanding of Russell by presenting new insight into his motivations and concerns at the time when he was engaged in some of the most important work of his career. What it shows is that contrary to popular myth, Russell’s philosophical development in the first decade of the twentieth century was not purely the product of a single-minded investigation into mathematical logic, conducted independently of the surrounding philosophical context of the period. Rather, Russell’s 'Edwardian' philosophical contemporaries exerted a significant influence on him.This is in itself is good reason for looking again at what they had to say. Nasim’s book is an excellent place to start looking."

 

Andreas Vrahimis | Mind

"Early twentieth-century British philosophy is often associated with a charge against ‘British Idealism’, led by Bertrand Russell and G.E. Moore. However, the ‘British New Realists’, including Russell and Moore, did not all agree on what their ‘Realism’ stands for. Between 1904 and 1916, a number of British philosophers engaged in what, with hindsight, may be seen as a controversy regarding the problem of the external world. Omar W. Nasim’s excellent book revisits this little-known series of exchanges, demonstrating its significant role in shaping the history of analytic philosophy...In addition to making a substantial contribution to Russell scholarship, this book offers much that is of interest in relation to the more general history of early twentieth-century philosophy, as well as its relation to the history of other disciplines such as mathematics and psychology."

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Notieren, Skizzieren


Notieren, Skizzieren


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The Emergence of Analytic Philosophy


The Emergence of Analytic Philosophy


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