Historian, educator, and author. Boston University, Boston, MA, assistant professor, 1984-88; Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, associate professor, 1988-1994, professor of science studies, 1994-2002; California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, professor of history, 2002—. Visiting professor, History of Science Society, 1992-93, California Institute of Technology, 1994. Curator of exhibitions, including The Newtonian Moment and the Making of Modern Culture, New York Public Library, 2004-05, and All Was Light: Isaac Newton's Revolutions, Huntington Library, 2005. Member, European Commission for the History of Universities.
Junior fellowship, Society of Fellows of Harvard University, 1981-1994; fellowship, Science College of Berlin, 1996-97; senior fellowship, Dibner Institute at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1994-95, 2000; fellowship, Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, 2002; Mellon Foundation Grants, 2004-05, 2005-08.
(Editor, with Richard T. Bienvenu) In the Presence of the Past: Essays in Honor of Frank Manuel, Kluwer Academic Publishers (Boston, MA), 1991.
(Editor, with Dale Hoak) The World of William and Mary: Anglo-Dutch Perspectives on the Revolution of 1688-89, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1996.
(Editor, with Joseph S. Freedman and Wolfgang Rother) The Influence of Petrus Ramus: Studies in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Philosophy and Sciences, Schwabe (Basel, Switzerland), 2001.
(Editor) Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2003.
(Editor) The New Science and Jesuit Science: Seventeenth Century Perspectives, Kluwer Academic Publishers (Boston, MA), 2003.
The Newtonian Moment: Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture, New York Public Library (New York, NY), 2004.
(Editor, with Victor Navarro-Brotons) Universities and Science in the Early Modern Period, Springer (Dordrecht, Germany), 2006.
Contributor to books, including Newton's Scientific and Philosophical Legacy, edited by P.B. Scheurer and G. Debrock, Martinus Nijhoff (Boston, MA), 1988; New Trends in the History of Science, edited by R.P.W. Visser et al, Rodopi (Amsterdam, Netherlands), 1989; Revolution and Continuity: Essays in the History and Philosophy of Modern Science, edited by Peter Barker and Roger Ariew, Catholic University of America (Washington, DC), 1991; The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1998; Archives and the Scientific Revolution, edited by Michael Hunter, Boydell (Woodbridge), 1998; Sir Thomas Gresham and Gresham College: Studies in Intellectual History of London in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, edited by Frances Ames Lewis Ashgate (Aldershot, England), 1999; Isaac Newton's Natural Philosophy, edited by Jed Buchwald and I. Bernard Cohen, MIT Press (Cambridge, MA), 2000; and From Newton to Hawking, edited by Kevin C. Knox and Richard Noakes, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to periodicals, including Huntington Library Quarterly, Science in Context, Isis, Daedalus, Annals of Science, History of Universities, Albion, American Scientist, American Historical Review, Book Collector, Bulletin for the History of Medicine, Canadian Journal of History, Sky & Telescope, Journal of the History of Astronomy, and History of Education.
Mordechai Feingold is a writer, scholar, historian, and educator. Much of his work has focused on the history of science. "For the past twenty years I have been engaged in studying the history of British and European science between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries," Feingold reported on the California Institute of Technology Division of the Humanities & Social Science Web site. He concentrates on the development of modern science, in particular mathematics and the physical sciences, to explore how it has transformed western society from a "humanistic, religious, and unified culture" in the mid-sixteenth century to a "scientific/technological, secular, and fragmented culture by the turn of the twentieth century." He has also studied topics such as the contribution made by colleges and universities such as Oxford and Cambridge to the development of modern science; the spread of scientific ideas during the early modern period; how scientific knowledge arose and was endorsed at the expense of other forms of knowledge, including theology; and the history of the prestigious Royal Society of London.
Before Newton: The Life and Times of Isaac Barrow presents a biographical study of the seventeenth-century mathematician, scholar, and academic whose own contributions to mathematics and classical humanism have been largely overshadowed by his successor as Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge, Sir Isaac Newton. Although "one would hardly call Barrow's career typical of the mid seventeenth-century universities, the detailed study that it receives in Before Newton provides a vivid and convincing picture of how an academic life could continue to function amidst the political, religious and intellectual vicissitudes of the period between the Civil War and the 1670s," commented Howard Wickes in the English Historical Review. Feingold contributes an essay on the structure of scientific education at Cambridge during Barrow's years there, and other contributors cover subjects such as the academic and religious atmosphere of Cambridge; the nature of Barrow's work on optics; and his contributions to the overall study of the theoretical foundations of mathematics. For Science reviewer Simon Schaffer, the book demonstrated that Barrow "was clearly an outstanding scholar, in a set of traditions well documented here," adding that he was a "remarkable but representative humanist scholar" rather than one of Britain's greatest living scientists of the time.
Feingold has served as editor for volumes on Jesuit science and the Jesuit reaction to developments and advances in science. The goal of Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters is "explicitly stated in the excellent introductory essay of its editor," which is to provide an objective reassessment of the scientific aspects of "the Jesuits' intellectual contribution" to society, commented Rivka Feldhay in the Renaissance Quarterly. In tandem with The New Science and Jesuit Science: Seventeenth Century Perspectives, also edited by Feingold, the books' contents "demonstrate the diversity of Jesuit responses to the new science, ranging from enthusiastic affirmation to cold hostility," observed Martin X. Moleski in a Theological Studies review.
Feingold also served as editor, with Dale Hoak, of The World of William and Mary: Anglo-Dutch Perspectives on the Revolution of 1688-89. The book and its contributions resulted from a conference at Virginia's College of William and Mary on the period in the late 1680s, when William of Orange conquered Britain and assumed the crown of the King of England. During this time of the "Glorious Revolution," William III became a king of his own making, a fact that has often been overlooked in Anglocentric interpretations of the period, noted John Spurr in History Today. From the viewpoint of the rest of Europe, William III's status as a self-made king has never been in doubt, nor was the revolution a matter restricted solely to Britain. In modern interpretations of the revolution, historians can no longer "maintain that it gave birth to a liberal England with political and religious rights," commented Charles Carlton in the Historian. Contributors summarize the effects of the revolution, explore its causes, consider its political and religious repercussions, as well as the Dutch aspects of the revolution. Spurr remarked that the "volume as a whole lives up to the promise of its subtitle. This is a collection which specialists of many kinds will wish to consult."
The Newtonian Moment: Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture is a catalogue published as an adjunct to an exhibition mounted by Feingold at the New York Public Library. "This volume is not so much in the business of pursuing new directions in Newtonian studies as in that of gathering together a wide range of examples to demonstrate the scope and importance of Newton's heritage," commented Rebekah Higgitt in the Canadian Journal of History. Feingold presents a comprehensive history of Newton's thought and influence. He looks at a variety of subjects, including how Newton's work was rejected by the Church in Italy for conflicting with religious teachings; how Newton's ideas spread throughout the scientific community of Europe and Great Britain; how prominent figures such as Voltaire endorsed and helped transmit Newton's work; how the dissemination of Newtonianism was aided by the work of numerous women of the time; and how Newton's work helped elevate science to a prominent position within the larger boundaries of culture. "Feingold's work is full of insight into how Newton made the Enlightenment and what use the Enlightenment made of him," observed Larry Stewart in the American Scientist. In total, Stewart remarked, the "book serves to demonstrate that the rationalism of the European Enlightenment, which was marked by upheaval in America and in France, was defined in such large measure by the conception and diffusion of Newton's great works in mathematics and physics that the epoch could be viewed as the Newtonian Moment." Feingold, noted H-Net: Humanities and Social Services Online contributor D. Roger Hainsworth, "has mastered his subject, which is not simply Newtonian physics and its impact on physics as a science, but its impact on the culture of Western Europe, then and throughout succeeding centuries."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, December, 1989, William A. Wallace, review of The Mathematicians' Apprenticeship: Science, Universities, and Society in England, 1560-1640, p. 1367; February, 2004, J.L. Heilbron, review of Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, p. 242.
American Scientist, May-June, 2005, Larry Stewart, "And All Was Light," review of The Newtonian Moment: Isaac Newton and the Making of Modern Culture.
BJHS: The British Journal for the History of Science, September, 1991, A. Rupert Hall, review of Before Newton: The Life and Times of Isaac Barrow, p. 381.
Canadian Journal of History, December, 2005, Rebekah Higgitt, review of The Newtonian Moment, p. 511.
Choice, September, 2003, J. McClellan III, review of Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, p. 172; May, 2005, C.G. Wood, review of The Newtonian Moment, p. 1610.
Church History, June, 1994, Rick Kennedy, review of Before Newton, p. 288; September, 1997, Keith L. Sprunger, review of The World of William and Mary: Anglo-Dutch Perspectives on the Revolution of 1688-89, p. 603.
Discover, December, 2004, Josie Glausiusz, "Avatar of the Enlightenment," review of The Newtonian Moment, p. 78.
Endeavor, winter, 1991, Alan Gabbey, review of Before Newton, p. 39.
English Historical Review, February, 1994, Howard Wickes, review of Before Newton, p. 186.
Historian, winter, 1999, Charles Carlton, review of The World of William and Mary, p. 467.
History of Science, September, 2003, review of The New Science and Jesuit Science: Seventeenth Century Perspectives, p. 362.
History: The Journal of the Historical Association, February, 1992, Lawrence Brockliss, review of Before Newton, p. 119.
History Today, February, 1984, John Spurr, review of The Mathematicians' Apprenticeship, p. 40; March, 1997, John Spurr, review of The World of William and Mary, p. 53.
International History Review, November, 1997, Tim Harris, review of The World of William and Mary, p. 907.
Isis, December, 1991, Richard S. Westfall, review of Before Newton, p. 740; September, 2003, review of The New Science and Jesuit Science, p. 567; September, 2003, review of Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, p. 569.
Journal of Ecclesiastical History, January, 1992, John Henry, review of Before Newton, p. 154.
Nature, November 15, 1990, Willem Hackmann, review of Before Newton, p. 207.
New York Review of Books, December 2, 2004, Anthony Grafton, "The Ways of Genius," review of The Newtonian Moment, p. 38.
Reference & Research Book News, May, 2003, review of The New Science and Jesuit Science, p. 15.
Renaissance Quarterly, spring, 2004, Rivka Feldhay, review of Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, p. 317; spring, 2006, Martin Tamny, review of The Newtonian Moment, p. 230.
Science, October 5, 1990, Simon Schaffer, review of Before Newton, p. 143.
Science Books & Films, May-June, 2005, Dan Burton, review of The Newtonian Moment, p. 111.
Sixteenth Century Journal, fall, 2004, Marcus Hellyer, review of Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, p. 902.
Theological Studies, December, 2004, Martin X. Moleski, review of Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, p. 899.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Services Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (February 19, 2008), D. Roger Hainsworth, review of The Newtonian Moment.