Darwin-L Message Log 7:16 (March 1994)

Academic Discussion on the History and Theory of the Historical Sciences

This is one message from the Archives of Darwin-L (1993–1997), a professional discussion group on the history and theory of the historical sciences.

Note: Additional publications on evolution and the historical sciences by the Darwin-L list owner are available on SSRN.

<7:16>From DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu  Tue Mar  8 15:35:44 1994

Date: Tue, 08 Mar 1994 16:35:16 -0500 (EST)
From: DARWIN@iris.uncg.edu
Subject: March 8 -- Today in the Historical Sciences
To: darwin-l@ukanaix.cc.ukans.edu
Organization: University of NC at Greensboro


1841: OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES, JR., born at Boston, Massachusetts.  In his
college years at Harvard he will join the circle of Chauncey Wright, Charles
Sanders Peirce, and William James, and under the influence of Darwinian
thought this group will give birth to the school of philosophy that will come
to be known as Pragmatism.  Later, Holmes will become an associate justice of
the United States Supreme Court, and will author many influential texts on
jurisprudence that reflect his historical perspective, including _The Common
Law_ (1881): "The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience.
The felt necessities of the time, the prevalent moral and political theories,
intuitions of public policy, avowed or unconscious, even the prejudices which
judges share with their fellow-men, have had a good deal more to do than the
syllogism in determining the rules by which men should be governed.  The law
embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it
cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a
book of mathematics.  In order to know what it is, we must know what it has
been, and what it tends to become.  We must alternately consult history and
existing theories of legislation....In Massachusetts to-day, while, on the one
hand, there are a great many rules which are quite sufficiently accounted for
by their manifest good sense, on the other, there are some which can only be
understood by reference to the infancy of procedure among German tribes, or
to the social condition of Rome under the Decemvirs."

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